Effectively Using Twitter Lists to Get More Out of Twitter

Black Twitter Bird

So you’re on Twitter.  You’re at least somewhat active and have seen fit to follow back a bunch of the people that have followed you.  When you were first starting out, you were able to keep an eye on most of the Tweets you cared to see.  But now you’re following hundreds (if not thousands) of users.  When you watch your Twitter feed, the Tweets roll in nonstop, barely allowing you ample time to read any given one before it’s knocked into the abyss below the bottom boundary of your screen.

As often happens, you care much more about what some users have to say than others.  Organizing those you follow into Twitter Lists is a great way to make sure you’re pulling the content you find useful out of the vast sea of Tweets floating around.

What Are Twitter Lists?

A Twitter List is a group of people you’re following, organized in some way that makes sense to you.  It’s a way to prioritize Tweets from a certain cohort of folks, allowing you to display their Tweets in a separate stream so you don’t miss what they have to say.

Lists can either be:

  • Public: Anyone can see and subscribe to a Public list.  Users that you include in the List will also be notified of their place in your list.
  • Private: Affords you the same organizational benefits, but without the publicity.  No one other than you will be able to see your list and members in the list won’t be notified of their membership in it.

Some Potential List Ideas

Of course the lists you create will be totally unique to your organization, but here are some possible ideas to get your mental gears turning:

  • Donors to your nonprofit
  • Avid supporters of your organization
  • Writers that share particularly helpful info on a topic you care about
  • Your close friends
  • People that work within your organization
  • Collaborators on a project or upcoming event
  • Other organizations that do what you do

Regardless of what you decide, the key is to create your lists around groups that you really care to follow.  And be selective.  If you dilute your lists with people you’re pseudo interested in, the list loses value as a whole.  Only include those voices you want to make sure you routinely hear.

How to Create a Twitter List

There are actually quite a few ways to create a Twitter List, but here’s one of the simplest:

  1. Click the Profile dropdown menu (the silhouette of a person) at the top of the page and select “Lists.”
    Creating a Twitter List
  2. Click the “Create list” button.
  3. Type in a List name and brief Description.Creating a New Twitter List
  4. Indicate whether your list will be Public or Private.
  5. Click the “Save list” button at the bottom of the window.

That’s all there is to it.  You can now start adding folks to your lists.

Adding People to Your Twitter List

Once you’ve created a Twitter List, adding someone to it is easy:

  1. Navigate to the user’s page.
  2. Click their Profile menu and select “Add or remove from lists…” in the dropdown menu.
    Adding to a Twitter List
  3. Check the box beside any list you want to add the user to.

They’ve now been added to your lists.  To make sure, head back to your lists and ensure they’re showing up as a member.

Follow Your Twitter Lists

Your Twitter Lists don’t serve much of a purpose (outside of flattering members of your public lists) unless you actually follow them.  If you’re using a tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite (which we’d recommend you start doing if you’re not doing so already), check out their advice on how to add each list’s feed directly into the application.

How to Add a Twitter List in TweetDeck

How to Add a Twitter List in HootSuite (click on Twitter > Adding Twitter List Streams)

Have you used Twitter Lists in your social media efforts?  Have you found them to be useful or a waste of your time?  We’d love to hear what you think.


How to Use Twitter Lists – Twitter Help Center

Image courtesy of Andreas Eldh, Flickr

David Hartstein spends most of his time helping nonprofits tell compelling stories that engage their community and drive action. He used to teach elementary school and often walks around barefoot. You can catch up with David on Twitter at @davharts.

3 Comments on “Effectively Using Twitter Lists to Get More Out of Twitter

  1. 1 Me April 21, 2015

    You should say in your article that once you put someone in a list, you will NOT see tweets from that person or user unless you go into the list to view it. This can be exactly what you want, but it can also seriously impact your use of Twitter as you will not see many tweets that you may have wanted to see if you are not aware of this feature.

  2. 2 Me April 21, 2015

    Note: I’m aware you do say, “allowing you to display their Tweets in a separate stream so you don’t miss what they have to say.” But again, this does not make clear that the tweets will NOT be in your main stream and you WILL actually miss them if you think they will still be there. Thx.

    1. 3 David Hartstein April 29, 2015

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I’m sorry to hear you’re having an issue with Tweets not showing in your main stream if they’re a member of a list. We’re using Tweetdeck over here and aren’t seeing that same issue on our end. We also are able to see Tweets from members of our lists in our main feed by logging into Twitter’s website.

      Is it possible this is a function of the application you’re using to Tweet?

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