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How to use Twitter lists

Is your Twitter timeline so busy that it’s sometimes hard to spot the tweets from the people you really want to hear from? Do you wish there was an easy way to find and follow particular types of Twitter user, such as those offering a similar service, or are based in the same area?

Twitter lists can solve both of these problems for you, and more besides. Lists are an underappreciated feature of Twitter. They’re simple to use yet can be extremely powerful. Let’s explore what lists are and how to use them...

What is a Twitter list?

A Twitter list is nothing more than a list of Twitter users. These lists can be surprisingly useful.

Let’s say you’re planning a wedding and you want to keep track of various wedding suppliers on Twitter. You create a list called ‘Wedding Suppliers’ and then add each tweeter to it. Now you’ve made it really easy to find all those wedding-oriented Twitter accounts.

When you create a list, you can choose whether to make it private or public. A private list can only be viewed by you, while a public list is accessible by anyone. When you visit someone’s Twitter profile, you can choose to view their public lists.


A Twitter list is a filter

You have three options when viewing a list. You can choose to view:

  • Twitter accounts on the list (List Members)
  • Tweets from accounts on the list
  • Accounts that have subscribed to your list, if it’s public

The second of these three, tweets from accounts on the list, is where the list acts as a filter.

Are there people whose tweets you don’t want to miss? Put them in a list called ‘My top tweeters’ or something like that, and then choose to view just the tweets from people in that list. You’ve effectively got a timeline containing just the tweets from those people, excluding everyone else you follow.

When you’re following thousands of Twitter accounts, using lists helps you to find the tweets you don’t want to miss. I know some Twitter users who do follow thousands and they never look at their main timeline - they use their lists to control the number of tweets they see.



Subscribing to a Twitter list

People can subscribe to a public list created by someone else, meaning they can also use that list as a filter. Subscribing to someone else’s list also lets you create what’s effectively a list of lists.

You can see who else has subscribed to a list, either one of yours or a list set up by someone else.

How to add someone to a Twitter list


It’s really easy. When you’re looking at their Twitter profile page, use the menu option or user action and choose ‘Add to List’. Then select which list you want to add them to.

You can’t add someone to a list set up by another Twitter user.

When you add someone to a public list, they receive a notification.

Removing someone from a list is also really easy when you’re using Twitter in a browser, such as from a laptop or desktop.

Have you been added to any Twitter lists? There is no way of knowing whether you’re on a private list, but in the lists area of your Twitter profile you can see which lists you’ve been made a member of (added to).

No follow required

Want to keep an eye on your competitors’ tweets without actually following them? That’s simple - just create a private list and add them to it. They’ll never know, and in the same way, you don’t know whose private lists you are on!

You can add people to lists without following them, and you can subscribe to lists set up by people you don’t follow.

The only way to stop someone adding you to a list is to block them.

What you can’t do with a Twitter list

You can’t send a tweet to just to people on a Twitter list. Lists are not a way to facilitate group discussions, whether private or public. Nor can you add yourself to a list set up by someone else - except by asking them.

The only way to remove yourself from someone’s list is by blocking them, or again, by asking.

You can take advantage of the Twitter list function

Here are some of the ways that you can use Twitter lists to your advantage:

  • Filter out all the background noise and focus on just the tweets you want to read.
  • Keep an eye on tweets from your competitors or others in your industry.
  • Create lists that are useful for others and promote them.
  • Get people’s attention by adding them to a list.

Twitter lists can be a useful way to find other Twitter users to follow. Let’s say you want to follow Twitter accounts in Dorset that provide services associated with weddings - click through here and you’ll see that I’ve already made a list for you. Lists made by other Twitter users may be equally useful. Unfortunately, there is no way of searching for lists within Twitter.


Ideas for Twitter lists you might want to set up:

  • Current suppliers
  • Potential future suppliers and freelancers
  • People who often retweet you
  • Important sources of information for your industry
  • Organisations you’re targeting as potential customers
  • Your employees

Used well, Twitter lists can be hugely powerful, giving you much more control over your Twitter experience. They can also reinforce your position as an influencer in your particular sector.

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Social media training at accessible prices

Featured-trainingSmaller businesses and other organisations in Dorset are being given a low-cost opportunity to learn how to use social media, thanks to a collaboration between Dorset Social and the Safewise charity. A series of hands-on social media training courses is being held in the Weymouth Community Safety Centre operated by Safewise.

The courses, which are open to businesses, charities, other organisations and the general public, cover popular social media systems such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. They also address other related digital marketing activities, such as blogging and how to network online.

This new series of courses follows on from successful training events trialled last autumn and spring. These drew in people from Weymouth, West Dorset and the Purbecks, all keen to learn how to use social media to communicate their products or their cause.

These courses are being offered at accessible prices because it's important that Dorset organisations reap the benefits of social media, using it to promote their product or cause. There is a real demand for education in this area.

Vikki Thomas, Safewise Centre Manager in Weymouth, said: “I’m pleased that our IT suite has been selected as the venue for these courses. We look forward to welcoming representatives from businesses and other organisations into our facilities.”

The training courses commence on 21 October and the topics in the initial series are:

Each course runs from 2pm to 4pm and a place on each course can cost as little as £16 if booked early.

Click here for more information about the courses.

There will be further courses available in 2016. To stay informed, click here to receive updates.