A look at Twitter lists
How Twitter's grouping feature can help make the Twittersphere more manageable
A close-up view of the homepage of the microblogging website Twitter on June 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Twitter lists can help show credibility and subject knowledge in an area of expertise. For example, for the owner of a knitting shop, a Twitter account might have one Twitter list of staff members' accounts, as well as a list of knitting resources, one of knitting clubs and one of local knitters. These lists serve as resources for the knitting shop's customers so they can connect with these accounts as well. Creating the lists helps the shop owner to facilitate digital community-building.
How to create a Twitter list
•Login to your Twitter account at Twitter.com. While viewing your profile, click on the "lists" option.
•In the list section, click "create new list".
•You will be prompted to type a name and description for your list. (Pro-tip: With public lists, be sure to use plain, literal language and important keywords as the name and description fields will be visible to search engines.)
•Decide if you want a public list (visible to anyone, and perfect for sharing as a resource to others) or private list (only visible to you, and ideal of subtly compiling a list of your direct reports, family members, or, say, arch rivals.)
•Select "create list."
•Once your lists are created, you can add additional users. When viewing another user's profile, click the person icon next to the follow/unfollow button and select "add to list." A dropdown of your lists will appear, where you can select the lists to which you want to add this additional user.
You are limited to 500 users per list.
What you can do with other users' lists
Someone, somewhere has already gone to the trouble of creating a list about a topic that pertains to you, I can almost guarantee. Try this: perform a Google search using the words "twitter," "list" and then a topic. For example, "Twitter list gardening" yields search results including a Twitter list of gardening "gurus," top-rated gardeners on Twitter and other related lists. For someone interested in gardening, this could be an efficient way to quickly and easily find people already talking about topics of interest or expertise.
Upon finding a Twitter list of interest, users can follow the list itself, pick and choose individual users from the list to follow, or both. To follow the list itself, users can look in on the group from time to time without searching (or remembering) each member and catching up with his or her tweets individually.
From your profile page, check to see the Twitter lists on which you are listed. If you find yourself included on a list of other professionals in your industry or people who share your hobbies and interests, chances are you'll want to connect with some others on the list.
Also, in the (relatively rare) event that you've been added to a list that doesn't quite add up, you can message the list's owner and clear up the confusion quite easily. (See "that one time I was mistaken for attorney Amy Guth and included on a list of legal experts," for example. After one tweet, the list's owner removed me and couldn't have been nicer about the whole mix-up.)
Amy Guth is social media manager for the Chicago Tribune Media Group. Follow her on Twitter: @amyguth