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Creating lists is one of the easiest ways to get the most out of Twitter. Lists can help you to organise users you are following, breaking their posts out so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for.

Why bother?

With the rapid expansion of social media in recent years, it can be difficult to keep up with the massive amount of information being shared. What may have started as a manageable group of accounts to follow on Twitter can rapidly become a teeming crowd, and it’s easy to miss out on relevant, even critical, posts. Lists take the information you want to receive and break it into easily sorted groups. Individuals might create lists based on interests; for example, one person might have lists of Twitter accounts for favourite writers, co-workers, former classmates or companies they like.

For companies, lists can organize information relevant to your industry, location or members of your organisation. For example, a company may have a list for:

  • Media/press

  • Shareholders

  • Prominent celebrities or figures in your field

  • Industry organisations

  • Local government or community organisations

  • Businesses or individuals you’ve worked with

Using HootSuite

HootSuite is a social media management system companies can use to organise their social media streams. It’s also useful for delegating tasks, such as customer service, as it allows multiple people to post from the same account and has tools built in to simplify customer service efforts.

To use HootSuite to build a list, go to the HootSuite website and sign up or log in to your account.

Click on the “Add Stream” button toward the top of the page and select the “Lists” tab. Select your profile from the drop-down menu and click the bullet reading “Create a new list”.

Type in the name of your list in the space provided below. This doesn’t need to be unique to your company, but it must be unique from your other lists. That is, you cannot have two lists called “Media”, but it’s not necessary to name your list “Our company’s media list”. You can add a description if you think it’s necessary.

Public lists are visible to others, but lists designated as private cannot be seen by anyone other than you (or any users of your company account). This can be useful if you want to build a list of current customers with ongoing customer service issues, for example, since you wouldn’t want that information to be public knowledge. When you add a user to a public list, they will receive a notification. Unless you want to help your followers find information from a group of people, be sure to use private lists.

Once you’ve named your list, click on “Add Stream”. Now, tweets by any users on that list will appear in your home page dashboard.

If you know the Twitter username of the users you want to add to your list, you can simply click on the arrow to the top of your list on the dashboard, select “Preferences”, and type it into the field. You can also remove users here by clicking the X next to their name.

If you can’t remember the Twitter username of the person you want to add, go to the “Contacts” tab on the left side of the page.  

Your new list should appear on the left-hand side of the page. If you have multiple Twitter profiles in your HootSuite account, be sure you have selected the correct one at the top of the left-hand bar.

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From here, find the user’s profile from the right side of this screen, toggling between users who you are following or who are following you by selecting the appropriate button at the top of the page. When you have found someone you want to add to your list, simply click and hold their profile image and drag it onto your list in the left-hand bar, or click the arrow below their image, select “Add to list”, and choose the appropriate list from the drop-down menu that appears.

To remove a user from one of your lists, select the appropriate list from the left-hand bar in your Contacts tab and find the user to the right. Select the arrow below their name and click on “Remove from list”.

Lists can make your Twitter experience much easier to manage, sorting posts in a way that is easier to follow and allowing you to more quickly find the information you need. While you can set up lists from your account page at Twitter.com, using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite simplifies the process, especially for larger organisations with multiple people working in the same account. 

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