Make a Twitter List and Check It Twice
Twitter just introduced Twitter Lists, the
biggest change to its service that ever came from the top down, rather
than from users or third parties. The best way to understand the
feature is to try it out yourself, as it's rapidly rolling out if you
check twitter.com. But I'll give you a taste of what it means for your
day job, as well as your day-to-day Twitter usage.
With Twitter Lists, any Twitter user can
create a list of other users and make the list public or private. You
can follow others' lists and see what lists you're on (assuming the
feature's live for you) by going to
http://twitter.com/[username]/lists/memberships (mine are here).
I wrote on 360i's blog about how Twitter Lists are the "Web's newest popularity contest." The next day, Mashable titled one of its posts,
"Twitter Lists: Only You Can Help Mashable Beat Barack Obama :)". This
is bound to happen, but Lists are easily gamed. Say you're a large
company, or a smaller but tech-savvy one, with 100 people on Twitter,
and these employees all add your main corporate account to 10 different
lists. You're instantly on 1,000 Twitter Lists, which for now will
probably put you well in the top 1% of the most popular listed brands
on Twitter. Meanwhile, if I'm on 100 lists through 50 people each
adding me to two lists, and you're on 75 lists but added by 75
different people, who's more popular? The allure of gamesmanship over
this will be short-lived. I hope.
The utility, however, will be far more
appealing. The list creation feature has been around in other Twitter
applications like Tweetdeck and Seesmic, but this is the first time
lists have been available from Twitter itself. It's one of the biggest
reasons I haven't spent much time making lists in other Twitter
clients; I figured if and when Twitter built in that functionality,
such lists would be more portable. That's what's happening now, as
Twitter opened its API, and Seesmic already incorporated the feature.
Twitter user should find lists worthwhile. I was showing my wife how to
make lists of family members, while my mother-in-law may make a list of
businesses near her home in Dallas. Marketers should find even more
value. Here are five ways marketers can use lists:
1) Aggregate multiple professional accounts
if you have several faces of your business on Twitter. It's a natural
for businesses like Comcast, which has a number of customer service
representatives on Twitter, or Zappos, which has hundreds of employees
tweeting. This can also work well for a company like Walmart that has a
section on its site with all of its Twitter handles.
A newspaper can bring together all of its reporters, or a packaged
goods conglomerate can compile all of its brands in lists. Even if
these lists don't bring in millions of new consumers or clients as
followers, they may be useful for important constituents such as
reporters, investors, or employees.
2) Aggregate passionate consumers.
If you run a TV show, make a list of tweeters who love talking about
every last plot twist. If you're a travel company, consider making
lists of some of the most vocal Twitter users in each city where you
have a presence. If you're a product manager for a technology brand,
pull together all your die-hard fans. At the very least, you'll make it
easier for all of these influencers to find each other to expand the
noise in your echo chamber. But packaged right, it could be a way to
pull in new fans and show others how much passion there is for your
brand beyond those on its payroll.
3) Be a resource.
Make lists of the most knowledgeable people in your industry, whether
they're colleagues, reporters, consumers, or even competitors. While my
lists are a work in progress, I've added many friends and people I
respect from other agencies to lists. Mostly this will be convenient
for me, but I'm more than happy to make these lists public in case
they're useful to others.
4) Monitor what lists you're on
and what lists include your competitors and peers. It's a way to gauge
anecdotal brand perception. You can also find new people to follow this
5) Share lists beyond Twitter. It's going
to take a while for lists to catch on beyond early adopters; this
highly anticipated feature for die-hard tweeters may just be one more
thing to learn for casual users. If you cater to early adopters,
though, creating useful lists and sharing them in other channels like
your site, email newsletters, or Facebook page should resonate.
convinced Twitter Lists will change Twitter, and entirely for the
better. I'm very curious what it will do to follower counts, though.
When you create a list, you don't need to follow the people on it, even
if you're likely to. I might create a list of brands on Twitter without
following them and use it as a reference. Additionally, when you follow
someone else's list, that probably includes many people you're not
following. To counter that though, you may wind up discovering great
people to follow.
I also wonder if people will be more likely
to increase the number of Twitter users they follow. Now that you can
isolate the handful of people you most want to follow and group them in
a list, it's easier to run up the count of people you're following
without worrying about the glut.
These effects, if they show up
at all, won't be noticeable right away. But when you try Twitter Lists,
I'd wager it will immediately impact how you use and think about
Twitter. And as the feature appears in other Twitter clients over the
coming months, lists will be as much a part of the Twitter lexicon as
@-replies and direct messages.