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How to Use Twitter Lists More Effectively


Twitter lists can be powerful tools for building your online community but if you don’t know what you’re doing you could end up wasting a lot of time and effort. Here, we show you how to set up a list, and give you a few tips on how to get the best out of them.

Twitter LIst Instructions

Setting up a list couldn’t be easier. Just click on the ‘Me’ tab at the top of the screen, then the ‘Lists’ tab that appears on the left, and then the ‘Create list’ button that appears on the right. All being well, you should see this window:

Twitter lists


Enter a name for your list and a description in the relevant boxes, select whether you want it to be a private list or a public list, and then click ‘Save list’. Now, we need to add some people to this list. To start with, just search for people in the usual way. Then, click the button next to the ‘follow’ and select ‘Add or remove from list’ from the menu that pops up (see picture below).

Adding to a twitter list


When you do this, a small window will appear that looks a bit like this:

twitter handles to list


To add the person to a list, select the list that you want to add the person to by checking the box beside it and then click on the little ‘x’ in the top right corner. And that’s it! You can then take a look at the lists you’ve created by clicking on ‘Me’ and then ‘Lists’ in the same way as we did at the outset.

Ok, so we’ve created a list, and added at least one person to it, but how can you get the best out of this function? Here are some tips to help you create more effective lists:

Create Useful Public Lists

Public Twitter LIsts


Creating genuinely useful public lists can be a great way to attract new followers, as well as providing a valuable customer service to your existing ones. For example, if you run a blog about European cinema, you could create lists of relevant directors, actors, film festivals, cinemas, and critics. Then, when somebody goes looking for European cinema on Twitter, they might see these lists and subscribe to one or more of them, thereby increasing your visibility among your target audience.

Picking the Right Keywords

Google Trends


Public Twitter lists are indexed by Google, which means that you can use them to help your SEO efforts. So, when giving your public lists a name and description, you should be sure to use keywords that your target audience are likely to search for, using tools such as Google Trends to inform your choices. For example, the above comparison of ‘European Cinema’, ‘European Films’, and ‘European Movies’ reveals that ‘Movies’ is the most popular search term worldwide, although it is not used much in the UK, with ‘Films’ being the preferred search term there.

Use Widgets to Draw Traffic to Your List

Twitter Widgets


Putting a widget for your list on your blog or website is a great way of drawing traffic towards your list, and it’s easy to do. Simply click the cog on the top right of the window, select ‘settings’ from the drop down menu, select ‘Widgets’ from the left hand menu, and click ‘create widget’. Then, you’ll be taken to this screen:

Configure Twitter Widgets


From here, click on the ‘list’ tab (highlighted above), follow the instructions, and paste the widget into your blog.

Using private lists for research

One of the best things about private lists is that they allow you to listen in to Tweeters that you might not be following publicly. This can be particularly useful for checking up on what your competitors are doing on Twitter, so you can see how their social media strategies are conducted without being seen to be doing so.

You can also use private lists to organise your followers into categories such as “customers”, “potential customers”, and “co-workers”. That way, you can zone in on what that particular group has been saying and sharing, and use this to inform your content strategy.

Create New Lists


Remember, if you want to keep these lists from being visible to others, you need to set the Privacy options to ‘Private’ when you create the list (see example above).



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