I do love a list – so it’s no surprise that I love Twitter lists.
The fundamental problem with Twitter is that there is too much of it – and it can be toxic. Lists are a way to cut through the clutter and the awfulness.
Essentially, a Twitter list enables you to make a group of Twitter accounts and then see all the tweets from those accounts – without having to follow them and therefore create an increasingly unwieldy timeline. And the list will be people you chose to see – meaning you can create little bubbles that are personally useful to you, free of generalised nastiness.
Consider this scenario: you are a political journalist who needs to know what politicians are saying on Twitter. But if you follow all of them, you then have a Twitter timeline filled to the brim with political grandstanding. (And also if you follow them, are you endorsing their often ridiculous or dubious views?)
Or you might be a keen cook and gardener who wants to use Twitter for ideas in both areas. Solution: a list for celebrity chefs and another list for gardening sites and writers.
Or you might be a writer who needs sources of ideas. Make a list of places where you find inspiration!
You can also subscribe to other people’s lists – meaning you can take advantage of other people’s Twitter curation capabilities.
How to make a Twitter list (steps as of October 2020):
1. Decide on a category – for the purposes of this example we will use the example of celebrity chefs.
2. Find one celebrity chef you know you want to follow. Let’s say it might be Nigella Lawson. Locate the three red dots under their profile picture and click on them.
3. Click on add/remove from lists.
4. Click on create new list (in this screenshot, and subsequent ones, you are seeing my own lists).
5. Give the list a name (you don’t have to fill in the description field).
6. You’ll get a pop-up window allowing you to add Nigella – and Twitter will suggest some other people. Take a look – there will probably be someone you want on your list!
7. Unhelpfully, the box disappears. Where to see your list? Go to the more button on the left of your screen, and then click on lists.
8. There they all are! Click on a list if you want to see the result of your work. The list you have just made will now update all the time with the tweets of the people you have selected.
How to subscribe to someone else’s lists
Using this post, I identified a person with a list I want to follow: Alejandra Ramos (@alwaysalejandra) has a Food Bloggers list (staying with the food theme).
1. Again, click on the three dots – but this time select View Lists.
2. In the resulting screen click on the list you want.
3. Click on follow.
4. Go back to your own list and there, now, is the one you followed.
How to maintain lists
You then build your list incrementally – every time you see another celebrity chef you like, just add them to your list. And when you want your Twitter food fix, just go to your list and scroll!
In that process, you might find someone on your list you want to remove.
1. Find that person’s profile, click again on add/remove from lists (I am not removing the esteemed Raymond Blanc – just using him as an example!)
2. You’ll see a tick next to the list they are on – click to remove the tick and hit save.
And that’s it. If you would like to look at my own lists, they’re here, reflecting my personal interests and work pursuits. One last use of a list to observe: I have an Eskom list which has just two members, enabling me to find tweets about loadshedding quickly and efficiently.
And that’s really what Twitter lists do: save time.