By Anita Hovey

Twitter lists are one of the hidden gems of Twitter that power users have discovered. Today I’m going to uncover the wonders of Twitter lists and show you how they can be used to filter that firehose down to a trickle you can actually manage!

The Purpose of Twitter Lists

Lists allow you to group Twitter accounts together to make your reading easier. Note that lists are a tool for reading/viewing Twitter, not a publishing tool. You cannot send a tweet out to only the people in one of your lists… at least not via Twitter itself. You could create lists for:

Once you’ve created a list and added a few people, you can then view ONLY the tweets from that group of people. So, for example, if you wanted to see what your competitors are up to, you could pull up your competitors list and see what they’re tweeting about. Need to find some great industry-related content? Pull up your industry news list and RT away. Looking for a lunch deal? Check out your local restaurant list.

Tips for Twitter List Use

My Favourite Use of Twitter Lists

The best use of Twitter Lists is to create one for the people you most want to interact with, keep up on, read or monitor. I call this list my “Main List” and currently it has 91 members. These are the accounts from which I get my daily news, humour and educational material, but also friends, competitors, media and great engagers. Sometimes I put new follows in this list while I’m checking them out to see if this is someone I really want to follow. Oh, and I have a couple of celebrities in this list, too… I don’t follow them officially, but they’re in the list so I can see when they tweet.

Consistent use of Twitter Lists can save you from the deafening noise of constant, scrolling information. In Hootsuite I always read my Main List, mentions and direct messages. Then, when I have time, I will look through the other lists and my home feed for new people to engage with. The Main List keeps me sane.

Another Great Use of Twitter Lists

You can share the direct link to any public list. When my social media workshop attendees are looking for local Halifax businesses to follow, I can easily direct them to my Halifax Businesses list by sharing a link. Many magazines and websites publish lists of the top 100 this and thats… they’ll often create those lists on Twitter, too, and share them. It’s a great way to share your membership, places to buy your product, industry thought leaders, etc.

Adding People to a Twitter List

The easiest way to add someone to a list is to visit their profile. On the right, beside the Follow/Following button, click on the gear and you will see one of the options is to “Add or Remove from Lists”. If this is the very first time you’ve added someone to a list, you’ll get the option to create the list here. If you’ve already created some lists, you’ll be able to check off all that apply to this person.

Use the Twitter Lists You Create

The hardest part about making Twitter Lists work for you is simply remembering to use them! If you’re using the native Twitter, you can create bookmarks to help you get there a bit faster.  I find it very cumbersome to use Lists within the Twitter app on my phone. My solution is to pull my favourite lists, like the Main Feed for all my clients, into my Hootsuite app. It’s easy to navigate to each tab in Hootsuite and view the tweets from the List on your phone that way. If you don’t find a way to actually use the lists, they’ll do you little good.

Head Twirp, Anita Hovey lives and breathes social media for her clients so they don’t have to. She can come up with multiple ideas for content within minutes of meeting you, and grow your organization’s Twitter fan base by as much as 30% in just a few months. Her clientele is growing almost as fast as her Twitter following, not just because she gets your organization Pinned, Liked and RT’d; she helps you achieve measurable results in an ever-evolving medium. email: website:

This post originally appeared on the Twirp Communications Blog, February 18, 2014. Republished with permission, courtesy of Twirp Communications.