What are Twitter Lists Good For Anyway?

Brenda Tobar | @brendatobar1 and Mary B. Adams@ladymissmba

Lists? On Twitter? You might have heard of them, but who actually uses them and what are they good for? Twitter lists allow you to follow accounts in groups without technically "following" them.  Social media agencies like ours, journalists and photographers, among others, have long used them, but most of the Twitter population still does not.

On average, a person on Twitter follows about 100 accounts. Now, think about your account and how many people you follow (you’re probably following more than 100) . Content will vary widely among those followers, let alone within an individual follower's stream. Some are tweeting about eating hot dogs, others are sharing event photos while others are commenting on trending stories, all of which may be super interesting topics for you, but how do you keep up with them all? It becomes increasingly difficult to stay in touch with people AND remember their Twitter names as you add more and more followers.

Lists allow you to organize people into categories that you create. You get to name your list and decide which accounts to add to that list. For example, you can put all the people tweeting about Wisteria Lane into one group and all people tweeting about kale into another. By visiting those lists, you get a quick snapshot of what those people are saying about a particular topic at any given moment.

Lists can be private so only you can access them, or public, available for other people on Twitter to see and use (so be sure to keep this in mind when naming your list and drafting the short description).

What kinds of lists might be useful and how might you use them to your advantage?

  • Create a list of power Twitter users that you can always refer to when you need interesting, quality content to interact or comment on. Never run dry on sources to retweet!
  • Spy on your competition. A list of competitors lets you quickly and easily stay informed on activities of your competitors. And if you make this one private, they'll never know you are spying on them.
  • What about industry thought leaders, trailblazers and role models? Include anybody who might be able to assist you in your personal, professional, or career development. Drop in regularly for a dose of inspiration.
  • If you are feeling too lazy or unimaginative to create your own, just shop around. There are thousands of public twitter lists that other people have already made. Chances are you'll find one, 100, or even 1000 to satisfy you. (But no more. Twitter "placed some limits" on lists - 1000 lists per user with 5000 users per list.)

Andy why not try to get on some lists yourself? Your chances of gaining more followers and widening your reach are bound to increase the more lists you appear on. Just be sure to tweet useful content, and others will take notice and add you to their lists.