It’s amazing how many people I know who don’t use the “list” function in both Twitter and Facebook.  While both serve different purposes for how I interact online, using both are important in broadening and enriching your networks.  Today, I want to share how I use them to ignite a creative spark and inspire you to start using and promoting them.

Twitter Lists

1.  Be A Connector
When someone lands on any Twitter page I manage, I want them to instantly know who is interesting to me (or our team) on Twitter.  As I would in real life, these lists help me extend an informal  introduction to other Twitter accounts that I have come across that fit the lists’ description. That way, if you work in Higher Education/Student Affairs and want to meet others who work in Student Activities, it’s easy to find.  If you manage a University account, create lists of accepted students, incoming students, local businesses, student organizations, departments, etc.  While you could Google that, using your Twitter page makes it more personal.

2.  Organizing Twitter Accounts (Whether You Follow Them Or Not!)
The longer you are on Twitter, the more you realize it would help if you had a way to organize everyone you were following.  For a while, I thought the “list” function could only be used for those you followed, but it isn’t.  As a matter of fact, I may add someone to a list before I follow them to get to know them a bit through their tweets before pushing that follow button.  Following “list” Twitter feeds is a great way to focus on a “bigger picture” conversation outside of targeted hashtags as well.

3.  Understanding People’s Perceptions of You
When I first noticed Klout, the question of “how do people perceive me on Twitter” kept coming up in my mind.  Sure, I can tell from analytics what keywords I use a lot and what types of tweets get retweeted, but I wanted something else that could help clarify this point.  Twitter lists help quite a bit, but not the ones I created, but the ones people listed me on!  On the “new” Twitter page, next to the word “Listed” is a hyperlinked number of lists that other people  have listed YOU in.  As I scrolled down this page, I started reading the list names and gained meaningful insight on how people perceived me.  I’ve actually re-tweaked my Twitter bio based on this information!

General Twitter List Tips
1.  Create Your Most Important Lists LAST – Even though Twitter will only let you create 20 lists, Twitter will only display on your main page your last 10 lists you create. Write them all out first and then start from the bottom up!
2. Create Private Lists Too! – Use these lists to keep track of your friends, research purposes, or keeping track of other offices/departments like yours! Make them private so only you see them.
3.  Name Your Lists Well – Use strong “searchable” keywords that folks can Google to find your lists. Since your Twitter account is public, it is another great way to connect with those looking for Twitter accounts and lists like yours!

Facebook Lists

1. Organize Your Facebook Life
With over 1,000 “friends” (or what I call “connections”) on Facebook, I needed to sort everyone out and using the list function in Facebook really helped.  You can add user or fan page to as many lists as you want, and the nice thing about Facebook is that you can make an unlimited number of lists.  This is very useful and, since organizing everyone (which took quite a while!), its easy to add new friends to a list or two!

2.  Access Granted
Yes, I “friend” my students on Facebook. I do is because I know how to leverage my Facebook lists to give my students access to only the parts of my Facebook page that they already know about me in real life or that I would talk about with them in person.  Once you setup your lists, you can easily import them into what you give people in those lists access to. This allows me to meet my students where they are, without compromising what I am willing to share with them online. Plus, they respond much faster to a Facebook message or chat window then they ever did to email!

3.  Message Your Lists
I used to be able to do this, before the upgrade to the Facebook integrated mailbox, but according to Facebook help, you can still send messages to an entire list (as long as there are not more than 20 in the list).  I loved this feature a lot, and will be disappointed if this has gone away due to this upgrade. (Frankly, I wouldn’t have done the upgrade had I known this.)

How do you use lists in Facebook and Twitter? I’d love to hear your ideas!


  • I echo the usefulness of private lists on Twitter and the ability to add people/organizations to a list without actually following them. This might be incredibly handy for those of you in the job search. If you want to keep an eye on the conversation at a particular school, you can add various accounts from that campus without announcing to the world and to them.

    Lists are also incredibly helpful if you use TweetDeck or similar third party program. You can use the lists for individual columns, which is helpful in following conversations.

    Thanks, Ed, for raising some excellent tips yet again!

  • I hope my comment is appreciated, but I too love the power of Twitter lists. It was even the only way to still keep track of what everyone was saying. I’m now using Tweetdeck to show my lists as columns, which helps me to still read all of the tweets from people I know personally.

    The only problem I had with lists was the list management. I would follow new people and forget to update my lists, after a while it really got messy. Even with the new Twitter, managing lists still is a bit of a pain. That’s why I created Twitlistmanager. It’s not perfect yet, but to me it’s the most convenient way to manage lists I could think of.

    Ed, maybe you can try Twitlistmanager and tell me what you think? Comments are always welcome, I have a list of features that are going to be added in the near future.

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