Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms around today, and it’s also one of the most useful for marketers. While the platform doesn’t boast quite as many users as its close competitor Facebook, it does offer a variety of functions and tools that make it naturally more advantageous for certain marketing strategies. However, in order to take full advantage of this platform, you must commit yourself to more than just occasional posts and check-ins.
Twitter lists are one of the most valuable functions you’ll find in the platform, and they can be used in several different ways.
First, you must understand how to create and manage lists within the Twitter platform. Don’t worry; it’s ridiculously simple. Log into your profile—if you’re on the desktop browser version, click on your profile image in the upper-right corner and click on “Lists.” If you’re on mobile, hit the gear icon and click “Lists” from there.
Here, you’ll be able to see all the lists you’re subscribed to and all the lists you’re a member of. For now, we’ll just focus on the ones you’re subscribed to. These include all the lists you’ve personally created as well as lists that you’ve subscribed to that other Twitter users have created. Both can be useful.
To create a new list, click the “Create new list” button and name and describe your list. You’ll also want to be sure to check either “public” or “private.” Public lists can be viewed by anyone, while private lists can only be viewed by you. The intention of your list should dictate your decision here. Once created, you’ll be able to add individual users to your lists by visiting an individual’s profile, clicking on the gear, and selecting “Add or remove from lists.” You can also manage your lists directly from the Lists menu.
Once your list is fleshed out, you’ll be able to see a specialized news feed for each list, based solely on posts from the users you selected to be in that list. There are a number of different reasons to do this.
One of the most obvious uses for Twitter lists is consolidating information on a given subject. For example, if you wanted to read domestic news headlines every morning, you could create a list that includes the Twitter accounts of news publishers like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. For businesses, this is especially useful for industry news. Cherry-pick the most reliable or most active authorities within your own industry, and confine them to a particular list, so that any time you want the latest updates on that industry, it’s only a click away.
This is a handy strategy for those in a tightly competitive market. Create a list of any direct or peripheral competitors you want to keep tabs on and confine them to their own list—for this one, it’s usually better if you keep it private. Here, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of what your competitors are up to, both in terms of any company news they announce and in terms of the types of content and promotions they give to their followers. See what strategies they use that are the most useful, and learn from that impact to tailor your own strategies.
Hopefully, you already have an idea of what type of people comprise your target audience. If you’ve developed an “average” buyer profile, sometimes called a buyer persona, even better. If you haven’t, now’s the time to develop one. Use this buyer persona as a template to add real people to a list you create—and be sure to keep it private. For example, if your buyer persona is a middle-aged woman, start looking for individual middle-aged women, and add as many of them as you can to this list. Then, you’ll be able to pop in at a moment’s notice and monitor any social trends that develop within that demographic. This is especially useful if you have multiple demographics to watch.
The first three list functions I describe in this article are mostly for private use, but public lists can be just as valuable. Instead of focusing on what would be the most valuable to you, focus on what would be the most valuable to your followers—what type of resources would they find helpful? What type of newsfeeds would they want to read through? Offering a selection of valuable public lists can make your followers appreciate you more and grow to see you as a greater authority.
There are two ways that lists can actively help you increase your following. First, you can add people to your public lists as a way to appeal to them—when you add an individual to a public list, they’ll get a notification, and they’ll be likely to follow you as a result. Second, you can use lists to aggregate types of organizations whose followings you’d like to emulate. From there, you can monitor their follower lists and use them to build your own.
No matter how you choose to use lists in your own business, they can be invaluable resources for gathering information and building your own authority. Use them consistently and tap them for everything they’re worth.