The great thing about social media is everyone has an opinion – which is also the bad thing about social media. How do you find key influencers on Twitter, the ones with great ideas and insight, especially if you want to be the first to know about breaking news, trends and analysis? Here are three places to look for thought leaders on Twitter, in any niche:

We Follow

We Follow helps you find influential twitter users listed on specific topics

We Follow is a great source for finding influential people on Twitter, organized by topics. These lists are indexes of tweeters who consistently tweet about specific topics and are ranked as most influential (such as Chris, who is #17 on the list of most influential on social media on We Follow.) Use We Follow to choose your topic of interest, which can range from everything from celebrities to politics, and then follow the top influencers on the subject. You can also add yourself to a list!

Topsy

Similar to We Follow, Topsy utilizes search to indentify Twitter influencers, but is not an index. Instead, it is a real-time search of tweets related to whatever you are searching for (be it Facebook, legos, or football.) The search results then show, via a little quote bubble, how popular that tweet is. Clicking on the popularity bubble reveals how influential the tweeter is. For example, Robert Scoble is a noted influencer of social media, and tweeted about Facebook; Topsy has indicated how many times his tweet has been retweeted, and that, he is, in fact, highly influential.  Use Topsy to keep track of not only trending topics, but who is leading them so you can follow them permanently.

Klout

Klout is the new app that “scores” your influence. However, part of the analysis of your score is a list of those who influence you. After Klout calculates your level of influence, take a look at who currently influences you; you can use these people as a launching point to look at who they tweet with, and their lists. Influencers usually tweet in packs, so look for lists that recognize each other – then follow those influencers as well.