Twitter Lists, A Good First Step

Australian Twitter Craze Gains Momentum

Twitter lists is a feature I’ve been wanting for a while and its addition makes Twitter a far more valuable tool.

The biggest benefit is that I can hear better.

I was having a discussion with a friend recently about Twitter and he said, you don’t care about conversation, you just want a soapbox!

While there’s certainly an element of truth to that–what ultimately is the point of blogging, after all, than to have your own soapbox?–but that’s not the case for me with Twitter. I do care about conversations. And I do want to join those discussions.

The problem with Twitter thus far is that when you reach a critical mass of people you follow, it gets unwieldy to the point that even the tools that are supposed to help you manage it like Tweetdeck don’t do a very good job.

With other social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, the more people you become connected to, the more valuable the tool gets. Twitter is the opposite, the more people you follow, the less valuable it becomes. Too much noise and not enough signal. You miss way too much.

The addition of Lists allows me to segment the people I follow into manageable chunks.

I, for example, have created a work list for Team Tunheim and another list for Minnesota Media and another for Minnesota communication professionals.

I am not missing nearly as much as I was before Twitter enabled the Lists feature and I am getting a lot more value from Twitter as a result.

I guess I wasn’t the only one ranting.

How Do Lists Help Twitter?

By harnessing Twitter’s own users to categorize each other, Twitter is gaining valuable insight into each user, depending upon the types of lists within which they are included. While being included in other people’s lists named Friends or Work doesn’t tell Twitter much about me, being included in lists called Marketing or Social Media or PR or, my favorite, Smarties (no, not the candy!) tells Twitter a lot about me.

And it tells Twitter a lot about the general content of my Tweets. The number of times I’m included in lists and by whom can also give Twitter some measure of my credibility and/or influence.

And that data can help contribute to a vastly improved search algorithm. That’s something Twitter desperately needs because, let’s face it, 140 characters doesn’t give you a whole lot of data upon which to build search quality.

I Want More!

As John Cleese might say, There’s no pleasing some people.

Now that Twitter has demonstrated its willingness to add features, let me suggest a few more.

  • Why only 20? Let me make more lists!
  • Let me make sublists: If I’ve got a list called Politics, let me create sublists Called Minnesota and National and Media and Politicians
  • Give me RSS feeds for my lists
  • Let me create lists of lists
  • LET ME TWEET TO LISTS so that only those people on that list get that tweet

If Twitter adds no other improvements to Lists but my last request, that will be enough. Letting me tweet to only a list will vastly improve the value of Twitter to both myself and my followers.

With that feature, I can send marketing tweets to only those Tweeps who are interested in my marketing content but who are probably annoyed at my going on and on and on about the Minnesota Vikings. And I can use Twitter as I want to use it while also being more strategic about my use and being more relevant to my followers.

Tweeting to lists will alone vastly reducing the noise on Twitter, which is significant.

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