How Marketers Can Tap Into Twitter Lists

“He’s makin a list, He’s checkin it twice” -Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Haven Gillespie

People love lists. In the opera Don Giovanni, the licentious main character’s servant Leporello maintained a list of his boss’s conquests.

As children, we might have been encouraged to make lists of what we wanted for our birthday, while our parents made lists of groceries to be picked up on the way home.

And now that we need a book for vacation, we might even consult the best-sellers list.

If you know your HTML, you’ll know that a numbered list is an ordered list, while a list simply separated by bullets is an unordered list.

When the word first entered our language, a liste was the outer boundary of a field – the place that was used for battle. Later, people would tear of the edges (or lists) of a piece of paper, and use them for counting-off things — thus making a list of items.

Twitter And Lists

In October 2009, Twitter announced the addition of the Twitter lists feature. The idea was that lists would increase discovery and add value. They would also make it “easier to curate tweets into meaningful real-time experiences on your own sites via the Lists API.”

The list feature is quite simple: you can create lists with a name of your choosing, and add Twitter users to that list.  People receive a notification when they’re added to your list. Others can then see a list of your lists, and “subscribe” to one or more of those lists. If they subscribe to a list, the tweets of people in that list show up in their stream, even though they aren’t specifically following those people.

There are two main touch points in these actions:

  1. People are notified when they’re added to a list
  2. People can see (and subscribe to) your lists

Like all the posts I write for this column, the main point is using Twitter for marketing, and these two touch points are your opportunities for adding value to your Twitter marketing.

Adding Someone To A List

Many of the lists I keep on my personal Twitter profile were created to help me keep track of individuals that at one point or another blew me away with their awesomeness – or are a part of a group I’m interested in.

It’s an easy way, for instance, to see the tweets of everyone at my company. I also have a list of people that I’ve found to be “absolutely brilliant.” I have people like @zephoria and @wnd, who I have the greatest respect for. It’s just possible that when they received the notice that they’d been added to my “absolutely brilliant” list, that they then immediately wrote down my name, with a note to be sure to send me my favorite scotch at Christmas.

If, on behalf of your brand, you’re doing an influencer outreach type of social media marketing project, this can be a great way to catch the attention of individuals you are hoping to reach.

Your List Of Lists

Most of the time, we create lists as the need occurs to us. But if you back up and look at your list of lists, you’ll realize that that list tells a story. What if your lists reflected major components of your brand’s vision or values?

The Coca-Cola Company, for instance, is working hard to be all about happiness. What if they had a list of the happiest people they knew? And a list of people who made other people happy? Lists like that would reinforce the story of the brand’s relationship to happiness — much more than a list of people tweeting from different company divisions.

Maintaining our Twitter lists can easily be forgotten in all of the social media activities on the community manager’s task list. Keeping great lists alive, adding to them, sharing them every so often – these are all activities that can lend the Twitter list activity some real power.


If you’re interested in working your lists, Listorious is a free web-based application that can make the task easier. Listorious was developed by Gregory Galant (@gregory), the entrepreneur behind Sawhorse Media and the Shorty Awards.

You can also use Listorious to find lists that you can subscribe to – a great way of discovering interesting individuals. You can add your own Twitter lists to the Listorious directory, and discover the lists that you’ve been added to.  Just like the small gifting component of following people back, following a list can send the list-maker the message that you’re paying attention.


Twitilist is another application to help you maintain your Twitter lists more easily. Twitilist has a nice drag-and-drop functionality that allows you to drag your followers (or at least their itty-bitty avatars) onto your pre-existing lists.

Closing List

Here’s a list of actions to take from this post:

  • Use Twitter lists to connect with influencers
  • Consider the story that your list of lists is telling
  • Use Listorious to maintain your lists
  • Subscribe to lists that list you

Is there anything you would add to this list?

photo of list: licensed under Creative Commons 

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | How To Guides | How To Guides: Social Media Marketing | Marketing Tools: Social Media | Social Media Marketing | Twitter Marketing Column | Twitter: Marketing


About The Author: is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.


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