March 09, 2015

Twitter lists: advantages

Dear reader,

many users don't know how to use Twitter's 'list' functionality. So here are a few explanations:

You can first use lists in order to organize your favorite accounts by 'grouping' them. So instead of a rather unorganized chaotic full TL, consisting of a broad spectrum of different subjects, you will get a highly specific time lime of its own.
I often use it when there is a new event requiring coverage and suddenly there's a need of adding new sources for keeping up to date.

Another problem most of you will only encounter once they reach this magic Twitter limitation of 2001 maximum accounts you can follow 'regular', meaning you just hit the follow button and from this click you are an official follower. It's not clear how many own followers you need to have in order to cross that barrier, since Twitter does keep quite about this 'unlocker'. Perhaps when you also reach 2000 followers they will allow you to follow more accounts.

This problem doesn't exist with Twitter lists. You can basically create as many as you want and then follow as many accounts on each list as you want. So that enables you to 'follow' more people in a more organized way. Only disadvantage is that those you follow will often not realize that you are 'following' them by putting them on your list. At least Twitter's own web platform does give only a short notice that someone put you on his list and after a screen refresh this information is gone in your 'notification' section. (No need to discuss all the shortcomings of Twitter's web platform here)

Once you have created one or several Twitter lists you can even share this 'sub-TL' or time line with others (e.g. your own followers), since they too can be 'followed' or better subscribed to.

Another advantage of such a list is that there's no need of repeating for instance a #ff list by tweeting a limited number recommended accounts. Such a #ff tweet is often only visible for a short time to your followers while a list with recommended accounts is static = always available. You can publish the entire entire list at once by copying its URL either to a tweet or even more static... to your own Twitter bio, allowing your readers either to subscribe to that list or to pick the accounts they deem right to follow. 

Your Twitter list is so public that people are not even required to be logged in or even be a member of Twitter, since everyone who clicks on that Twitter list URL will be able to see all the new tweets it shows. You can even embed this public 'sub time line' into your blog as some kind of public news service. It takes some effort to create a so called widget somewhere in your Twitter settings, but it's quite easy to copy & paste the necessary code to your blog.

Example of a complete (?) list of US National Weather Service branches: 

Example of displaying up to date info on your own website/blog [EZR Statistics]:

So it's the ideal tool to organize your Twitter 'mentors', 'news channels', friends etc
All incoming tweets will be in a special little time line (TL) and it can be displayed to others also when your are not online.

How to do it (Twitter web interface):
create/maintain your own lists:


4. once a list is created you can add the accounts:

click on that wheel to the left of 'follow' / 'following' and you get a drop down menu: 'add or remove from list'

next you get a list of all your existing lists. Choose one or several where this account should be added to:

and that's it ! 

#ff = short for follow Friday, but could also be used on other occasions to animate own followers to follow the recommended Twitter account