I started using Twitter about three years ago. As a blogger trying to reach as wide of an audience as possible, it made sense to create an account and engage with this community.
Like any other social media platform, I soon found there were thousands of interesting people and communities that I wanted to follow. There are currently over 310 million Twitter accounts around the world. Even if 0.1% were of interest to me that is over 300,000 accounts to follow!
About a year ago I hit what I termed “Twittamax.” When I started following about 1,000 Tweeters, Twitter would not let me follow additional accounts. This was very frustrating as I kept finding interesting people to follow. I learned that Twitter has a secret algorithm to determine how many accounts you can follow.
One day I noticed the “Lists” option and started exploring. I found out that I can add people to a list even if I can’t or don’t want to follow them. Twittamax did not affect how many people I could add to lists. This allowed me to keep collecting interesting accounts. Anyone I follow I can also add to a list.
You only receive Tweets from people you follow, you do not receive Tweets from accounts only on a list.
Eventually I gained approval from the secret Twitter algorithm to start following more accounts. As I started following new accounts I rediscovered the use and importance of Twitter Lists.
How to create Twitter Lists
Go to your “Profile and Settings” and look for “Lists” on the drop down. Click “Lists”
If you already have lists they will show on the next page.
On the right side of the screen you should see a button “Create new list.” Click that button.
A pop up will let you name your list and give it a description. You can also make your list public or private.
Once you create a list you can add anyone that you follow to your list or lists. You can also add accounts and not follow them.
Just as your list of accounts can get out of hand, so can a list. You may want some lists that are very specific and some that are very broad. It is easier to take a few minutes and think about this before you start to build your first list. Otherwise you have segmented chaos into smaller segments of chaos!
My Twitter Lists
When I was freed from Twittamax I quickly grew my list to over 2,000 accounts. At the same time I realized the difficulty of screening out the noise without muting accounts. I might not want 20 fitness tips a day from someone, but I do want to see what they have to say sometimes.
I follow many accounts that are quite prolific. Some I have muted, some I have stopped following.
To make the best use of my limited time I decided to re-visit Twitter lists.
I initially had lists like “Runners”, “Business/Social Media” and “Beer/Food/Nutrition.” I wanted to organize the runners I followed, both the pros and people like me. I also wanted to track businesses and social media companies and people.
My use of lists was and is quite simple. No black hat stuff here. Sometimes I wasn’t sure which list to add someone to, so I probably added them to a list they may not have felt reflected their interest, mission or business.
I tried to keep my list categories broad to keep things simple. Recently I created a list called “Non-Profits.” To this list I’ve added obvious non-profits such as various YMCA , schools and PTO/PTA organizations that might have 5K races to raise money for programs and operations.
My interest is to help non-profits increase fund raising with the “My First 5K” medal, so I need to be able to organize these groups.
I have also added individuals and businesses that work with non-profits or help non-profits manage their 5K races. Some of these companies are for profit and I’m sure some of the owners smirk when they see that I’ve added them to my “Non-Profits” list.
Why you should use Twitter lists
Besides making order from the chaos, lists can also make you more efficient.
By grouping accounts by interest you can focus on one interest at a time by selecting that list. This allows you to screen out all of the noise and actually engage in a meaningful way.
By having fewer Tweets in the list stream you avoid the constant barrage of new tweets. Imagine seeing an interesting Tweet and being able to come back to it later in the day, and still be able to find it? With a well defined list, you can do this.
Show people you are interested in them. People and organizations see when you follow them, they also see when you add them to a list. Anyone can follow anyone. We all have followers and have no idea why they are following us.
I have a contingent of college age followers in the greater Galveston/Houston area. Most of them are into clubbing, their particular college/university and fitness. Most of them seem to be gym rats and I’m a runner. Somewhere along the line we hooked up through mutual follows and possibly an interest in fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
If they had included me on certain lists I would know if they were interested in me for my fitness writing, enjoy reading about beer drinking at races or if they are looking for a club buddy. Some of them are very attractive young ladies and I’m a middle-aged Yankee. It’s gotta be the running. Right?
So while it’s fun to have pretty young things follow my Twitter account it seems arbitrary and in congruent with what I’m doing. A list helps clarify your interests in a Tweeter.
In this 2014 article written by Kevan Lee for Bufferapp, you will find some additional ideas to take your use of Twitter lists to the next level.
Some of them are very business focused such as #2, “Event attendees and conference-goers.” For a business this is a great way to follow thought leaders from an event, keep up with their latest ideas and communicate your great ideas to them.
For a personal tweeter idea #3 is probably more appropriate, “Mini-communities of those with shared interests.” This is pretty much what I do. I have my “Runners/Athletes” list where I group any athlete, team or coach etc. The list has grown substantially and at some point I will need to break out runners and perhaps other categories.
Other business related Twitter lists ideas include:
- #1 Staff Directories
- #4 Helpful resources for your customers
- #5 Accounts you recommend to follow
To help attract the attention of people you want to follow you and engage with:
- #7 “Notice me” list – add accounts to a list to let them know you have more than a passing interest
- #10 Thought leaders for your niche – named appropriately this could be another way to attract the right people
Check out the Bufferapp article for additional idea that may be of use to you.
Are you on one of my Twitter lists?
Sometimes I add accounts to lists when I have a few spare moments. Sometimes late at night before I shut down for the day. If I’ve added you to a list that you don’t think you belong on, I’m sorry. I definitely could put more time and energy into managing my lists.
Just because I added your very profitable business to my “Non-profits” list doesn’t mean I think you’re not making any money or are a charity. It may have been a mistake or because your business works with non-profits and I’m hoping that perhaps we can work together.
If you are on one of my lists it means I’m more interested in what you have to say than other tweeters. If I have you on the wrong list, send me a tweet!
- Do you use Twitter lists?
- Do you have a structure to how your organize your lists?
- Have you had any great successes using Twitter lists?
- Do you have any tips or ideas I missed or that Bufferapp did not discuss?
Tweet well my friends!
© 2016 andrew nagelin