Sort through the Twitter clutter with Twitter lists

Even though Twitter’s been around for a while, and I’ve been tweeting since 2008, I forget that there are people who don’t know about it and haven’t used it. I’ve run into several Twitter newbies or on-the-fence-Twitter-newbies lately, and thought I’d help with one question I hear a lot:

“So you follow a bunch of people, and you post tweets, right? But how do you FIND anything?”

Welcome to your new best friend, Twitter user. It’s called Twitter lists.

What’s a Twitter list?

Think of a Twitter list as a separate feed for people you follow that you’ve grouped in a theme or category. Your regular Twitter feed is full of everything the people you follow are posting on Twitter. Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not (yet) use an algorithm like EdgeRank to determine what you see based on your interactions with your network. It’s like drinking from a fire hose – it’s all coming at you at one time. The list allows you to clear through the clutter and find the information you’re most interested in.

How to create a list

Twitter Settings Lists

Start by going to the settings icon in Twitter and choose lists. This takes you to your lists – click the Create list button.

Create a New List

Name your new list and add a description if you like. Then save your list.

Add people to your list

Add to Your List

After you create a list, Twitter gives you some tools to search for people to add to your list.

Click the person icon and choose list

Click on the person icon for anyone you want to add, then select the Add or remove from lists option.

Check the lists you wantCheck the boxes for the lists you want.

Access your list

Access your lists

If you’re using Twitter to read your lists, you can find them by clicking the Me tab on the top, or choosing lists from the settings icon.

For even better access, use HootSuite

The best way to keep up with your lists is through HootSuite, a social media management system (free for basic tools, and there are paid versions if you want more bells and whistles). HootSuite is what I primarily use to check out what’s happening on Twitter, and it’s where I create, schedule and post my tweets. You can create columns – which are called streams – on HootSuite to check out your individual lists, as well as search terms, your tweets, and your mentions on Twitter.

Add a list to HootSuite

HootSuite add stream

To get started click the Add Stream button on the top of your current streams.

HootSuite add list

Click the lists tab, then choose which Twitter profile you want, select your list, and then click the Add Stream button.

HootSuite new stream

Your list is now a new stream, and your Twitter feed is a little less cluttered – check out tweets in your list topic to find the information you want.

I hope this helps the Twitter newbies out there – and maybe some of the regular users too! If you have any Twitter tips or tools you want to share – or any questions you need help with – let me know in the comments.

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