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I am writing an application and need to find a short way to describe a shared group of people who follow certain aspects; for example, hashtags in Twitter or fans of certain pages on Facebook.

I had considered the term audience but that doesn't really fit. But what about the expression advocates?

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I would appeal to the tone you wish to set to determine how you label your group;

  • Herd is one that was previously used but fell out of fashion, you might also appeal to flock or pack or murder or other animal herding terms. Obviously, this approach has a group mentality embedded in it, but also a strong sense of identity.
  • Crew has a kind of class-feel to it. You might consider other collectives in a way to reach out to that sense of identity.
  • Mission or congregation, or evangelists, is one way to send out strong signals that you encourage users to proselytize on your behalf.
  • Node has a nice feel to it, set is okay, other technical terms suited to your audience are another direction. These might be good in a niche usage but will be limited in their scope.
  • For a broad, almost universalist scope fan and follower work, i.e. your customer is the same as a Neil Hamburger or Ashton Kutcher follower. For words in that vein I like reader.

The tone of the app would obviously dictate how far you can go with this. At the same time it is good to keep an ear to that tone for clues as to where you might go. I’d be curious to know some more about the app and audience you are shooting for.

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Subscribers might be the general term.

  • +1 Agree that it is better to avoid any terms that are specific to particular platforms. Though "subscribe" is what RSS uses, it is also a generic term. – JeffSahol Oct 20 '11 at 23:34
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This is an exact fit for the producer/consumer model, so I would suggest the word consumers.

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Followers or fans both fit. That's why they were chosen by Twitter and Facebook respectively. Even with the platform specific connotation, people would understand your meaning. I think the harder task for you would be to encapsulate "certain assets like say hashtags in Twitter or are fans of certain pages in Facebook" in a more generalized and efficient way (and because you didn't ask that, I won't answer that part).

  • if you are asking how to do the app-development-part, it is taken care of using data mining and such approaches. – Chantz Oct 20 '11 at 23:46
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Each different media site has their own term for this. On twitter it is "followers". On Facebook, "friends".

Personally I'd go with "Followers" in general, but then I'm more of a Twitter guy than a Facebook guy.

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The word I would typically use in this context is 'audience' It's a team with a clear and unambiguous meaning without applying a commercial or technical context. 'Subscribers', as offered by @ΜετάEd, would also be a suitable choice, but it may not apply in certain social networks, such as LinkedIn.

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