Twitter Lists — Great Tool or Another Way to Waste Time?

2009-10-31 by Richard D. Pace

twitter listsTwitter’s latest new feature, Twitter Lists, rolled out to most users this past week. When I first noticed the new Twitter List on my Twitter home page, I was concerned. I was afraid that the usefulness of one of my favorite places to connect with colleagues was about to be diluted by some overly complex feature that would distract from the simplicity of the Twitter concept. Wasted time is the biggest enemy to a marketing professional’s productivity. Another time waster is the last thing that I need from my social media tools.

As it turns out, there was no need for me to be concerned. At least for now, Twitter’s simplicity and ease of use remains intact. Although Twitter Lists initially seemed like it might be difficult to learn, I “mastered” the Twitter List concept in a little less than an hour — which is far less time than it took for me to master Facebook or LinkedIn.

Twitter Lists works a lot like an email folder. The feature allows you to set Twitter up to send all tweets from a single person, or a group of people, to a handy list. (In the case of Twitter, the tweets remain visible on your home page too.) One difference between an email folder and a Twitter List is that other users can subscribe to your list and you can subscribe to the lists of other users. Most email systems do not allow users to subscribe to the folders of other users.

In fact, the subscription feature is where the Twitter List feature provides the most value to PRs and other marketing professionals. By carefully subscribing only to the lists of Twitter users who tweet the very best marketing and PR information a savvy marketer can “peek” at tweets that online marketing professionals are seeing.

There are three drawbacks to the Twitter List feature:

  • Content of lists — Tweeters who are included on a list must be considered carefully if a list is to have any real value to other Twitter users. If someone is sloppy or includes tweeters who don’t share valuable PR or marketing information on their list, then that list will have very little value to anyone.
  • Names of lists — If a list is being designed for subscribers as well as the list owner, the list name should reflect the potential content of that list to other Twitter users.
  • Multi-tasking tweeters — Many Twitter users tweet more than one type of information. There is no real way to segregate the marketing and PR information that a user may be tweeting from any other information that they share.

Are you using Twitter lists? What uses have you found for it?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Everything Public Relations News Insights Author Richard D. Pace