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The Twitter List Low Down

November 9, 2009

Twitter Lists has been available to some lucky users in Beta for a while, but last week saw its full roll out to the rest of the Twitter universe.

What is Twitter Lists?
Twitter Lists is a feature in Twitter that allows you to categorize the people you follow. Right now, you can create up to 20 lists, and each list can have up to 500 users. You can make the lists public (for everyone to access) or private. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Why is Twitter Lists Useful?

1. Better Organization
Twitter Lists allow for better organization of your followers, particularly if you follow a lot of people. It also makes it easier to filter tweets from different groups of people which is helpful if you follow a bunch of Twitter addicts who like to tweet every minute, of every day!

For example, if you just want to see what is going on amongst your friends in “real life”, you can create a list that just includes the people you personally know. You could also organize a list of people who tweet about social media and a list of people focused on search marketing, and then easily see what information is being talked about for each of these different areas.

2. Provide Recommendations
If you have taken the time to create a list and add people to it, then that often implies a recommendation for those people, for the field you have categorized them into. Public-viewable lists also allow an easy way for users to find and follow people in lists that have been created.

There has been speculation that Twitter Lists could be the death of #FollowFriday. Personally, I think Follow Friday will continue to live on, since list creation is not something everyone will take the time to do. Rather, Twitter Lists and Follow Friday have the potential to complement each other. For example, rather than listing individual people in a Follow Friday, users can now just link to a Twitter List.

3. Identify Influencers
When a person has been added to many lists (and there is a similar categorization across those lists), you can start to gain an idea as to who the big players or influencers are in that field. This provides another way of judging big Twitter influencers, in addition to just looking at the number of followers a person has (particularly since there are ways to cheat the system where follower volume is concerned).

4. Positioning By Others
Twitter Lists provide interesting insight into how followers view you. This can be particularly eye-opening for companies on Twitter. How is your company’s brand, positioning and values defined by your customers? And how does this differ to your corporate definition? As an example, @comcastcares is currently on 330 lists, ranging from various technology and service-related descriptions (such as tech and customersupport), to more emotional categorizations ranging from brandsirespect to punkassesandidiots.

Additional Twitter List Tools

  • Listorious provides a directory of public Twitter Lists
  • Listiti provides Twitter List Email Alerts
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