What are Twitter Lists and why you should care

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December 3rd, 2009

Twitter Lists

Twitter recently rolled out a new feature called Lists. It enables you to group those you follow into lists, similar to Brizzly and desktop applications such as TweetDeck and Seesmic.

How do lists work?
You can login to Twitter and click the “following” link under your username in the upper right column. This will show everyone you’re following. There’s a list icon to the right of teach person’s name that, when clicked, allows you to assign that person to a list.

For example, I have a list of local people I follow here in Salt Lake. So if I want to see just what those people are saying, I can go to that list and it filters out everyone else. This makes it easier to digest your Twitter stream because you can break it out and view it in bite-sized, relevant chunks.

Why you should care
There are a number of benefits to Twitter lists, in addition to neatly dividing up your Twitter stream to make it more manageable:

1. You can follow other people’s lists. If you wanted a quick way to follow a lot of people in Salt Lake, you could go to my list of SLC-ers and follow everyone on that list with one click.

2. Follower count is less important. Anybody can get a LOT of followers very quickly. Because of that, they’ve become less valuable as a measurement of importance/popularity/influence. Lists are harder to game (manipulate).

3. See your reputation. Want to know what people think of you, or what they see you as? You can see which lists people put you on and how many people follow those lists.

For example, Richter7 is currently on 16 lists including ones called Agencies, Grade A Biz Accounts, Leading Agencies and SLC Punks (which we take as a compliment). Conversely, before you follow someone you can see which lists they’re on to get a feel for the type of content they’re going to be tweeting about and if it would be of interest to you. Very useful.

But Lists also shows you how many people follow THOSE lists. So the fact that I’m on a list called Cool People is flattering until you realize there’s only one person following that list, which is the guy who created it.

Lists have the potential to dramatically change the way we find, follow and manage contacts in our Twitter stream. Have you started using Lists? Do you have any questions about them? Thoughts? Please let me know in the comments.

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