Finding the right people to follow on Twitter can offer a real competitive advantage in many lines of work. Some people are very good at it; they are super connected and they find great people to follow. Now a new service built on top of Twitter lets you ride the coattails of those well-connected people and easily follow whoever they add as friends, too.
Thorsten Zoerner is an IBM product marketing manager based in Germany. He's built a wonderful little service called RSSFriends that really fills a niche and makes some very powerful things easy to do.RSSFriends offers an RSS feed of new people that any Twitter account begins following, or of anyone that stops following a designated account. Here are three ways I've begun using this service.
1. Finding the Friends of the Famous & Influential
Notify.me. It's pretty interesting.I don't want to creep anyone out, but if you're someone I think is really interesting and has an interesting taste in friends - I may be getting an IM now with the Twitter username of everyone you start to follow. For the past week I've been tracking a number of interesting people with RSSFriends feeds run through the RSS-to-IM service
I get a handful of messages throughout the day that say things like "Person X that you are tracking just made friends with Person Y." Then I look at Person Y and in many cases, I start following them too. It's pretty great.
2. Show Off Your Taste in Friends
RSSFriends + Yahoo Pipes + TwitterFeed = @marshallkbuds. That's a new account I created just to show off the names of people I make friends with on Twitter, in case you're interested in meeting them too.
I also used a service called Feed.Informer to display a widget on the sidebar of my personal blog of the most recent people I've made friends with on Twitter. I think that's interesting and valuable information that I will benefit from sharing.
3. Track Your Company's New and Departed Friends
Finally, RSSFriends also offers an RSS feed of any accounts that follow or unfollow a given account. That's got brand management written all over it, doesn't it? I haven't been able to get this feature to work yet for the @rww account but I suspect that may be because it has too many followers already. For a small business, this could prove quite useful.
So far this service has proven most useful to me as a way to discover interesting new Twitter users. It's pretty incredible to think that I can follow along behind some of the tech world's most interesting people and consider for subscription all the people they add as friends on Twitter. That's the kind of thing that a social network with open user data makes possible, though. It might feel a little creepy but the utility is undeniable. Hopefully people will use services like this for good and not evil.