In my last post I summarized one prospective product in terms of problems and solutions. I might summarize it even further as: a smart assistant to help you discover your community. But what does it mean anyway to discover one’s community? I have been thinking about how we might describe the ideal members of our personal communities—how we might identify those people with whom we might find some sort of lasting connection.
In the spirit of experimentation, I looked at my own current Twitter account and its grand total of 34 followers to see if, based on those who choose to have my tweets on their feed, we can paint any broad pictures: the kind of thing a smart technological solution ought to be able to do at scale. I chose to look at several different parameters: the type (whether it’s an individual, a company, or something else), level of anonymity, continent, keywords gleaned from a user’s profile, number of tweets, number of accounts followed, number of followers, and whether I have had any prior connection with them (friends, followers from previous accounts, etc.). The following table represents a partial picture of my most recent followers.
As we can see from the data, my followers consist largely of “builder” types: software developers or technological people working on indie projects. Many of them I’ve described as “thoughtful”—this is strictly not something that appears as a keyword in any profile, but a description of my own making, based on a quick glance at a particular profile, with attention to writing style, subject matter, and tone, among others. We can infer that my ideal community is made up of people in the tech industry who are indie creators and are interested in “thoughtful” subjects—thus we know to be more deliberate about seeking such people out.
Looking at the numbers as well—especially number of followers—we can see, as anyone might correctly assume, that at this time I’m far more likely to be followed by people whose follower counts are under 1,000. Two of my followers have over 6,000—but one is a prior connection from one of my earlier accounts. Knowing this, I would probably focus my efforts on people whose follower counts are between 1 and 1,000.
This is only a quick scratch at the surface: there are many more ways to play around with this data; many more ways that we might use our knowledge to find what we’re looking for. I would only emphasize that ultimately, the point isn’t numbers (i.e., getting the most number of follows possible) but to maximize our chances of finding people who might become part of our audience, and with whom we might build meaningful connections. How can we introduce a more human element to this whole process? Are there any other insights we might be able to gather that only a human mind can think of?