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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Save Your Social Media Strategy from Overload with Twitter Lists

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    You Can't Get Very Far Without Building Twitter Lists

    If you thought Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace was a long read, think about the fact that Twitter generates more content than 8,100 copies of the classic novel each day. Twitter users send around 200 million Tweets each day. While the social media network is still no Facebook, no one's arguing with the fact it's really big and growing: around 20 million US adults use Twitter on a daily basis, which is a 400% increase since 2011.

    Engaging with other members of the network is a key part of using Twitter successfully for business. That being said, it's pretty difficult if you've got other tasks on your plate each day than just reading and responding to Tweets. Let me introduce you to your new BFF: the Twitter list.

    So, How Overloaded Are We?

    Measuring the average number of followers of a Twitter user is difficult, because a full 21% of registered users have never sent a single Tweet. It is clear that for active users, information overload is a way of life: 12.1% of active Twitter users follow more than 500 people. Speaking from personal experience, following a few thousand on people on Twitter without the benefit of lists starts to resemble a shouting match a lot more than an arena for civilized networking. If you're going to be using Twitter for business the right way, it pays to get started building lists of people you follow sooner rather than later. Let's examine some of the benefits of organizing the Twitter users you follow into lists:

    1. Engage on Your Own Terms

    From an entirely selfish standpoint, Twitter lists can help you sift through and avoid Tweets that matter a little less. If you're courting other business bloggers for a guest post slot or know that someone you follow delivers interesting links day in and day out, building lists is the most convenient way to keep close tabs on the Tweets that matter to you.

    2. Keep an Eye on Competitors

    If you're wanting to pay close attention to the social media strategy of your competitors, you can do this with a list, and they don't even have to know about it. Twitter users have the option of building either private or public lists. Private lists are entirely private - the people on the list have no idea they've been added and visitors to your profile can't access the information. Building private Twitter lists is where really great business sense collides with the best and brightest social media strategy. If it doesn't help your business to share the information, private lists are the way to go.

    3. Content Curation

    Twitter is one of the world's fastest moving streams of content, and separating the best from the rest is a real job. By curating public lists, you can essentially gain the reputation of someone with great connections with bloggers or social media experts. For small businesses, curating Twitter lists can be a powerful way to establish thought leadership. Keeping close tabs on users who often share high-value content can provide you with a steady source of awesome information to share with your own followers. While really great Twitter lists can't replace the role of maintaining your own business blog or RSS feeds, using lists as a source for content curation can make you seem a whole lot smarter.

    4. Hijack Lists

    Finding other Twitter users in your industry with well-curated Twitter lists can be the social media equivalent of striking gold. Don't be afraid to take advantage of someone else's hard work creating thoughtful lists of leading business or strategy experts. If they didn't want to share, the list would be private. From hijacking your competitor's lists for future clients to connecting with the best and brightest bloggers, social media geniuses know that you don't always have to build the list yourself to benefit.

    Getting Started Building Twitter Lists

    So, know that it's clear you can't get very far without Twitter lists, how do you start building them? You can either initiate lists from your Twitter homepage or the profile of other Twitter users. To get started from someone else's profile, click the drop down bar next to the follow button and select the "list" option.

    How to get started building twitter lists







    You can either the Twitter user to an existing list or create a new one, which will lead you to a menu that looks like this:

    Options for building a new Twitter list

     There is no magic process for separating the Twitter accounts you're following into lists, which is why it's a best practice to get started as soon as possible. If you're trying to cull your followers into groups, it's going to be an ongoing process. Each time you follow a new user with potential, make a point of plugging  them into an existing or new list.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is that members of your Twitter lists no longer appear on your home feed. Checking each of your lists should now be a major part of your social media monitoring work flow. Visit your lists frequently, work constantly to curate resources for both public and private use, and enjoy the fact that a visit to Twitter doesn't need to result in information overload.

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    Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/bplanet

    Topics: Social Media