Setting Up and Using Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are one of the hidden gems of Twitter that power users have discovered. Today I’m going to uncover the wonders of Twitter lists and show you how they can be used to filter that firehose down to a trickle you can actually manage!

The Purpose of Twitter Lists

Lists allow you to group Twitter accounts together to make your reading easier. Note that lists are a tool for reading/viewing Twitter, not a publishing tool. You cannot send a tweet out to only the people in one of your lists… at least not via Twitter itself. You could create lists for:

  • Clients
  • Competitors
  • Industry news
  • Local news
  • Favourite bloggers/tweeters/authors

Once you’ve created a list and added a few people, you can then view ONLY the tweets from that group of people. So, for example, if you wanted to see what your competitors are up to, you could pull up your competitors list and see what they’re tweeting about. Need to find some great industry-related content? Pull up your industry news list and RT away. Looking for a lunch deal? Check out your local restaurant list.

Tips for Twitter List Use

  • You can personally create 1000 lists with up to 5000 accounts in each list.
  • Twitter lists can be private, for your eyes only, or public for sharing with the world.
  • You do not have to follow an account to put it in a list! That competition list I mentioned? You can add your competition to the list and keep up on what they’re doing without alerting them to that fact. I don’t necessarily recommend this, but in some industries it’s quite common.
  • You can subscribe to the public lists of other people. When you subscribe to someone else’s list, it shows up on your Lists page under your profile so you can easily find it later. It’s kind of like bookmarking it for future use.
  • When you open a List you will have the option to view the tweet stream from those who are members of the list, or to view just the members by name. Viewing a list by name is a great, quick way to find like-minded people to follow.
  • If you use Hootsuite you can set up a self-updating column from your favourite lists so they’re always right there when you need them.
  • When appropriate, add yourself to the list (via Hootsuite… a little hack for ya!), so that when others look at the list they see you there, too!

My Favourite Use of Twitter Lists

The best use of Twitter Lists is to create one for the people you most want to interact with, keep up on, read or monitor. I call this list my “Main List” and currently it has 91 members. These are the accounts from which I get my daily news, humour and educational material, but also friends, competitors, media and great engagers. Sometimes I put new follows in this list while I’m checking them out to see if this is someone I really want to follow. Oh, and I have a couple of celebrities in this list, too… I don’t follow them officially, but they’re in the list so I can see when they tweet.

Consistent use of Twitter Lists can save you from the deafening noise of constant, scrolling information. In Hootsuite I always read my Main List, mentions and direct messages. Then, when I have time, I will look through the other lists and my home feed for new people to engage with. The Main List keeps me sane.

Another Great Use of Twitter Lists

You can share the direct link to any public list. When my social media workshop attendees are looking for local Halifax businesses to follow, I can easily direct them to my Halifax Businesses list by sharing a link. Many magazines and websites publish lists of the top 100 this and thats… they’ll often create those lists on Twitter, too, and share them. It’s a great way to share you membership, places to buy your product, industry thought leaders, etc.

Adding People to a Twitter List

The easiest way to add someone to a list is to visit their profile. On the right, beside the Follow/Following button, click on the gear and you will see one of the options is to “Add or Remove from Lists”. If this is the very first time you’ve added someone to a list, you’ll get the option to create the list here. If you’ve already created some lists, you’ll be able to check off all that apply to this person.

Use the Twitter Lists You Create

The hardest part about making Twitter Lists work for you is simply remembering to use them! If you’re using the native Twitter, you can create bookmarks to help you get there a bit faster.  I find it very cumbersome to use Lists within the Twitter app on my phone. My solution is to pull my favourite lists, like the Main Feed for all my clients, into my Hootsuite app. It’s easy to navigate to each tab in Hootsuite and view the tweets from the List on your phone that way. If you don’t find a way to actually use the lists, they’ll do you little good.

How are you going to use Twitter Lists? Any brilliant ideas I haven’t thought of? Any fantabulous Twitter lists out there I must check out? Let me know in the comments.


2 thoughts on “Setting Up and Using Twitter Lists”

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