Facebook Interest Lists: Heard of 'em?

Sida Li VP of Social Media Operations, fishbat, Inc

Posted on April 12th 2012

Facebook Interest Lists: Heard of 'em?

Interest lists were introduced around the same time that the Facebook timeline was introduced for personal profiles, but not many users seem to know about them. The most popular lists only have around 20,000 subscribers, which is miniscule compared to the amount of Facebook users out there.

What are interest lists, you ask? Essentially, they aggregate status updates from fan pages and personal profiles (using the subscribe feature) and display them in a contained news feed. This news feed is completely separate from the news feed that displays posts from your friends, subscriptions and pages you’ve liked. These lists allow you to separate your existing news feed into whatever categories you want. Plus, you don’t even have to Like or subscribe to a page or individual before putting them into a list. You can also subscribe to other peoples’ lists.

For example, you can pull up a list of newspapers on Facebook every morning and go through the daily news while you eat breakfast. When you are done reading the news, simply close the list and start browsing your regular news feed. It seems like a great feature, so why aren’t more Facebook users taking advantage of lists? I have 3 theories.

First, Facebook has not been promoting the feature heavily. It is located at the bottom of the left column of your news feed, right below subscriptions (which is also a feature that not all Facebook users are aware of). As far as visibility goes, only keen-eyed Facebook users would notice it. Second, lists require effort. Creating your own list requires browsing for pages or individuals to add, which probably takes a couple of minutes at most. However, in my opinion those couple of minutes are enough of an effort to turn off many users. Even subscribing to other users’ lists is not completely hassle-free; there is the matter of actually pulling up the list every time you want to view it. Finally, not all Facebook users need lists. Many users only interact with their close friends and family on Facebook and have no need to categorize them any further.

Personally, I fall under the second category. I could subscribe to lists that others have made, but not everyone on the lists is relevant to my interests.  I have a couple of ideas for lists in my head, but I never want to put aside the time to actually create the lists. I was going to create a Facebook list today, but then I decided to write a blog about it instead.


Sida Li

VP of Social Media Operations, fishbat, Inc

Sida Li is the VP of Social Media Operations at fishbat, a digital marketing agency. He has managed digital marketing for brands in multiple industries, including baked goods, convenience stores, beauty products, apparel makers, jewelers and tourism boards. Sida is also a published poet and writer. His other hobbies include blogging and maintaining his YouTube channel. You can find his digital footprint at http://about.me/sidali.

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Sookie Shuen
Posted on April 13th 2012 at 7:18AM

Sida, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Facebook's Interest Lists. Yes I do agree that setting up your own list takes time, but I still think at least it makes it all worthwhile as my lists are niche and targeted. :)

Posted on April 13th 2012 at 10:47AM

Thank you for the reminder!

Have to look into the FB lists brand pages in mind: could I build lists as Metropolia Career Services (http://goo.gl/97aTZ) serving as starting points for students looking for companies etc to follow?

The Likes list is too undifferentiated to be useful for student group as varied as ours: four fields of study, over 60 degree programmes.

Posted on April 13th 2012 at 10:49AM

Thanks so much for sharing, this is awesome.  I often want to find out information about competitors and other folks in my industry but do not necessarily want to "like" their page. 

Posted on April 20th 2012 at 4:55PM

Re "This news feed is completely separate from the news feed that displays posts from your friends, subscriptions and pages you’ve liked."

You're missing kind of a big point with interest lists.

While it's true that interest list feeds can be viewed separately, people who subscribe to a list see updates from that list mixed in with their main news feed.

As the creator of the list, your name is attached to the list. Net net: Lists are a great way to visibly provide value to people.

Posted on February 24th 2013 at 7:57PM

Great post Sida. Interest lists are definitely a feature that is unfortunate for those that dont use it... Underused and underestimated.