Twitter Lists

How to create Twitter Lists and why you might want to

One of the best things that Twitter has ever done as an improvement to its platform is to add Lists. I personally follow almost 3000 accounts on Twitter, but Lists allow me to segment who I’m following so I can easily pinpoint content that is relevant to me at any given time. There are several reasons to build (or subscribe to) really good lists:

  1. A List that has been carefully curated with excellent content creators on a particular topic can be a resource for your followers. All public lists that you create and any list you subscribe to show up on your Lists page.
  2. I create lists on various interests that I have. As I’m perusing my timeline, I will add accounts to appropriate lists whenever I think about it. Then, when I want to see what they’re sharing, it’s really easy to check for their content on a list of 20 rather than my timeline of 3000. I love being able to segment the people I’m following.
  3. Lists allow you to follow without following. You can add any public profile on Twitter to a list and you never have to follow. This allows you to monitor content on accounts without clicking the follow button. This can be useful if you like to see the news, but don’t want your timeline filled with newspaper and TV news updates. You can use this tactic for other types of monitoring as well - competitors, similar businesses in other regions, political figures, etc.

How to set up a Twitter List

Login to and go to the “Me” tab on your profile, then click on “Lists” in the sidebar. On this page, you can see lists you’ve created, lists you’ve subscribed to and lists that you are a “member of” - that means someone else has put you on their list. (Note: You can’t remove yourself from a list. If you don’t want to be on a list, ask the creator to take you off.)

Below your profile on the right, click on “Create List”. 

Name your list, describe it (if you want), select whether it will be public (viewable by all) or private (viewable by only you). Then save!

Now that you’ve set up the list, you’ll want to add some people to it.

How to add people to your Twitter List

Anytime you see a gear icon by the name of someone you want to add to a List, click on it. In the drop-down box, select “Add or remove from lists….”

This is the view of lists Lara was a member of prior to me editing the list.

Check off any lists you want to add the person to. And if you want to take them off a list, uncheck the name of the list.

Now that you know how to add and remove users from lists, you can begin to curate lists that will segment the large group you follow into smaller groups.

How to subscribe to someone else’s List

Sometimes it’s easier to subscribe to a list that’s being curated by someone else. For example, if you are a member of a business organization, you would benefit more by following the list that is being maintained by the organization rather than trying to create a duplicate list.

For example, Social Capital Conference has a list of attendees from the 2013 conference (at least those who provided their Twitter handle). If I subscribe to that list, then the people managing the Twitter presence will also update that list so I don’t have to create my own and update it.

Click on the “Subscribe” button and then you can access that list easily from your account.

Ideally, you would start using Twitter lists from the day you join so that you can organize anyone you follow into lists as you go. However, there are a lot of us who have been on Twitter long enough that when lists were introduced, we already had quite a few people we were following. The key is to get into the habit of adding great content creators/curators to appropriate lists whenever you’re using Twitter. 

Do you use Twitter Lists? What are some more ways you find them useful?

How I grew my twitter following

A question that we often get from clients and prospects is, “How do I get more followers/fans?” Twitter is usually the hardest to understand, especially when someone is just starting out.

My Twitter Story

I joined twitter in 2008. I didn’t even sign myself up, so I finally looked at my account about 3 weeks after it was opened. I sent out the obligatory first tweet…something along the lines of, “So, this is twitter. Whazzup.” (Kidding. My first tweet was much more lame.) I think I even followed a few people. Then I tweeted a couple more times and decided that the whole thing stunk. I walked away and didn’t come back for several months. I was in marketing and I’d heard so much about how good twitter was and I had a desire to figure out why.

My second, third, fourth and up to my twentieth visit, I still wasn’t convinced. Then, one day about eight months after I joined, it all clicked into place. I had not only a clear idea of how amazing this tool was, but I could also see exactly what kind of strategy I could implement for the business I worked for at the time. It wasn’t an easy process. I forced myself to use Twitter until I figured out what I could do with it. Every minute of that time was worth it.

Once I had figured out what I was doing, I used Twitter better. This led to some interesting interactions with brands around customer service that solidified my thoughts on how businesses could use it.

