Often those new to Twitter complain that there is so much to read. They unfollow “prolific” (often used as a derogatory term) tweeters because they “clog up” their Twitter stream.
You know you don’t have to read every tweet, right?
You can scroll. And you can filter.
Lists. They have to be the most under-utilized tool available to Twitter users.
Disclaimer: Mobile App Problems
Most list maintenance (creating, adding & subtracting users) really needs to be done on a traditional computer or laptop using the dreaded Twitter(dot)com. Personally, I’m fine with the dot com version (I can cut and paste), but friends of mine hate it passionately.
If you use Twitter 90% of the time on mobile, may I suggest logging onto Twitter at least once a week for list maintenance?
It’s so weird that you can’t create or edit lists on Twitter’s Mobile App. Hootsuite’s mobile app will let you add to lists that already exist, but you cannot subtract people from lists using Hootsuite. TweetDeck allows you to add and subtract people from lists.
The Tool Belt:
You create and edit lists on Twitter.com. I use both HootSuite and TweetDeck to view my lists.
For In-Depth Tutorials See:
Listing: What you need to know.
When you go to a user’s profile, click the person icon (next to the follow button), click “add or remove from lists,” and then choose the list.
You do not have to follow someone to be able to list them. This can be helpful for celebrities and news people (that you make lists for).
You can have a total of twenty lists.
Each list can only have 500 people. It’s easy to go over, believe me. So give your lists some thought. It is so much work to go backwards and fix these.
Lists can be public or private. People know what the name of the list is and can subscribe to your public lists. I don’t use private lists.
More: Twitter Help Center: Using Twitter Lists
Why List: Following Ratios
It sucks when you don’t realize you can only follow 2000 people and then you hit a following wall, literally. You can’t follow anyone else unless more people follow you. If you followed no one back and are following 2000, you’ve got a lot of work to do, my friend, both to follow and unfollow.
There are additional glass ceilings that you hit, I (as @gidgey) hit another one at 5,000 and again 9,000. It seems to me that the sweet spot is about 1.1 but Twitter says it depends on the individual account.
This is why I had to start unfollowing people who don’t follow back. I really like who.unfollowed.me for this.
This is why I follow people back. The few exceptions are porn, how to get more users people, how to make money on the internet people, #TeamFollowBack (spammy, in my opinion), and eggs.
Only verfied accounts get to be non-follow-back-ers. This behavior can be viewed as arrogant, so proceed with caution. Remember, it’s called social media for a reason.
Once you’ve followed 2000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow: this limit is different for every user and is based on your ratio of followers to following.
More Info: Twitter Help Center: FAQ about Following
Listing by Relationship
I sort of made a big deal about this in my talk, “You Are What You Tweet,” but it is important to think about what relationships you may want to list. Pencil out some of the choices you might have. Think about your business and or interests. Humor, automobiles, travel, politics, and sports are just a few of the endless possibilities.
For myself, I have a “friends” list. These are people I actually knew before they started Twitter accounts (otherwise known as “in real life”).
For Riggins Construction, I have a list that I put our clients and brokers on and another for our subcontractors. These are people whose tweets I always want to see, reply to, and share.
Listing by Topic
Sometimes it’s hard to remember a follower when you need to. Usernames are often hard to remember (exactly) and avatars frequently change.
When I wanted to remember the two painters I followed in Orange County, I was so frustrated. I had a “construction” list for the @RigginsConst account, but it was too diverse.
I finally ended up making several lists and put the floor and tile people together the HVAC and roofing people together, the General Contractors on their own list, etc.
Listing by Geography
There are many benefits to listing by geography.
For business and networking purposes, it’s good to put people who live in your vicinity, say county, on a list.
For example, I have an Orange County list, I can go to that column on Hootsuite, and read only those tweets. The list filters out my whole twitter stream (currently following 4,628) to show only the 153 on that list. Obviously, making the information more relevant and manageable for me. This gives me the ability to scroll through tweets and find gems even from four hours ago that I missed while otherwise occupied. I simply reply to start a conversation or share (retweet) their post.
Another reason to list by geography is if you’re researching an area to travel and/or move.
My backup plan, should I ever have to leave California, is to move to Arizona. I started putting people on a list with other Arizonans. I can read their tweets, interact, get to know the area, learn new things, and make friends before I even move.
Organization is the Key to Being Effective
Listing is the only way I think I could be truly effective at building relationships on Twitter. Prioritizing who you engage with is not bad, it’s just common sense.
The truth is, there are a lot of non-sense tweets, check-ins, and such, but those are also the tweets that show an individual’s humanity and personality. Discovering shared interests is the start of any friendship.
Feel free to check out my lists here.
Go read: “Twitter Lists for the Power User” by Carol Stephen for more ideas