Thursday, 31 March 2011

How to use Twitter Lists effectively to target your followers

Twitter introduced the concept of lists about 16 months ago to enable the manual grouping of people into categories.

If you visit Formulists or Listorious you can type a keyword and see the different lists that people maintain. Searching for the keyword apples, for instance, you can read Twitter biographies of the 491 people who someone added to a list about honeycrisp apples. You can either follow the list or follow its members individually.

Any Twitter user can create his or her own list, or follow an existing list — such as the above one about apples.
I used to love creating lists. I embraced lists with passion and for the better part of two years I followed few people by way of the “follow” button and followed everyone else by lists instead. Because I kept changing the names of my lists and the people in each list, I also kept following and unfollowing different people.

But the passion is gone. I still like the concept and continue to follow some lists around government and public relations, but I’m tired of having my own lists. And, in fact, short of a local community list and a humor list, I deleted the other dozen lists I’d managed.

Because I use as my primary view (and not third-party tools like Tweetdeck or Seesmic), it was time-consuming and unproductive to click a different list’s link every time I wanted to view its members’ recent tweets.

Which leads me to announce a new tactic in my ongoing quest for internet enrichment and resource productivity: I am once again following people outside of lists. It’s a tactic I once employed. I count 700+ people today (up from a mere 12 only two weeks ago). I don’t care about Klout scores and I don’t care if anyone I follow chooses to follow me back.

Do I look at twitter all day long? No.

Am I more productive since following people outside of lists? Yes.

Am I seeing more people’s names flow by quickly? Yes.

Will I see everyone’s tweet? No.

My purpose to tweet today has not changed since creating an account on day one. I tweet to enrich myself, to learn, and to share. Twitter lists, as helpful as they are to showcase people around categories, are less effective (to me) as a means of following and conversing with people.

But these are my thoughts about lists. How do you use lists?


Detox said...

I am glad to see that the blog is up to date.

I am still very new at twitter, looking forward to finding out some more!

kimberlykabel said...

Thanks for such an interesting article! I don't use lists either.I only use twitter to share things I find interesting or helpful.I mostly use facebook,and my blogg,and getting into Linkedin more or Cambridge Who's Who more than twitter.I find it all time consuming.I wonder how people get anything done sometime with all the social media sites there are.

Anonymous said...

So when did you notice that you were getting more followers? By following lists or individual people? I've always seen them there, I'm included in a few, but I've never created any. Did people end up following you as the creator of the list?

Sorry, great post :) I tend to jump into the questions. I'm playing around with Twitter for a few different things, talking about it on my blog, so I'm always interested in getting more information.

I'm subscribing to this so I would love if you replied back.


Paul said...

Hey Andrew,
I havent found follow back rate any higher by following lists, as they behave the same as any other followers. However, lists are very useful to target very specific and targeted groups when someone else has gone to all the effort to sort them for you ;)
It is especially good for Ultra targetted twitter accountsd you may have
thanks for the coment

Hugh said...

I find lists a great way I finding followers and key people of influence in specialised niches.

It's especially useful to see who key people (who don't follow others back)are following.


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