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Twitter Lists: Why (and How) You Should Use Them

Unless it's your first day in Twitter, you probably know that the service lets one create self-compiled lists of Twitter accounts to follow, craft titles and descriptions for those lists, follow other people's lists, etc. In this post, I'd like to talk about the benefits of using Twitter lists and some smart ways you can leverage them for marketing purposes.

Rules of using Twitter lists

First thing first, from the horse’s mouth straight, here are the rules by which to play when using Twitter lists. Perhaps it's worth reminding that Twitter lists can be public (visible to everyone and searchable on Google) and private (visible only to you).

Twitter list

Besides, Twitter recently expanded the number of lists one is allowed to have, as well as the number of accounts to add to a list. From now on, you can have up to 1,000 Twitter lists (as opposed to the 20 lists you were allowed previously) and each list can be up to 5,000 users long.

Needless to say, these changes present new online reputation management and social listening opportunities to social marketers. And, even though there are more sophisticated reputation management tools, the upgraded Twitter lists could be an easy, intuitive and - above all - a free way to accomplish the same.

Smart ways to use Twitter lists

Why do people create Twitter lists? SMM managers often use Twitter lists to keep their Twitter connections organized: for instance, one can create a list of industry influencers and "listen" to their tweets, or create lists for different segments of their Twitter contacts just to know who is who.

At the same time, one could employ Twitter lists in a more ingenious manner:

1. Organizing #FF lists

Twitter best practices

How do you remember who to #FF this week? Well, you could use Twitter lists for that. Once you #FF the right people, hit Delete and start building a new list for the week. :) Of course, it’s better to make this list private so that those not included into it don't get offended.

By the way, you could use Twitter lists to organize a #Monday #hugs onslaught or any other group activity that involves hand-picking relevant Twitter profiles.

2. Connecting the dots

Would you like to mark it up that Brian and Melissa both work for this company X, and that Lisa and James are their partners from the UK? You can create Twitter lists with people who are closely connected in the business world.

This will allow you to listen to their conversations at ease (you’d be surprised how many people working for the same company tweet at one another), not to mention that you will be able to easily tell what kind of people you have among your contacts.

3. Watching your competitors

Well, of course, you can use lists to keep an ear on what your competitors are talking about on Twitter. The great thing about Twitter lists is that, like I said, they can be made private, and the people you add to them will have no way of knowing they've been put on your list.

So, why not create a separate list with all the major social media accounts of your biggest competitors? By the way, if you would also like to track your business rivals' activity on other social networks, you can use multi-platform social listening tools such as our BuzzBundle software for these purposes.

4. Pitching to potential clients

Another way an SMM manager can put Twitter lists to good use is by creating lists of potential clients to pay attention to. Sometimes it's hard to remember who you approached on Twitter with what proposition. So, maintaining Twitter lists with prospects of different levels (at different points of their buying cycle) is a good way to keep your direct marketing activities organized.

twitter management

5. Searching for relevant lists

Twitter lists can also be of great help if you are just diving into a new niche. For example, do you know who is who in the British social media market? Who are the top 100 South African women entrepreneurs? You can explore this with Twitter lists.

Just search for site:twitter.com [keywords likely to be in the list’s name] on Google:

twitter feed

Once you find a nice list, you can simply subscribe to it. But do be advised that, by subscribing to a list, you are also publically adding it to the page where all your Twitter lists are displayed. So, if you don't want others to know you are watching this particualr list, include the same accounts in a private round-up.

6. Increasing your visibility in search

Just like public tweets, public Twitter lists get indexed by search engines and show up in their search results pages. So, sometimes creating a Twitter list on a particular topic may increase the chances of your Twitter account getting found on Google or elsewhere.

Of course, your list should have practical value, too. For example, do you know anyone who works for Google and frequently shares some great first-hand info and opinions? Create a list called "Google insiders" and make it publicly available. Other such compilations work well, too. Such as "Best Toronto restaurants", etc.

Some people even manage to put themselves on those SEO-optimized lists, even though Twitter says you can’t (and you probably shouldn't) add your own account there:


7. Aiding real-life communication

Now, this one wasn't my idea. I came across this piece of advice by Brett Duncan a while ago. It is about how one can use Twitter lists for human networking before, during and after a real-time event.

In a word, networking with people prior to a real-life event helps you break the ice once you meet them in person. Plus, a smartly set up Twitter list will help you interact with other attendees during and after the event, which will likely result in a long-term Twitter relationship. 


Now, do you use Twitter lists? Do you think they make your life easier or you don't really care for them? It would be great to hear your opinion in comments!

Join The Conversation

  • Alesia Krush's picture
    Aug 26 Posted 3 years ago Alesia Krush

    Thanks, Sarah!

    I thinks Twitter should do more to promote the lists feature, since it's really useful :) 



  • Alesia Krush's picture
    Aug 26 Posted 3 years ago Alesia Krush

    Sounds awesome, Spook SEO!

  • Spook SEO's picture
    Aug 25 Posted 3 years ago Spook SEO

    I've been a big fan of using Twitter to track the needs of my potential clients and so far, its been doing me wonders as far as client acquisition goes. Thanks for sharing your tips! Cheers!

  • sprout_sarah's picture
    Aug 22 Posted 3 years ago sprout_sarah

    Great advice on Twitter lists, Alesia! I've only more recently started using lists in order to categorize my followers. I find them very useful for following up after Twitter chats. I participate weekly in several similar themed chats so it really help me with how I know a certain user. A local list is always nice for news on real life events. Thanks for #FF tip - I'll certainly be using that tactic now!

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