To prevent being overwhelmed by Twitter, one suggestion you’ll hear over and over is to use a program like TweetDeck to manage all those tweets by creating lists. But did you know you can also use lists to become a Twitter Ninja?
It’s true. But before we get into the details, let’s review lists and how they work. Twitter lists are just a collection of Twitter IDs that you create and organize any way you want. They could be things like “friends”, “bloggers”, “celebrities”, etc. Lists can either be public (anyone can see them) or private (only you can see them).
Within a program like TweetDeck, you can open a column for each list to keep up with those tweets most important to you. For those following thousands of people, columns based on lists of their bestest buds are the only way they can keep up. Sorry to burst your bubble, but best-selling authors like Meg Cabot don’t actually read your tweets even though she’s following you along with 41,459 other people.
Got all that? Okay, now on to the trick I learned from Keri Stevens about lists…
To Stalk or Not To Stalk, That is the Question
Interestingly, you do not have to follow a person to add them to a list. Whether you use Twitter directly from the web or with a program like TweetDeck, you can search for someone’s User Profile and add them to a list without needing to follow them first. Okay, cool, but let’s talk about what that means.
It may be petty and superficial, but people judge you by your ratio of Followers to Following. If your follower number is disproportionately large and you’re not famous in some way, people might think your’re a Twitter snob. I know I’m less likely to follow someone if I don’t think they’re going to follow back. Similarly, if you’re following 500 people and you have only 20 followers, people might think you’re lame, or worse, a spambot.
As Kristen Lamb mentioned in her guest post, Twitter is a great way to learn from best-selling authors, agents, editors, and publishing houses. But following all those people who won’t follow you back can seriously mess up your numbers. How do you fix that problem?
Answer: Use Twitter Karma or a similar program to analyze your Follower/ Following numbers. If you’re following someone for research purposes only and they’re not following you back, unfollow them and add them to a list instead.
I recently purged my Following list in this way and my following and follower numbers now almost match. I didn’t unfollow anyone following me, and I didn’t unfollow anyone who I’d like to eventually call a friend (i.e. I want them to see that I’m following them). And I now have a column in TweetDeck for people I’m following by list only (like all those agents and editors).
Now here’s where you can get ninja stalker-y. Is your list public or private? My list is public, as I have no problem with someone seeing that I’m following them. But let’s say you have an unhealthy obsession with Justin Bieber, and you don’t want anyone to know you’re following him. No problem, just follow him via a private list. No one will know you’re hanging on his every tweet—including him. That’s right, it’s possible to follow someone and they’ll have no idea. Told ya’ it was Ninja.
So what are the cons to following via list only?
- No Direct Messages. You can receive Direct Messages only from people you’re actually following.
- Hurt feelings. If someone follows you and you don’t follow back because you use lists for everything, they might think you didn’t reciprocate unless you explain your methodology. And even then, you’d better have them on a public list so they can verify that you’re really following them in some way.
- Looking less interested. If your tweets fascinate some best-selling author or agent and they consider following you back, they might change their mind if they see you’re not actually following them. People don’t think to check if they’re appearing on your lists.
- Losing followers. This one is a real danger if you unfollow someone when you add them to a list. Just recently, I noticed that a woman I’d had conversations with was no longer following me. It was only when I checked my Lists Following You that I saw she’d moved me to a list. I could have easily unfollowed her in return before realizing the truth.
Do you use Twitter lists? Have you used them for these purposes? Can you think of any other cons to following by list only?Pin It