One of the biggest complaints about Twitter has been the absence of groups which would allow tweeters to sort their followers into categories, making it easier to manage a large number. That’s about to change with the introduction of Lists. At the moment, Twitter Lists are only available to a small number of users, but they will become universal once the testing period is over. If you aren’t lucky enough to be getting a sneak preview, read on …
What are Twitter Lists?
Twitter Lists give you the option to sort all, or some, of your followers into categories. So, for example, I have four lists at the moment, one for family and friends, one for writers and bloggers, one for tech and design tweeters and one for political tweeters. Once you have created a List, you can access it to see only tweets from those included on it which makes it so much easier to catch tweets from a small number of people. You can also see which Lists you have been added to with the addition of an extra count next to your follower and following numbers.
How do you create Twitter Lists?
This is as easy as following. Once you have access to the List feature you’ll notice an extra button on both the page listing the people you follow, and also on individual profile pages. As you can see in the accompanying screen-shot, you just click once to add someone to a List. You can add a tweeter to more than one list, which is useful for those hard to define folk. Sorting a large number of people into lists may be quite time consuming – hopefully, Twitter will improve the follower management interface next – but it would be time well spent, especially if you’re finding Twitter overwhelming at the moment.
How do you access your Twitter Lists?
This is also easy. All your Lists appear in the right sidebar – where you can now see trending topics, saved searches and so on. Just click the relevant list title to be taken to the page.
What are the implications of Twitter Lists?
As I mentioned above, groups have been a common request for almost as long as there has been a Twitter. Lists should fill that need, and make a large number of followers much easier to interact with. They should also be useful for research: you can define a group of people who tweet about any given subject and access it whenever you want to catch up with the topics they’re currently discussing. On the downside, I have a feeling it might also make it easier for those who like to ‘collect numbers’, they’ll no longer have to see tweets from everyone they follow because they can simply confine themselves to a list of people they actually want to tweet to. Saying that, groups have been a feature of quite a few Twitter applications for some time (such as Tweetdeck) and it hasn’t been a huge problem.
Overall, I think Twitter Lists are a welcome development which not only make Twitter more useful as a social networking site, but also acknowledge it’s evolution into a tool for researching and monitoring conversations and news stories. It is no longer just a way for people to tell us what they had for breakfast, Twitter is also a place to gather information and gauge opinions. Lists make both functions much more user-friendly. If you simply want to chat with friends, you can click through to that list and tweet without distraction; if you want to do background research for a blog post, you can refer to a list of favourite experts. Now, if only someone would add me to one…