Twitter 101: Lists and why they're great

Back in '95, we discussed "information overload" in a media studies class in school. Bear in mind, this was back when the internet wasn't more than text on a screen you had access to after you've successfully dialed into a connection and it was WELL before smart phones existed. Information overload was just in its infancy and we definitely didn't accurately predict how truly overloaded we'd become. 

Twitter alone is a bombardment of information especially if you a) follow everybody that follows you or b) if you follow more than 100 people. It starts to get really "noisy" and if all those people are active users, then the chatter is non-stop. Like me, I follow people here and people back in Singapore so even when the feed here goes to sleep, people there are talking and there's always a ton to catch up on when I wake up.

So how can you stay organized and not miss much? Start putting people into lists!

Lists are awesome, not just in most facets of life but particularly with Twitter, it's a great tool that lets you hone in on a specific batch of users whose statuses you care about most if you're too pressed for time to go through your entire timeline.

Now, let's create a new list from the people you do follow! I'm going to talk about this using the Twitter web platform to keep it simple but you can also do this from your mobile app. After this, I'll tell you how you can use lists to "follow" people who follow you without following them.


Access your follow list and find the wheel button/icon next to the "Following" button on each person's profile. Click on the wheel.

A menu will appear. Select Add or remove from lists... 


You'll then be asked to create a list. Title it anything you want, and you can make the list either private or public. Public lists are viewable by other users and can also be followed by others. 


Add as many users to your list, and have as many lists you want. I have lists for people who are personal friends, a list for Twitter accounts from Singapore, a list for all my social media sources and one for my colleagues and peers in this industry. Each one lets me really pay attention to what those people had to say without having to scroll and scroll and sift through clutter. Think of it as being at a party but only being able to hear what the people you want to talk to are saying.

As for "following without following." Did you know you can still keep up with accounts you're slightly interested in, but not interested in enough to follow? You can do this by adding those people to lists or just creating lists. This lets you check in periodically to see what's going on, but you don't have their statuses appear in your general timeline. I've done this for news outlets whose headlines I might be interested in SOME of the time, but don't want clogging up my feed.

You'll figure out your preferred way of using your lists. When I have a moment at the end of the day to sit and catch up with my feed, I just go through my lists so I'm not missing anything pertinent but maybe you'd like to tackle those lists first thing in the morning. There are no hard/fast rules to how you use your lists so have at it, make a couple and see how much easier it becomes to be on Twitter.