Twitter Lists: A New Way to Organize Your Timeline and Your Time

Are you like me? Do you follow a lot of people on Twitter?

Good news: Help has arrived. The new Twitter Lists feature has now been rolled out to all users. Billed as an easy way to manage what can be a fire hose of updates from all the people you follow, lists help you break down the flow into manageable portions. They help you by organizing tweets from a single person or a group of people in one place for easy access and segmentation.

Twitter bird logo icon illustration
Image by Matt Hamm via Flickr

You can make your lists either public or private. Public lists enable others to look at your lists and subscribe to them without having to follow each of the individual users. You can group the people you follow into different categories and read only the updates that interest you. At this point, creating lists is time-consuming. You need to look through your followers, search for users, or add people from their Twitter pages.

For professionals, the most valuable aspect of lists is in the subscription feature. If you’re choosy about subscribing only to the lists of Twitter users in your industry who you respect, you can gain insights from what they are discussing. List descriptions are coming soon — these will tell others what the list is all about vs. having to rely on the list name alone.

Here are some ways Twitter Lists can provide value:

  • It’s easy to follow a trusted group of tweeters
    Before, it was difficult to follow a group of people all at once. Now you can easily create a list of your co-workers, for example, or thought leaders in your field, and follow them with one click.
  • You can separate the people you actually read from the crowd and let them know they’re valuable
    In addition to helping you by improving your Twitter experience, adding someone to a list tells them that you appreciate their content and that they are head and shoulders above the Twitter fray. Although everyone appreciates being retweeted, lists are another way to show people your gratitude for their contributions.
  • You can brand your Twitter presence
    The people you follow and the content of your tweets are part of your personal brand. Lists are another way to communicate this and to differentiate yourself. If you create lists that are specific to your field and include people you consider leaders, you can demonstrate that you are a subject matter expert and are fully engaged.
  • You can find great people to follow
    The lists of people you respect can offer insights about them and also some ideas about who you should start following. Before, you needed to look at individual timelines to accomplish this. For example, you could go to Pete Cashmore’s profile and see who he follows and communicates with. Very time-consuming. Now I see that Pete has created a list of fellow contributors at Mashable, making it easy to follow them all with one click. As more people create lists, it will be interesting to see who they value and recommend. Lists should be an improvement over the Twitter Suggested Users list and other directories.
  • It’s another way to measure influence
    Now, on everyone’s Twitter page, there’s another number included in addition to the number of people you’re following and how many people are following you. It shows how many times other people have included you in their lists. Coupled with retweet metrics, it shows how valuable your stream is to others.

Previously only available via Twitter’s Web interface, the Lists feature is now enabled in the Seesmic desktop client. It displays your lists in the left sidebar from any of your Twitter accounts. It also enables you add any Twitter user to any user list from any of your accounts. Right now, list functionality in Seesmic is incomplete. You can only see lists that you follow, not any lists that include you. And lists have to be created via Twitter’s site; you can’t create lists in the client itself. Functionality for both is coming soon. TweetDeck will also be adding list features in coming weeks, and other clients are sure to follow suit.

Twitter lists have a lot to offer. What do you think? Have you created any lists? What uses have you found for them?

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Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up

Here are some must-see posts about social marketing for your weekend reading pleasure:

234 social media marketing examples
Image by Pete Kim via Flickr

Do you make these Top 11 mistakes with your social media?
Social media can be seriously profitable for your business. “It’s the secret low cost marketing weapon used by the leading entrepreneurs. But, it can go horribly wrong if you make these mistakes…” explains today’s 30 Days of Social Media contributor, Meredith Collins. She identifies 11 mistakes that you don’t want to make.

Social media marketing: In search of an opt-out
Lines are being drawn between email and social media marketing, but not all elements have obvious correlations. Here’s why the unsubscribe doesn’t directly translate to social media.

Social Marketing Is Rooted In The Brand
Your brand is something that lives in the hearts and minds of people out there, and in that sense social marketing is the purest expression of branding.

Utilizing Social Media for Exposing Your Business Website
Social media is a wonderful way for business owners who already have great content on their websites to expand their reach further with marketing their products.

