I ask a lot of questions about social media.

I like to ask other bloggers what platforms they like, which ones give them trouble and which ones they wish they had a better handle on. Without fail the one platform that seems to elude most bloggers is Twitter.

As a blogger a presence on Twitter is important. It’s a powerful social tool that can boost your traffic and, when used effectively, help you build a thriving community.

But how do you harness the power of this 140 character beast? I contend that you can’t do it without lists.

Did you even know you could make lists in Twitter?

I did a little digging recently and found that some of the biggest names in blogging do have lists, but they are either ginormous or underpopulated.

Let’s start at the beginning. Every Twitter user has the power to create lists. You can do it two ways, one is by going to the ME section of your Twitter account and clicking the LISTS area like this:

Twitter Lists 1

Or you can click on someone you want to follow and add them directly to a list, like this:

Twitter Lists 4

Then you will get a screen like this one, if you go from your own profile:

Twitter Lists 2

Or this one, if you go from someone else’s profile:

Twitter Lists 7

See, super easy.

But why do you want to create lists?

I’d say first and foremost because Twitter moves crazy fast and if you are following 200 people, that’s a lot of tweets to keep up with and try to weed through. If you are following 1000 people that’s just downright nuts. With lists you can separate the people and businesses you follow in to neat little categories and check in on them as your schedule allows.

As you can see above I have different categories for different types of tweets – blogging, social media, food, news, and even a Ukraine list by which I follow up-to-the-minute news on what’s happening in Crimea and Ukraine. This list is blowing the socks off of news websites. They are hours behind on this particular issue. What they call “BREAKING NEWS” is old news on Twitter, every time.

Using lists on Twitter can make all the difference in your experience.  They help you organize your interests and build community.

Lists organize the chaos that is Twitter.

I use my lists in place of my home feed on this service. Since my time is precious, I don’t want to wade through hundreds of different tweets from hundreds of different people and businesses. I go straight to my lists now to find out what’s happening in a particular area of interest.

But it’s not just personal lists that can make a difference in how you use twitter. It’s also the fact that you can subscribe to other people’s lists.

You can subscribe to my Ukraine list and follow the same people I do without actually having to “follow” them. I recently took a look at Michael Hyatt’s lists. He has a list of pastors he prays for on Sunday mornings. That might be interesting to you. Or maybe you’re a foodie. Find your favorite food tweeters and put them on a list.

Don’t forget to check people’s lists when you go to follow them. They might have a gold mine that you can subscribe to. Think of all the time and effort you can save.

Now about numbers. I personally think that 300 people on a list is too many for a personal list. Then it just becomes like another home feed. I like to limit my lists to under 50. Half that is even better. But you definitely want more than 3 people on a list.

However, when you subscribe to a list, especially in a specialized area of interest, it can be good for it to be a big list. You might subscribe for a while, find a few people out of a few hundred that you really like to read tweets from, go follow them yourself and then unsubscribe from that list. It’s all about finding people you would have never found on your own.

So, now my question to you is, do you use lists on Twitter? If not, are you going to try it out?

I recommend this article by Dustin Stout on Twitter Lists. It’s got some great ways to utilize lists. Pick one and try it. There’s also this post by Dave Delaney on how to use Twitter Lists.

Like I said at the beginning, Twitter is a great tool for bloggers. It’s also a great way to build a community. If you don’t believe me, just drop by a #FiveMinuteFriday Twitter party some Thursday night. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Using lists can improve your presence on Twitter and make your time there much more enjoyable. Give it a try.

You can do this!

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