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To List, Or Not To List?

by James Ball

Twitter-ListsToday I want to ask you, what do you think about Twitter’s new lists feature? I ask because I’m having a dilemma. I’m as excited as the next guy about anything new, especially when it affects something that I use every day, like Twitter. I’ve looked into it, and I’ve asked people that I respect on Twitter about their feelings. The likes of Chris Brogan have publically expressed their own thoughts about the new lists, and I also see many who are using lists in a productive manner. Creativity is born anew over these last few days!

It’s not that I can’t see the many uses and possibilities for Twitter lists, clearly I can. Many of the ways that I see others using lists inspires me. Simply being able to group followers into neat and categorized groups would be helpful to me personally… I already do this via TweetDeck. My dilemma stems from my original intent for using Twitter in the first place, that it was an excellent means for raising awareness about my business to a large audience. I’ve done, and continue to do just that, and I gain ground every day. I also feel that I have a responsibility to the followers themselves. I try to provide interesting and valuable content on Twitter, and I won’t use lists until I figure out how to make them valuable to my followers. I enjoy the interaction on Twitter, and I wouldn’t intentionally damage my “friendships” there. Don’t misread me here, Twitter, for me, is all about me and my business, and trying to serve both aims has me hung up. Just being honest here.

It might be best to describe one of my thoughts here plainly: One of my main twitter accounts has a lot of followers. I intentionally wanted only followers from Georgia, where I think my tweets would be most relevant. Sure, there are those that do not reside in Georgia that make up my followers, but the percentage of active Georgia users is very high. If I were to make up lists, say 20 of them, with 500 users in each, made up of only active Georgia users, I could provide a HUGE value to countless people who could use this information…and they would use this information. I think to myself though, why would I go through more hard work, just to tip my hat so to speak, and offer up what I’ve worked to so hard to accomplish? Would this also offend the followers themselves?  Wouldn’t I be feeding them to the buzzards? Perhaps you can understand my quandary.

I want to play well with others, and I want to be a part of this if it is truly to be a good thing, I’m just unsure about where it’s all headed and how it will all settle in. I’d appreciate it a bunch if you’d chime in and tell me where you see Twitter lists going. What do you see that’s wonderful, or not so hot?

UPDATE – 11/5/09 – Check out what Catherine Ventura has to say about Twitter Lists on The Huffington Post, Here.

Jonathan Saar November 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I am with you on this post. The jury is still out on this one for me as well. It has been interesting to see how others classify me. I really do take it as a compliment. However for actual best business practice I am not sure. So far it has put me in touch with potential interesting tweeters, which has made my decision to follow them easier. I value the lists for that reason. Other than that with all new tools, it will take some time to see how their application will manifest itself. Thanks for the post.

James Ball November 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I have enjoyed seeing what list I am sorted into as well. It is fun, and enlightening to look into the lists of others, I do find value there. I think that in browsing the lists, and simply because they do exist, I feel naturally compelled to participate. I also have a common need to protect my interests. Thank you for your input Jonathan.

Chris November 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I don't care for the lists. I think twitter was too late getting this feature out. Since so many active users have 1000+ followers, it just seems like a tremendous waste of time to go through everyone and designate them into lists. Many of us have already done this with our 3rd party clients already. I think that if twitter wants to add something valuable to their own site, it would be a filter/search for users – beyond just searching twitter for terms. I'd love to find more users in my area without having to go to the 3rd party sites. Thats my $.02 anyway : )

James Ball November 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Thank you Chris. You know, if we all keep yelling for more filters, I bet we'll get them!

Kimberly November 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I thought that the purpose of lists would be to weed out what we want to see at a given time but I just find them kinda pointless for now. Not really helpful at all.

Heather November 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I think it will only work well for those that have low followers. I think some lists should remain private as well. For example, I have a list of all the Georgia people (public), but those people who really relate to me (private). I get the concept but I'm not sure I like it yet.

James Ball November 5, 2009 at 2:50 am

Thank you Heather, Kimberly. I appreciate your comments.

@rbrambley November 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm


Interesting thoughts on Twitter lists, and more interesting comments from your readers!
I wanted to provide a successful business / event use of lists just for comparison.

I was recently part of an event where a handful of technology companies in Silicon Valley sponsored attendance of 15 people known for their social media presence (blogs, twitter). The event was a series of presentations over 2 days, and our group used Twitter to engage each other and many others from our "communities" (co-workers, peers, followers, readers, etc) in a real time discussion about what we were experiencing. The sponsors also participated on Twitter. Their really was a world wide, on line experience. The event will continue over the next few weeks too as we all blog about our own personal take-aways.

Twitter Lists made it easy to follow the attendees and the sponsors for those that wanted to "play along at home.". Here's a link to the lists – (I'm really not trying to promote the event, but sometimes seeing is understanding)

The point is the added value and exposure that Twitter lists provided to this group of businesses that sponsored the event. The sponsors are happy, and we plan to do the same style events in the near future. It truly is a win/win scenario.

James Ball November 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm

*Note – Correct link for above is
Thanks so much for your comment. This is an excellent example of how Twitter user can utilize the list feature, and it makes good sense. I appreciate your input and example.

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