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Twitter Lists - Are You Using Them?
Improve Your Twitter Life: A Primer To Curated Lists

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2021-12-02
Twitter. It can be a mess, a place where some people use its relative anonymity to be their worst selves. It's a corner of the internet where humble brags, self-righteousness, negativity and outright hate can be amplified and find its way into your house. And an artificial scorecard of meaningless stats like retweets, likes and followers - all of which are kind of designed to give you a dopamine rush that can be taken away just as easily.

But at its best and used wisely, it's an incredible tool. It can give you access to professionals and people you never would have been able to reach previously. It can amplify the voice of the voiceless. It can transmit firsthand accounts and vital news from the center of revolution or war-torn countries. It can tell you where your favorite food truck is at Noon that day.

Following Too Many People?

How many people do you follow on Twitter? Can you possibly keep up with everybody you really want to in your timeline? Unless you're following fewer than 200 accounts who only Tweet relatively sparingly, the answer is No. The account that I use the most (yes, I have multiple, each for a different purpose), I currently follow 96 accounts and that works ok. But when I'm in work mode with our Plannedscape account (@Plannedscape) even following under 700 accounts, the Twitter feed is something I can't possibly keep up with and browse through.

Additionally, Twitter insists on defaulting and resetting settings where they are trying to curate your feed; the stream of posts you see are rarely all tweets from all accounts you follow in chronological order. The annoyance of that and how to correct it is a post for another time.


If you haven't used Twitter "Lists" or have just dabbled but haven't really gotten into it, then this post is for you. Basically, Twitter lists are a collection of Twitter accounts. You can create your own, but you can also view other people's public lists. In Twitter, when you click on a list, then you're seeing a timeline of posts from all of the people on the list. In that mode, it's really a more controlled Twitter feed of fewer posts that is easier to browse. And more focused on one topic.

As far as the mechanics of how to use them goes, they're really intuitive. And Twitter has very solid instructions here: Using Twitter Lists. Additionally, all of the various Twitter apps and views in browsers have functionality to manage lists and serve up feeds of posts from list members.

My Use As An Example

On the left above you should see the lists that I've created with my more personal account (@TheBigfellas) which I also use for my not-so-secret alter ego as a musician.

These lists are obviously personal interest follows. But here's where I really love them: When I want to turn to Twitter for a certain reason or interest, I jump to my list to really focus on an event or type of news. When I'm watching English Premier League soccer early on a Saturday morning, my Soccer list gives me plenty to go on. When I'm watching a San Diego Padres game, or even when I'm at the game and don't know why a pitcher got pulled out of the game early, I check the San Diego Padres feed and it's perfect. Emmy Awards are on? It's fun to watch along with my TV list. You can imagine the uses for this in your life with your favorites.

On the Plannedscape account shown on the right, you see how things get more professionally focused and useful. Following your Clients to keep in touch on what their priorities are, is a no-brainer. My Tech feed is a good place to curate great accounts which keep us up to date about trends and developments in software. And it's a smart idea to have a private list of your business' competitors, to keep tabs on what they are up to. More on private vs. public lists in the next sections of this post.

Another thing I love about lists views is that it solves the Twitter problem I mentioned at the top. When I view my timeline in Twitter on a browser, Twitter insists on trying to curate the feed instead of showing all posts chronologically of everybody I follow. It takes a ridiculous amount of vigilance and settings to keep Twitter from doing this "for you". (By the way, the apps I use on phone and iPad generally do NOT pull that nonsense on me.) But in all browsers and environments, it appears that they will always display all posts of all list members in your list timeline.

PUBLIC vs. Private

When a list is "public" (default condition when making a Twitter list), then anybody on twitter can see the accounts on your list and use it as a feed or timeline to read posts. Conversely, you can use anybody else's list!

If you use multiple Twitter accounts, if you have some accounts that should be handy for either account/mindset of yours, then if your list is Public then it is available easily to both logins.

If your list is pretty well curated, then share it with friends and promote in some Tweets - creates more engagement for you. Also, look through other people's lists in your field of interest; a well-curated list is conveniently teeing up great accounts to follow in one place.

PRIVATE vs. Public

There are some great times to make your list Private. (You declare your list to be Private vs. Public when you first create the list.)

As mentioned above, if you want to have a list of business competitors, it really is a solid practice to have a Private list. This really isn't spying, it's a fairly legitimate yet stealthy way to make sure you're keeping up with information that rival companies are doing. Keep in mind, these are all things that they're tweeting to the public, so this is hardly corporate spycraft or anything.

When you have created a Private list and add an account to it, they do not get notified that they're on your list. Also, you are not added to their numbers of followers - even though you've created a handy way to keep checking in on their posts in a Twitter feed. Perhaps you have schadenfreude from a celebrity, you want to see their posts without "supporting" them by following them, the private list works. Let's say you're a weekend ventriloquist which might look weird to your professional colleagues - go private! Or let's say there was an embarrassing yet volatile U.S. President whose tweets seemed to be newsworthy. You can see them in a timeline without being mistaken as a supporter. Problem solved.

Why Don't People Talk About Twitter Lists More?

Honestly, I just don't know. Once you start using them, I promise your Twitter time spent will be better.

Use my Food Trucks list example. At 6:30am on a Monday you probably have no use for seeing what the mobile polish sausage van has to say ... about anything. So you don't want this in your timeline 24/7. But Wednesday at 11:30am and your figuring out what to grab for lunch if you have a Food Trucks list on Twitter, that's the only thing you want to see at that moment.

Suggestions For Your Lists

First of all, why don't you check to see what lists people have put you on. In the browser version of Twitter on a laptop, up at the top middle with the three dots, click that button and you should see this:

Click it and you'll see who has thought enough of you and your content to put on a list. It can be informative.

As for lists for you to create, we have these suggestions for you:

  • - Accounts in your industry

  • - Other people who work at your company

  • - Clients (probably make it private)

  • - News accounts & reporters
    Curating a list of your favorite news sources let's create your own front page of a "newspaper" which ends up being even a little more helpful than what Flipboard makes for you.

  • - Your real life friends

  • - Your frenemies (make this one private)

  • - People you want to engage with more often
    Anecdotally I've seen that some bigger influencers are more flattered/impressed by being added to a list and slightly more likely to follow you back.

  • - Accounts who retweet or engage with you in the past

  • - Competitors (private)

  • - Put yourself on lists, when relevant

  • - A list of people/companies from recent meeting or convention

Good luck. And if you really benefitted from this or have some more Twitter list advice, let us know. Or better yet, tweet us at