If you use Twitter, you eventually reach the point where the blur going by your screen is as fast as the credits at the end of a movie. Information flies by at a speed too fast to read, let alone digest. Lists are a great way to organize it all. Some ideas are below and please chime in with your list tips as well.
Foundation Lists Are Your Core Information:
Foundation lists include things you’ll follow for the long haul related to your career, business, family, hobbies, etc. Some may be basic lists, like my News list with Bloomberg, Forbes, etc. Others may be a list of influencers in a given topic area such as my Press And The Like list that includes media, journalists and prominent bloggers I like to follow. You may also have lists related to a hobby or your favorite type of music or your family. I have teenage kids, so I have a private list to follow all of them – a little parent 411 is never a bad thing. If you follow people in various parts of the world, you may want to organize them by time zone lists so you can catch what they tweeted while you were asleep. The organization of topics is up to you, but in general these are categories of information or groups of people you will follow long term.
Efficiency Lists Are All About Speed and Engagement:
These lists save you time and have a short life span. For example if you’re attending a conference, you’ll want to set up a list of the key speakers, journalists, bloggers and people you want to follow at the event. You’ll also include a saved search on the designated hash tags. This lets you efficiently follow along with the digital conversation; retweet the good stuff; and keep a log of important items via favorites for post-conference blog posts or other write-ups. Really good conference organizers will set up lists in advance that you can subscribe to which include all the speakers, official press and conference accounts. Another type of efficiency list may be related to a topic you’re researching for a specific project. You’ll delete these lists once they’ve served their purpose.
Private Lists: If you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger at a cocktail party and start a conversation about a topic, then it goes on a private list.
Twitter allows you to mark a list as public meaning it is viewable from your Twitter profile or private which can only be seen by you. If you have a business list focused on monitoring the Twitter streams of your competitors or your employees, you may want to make that a private list and decide whether to actively follow them or just add them to the list in “lurk” status. Private lists are also good for interests that you consider personal – perhaps you follow motivational accounts (quotes of the day, scriptures, etc.) or expert advice that for a personal endeavor (New Year’s diet or a medical condition) or companies you may want to work for someday.
Social Media is Social so Public Lists Are a Great Way to Connect:
Adding people to a public list is a great way to build connections. Topical in nature, these lists can be viewed from your Twitter profile and others can subscribe to them. People are usually flattered to be added to a list and will send a thank you and may even promote your list or follow you as well. As an example, I have a list called Social Movers & Shakers that includes people who are leaders in social media; have interesting information to share; and whose perspectives I like to follow closely. I also look through the lists of some people I like to follow on Twitter and search for new people to follow or subscribe to their list to get all the updates on the topic. If you want people to subscribe to your list, name it something interesting yet descriptive. Avoid the “Group #1, Group #2” naming because it isn’t socially interesting and doesn’t tell people about who is on the list. Rule of thumb here is to make public lists that connect to your personal brand.
A List for Everyone and Everyone in a List:
Put everyone you follow on a list. This helps you keep track of them by topic area and also to see if they add value over time or if not, you can easily un-follow. Lists help you balance whom you follow across topics to quickly see where you’re light on number of people you follow on a given topic so you can add more as well as where you follow too many to track well which may mean splitting the list in to sub-topics.
To put your list strategy into action, you’ll want to add a column for each list to your favorite Twitter tracking tool. Now you have the full radar, neatly organized so you can quickly scan for interesting items; engage in conversations; and not miss a tweet.
If you have list advice and favorite lists you follow on Twitter, please share so we can all benefit.