Twitter Lists: The Underutilized Gem to Follow More People Sanely

Twitter best practices seem to confuse a lot of people; ‘experts’ give out all sorts of contradictory advise. One of the most disagreed upon issues is Follow Back Policy. Ted Coine and I have had a friendly discussion about the issue since we don’t necessarily agree. His fabulous post can be found here, and mine, here.

I was inspired to clean up my stream after Chris Brogan’s The Great Twitter Unfollow Experiment of 2011; it had become a meaningless mish mash where I was lucky if I managed to catch tweets that I actually wanted to read. I spent a couple of hours combing through all of the handles I followed and realized that a huge portion of them were people I followed back because I was so happy to have anyone follow me. Since then my stream has become very meaningful. Now almost every tweet in my stream is worth reading, and I spend more time on Twitter because of it.

So, after all of this thoughtful consideration of Follow Back rules that work for me, last week I realized I was completely wrong because I was not using the one tool that made it all possible: LISTS. In a conversation on #dadchat (Sundays at 8pm) with Mack Collier I decided I needed to explore this more and in a big way.

If I’d thought it through thoroughly, I would have made specific lists including one HOLDING that allowed me to review new tweeps and decide after consideration whether I want to keep them. I’m not stopping there. I now have the following lists that will continue to evolve:

1. Digital Marketing/PR Pros: is my most potent list; these are people I follow closely, read their blogs, and have built relationships with that are invaluable to my work.
2. The 12 Most: this is a list I didn’t create but follow because the fabulous community is a huge part of my online life.
3. Clients: There are times I want to communicate with my clients all at once – often to share knowledge or tips.
4. IRL: Honestly, many of my Real Life friends aren’t actually on Twitter and spend lots of time on Facebook for socializing, but I like keeping them segmented here so that I can easily reach out to them.
5. SportsSmarts: Twitter has TONS of sports chat going on; this list helps me zero in on the bloggers/critics I find most worthy of my precious time.
6. Women Leaders: Self explanatory and absolutely essential to my vision of professional sisterhood.
7. Business Heroes: This is my shortest list of Business Leaders I may never meet, but whom I admire deeply and want to emulate.
8. Social Media Favs: My personal favorite peeps on Twitter for whatever reason
9. Holding: People who followed me; I follow back and review it in a few weeks.

This may seem like a lot of work, and it IS on the front end, but having those I follow organized makes it easy to follow more people in a more meaningful way. By checking out a list I can clear away the clutter of my many interests to stay focused on the issues or thought process at hand. This will hopefully allow me to push past the mysterious Twitter Follow Limit rules and follow many more people in a focused way.

How do you keep your Twitter Stream organized?

  • You know, I’m a believer in Twitter Lists, but I’ve found myself not keeping some of them updated after getting them setup in Hootsuite. And I’m in complete agreement…that 12 Most list rocks because of great friends on it as well as great content creators/curators.

  • SO TRUE. Twitter lists really really suck — unless you use them right. I made about 8 lists that I use Hootsuite to follow. I follow far too many people, but now I can segment them perfectly and interact with different groups when I need to. Dig it.

    • Amy

      Jack – I am so lame – I just noticed your comment. YES, they suck if you don’t use them – I did the SAME thing myself until Mack Collier woke me up.