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This article was published on October 18, 2010

Twitter’s ‘Who to follow’ is so good now, it can predict real life meetings

Twitter’s ‘Who to follow’ is so good now, it can predict real life meetings

After what transpired over Mexican food at a party at a Las Vegas suite on Friday during Blogworld, I’m much more impressed with Twitter’s “Who to follow” recommendations feature. Here’s the story.

After a fun and informative 24 hours at Blogworld, where I was able to interview a US Army Lt. Colonel, the amazing Kris Krug, Ford’s Scott Monty, and a guy from the Guinness Book of World Records about the world’s largest cup of coffee, I was attending my last social event of my trip. The party was in a hotel suite and I went up there with a couple of friends because they were serving Mexican food, and I was hungry. Nothing unusual so far.

So we were sitting down at a table and I was introduced to a very personable woman who I found out has just recently taken over social media at a major magazine/brand. She was friends with one of my friends and we all had a great conversation. Finally, as is wont when you’re at a social media conference, Twitter came up and we each casually told each other our Twitter handles. Again, nothing out of the ordinary.

A few minutes later, however, she had a puzzled look on her face and asked me, “Wait, is your Twitter avatar a cartoon or something?” I said something like, “Why yes it is, why ever do you ask?” and she said, “I’ve seen you on my Twitter recommendations! You’re there all the time but I just ignore those anyway!” The four of us were all dully impressed, and my new acquitance said something like, “I guess I’ll pay more attention to those recommendations from now on!”

I’ll say. Twitter’s recommendations were much maligned when they first popped up on, often recommending people that users had previously unfollowed, or even that users had already followed. Then they started to get better, and though we don’t have solid numbers, we’ve certainly seen much less complaining from users about the feature, which would suggest that either a) they, like my new friend, don’t pay attention to them, or b) they are finding more utility.

That said, this episode was kind of almost supernatural to me. It was like Twitter was predicting who I would meet in real life, and that is just plain spooky – and yes, damn impressive. Granted, I was with mutual friends and we’re all in the same industry (and that industry is tech) and we were at a conference, but still, Twitter knew that we should be following each other.

I’ll be watching my “Who to follow” recommendations a whole lot more from now on.