Sunday, September 14, 2014

How to use twitter lists

Twitter offers an interesting and helpful tool... the ability to create lists of users.

What to use them for

My primary usage for lists is to organize my reading. I follow 11,000 people. Instead of one big, sometimes dizzying timeline -- which I do sometimes read -- I can use lists to break them down into more manageable groups.

I'm sure there are lots of other uses for them, but that's what I do with them.

The basics

The maximum number of lists you can have is 1000, and the maximum number of members you can include on a list is 5000. These numbers are so massive that you should never, ever, run up against them.

Each list can be "private", in which case only you can see it, or "public", in which case everyone can see it.

You can keep abreast of someone's tweets through a list, without actually following their account.

Twitter says you can "follow" or "subscribe to" a list, but I truly have no idea what that means. As near as I can tell, following, or "subscribing to", a list does not seem to mean that the tweets of list members will show up on your "home" page.

It's easy to start a list. On, e.g., you can go to (a) gear icon > lists > create new list, or (b) do it "on the fly" when listing someone -- i.e. person's profile page > more user actions > add or remove from lists > create list.

It's easy to add people to one or more lists. On simply:  person's profile page > more user actions > add or remove from lists, then check off which list or lists you want the person on.

And of course it's easy to add or remove someone from the above mentioned "add or remove" page.

So it's real easy to start lists and to add people to lists.

List maintenance

What's not so easy is maintaining the lists, especially if they are lengthy, as twitter supplies no effective tool for that, and application developers have been slow to create one. If you wanted to prune a list, or move or copy people from one list to another, or remove people from a list, you may find it quite time consuming.

The best list management tool of which I'm aware is It enables you to do many operations much quicker than you could do them on It also doubles as a follower management tool.

To work on your lists you select the desired list from the Lists tab,  "load all [members of the list]", and go to work.

Viewing lists

The best way to view lists is in applications which are designed to accommodate them in separate columns. On my pc I use Tweetdeck. Some people use Hootsuite. On my iphone I use Echofon or Tweetlist.

But you can view them on; just go to your own profile page > lists, click on the list you'd like to read, and go through the tweets from that list.

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