Twitter Lists 101

Twitter lists allow you to curate a group of Twitter users. You can then see a stream of tweets from those users on the list timeline. Lists are a great way to read tweets from a select set of people. Even if you are following them, its useful to organize them into lists for convenience and efficiency.

We will cover some simple uses of Twitter lists, along with some neat tricks. Keep in mind that although lists have been around for more than 5 years, they have not exactly seen an upsurge in popular usage. Twitter lists in that way are a microcosm of Twitter itself. Either you get it, and use it, or you abandon it. But if you understand the power of Twitter, you are well positioned to harness Twitter lists for your goals.

The basics of Twitter lists are very well documented.

  1. Go to your Lists after clicking on your profile icon
  2. Click Create List, provide a name and description.
  3. Choose whether the list is private to you.
  4. If you make the list public anyone can access or subscribe to it.
  5. Click Save List

The tricky part is adding people to the list. Using the standard Twitter web UX, you have to go to each potential user's profile to add or remove them from the list. After finding the "person icon", you click on the drop-down menu and select "Add or remove from list". A pop-up then appears to assign the person to any existing list. If they are already in any lists, a checkbox would show up next to the list. Unchecking this would remove them from the list.

Now that is a multi-step process that's tedious at best, even if you are motivated enough to do it in the first place. Alternatively, you can just mooch off others who have done this work, and subscribe to their lists!

Despite these limitations, there is a lot of advice on how lists can be useful in a myriad of different ways. To summarize just a few benefits of creating lists.

  1. Connect with other attendees and speakers before getting to a conference. Especially useful to plan when re-attending next year.
  2. Monitor your competitors' tweets using a private list. You can track their activites through the list stream without "following" them.
  3. Never miss tweets from friends, family or clients. Scan important lists and catch up effectively as part of your work flow.
  4. Recommend people you know to others for specific skills or roles. And yes, it could just be a list called "interesting people".
  5. Get the important news stories directly from respected people on the ground. @pmarca does this.
  6. Find a list for your favorite topic or industry with Electoral's Twitter List Search.

Creating lists make it easy to see micro-trends within specific communities and locales. But you can also glean a lot of information by subscribing to other people's lists. Lists can function as topics of interest, letting you connect with like-minded people.

If you have followed along so far, you should be pumped up about using lists. And of course Electoral makes it really easy to make and manage Twitter lists! So get started and tell us your creative ideas for Twitter lists.

More guides...

  • Coming soon!