This is a continuation of my previous post, where I wrote about 7 useful tips for those getting started on Twitter. Assuming that you have just signed up on Twitter and don’t know where to go from here, instead of following everyone from your email address book that is already on Twitter by selecting “Find People” from the top of Twitter, begin your Twitter experience by following Lists before you follow People. The rationale is simple: Twitter gets a bad rap because of the “babble” that a lot of people are said to be tweeting. That is why you should start your Twitter experience by just following user-vetted Twitter Lists and then finding your role models to follow that will fill your timeline with relevant content. How to go about doing this?
Twitter Lists are lists of twitter users selected and categorized by Twitter users like you and me. Because every Twitter List is hand-picked, they offer a glimpse as to who in Twitter has expertise on various subjects. They are a perfect guide as to who we should follow on Twitter.
1.) Align Your Twitter Objective with Keywords
Right now your Twitter timeline should be blank. Instead of filling it with irrelevant messages that may lessen the value of Twitter for you, remember why you are on Twitter in the first place. Searching for a job? Marketing your business? Interested in meeting local people? Want to develop your personal brand and show off your subject matter expertise? Regardless of your objective, you should be able to align it with a keyword. For searching for a job that keyword might be “job seeker” or “careers.” Marketing would be “marketing” or perhaps an industry name. Location would be your local city or county. Personal branding itself is a keyword. By doing this it will make it easier for you to…
2) Find Relevant Twitter Lists to Follow
In order to find relevant Twitter Lists to follow, you first need to find someone that you think is an influencer in the industry or topic for which you want to engage. Let’s use a real-life example to show you how to find relevant Twitter lists to follow.
First begin by doing a search on Twitter for a keyword that is relevant to your objective. Let’s say we were looking for influencer marketing influencers, so we would type in the keyword #influencermarketing. The search result today looks like this:
Look at the Twitter users who appear under “People.” You should recognize the first listing ;-) Should you feel that you have found one person that you think is influential, let’s dig deeper by navigating to their profile. Once there, go to the Lists and click on it, which should bring you to the following screen:
Now, what we are looking for here are not the lists that this person created or subscribed to, both of which are listed under Subscribed to, but which lists this person was chosen by others to be a member of, which we can see once we click the Member of link. The result should look like this:
I am included as a member of a LOT of lists, but what you are looking for are names of lists that match your objective keywords. For instance, if you were interested in following Lists of Digital Marketing influencers, you would want to start to follow the lists entitled Digital Marketing Gurus. Let’s click on that name, after which you will see this:
All we need to do is hit the Subscribe button on the lefthand side underneath the 46 members indication, and BOOM! We can now monitor this list going forward.
Repeat this process by finding a few more relevant Twitter Lists and you are on your way of keeping the pulse of what is going on around any given keyword without having to follow a single person!
Ninja Tip: If you want to do more with Twitter Lists, you can actually import them into my favorite Social CRM Nimble and then tag them. Depending on the tags you use and the lists you import, you can now create a very targeted database of Twitter users for whatever purpose you might want to use it for later! Here’s how to import Twitter Lists into Nimble Social CRM.
3) Monitor Your Twitter Lists for Relevant People to Follow
You don’t need to spend your entire day on Twitter. Spend some time in the morning and maybe late afternoon and navigate between a few of your Twitter lists. Look for information that you find relevant, and look who those people tweeting the information are. After doing this for several days, you will start to find that some people are tweeting more relevant information than others, and you will quickly find your role models. If you find someone tweeting out relevant information most of the time, go ahead and follow them. By hand-picking people to follow from your relevant Twitter Lists, you will be filling up your Twitter timeline with your own virtual and ideal Twitter List. More importantly, you will see first-hand that Twitter has become an amazing resource for information as well as an invaluable tool to help expand your network and communicate with other people in your field of interest.
4) Organize Your Timeline
This is the most obvious use for the new Twitter List and the reason why it was created. As you start following many people, you need a way to filter out users and make better use of the information. Up until now, you had to install a separate Twitter application like Tweetdeck (or use the web service HootSuite) in order to create a group of people that you wanted to filter out of the main timeline. Twitter Lists give you one more reason to use Twitter.com as your main Twitter interface (that is, if you don’t have multiple accounts…). I haven’t seen a limitation as to how many lists you can create, and you can name them however you like. There is an option to make your list either private or public when you create it, so if you make it public and it becomes public domain and thus seen by everyone and can even be followed by everyone, you may want to be careful as to how you name them. Also, the people that you include on your list can find this information out, which is another good reason to name your list in a way that would flatter someone who is on it. Note that the lists can only be created of users and not keywords, so this may not be enough to get everyone to switch from Tweetdeck or HootSuite…Twitter, are you listening?
5) Get Tweeters to Follow You
Just as you may @Reply or follow someone new in hopes that they may notice you or follow you back, putting someone on one of your Twitter Lists is a sign of deep respect that just may get you noticed. It can be used as a similar strategy, but don’t think Oprah will follow you just because you placed her on one of your Twitter lists ;-) Which leads me to perhaps the most important way of using Twitter Lists…
6) Brand Your Twitter Presence
Just as who you follow and what you tweet is part of your Personal Branding on Twitter, so is what types of lists you have and who is on your lists. If you want to be considered a subject matter expert in your field to elevate your Twitter Brand, being the person that has created the best, most comprehensive lists for your subject matter will surely add to your Twitter Brand and further show that you are an expert. The lists should be relevant to your brand, but it is another important way to help differentiate yourself from the other tweeple out there.
[Although not part of the original blog post, one of my Twitter followers Tom Voute had a 7th suggestion: use the Twitter List to “mirror” someone. Have you ever wondered what the Twitter timeline someone else sees looks like? You can make a Twitter List and add all of the people that that person follows on the list. In doing so, you can mirror their timeline! Definitely a creative and unique way of using Twitter lists, so thank you Tom for the input!]
[Another addition to the blog post prompted by another reader. It isn’t easy to figure out how to edit the lists once they are created. One of the commenters to this post, Racer 48, asked how to add a new person to an existing list. I thought that this should be possible, and I knew I had done it before, but I couldn’t find any way to do this by looking at the options on my own profile page. Another commenter, Sue, quickly pointed out that it can be easily done, but the catch is that you have to go to the profile of the person that you want to add or delete from one of your lists. Thank you Sue! Would be nice if this functionality was also added to your own Profile page…especially if you want to delete several people at once, it would make it much easier to do this from one page.]
Since Twitter Lists are new, the etiquette of whether or not you thank someone if they add you to the list has yet to be determined. I suppose it is similar to a ReTweet or a #FollowFriday, but then again people could add you to a list just so that you notice them or follow you back as I suggested in 3) above. Will you thank the people that add you to their Twitter List?
Finally, perhaps a year from now, the number of lists that you are on may say something greater than the number of followers you have as it is a sign of true respect. I can see people using multiple accounts and making multiple lists of themselves to try to show off the numbers of lists that they are on. And with this, I see the potential for Twitter limiting how many lists each account can create if people start using it in ways it wasn’t intended for.
Bottom line: Create, leverage and enjoy the Twitter Lists while you have them!
Twitter Lists have all been user-vetted, so off the bat you can expect to find people that are less babble and more content. By doing so, you will get up-to-speed on Twitter very quickly and should soon have your “a-ha!” moment which will leave your doubts about Twitter in the dust. Give it a try and tell me what you think! And keep coming back for more Twitter Tips for Beginners…