A quick check-up for your social media marketing plan
This little quiz (which you technically can’t fail as we have not devised a scoring system for it—yet) should help you identify the areas where your organization/team is strongest and weakest with respect to social marketing.

Introducing Google Social Search
Google Social Search plugs into your Twitter and FriendFeed accounts and sifts through content based on what people have been talking about. This seems like another function that’s moving you closer to Google Wave, with everything happening seamlessly in one window of information.

Google Social Search Introduces New Opportunities Within SEO
Google has launched a new experimental feature in Google Labs that searches your social circle in addition to your regular Google search results.

Is Social Media Marketing a New Requirement of SEO?
Here’s an interesting question worth a minute of pondering for any SEO practitioner: “[I]s it now a necessity for an SEO to have practical social media skills?”

Strategies: Which social networking site is best for your small business?
In the olden days – say five years ago – it was enough for a small business to market its services with advertising and public relations. But in the last few years, an avalanche of new opportunities has cascaded on the Internet in the form of social networking sites. These sites give entrepreneurs more opportunities to get the word out about their companies, but they’ve also made many of us feel overwhelmed, trying to keep up.

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Got a Tweet to Spare? It Could Help Your Favorite Charity

Social media is all about engaging people and facilitating conversation.

The global nature of that communication is a very powerful platform for generating awareness and spreading the word about causes and issues.

Charities can really benefit from an active social media presence. Social networks are a boon for fundraising, as evidenced by several recent campaigns:

  • Using the #BeatCancer meme, a combined Twitter/Facebook effort helped raise $70,000 for cancer organizations.
  • FarmVille, the popular Facebook game (over 56 million members play each month), sold a virtual crop of sweet potato seeds and raised almost $500k for feeding poor children in Haiti.
  • TwitCause, service built on top of Twitter, used tweets to promote a diabetes research walk and to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And Haagen-Dazs has pledged a $1 donation for each #HelpHoneyBees tweet from November 5-11 to raise awareness about the worldwide collapse of honeybee colonies.
  • SocialVibe, which develops charity-focused sites and social media applications, has launched a Halloween trick-or-treat program called Click 4 Good geared toward Twitter, Facebook,  and MySpace users.
  • Room to Read partnered with Twitter to raise money for African and Asian schools and libraries by selling custom wines from Crushpad.
  • Facebook has enabled its members to buy virtual gifts to benefit various nonprofit groups.
Money Back Guarantee
Image by Roby© via Flickr

Even during this recession, when overall donations to charitable groups are down, social networking campaigns have helped replenish nonprofit coffers.

Methods for leveraging social media are still evolving — nonprofits need to tread lightly in order not to “over message”. But its advantages for getting the word out about good causes means that more charities should, and undoubtedly will, jump in and embrace the medium for doing good works.

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Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up

Here’s some great weekend reading in the social marketing sphere:

Is social media marketing making search campaigns cheaper?
Have you been wondering why Google’s make such a big push into display and social over the last few months? Well The Wall Street Journal has a theory: Google’s revenue growth is down 25% this year and marketers are getting more bang for their buck in search.

Toronto Twitter Tweet Up
Image by Dave Delaney via Flickr

Social Sites Send Fewer, but More Loyal Visitors than Search
While we all like our sites to have visitors, a loyal visitor—one who returns for later visits—is especially valuable.

When Two Worlds Collide: Social Media Marketing & SEO
All of the basics of SEO will still be important, but your social media presence will be a critical part of securing your search traffic. Social media will most likely become just as important as content creation and inbound links for priming the SEO pump.

Mobile Social Networking Blurs Lines
Both mobile and social are emerging channels. Combine the two of them together, and well, you have an even less mature proposition. Not necessarily a lack of marketing opportunities, but more complications getting programs off the ground.

Less than 10% of small businesses twittering
Businesses of all sorts are becoming more social, but it seems that the most recent social tools aren’t being widely used. According to a new report from BIA/Kelsey only 9% of small businesses are using Twitter to market or engage.

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