OK, you have worked our the basics of Twitter. If you haven’t, then read Jessica Hische’s excellent guide (even if it’s Mum, not Mom), and I’ve written a few words on Twitter for politics. Then read on, for this is a guide about how to use Twitter Lists, the way to make Twitter manageable.

I’m often asked how I follow 2900 people on Twitter. You can’t read that much! Sorry you 2900, but I don’t read all your tweets. Nor does anyone who follows a lot of people.

So what do I read, and how?

Click to enlarge
First of all, life is too short to read old tweets. So anything written now, while I’m writing this blog entry, or you’re reading it, I won’t look at. Except mentions (tweets mentioning @jonworth) – I’ll read all of those, always.

Secondly, I don’t use twitter.com to manage my account. I use Tweetdeck for Chrome, although regular Tweetdeck or Hootsuite will do the job just as well. These are the only Twitter Clients I’ve come across that give a decent overview of Twitter lists, and also explain why Tweetdeck is a valuable firm just now. No-one using Twitter effectively and professionally is going to be using the regular Twitter website, it just does not offer adequate functionality.

Thirdly, group the people you follow into lists. There are practical guides about how to do this from Mashable and Twitter itself. But why should you do this?

Think of the things that matter to you. For me that’s UK Politics, EU Politics and how tech impacts politics. Depending on the time of day, or the day of the week, my interests will vary. If it’s a European Council in Brussels my focus will be on EU. If it’s budget day it will be the UK. If I’m looking for inspiration on web projects then it will be tech.

So think of your interests, and work out who the really interesting people are on Twitter in those areas, and make a list for each.

For example my techpolitics list has 34 members (you can see their tweets here), the UK list 66 and so on. The total on all my lists is a couple of hundred. Anyone I follow will be considered for a list, but not that many make it. You can also see that while 3300 people follow me, 238 have listed me – i.e. 238 people who have gone beyond the basics of Twitter are really paying attention.

Last but not least, get an overview of your lists in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. This is shown in the screenshot above – you can display each list in a separate column, giving you an overview of what’s happening on all of your lists, whenever you want it. This is much better than the separate clicks you have to make in most Twitter clients, or at twitter.com. You can also make columns for Twitter searches, although that’s a topic for another post.

So – in short – work out your interests, make a list for each, add columns in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, and enjoy a busy but manageable experience with Twitter!


  1. Simon Blackley

    I also use lists extensively, but I do it differently. I only follow the people I really want to follow — my timeline remains my default view. Others I add to lists which I consult less often. Perhaps I am just a less generous person…

  2. Marion Worth

    You follow 2900 people on Twitter?

    No wonder you have so little time to keep in touch with your Mother!

    Why not sit quietly instead and read a book?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *