What is a List on Twitter exactly?

Today, it’s difficult to stop the constant bombardment of distractions and unnecessary content  online. But, when  we are unable to practice our doubt, when we believe everything we read on headlines… Well, 2016 happens. Over and over again. So how do we guard ourselves from clickbait articles and misinformation? The answer is: by continuously refining whatever content we are exposed to. This is where Twitter Lists comes to the rescue.

To put it very simply: Twitter Lists is a categoriser that allows you to follow certain accounts under certain categories that you formulate. Just go to your profile and if you already have a list or are a member of one, you will see it next to your Likes. If you don’t have one, you can just click on your account photo on the right top side of your screen and go to Lists, and then on the right side you should see ‘Create a List’.

How to use Twitter Lists

Once you create a Twitter List; name it, put a short and sweet description, then begin adding the relevant accounts you may be already following. You can make your lists public or private and when you make a private list, Twitter won’t notify the accounts you add there.

As Zachary Hanz of Sprout Social says, adding someone on your list is a little counter-intuitive because you have to visit their profile, click on the vertical three dots icon and select ‘add or remove from lists’.

It’s definitely worth the struggle though, because you will enjoy curating a list bursting with ideas, viable opinions and potentially business-saving information to help you learn and grow and that you can share on your other social channels.

If you want even more efficiency in following content, you will need to login to TweetDeck after you create your list. Look out for my post about using TweetDeck for business here.

How Would Using Twitter Lists Help You Professionally?

1. You are able to follow separate industries that interest you, from credible and diversified resources such as news outlets, magazines and expert influencers.

2. You catch up with news, events and opinions of relevant people easily and after following a list regularly, you might notice that you catch trends earlier on as well. (i.e. I follow the film and music industry closely, by having a list of professionals who work in the industry, I am able to learn about upcoming projects, dates, and people associated with the project.)

3. You can use it for inspiration. It takes less time than Pinterest, has much more content than Instagram (not many beautiful photos of stylish men and women in exotic travel destinations, usually wearing swimsuits) and is wittier and more user friendly than LinkedIn, not to mention that it’s not corporate, and sometimes even entertaining (I am forever reading comments and endless floods).

4. You can easily catch a virtual conversation you are interested to join in, and you may make connections with influencers you like by engaging with them on a personal level. (Let me give an unrealistic example: Imagine you created a list called ‘Climate Change’ and added news sources, charities, influencers such as Al Gore who tweet about this subject. If you regularly check what’s being tweeted under that List, you are more likely to stay current with the topic and can say something smart and important in return when Al Gore tweets - potentially earning more followers, the influencer’s attention/retweet/reply, etc.)

5. You can see the accounts who added you to their list. From the lists page, click the “Member of” option at the top of the page. See who is interested in your tweets and under which category they list you.

6. You can also gain new followers if you give people reason to subscribe to your list - as you would do if you found a perfectly curated list - they could start following you as well.

7. You can subscribe to Lists from other accounts, for example, check out Twitter Lists-fan Aaron Lee’s and you can get an idea as to what kind of lists you can curate or subscribe to.

8. You can have broad category ideas: science, art, technology, food, digital marketing, content marketing, broadcast news, media, entertainment, books, etc.

9. Or you go more specific: Bitcoin, Brexit, Paleo diet, Game of Thrones etc.

10. Say you are a content creator and you want new ideas on a particular subject… What’s better than knowing what is being written on the topic you want to write about? You can even form your own focus group via Lists.

11. You might be a marketer with zero information about an alien species like teenagers, trying to understand their language in order to sell your products. List the popular accounts followed by your target customers and discover what they are interested in!

12. Another advantage is, you’d be able to reduce the number of accounts you follow as you would have your favourite accounts in your lists. If they are unlikely to follow you, just tuck them away in one of your lists and unfollow them.

13. You can use TweetDeck (free) to scroll through multiple lists.

14. You can showcase your personal brand and even become an influencer yourself!

Need more ideas? Check out Buffer’s Kevan Lee’s 23 Ideas on How to Use Twitter Lists.

Disadvantages of Lists on Twitter:

1. You need to refine your own list, which is actually an advantage if you have OCD. Otherwise you will see meaningless content everywhere, so choose the accounts carefully.

2. You can’t add private accounts on Lists.

3. You can’t search Lists created by others anymore.

4. You can’t prevent others from adding you to their lists.

Basically, you can create your own directory in an online social environment. By refining and curating the content you access to, you gain time efficiency in accessing content you want to see and be aware of. Twitter Lists is a great way for businesses and professionals to keep track on the advancements and events in their industry. It is mainly incredibly useful for communications people, but anyone can use it.

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