Twitter introduced list functionality a while back, and I’ve used it a bit here and there (mainly so I can find the real life people I know on Twitter amongst the “noise”), but I wanted to start using them a little differently so did some research.

Lists Are Great

I follow well over a thousand people, so if you’re in the midst of that and aren’t in the 25 most recent tweets when I look at my main stream, then unless you’re on a list (a column in my TweetDeck) I’m not going to see what you tweeted! Sorry, but that’s the way it is (of course message me if you think you shold be on one of my lists, I’m @Keiron).

My lists so far have been mainly to make my life easier, local people, real life, a “see-all” for people I find interesting (and I try to limit that one to 20-30 people), a tech one etc. So I can see all of these people’s tweets at once. I have a few private lists too (customers, suppliers etc).

Following a List

You can also follow a list, say for example you wanted to follow all the comedians I follow – that’s easy you just follow this list, and when I update it you get all my recommendations:

This functionality means that you can get a moderated list by someone who is an expert in their subject, for example I’ve followed in the past, Will Carling’s list of rugby players, whenever he finds a new one – I see their tweets (without having to go hunting for them, and he mixes in the right circles to know these people!).

I’ve followed one or two lists belonging to other people in the past – but I usually tend to follow a list for a while – work out who’s interesting on the list and then follow those individuals, adding them to a similar list of my own (which other people can follow if they wish!).

Ok, so lists are great – what’s the new thing?

It’s not exactly new, but it’s new to the way I think about lists! After some discussion over the last week and a little experimentation it turns out I might be able to clean up my main twitter stream somewhat (I can hear a lot of you breathing sighs of relief about how good that would be for you!).

You can add users to a list, without following them.

Why is this good? Well, taking one example – I follow a lot of rugby people, they don’t tend to follow me back – probably because as rugby players they aren’t particularly interested in my random tweets about doing the accounts, deciding if Big Brother’s going to be any good, or the latest PHP programming project! So I’m unlikely to get a reciprocal follow from them…

You’ve probably spotted where this is going now…………If it’s somebody I want to read their tweets but are unlikely to follow me back, I’m going to add them to lists rather than follow them that way they’ll appear in a specific niche column in my TweetDeck (or Seismic on my Milestone).

I know what some of you are thinking:

“You need to follow people, follow more people, then follow more people – it’s the only way you’ll get followers yourself!!”

I used to think the same, but I’m coming away from that now, I want people to follow me because they want to, if they don’t want to – that’s fine as well! By unfollowing all those that I’m interested in who don’t follow me and adding them to a list this will clean up my main stream so that in future it is full of people that interest me most of the time (and maybe don’t fit into a niche).

I’ll see how this goes initially, and if it goes well I’ll probably take it one stage further and unfollow people that are on my lists (even if they’re following me), I suspect this may lead to a mass unfollowing of me. But hey if they’re only following me so I’ll follow them back are they actually going to bother to read any of my tweets?

I haven’t quite sussed out the finer details of this yet, but I suspect I’ll have some kind of workflow:

  1. Follow a User,
  2. If they interest me a lot stay following (and add to list),
    If they interest but are quite niche unfollow them (and add to a list),
    If they make no sense and I simply don’t want to see their tweets them simply unfollow.

That said I’m going to have to put in quite a bit of legwork initially to clean up my initial followers, I’ll probably use to do this. Saying that, I started to use it the other day and opened 230 tabs in Firefox (after it had used up over a GB of RAM it settled down!). So I’ll be doing a Father Chistmas:

“Making a list, Checking it Twice… Going to find out who’s naughty or nice”

How do you use twitter lists, is there a way they make your life easier? I’d be interested to hear!