How do you bring order to chaos and complexity? If you’re among a thousands-strong crowd, how do you make sure you hear what everyone has to say? I don’t know about the real world (don’t get around much anymore) but in the Twitter world there’s one perfect solution and it’s called Twitter Lists.
In my opinion the most undervalued feature of Twitter. Not enough talked about and not used often enough. The difference between using Twitter Lists and not using them is just like the difference between having a huge pile of Post-its with obscure phone numbers and having all the important contacts written down in a phone diary.
Twitter Lists can be used both for fun and business and I’ll tell you exactly how. But make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the article for a list of the most useful Twitter accounts of SEOs and social media people. Follow them and add them to a list and you’ll be amazed how much you can actually learn about building your social media presence and executing websites. So, let’s crack on!
Tips for Making the Most of Twitter Lists
20 by 500
Each account can create 20 Lists and add 500 tweeps to each. So, in total your social media directory can have up to 10,000 entries. UPDATE: This is no longer true. You can now create as many lists as you wish, just don’t overdo it 🙂 The purpose of lists is to tidy things up, not to overcomplicate them.
The web interface allows you to create and manage lists from two different places. One is Settings -> Lists where you can create/delete and view your own lists. The second one is dynamic and you can access it as you browse somebody’s profile.
Clicking on the user icon and choosing Add or remove from lists, you get a popup that lets you add the tweep to one or more of your existing lists in a tick of the box or create a list on the go.
There are many mobile Twitter apps that let you manage lists effortlessly. For Android I can recommend UberSocial. For BlackBerry 10 you can side-load the same app.
Who added you?
Monitor your interactions to see who have added you to a list. On the Twitter web interface, go to the “@” sign on the top navigation and you’ll see the new “adds.”
Always consider this as a compliment and unless the account seems spammy, return the favour – this person obviously considers yourself an authority and it might be a good idea to keep in touch.
Stalk the competitor
If you’re “stalking” people and don’t want them to know you do, create a private list. Then only you have access to the list and he target won’t even know you’re watching him without officially following him. Sounds sinister? Not at all.
Although businesses in many niches keep good relationships with their competitors (particularly the geeky types of startups), there are industries where following your competitors may look silly. But you still want to keep tabs on what they’re tweeting, right? Then add them to a private list!
Look at the influencers
- Discover amazing sources of information and inspiration by finding out who adds the industry influencers to Twitter Lists. To do that, create a list of the most influential tweeps in your industry, and construct a list of urls like this:
You have to be logged in to do that. Now you see all the various users who have added the influencer to their list. The first task is to follow the tweeps who’ve created those lists. They might follow you back and add you to the same list.
- Secondly, by exploring the lists that the tweeps have created, you will discover other influential/interesting people that you would not have otherwise found.
- Similarly, you can then check the inluencer’s list to see whom he has added. The url for that will be
This will show the lists that the influencer himself has created followed by the lists that he’s subscribed to.
- Find engaged followers by checking who has subscribed to an influencer’s list:
There won’t be many subscribers mainly because people are not using lists as often as they should. However, the tweeps you’ll find in this subscriber window are what I call Twitter-savvy and they’re more likely to read and share stuff.
Advanced Search Queries
Use advanced search queries to find good lists related to your niche. If you search for this on Google:
journalists inurl:lists site:twitter.com
it will return hundreds of lists that other people have created.
Follow greedy tweeps
You can follow greedy tweeps without… erm… actually following them. With greedy I mean those who are followed by tens of thousands of people and who only follow back their wife and her cat.
I might have a different perception and you don’t have to agree with me (obviously) but I believe that social media is not the place to be greedy. The concept that makes Twitter and social media interesting is that you both talk and listen.
If you’re just talking and not listening to anyone, isn’t that a very lonely place to be? So, if you too feel uncomfortable following somebody who will never follow you back, don’t follow, just add to the list. That way your “friends” count remains the same but you can still read what the celeb tweeps say by visiting your list.
Don’t delay adding
Regardless of whether you’re building your Twitter following manually or using semi-automated tools, in order to keep your Twitter List usage consistent, you need to browse through your “friends” list regularly and sort the people into lists.
Otherwise, once you follow several thousands of people, it will become a nightmare to go through the whole bunch and begin adding them to lists. Start early and be consistent and you’ll make the most of Twitter Lists.
Create and Use Lists
Now that you’ve created the lists and added the users, it’s time to start using the lists to make your life easier, to improve your business, generate leads etc. So, what exactly can you do with the lists?
- Use it as a phone directory. If you’ve sorted the tweeps by topics/professions (which is probably the most logical thing to do), you can use your Twitter Lists whenever you need to look for a specialist. Of course, you could just go to a search engine and search for what you need but why do that if you have the people you need at your fingertips. AND you have a good opener: “Hi John, thanks for following me on Twitter.”
- Generate leads. It’s time to take Twitter seriously. When you hear somebody mentioning making money with Twitter, you probably think about spammy tactics like monitoring keywords and trying to peddle affiliate links. On the other hand, they probably mean generating leads through Twitter. Having people sorted in convenient topical lists helps when your goal is to build partnerships.
- SEO outreach. We all know that the “hey, I want to write a guest post” emails don’t work any more. And there are a few good reasons why they don’t. However, if you put some effort into the whole thing and build the relationship first, then you’ll find that outreach works much better. Because you suddenly stop “cold-calling” people for guest gigs and instead you’re talking to good acquiantances about adding value to their sites. A massive difference!
- Finally, if you’re simply using Twitter for fun, the Lists help you segment your Twitter feed. Instead of reading the whole lot, you can hop through the lists and read only topics you’re interested in.
Top 100 SEOs on Twitter
Now for the bonus. Here’s a list of 100+ people who are “must-follow” if you’re interested in web stuff, social media and SEO. It reminds of a Pokemon character cast, don’t you think 🙂 everyone’s got a special power and the outsiders don’t quite know how to handle them.
This list is by no means complete. It’s a work in progress and I’ve compiled it manually, looking at the most active Twitter accounts of the SEM people. If you’re not on the list, it doesn’t mean I don’t consider you an expert. Maybe I simply missed you or maybe you weren’t very active when I checked your Twitter account.
Please feel free to nominate yourself or your colleagues by getting in touch. I’ve also included a downloadable list in txt format that you can use with your TweetAdder. The experts in this list are sorted alphabetically by their first name (so that nobody can call me biased).
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