Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself answering a lot of questions about Twitter Lists.
– “What do they do?”
– “What are they for?”
– “Why do people keep adding me to them?!”
A lot of people don’t really know what they’re all about, so I thought I’d write a good old blog post to explain the basics and share my tips and tricks.
Hopefully you’ll find it useful!
WHAT IS A TWITTER LIST?
So, first things first. What is a Twitter List?
Well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin: a list.
It’s a way of grouping Twitter users together in categories that are interesting or helpful to you.
What sort of categories? Well they can be anything.
I have a List for Friends + Family, a List for my favourite blogger friends, one for my favourite brands…
BUT WHAT’S THE POINT OF THESE LISTS?
Fair question. Let me explain.
I have a List called Blogger Babes. The people on this List are some of my fave bloggers on Twitter, and the ones I interact with the most.
Now, normally, their tweets would get lost in the 800+ other people that I follow. I COULD unfollow everyone I follow except for those 70-odd people, but that’s not really the point of Twitter, is it?
I want to connect with as many people as I can (within my industry obvs), but I also want to be able to easily find my friends’ tweets, without having to scroll through for ages to find them.
This is where the Lists come in.
With a List, I can group people together in their category and see just those users’ feeds.
I can scroll through my Blogger Babes feed and click through to people’s new posts, I can check my Favourite Brands’ for whether there are any offers or competitions going on, I can quickly catch up on all my best friends’ news and photos… and so on.
No background noises, no promoted tweets, and no distractions.
Simple, but SO helpful!
HOW DO I SET UP A TWITTER LIST?
If you click through to your profile, right in the middle of the page you’ll see a tab called LISTS.
Hit Create New List, give it a name, give it a description, decide whether you want it to be Public or Private, and Bob’s your uncle!
You have a List.
WAIT A MINUTE! PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? WHAT?
Oops, did I forget to mention that bit?
So, normally, Lists are automatically set to Public. Which means that anyone can pop over to your profile and have a look at what Lists you’ve made, who’s in them, and read the feeds from them. Just like you can.
People can also subscribe to your Lists, and you can subscribe to theirs.
That way, if someone already has already made an awesome List of bloggers for you to follow, then you can just follow the feed.
You don’t even have to follow the List owner personally, OR any of the Twitter users on it!
It’s a great way to network and find new people to follow :)
So why would you want the option of making your Lists private?
Well for example, I have a List of influential people that I like keeping an eye on. That sounds incredibly stalkerish, but it’s really not! Promise.
However, 1) I don’t want everyone to know that I have a List like that (whoops, cat’s out of the bag!) but also 2) I don’t want people to know WHO is on the List.
For, y’know, stalker reasons…
So I just made it private. Simple.
SO I’VE MADE A LIST. NOW WHAT?
You add people!
And I’m afraid that this is the time-consuming and very boring part of the Lists.
Twitter have unfortunately made it so that you can only add people to Lists individually. As in, one by one.
Took me ages the first time! But once it’s done, it’s done. Nowadays, I just automatically add people to a List as soon as I follow them.
HOW TO ADD SOMEONE TO A TWITTER LIST
1. Go to their profile and click on the little admin wheel on the right hand side (right next to the Follow/Following button).
2. Click Add or remove from Lists.
3. Tick the correct box. (You can also create a List from here. Same instructions as above.)
Ta-da! You’ve added one user to your List. Now go add everyone else!
A WORD OF WARNING: some people/sites will recommend you use a third-party app to add people in bulk.
Personally, I’ve tried logging into about 3 of these and everytime it hasn’t worked, or the server is busted or something.
I can imagine Twitter isn’t particularly enamoured of these things, so I’d recommend that you stick to adding people individually as above.
GREAT! GOT ANY MORE TIPS?
• If you want to DE-LIST YOURSELF from those blooming annoying lists that have 8524147452 people on them, and are no use to you at all: just block then unblock the List Owner. IMPORTANT NOTE: this will mean you’re no longer following/being followed by them either though.)
• Not sure whether you’re actually ON any Lists? Head to your List Page, and click on the Member Of option. It will come up with a list of blogs you’re a member of, followed by the name of the Owner. Then you can follow the instructions above to abandon the list if you don’t want to be on it anymore.
• Don’t add TOO many people to one List. I mean, you can, if you want to. Obviously. But there’s not really much point, is there? Cos you’ll just be back where you started, not being able to keep up with everyone.
• Use them to bring groups together before events. Kinda like a whatsapp group, of sorts! An event I went to a few weeks ago made the awesome decision to add all the attendees to a List beforehand. This worked MUCH better than a hashtag, cos even if someone didn’t tweet about it previously (or use the hashtag) you could still find them.
• Want some more external reading on this? Check out this AWESOME post by Buffer on 23 Seldom-Used Ideas for Twitter Lists. I found it super helpful!
I never really understood Twitter Lists until last year, and now they’re one of my most-used features on the app/site.
Hopefully some of you are now a bit clearer on how these bad boys work, you’ll get stuck in and start using them too!