Many public relations professionals post content, retweet and reach out to journalists on Twitter, but many may not take advantage of Twitter Lists. Twitter Lists can help find essential news, monitor Twitter for potential crises, and develop relationships with journalists, bloggers and other influencers.
“Twitter Lists have long been seen by many as a secret weapon within the app, a means to more easily track and categorize different users, and keep tabs on specific industry trends, updates, niche interests, and more,” writes Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today.
Twitter has been placing greater emphasis on Lists, Hutchinson points out. It added an option that lets iOS users pin their Lists as swipeable, alternate news feeds for easier access. It’s also working on new List discovery tools to help users find them.
As their name implies, Twitter Lists collect – or list – Twitter users in one location, allowing you to more easily monitor and interact with the right people. The lists are much more useful than the mish-mash of uncategorized “Followers.” You can group people and organizations by profession, niche industry or almost any characteristic. That can be extremely convenient since dedicated Twitter users typically follow hundreds or thousands of others.
Since lists show content from only list members, they help organize the large number of tweets flying by on Twitter feeds.
“A list on Twitter is simply a group organized around a theme,” digital strategist Max Benavidez told Forbes. “For example, journalists who cover Wall Street … Why is this important? This helps you organize your Twitter feed in easy to view categories.”
How to Create and Build Twitter Lists
To create a list, simply click on the drop-down menu under your profile icon.
Click on Lists.
Click Create New List.
Select a name for your list and add a short description. Select if you want the list to be private, or only visible to you or public, allowing anyone to view the list. Add accounts to the list by clicking on the overflow icon on an account’s profile. You can enter search terms on Twitter or select them from your followers.
Rather than building your own lists from scratch, consider viewing lists other users have created, including competitors. If the lists are public, you can subscribe to lists others have created or selectively add influencers you find. You can also learn what lists they’re a member of. If you view profiles of influential journalists and find lists that they’re a member of, you might uncover a goldmine of other influential journalists in the same niche.
You can also use an online tool like Scout Zen to build and manage lists and export data in Excel or CVS files.
The Many Uses of Twitter Lists
Simply adding influencers to a list can get their attention since Twitter automatically notifies them when they’re added to lists. A notification that they’ve been added to your “Top Writers” list may prompt them to visit your profile.
Lists of media outlets and journalists covering particular topics helps PR pros stay abreast on current news. PR pros can identify trending topics and learn what types of articles gain traction and what companies gain media mentions.
A list of competitors provides competitive intelligence. Such a list helps keep tabs on competitors’ social media marketing strategies, customer service and community engagement. It could also provide insight into their public relations strategies and product development
A list of brands with a strong Twitter presence can help spark inspiration — even if they’re outside your industry. “Content on Twitter is constantly evolving, so taking time to identify brands that are consistently “in” on the latest memes and conversations can help you spot opportunities to join (or hold off on) the latest trend,” advises Lindsay Crider, marketing manager at Twitter.
A Twitter List dedicated to peers, including other sub-accounts operated by your parent business, can offer additional insight, Crider adds. With some brief scrolling, you can learn about content trends on the horizon, the events they’re promoting, and how they’re connecting with cultural moments.
PR agencies may wish to use lists to segment current and potential clients. “If you know whether a question about your product or service is coming from your current client, then you can better structure your conversation,” advises Alexandra Tachalova, founder of Digital Olympus, in Search Engine Journal. “For example, you can avoid asking the same questions over and over again, trying to figure out if this person is using your services or your product.”
Even More Uses of Twitter Lists
Tachalova suggest other potential uses for the lists:
Track new client leads. If you don’t know their Twitter handle use their email address to locate their Twitter handle with the help of an online tool.
If your company attends a networking event, create a list of people planning to attend whom you’d like to contact.
Create a list of people who have shared something about a subject you’re writing about.
Improve targeted advertising. With a hand-crafted list, you choose who to target for Twitter’s tailored audiences.
“If Twitter lists aren’t the best way of informing a target audience about your brand, then I don’t know what is,” Tachalova says.
Bottom Line: Twitter Lists can help PR organize Twitter accounts, improve media pitching, and generally use the network more effectively. Some call the lists the secret weapon of the app. While initially time-consuming to create, a few shortcuts can help quickly locate valuable influencers.
This post was first published on April 1, 2019, and updated on Aug. 31, 2020.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.