My experiences have been primarily personal up until the last year and a half. I’ve used Twitter to grow several blogs. I’ve used it to converse and build relationships with people I call my friends. I’ve used it to share my thoughts and other information that I believe is relevant to others. For most of the time I’ve been on Twitter, I have not applied a strategy to what, when or how I tweet. While that could work for businesses, it’s certainly not going to work nearly as effectively as having a solid plan.

I recently surpassed 4,000 followers, which is really not a lot considering how long I’ve been on Twitter. It is, however, a good following and you can get there too.

Here are a few things I did that went a long way to growing my following:

1) Get involved in the conversation.

There are so many awesome people on Twitter and when you start chatting with them, you can make connections. This is relationship-building at its simplest. Jump into conversations. Don’t be intimidated. Be personable and don’t make a sales pitch.

2) Twitter parties and hashtags!

I participated in a 3-days-long “Twitter party” in 2010 that was a satire of a major conference that was happening at the time. It was done in good fun and was motivated out of a desire for those of us who couldn’t attend the conference to have a good time. Hundreds of people jumped into this hashtag and I gained 250 followers in those three days. 

These aren’t typical results from using a hashtag, but it illustrates how participation in a community (the hashtag) and conversing (I chatted with so many new people!) can grow your audience. Businesses have to be professional, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be personable.

3) Follow people on lists.

I guesstimate that more than half the people who follow me (and probably 2/3 that I follow) are from Ottawa or near Ottawa. I connected with many of them through a hashtag (#BOLOttawa in 2010) and later that summer, lists were rolled out. I’m on many “Ottawa” lists. I have looked at those lists to see who I’m not following and connect with them because I want to know the people in my community. I call this targeted following.

4) Face time is the best time.

I’ve attended many tweetups where I’ve met so many people. Making a connection online is a process that cannot be valued enough, but taking that online connection offline solidifies and strengthens it. Don’t forget to get out into the community and connect in person.

5) Watch others in your industry.

Maybe it’s a competitor. Maybe it’s your suppliers, distributors or other associates. Who do they follow? Who do they list? And, even better, who is following them? This is another way to do targeted following so that the audience you grow will be relevant. 

Now, go get started!

It doesn’t have to take a great deal of time to do this. You can add five minutes a day to the ten you’re already spending on Twitter. Spend ten minutes today making a list of accounts to check and spend five minutes a day on targeted following. Make it a goal to follow 100 new people per month and tell us how you do!

I’d love to hear your Twitter story. Leave me a comment with how you’ve grown your audience and connected with others.

Twitter: who do I follow? (Part 3)

Now you’re on twitter (right?!) but how do you really find more people to follow? How do you find people that you would actually be interested in following?

Here are a few ways to find people who might be interesting to you. (If you’re unsure if you should follow them, click on their name and try to get a sense based on their tweets and profile information if they’d be a good fit or not.)

Lists are a way to filter your twitter content. People can create their own lists of their followers and separate them by “category”. A great way to find new people to follow is to look and see what lists someone you already like to follow is on, and see if there are other people on that list that are similar.
To see what lists someone is on, go to their twitter page and select the lists tab (far right from timeline) and select “lists following”. Here is a list of the lists I’m on, in case you want to have a look. And here are a few other lists to check out, some on Ottawa , and  some on parenting. You can follow the lists but if you want to see these bloggers in your regular stream you will also have to individually add the people.

There is a search bar at the top of Twitter. If you search in terms for things that you’re interested in tweets about those topics will come up. Some of those people may be of interest. You can also use several words to try to narrow things down.

I often add people that people I follow mention in their tweets, or sometimes I just browse the people that they follow on their twitter page looking for people that might have similar interests. Follow Friday (often written as #FF) is something many people do on Fridays, taking the time to suggest some of the people that they follow - start following some of them.
There are lots of ways to find people to follow on twitter. In my experience in can snowball all of a sudden (I follow almost two thousand people). The more you interact with people, the more people will start to follow you. In the beginning, I followed everyone who followed me (I don’t do that anymore) - although beware of spam followers (they will have many less followers than people they are following and their tweets won’t really make sense). And tweet me if you have any questions! :)
Or use our fancy new “tweet this post” icon right below this post and share it with all your new twitter friends!

See you on twitter!