What Are Twitter Lists and How Do You Use Them?


Multitud // Crowd

Photo Credit: PictFactory

People often ask me how I can stay on top of what’s being said by the thousands of people I follow on Twitter.

The simple answer is, “I can’t.” Nor would I want to; a lot of what’s being said by the people I follow on Twitter is pointless drivel or extremely self-promotional

(Not your stuff, though. Your stuff is brilliant.)

Instead, I use Twitter Lists, which are self-created groups of people on Twitter. Lists help you organize people in ways that make sense to you, and help improve the signal to noise ratio of Twitter. You can call them whatever you like, and can add or remove people at any point. Examples include:

  • Locals
  • Industry Experts
  • People I’ve Met IRL (In Real Life)
  • Bacon Lovers
  • People with Beards

Another good use of lists is when going to industry events, assuming much of your industry uses Twitter. I often add people I meet at a conference to a list so I can follow what they’re saying while they’re at the conference.

Furthermore, you can make Lists public or private. Public lists can be viewed and even followed/subscribed to by other people while private lists can only be seen by you. Though the people on the list can still be followed by anyone, only you know you made that list. Good for lists such as “Ugliest People on Twitter” or “People On Whom I Will Have My Revenge”

Making a List is easy, and can be done on Twitter.com or through most 3rd party apps like TweetDeck. However, I did notice some problems recently with Twitter lists created on the Twitter iPhone app not showing up on the regular site or on 3rd party apps, but that was hopefully a temporary glitch.

Since each app has its own way of adding people to a list, I’ll just stick to explaining it on Twitter.com. You can either visit the person’s profile page, or click on the “Following” link on your own profile to pull up  a list of all the people you follow.

From there click on the lists icon and select the lists on which you’d like that person to appear.

Once you have your lists you can choose to view tweets just from that list by selecting it on Twitter.com, or setting it up as a column in your favorite Twitter app, such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite.

Twitter caps lists at 500 people, which may seem like a lot, but after exhausting “Mainers” I’m already halfway full on “Mainers Too”. Or halfway empty, if you’re a Twitter list optimist.

Twitter List Tip: If you’re putting together a list of good resources, (Twitter Geniuses, Bourbon Aficionados, or People Who Might Survive the Zombie Apocalypse,) make sure you include yourself. Since other people may subscribe to your list, you want them to be able to see your tweets, too, right?

Rich Brooks
I List Therefore I Am

  • I too have List in my heart.

    I use lists as filters so I can keep track of specific niches and industries. I also appreciate other people’s lists that round up useful info for me.

    My Tip: If you’re looking to be known as an authority in an area, a list is a useful way to help your audience find good content.

  • Great tip, Carl! I think they’re also a way to show off your creativity. I recently got added to a list called “Henchmen.” Probably my favorite list I found myself on.

  • The last time shows a big “collapse” on Twitter. Most of people do not care what they say, they just want their product to be popular, even using the well-known method of spam. What`s your thought about this one? Huh?

  • Thomas, there’s always going to be spam on the Internet, and Twitter is no exception. However, by setting up lists you can greatly reduce the chances you’ll see spam. Also, if you find someone is spamming, just unfollow them…easy as that!