Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Twitter Lists: How To Follow a Buttload of People If You Want To

Hi people! It's been a couple weeks since I've blogged because I've been in a bit of a revision cave-- but now the edits are done! Got the email today letting me know that CHAINED is off to the copyeditor. I'm also recovering from revision arm (like tennis elbow, but dorkier), so I'm limiting my computer time for now, but wanted to take a break from the heating pad and the happy dance to do a blog post about Twitter lists.

Before that, I'll point you to this Twitter tutorial I did in case you're fairly new to Twitter or haven't used it much and would like some help getting started.

I follow a bunch of people on Twitter, and some folks wonder how I follow so many. I've even had a problem lately with Twitter capping the limit-- I can't have more than 2000 people until I get over 2000 followers myself. But I'm able to organize my followers and actually follow a lot more than 2000 by using Twitter lists.

Of course I don't see every tweet of all those 2000+ people, but I like to follow back most people who follow me if they're writers, book people, otherwise funny or entertaining, and not naked or creepy.

But that means the list gets pretty long. If you find your following list is getting too unwieldy, break it up into smaller lists if you haven't yet. At the top of your page, click the "Lists" tab:

From there you can create a new list and decide whether you want it to be public or private. If you don't mind everyone seeing who's on your list and following along too, make it public, but if you have something like "My favorite people" or "People I follow but don't like very much," for example, you can opt to make those private to avoid any hurt feelings. Look at all the people you're following and click the little person-looking icon to add them to a list (or more than one list).

Now, when you select that list from the drop-down menu, only the tweets of the people on that list will show up.

You can also add someone to a list from their profile. Again, click on the little person, then "Add to list:"

You can add someone to a list whether you're following them or not; this is what will allow you to "follow" more people than you're officially following. They won't show up in your regular timeline, but their tweets will show up on that list just like anyone else's.

One thing I did when I found I was getting close to Twitter's new 2000-follower limit was to unfollow all the celebrities I'd been following in order to save space. I didn't want to unfollow my writer friends or people I know in real life, but it's not like Neil Patrick Harris would be offended that I unfollowed him. When I unfollowed them, I added them to a new "celebs" list I created. I did the same thing for news organizations: unfollowed, then put them on a list.

Since I use Tweetdeck, I can add a new column for each list (by clicking the plus sign at the top left). So now I always see the columns for the people I follow:

And, if I scroll across the page, I see the columns of people I'm not following but have on lists:

The users there show up just the same as the users I'm really following. (That last one is my "People I want to follow" list, where I add people I do want to follow when I'm able to.)

You can add as many columns as you want to make your following list more manageable or to thwart Twitter's follow limit. Mwoohoohoohahaha!

For more cool Twitter things, see this article, 6 Little Know, Highly Useful Features of Twitter.com. I thought I was so Twitter-smart, but I only knew the one about changing your Twitter name.

Now I'd better sign off before I add blogger injury to my revision arm.


  1. Interesting. I didn't know you could put people you aren't following on lists like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow-- I love Twitter and yet I didn't realize all the tricks to organizing and using lists. This is great. Thanks!

  3. I think Twitter lists are an incredibly useful too. And that reminds me - mine needs some cleaning up and reorganizing!

  4. Thanks, Lynne. You are so helpful!
    Everyone should follow you.

  5. Thanks everyone! I wasn't sure if this was one of those, "Yeah, duh, we know that" bits of information, so I'm glad to know it was helpful!