The Art and Science of Building Twitter Lists

The science of Twitter tells us that the clutter of your Twitter stream rises proportionally with the number of Twitter accounts you follow. The art of Twitter tells us that the vast majority of tweets published by the people you follow are probably meaningless to you. Finding the right balance between the art and science of Twitter can be challenging.

By building Twitter lists, you can reverse the proportional growth of following numbers and clutter-filled tweets. In simpler terms, you can increase meaning while decreasing clutter. Following are tips you can use to leverage the art and science of Twitter through Twitter lists and improve your overall Twitter experience.

1. Set your Twitter goals.

Why are you using Twitter? What do you want to achieve by actively participating in the Twitterverse? Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can focus your time on activities that will help you reach those goals. A big part of your success depends on following the right people and seeing the right tweets. Identify your primary goal and secondary goals, and then create lists of Twitter accounts that can help you reach those goals. Forcing yourself to focus on tweets published by the key people in your Twitter lists will give you peace-of-mind that you won’t miss an important update.

2. Benchmark other list creators.

Find popular and active lists by searching for topics on Listorious. This is one of the best places to get list ideas and find successful lists to emulate. You can also find people to add to your own Twitter lists through searches on Listorious.

3. Cast a narrow net.

The most effective Twitter lists are highly focused on niche topics. For example, creating a Twitter list that includes the Twitter accounts of leading search engine optimization companies is more targeted than creating a list of anyone and everyone who identifies themselves as search engine optimization experts. The former list is more likely to give you quality results that you can trust. The latter list will give you content from such a wide variety of sources that you’d have no way of instantly knowing whether or not you can trust the tweets by the list members.

4. Stalk public lists.

Don’t re-invent the wheel. You can save a lot of time by looking through Twitter lists on other Twitter account profiles to find lists to copy and modify to suit your needs. For example, go through the people you follow on Twitter and view the public lists they’ve created. You’re apt to find at least one Twitter list that you’d like to create, too. Use the list you found as a starting point to create your own list.

5. Follow tweets by Twitter accounts you’re not following.

You can follow tweets published by a specific Twitter account even if you don’t want to click the Follow button and actually add that account to the list of accounts you follow on Twitter. Rather than manually visiting that account again and again, you can create a relevant Twitter list, make it public or private, and add that account to your list. Tweets from that account will appear within the stream of all other accounts on that list even though you’re not following that account.

6. Don’t forget to create private lists.

Twitter offers you the ability to create public and private Twitter lists. Private lists are excellent tools for businesses to do ongoing competitive research, listen to brand advocates, and keep tabs on target audiences.

7. Subscribe to lists created by other Twitter users.

If you find a Twitter list created by another person that you like, you don’t have to recreate your own list. Instead, you can follow the existing list by subscribing to it even if you don’t follow all of the accounts on that list.

8. Keep your Twitter lists updated.

An outdated list won’t be very useful to you, so make sure you take time to clean up your lists every month or so. Remove accounts that are no longer active or relevant and add useful accounts as you find them.

9. Understand Twitter list limitations.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations on what you can do with Twitter lists. For example, you can only create 20 Twitter lists and each list cannot include more than 500 users. In addition, you cannot send messages to every user on a list. You can review the most current Twitter list limitations in the Twitter Help Center.