In the world of Twitter, it is common practice to gain more followers, you should often follow users and hope that they will follow you back. This practice is a great way to not only gain more followers for your account, but also find relevant thought leaders who can be an invaluable resource to your team.  There are many services that will charge you a fee to simply do precisely that. You'll gain thousands of followers in the process, but since you are following numerous users at the same time, how do you keep relevance to those you follow?

Does "free" = Lots of MY time?

Of course there is a free option for all of this: manual following. While it may take a significant amount of time to develop such a list, pledging to follow even a few knowledgeable people a day can have a positive result on your efforts.

So where do you look when your Twitter account is looking for quality finders, who will also be likely to follow you back?

The easy answer for more people to follow?

Twitter itself. There are a variety of options to find quality people to follow:

1. Twitter lists: You know who you turn to for expertise on Twitter. See what lists they have and who influences their knowledge. Also, if you're on any lists, see what commonalities you have with the others listed. Maybe there will be a few who offer a unique viewpoint that you've never considered.

2. FollowFinder by Google: Google has recently released a new tool called FollowFinder that takes accounts that are similar to yours and recommends them to you, with an OAuth login to immediately follow them without leaving the page. While this is a great tool, it has been known to have faulty relevance, and only has a limited amount of results.

3. Your RSS feeds and bookmarked websites: If you haven't done this yet, you certainly should try to locate the Twitter accounts for your favorite websites. This provides more depth to the sites you subscribe to, and give you a better opportunity to express your thoughts to those in charge of the blog or website.

How do I know if they'll follow me back?

There is undoubtedly no guarantee that sending out a follow will give you a follow back. The best way to gauge such a likelihood, is to check out the follower/following ratios. If they don't follow a lot of people, but have thousands of followers (such as celebrities), you likely won't get a follow. The opposite can also be true. If an account follows a lot of people, it may be more focusing on who to follow than looking at who is following.

In the end, it is always up to you and everyone else who maintains your account to determine who to follow, but one good principle is to try to follow back at least 10% of the people who follow you. For more information on who to follow, check out our Twitter Follower Flowchart.