Lists are the new wave (my apologies Google) on Twitter. There will probably be a TwitterUSA list by the time I’m done with this post. Is the importance of lists being over-exaggerated? Probably. Facebook lists didn’t change my experience on the social network and Twitter lists probably won’t completely change my experience on the micro-blogging, communication-enabling, social network.
However, the functionality will certainly make the service more manageable, just as to-do-lists and grocery lists make my day more manageable. There’s even a master list for all of the lists (that didn’t take long).
So what are some tips for marketers and PR folks around Twitter lists? Here’s a few that I’ve highlighted on mine.
- Welcome to the next, Twitter popularity contest. Before lists, your brand or personal handle was measured by followers or mentions. Now your brand or personal reputation is also measured by lists. Patrick LaForge of the Times’ City room started a “linkers” list of the top re-tweeters and linkers in the Twittersphere. Scoble started a tech pundit list. If you can make your way on these lists, it will be good for your Twitter popularity. For marketers this news isn’t all good. Setting up silos within Twitter where small groups of the most popular Twitterati talk to each other, doesn’t help with trying to infuse brand messaging into the conversation. However, as more lists begin to get curated, think about how a green-thinking brand may be able to reach out to and infiltrate a list focused on sustainability. These micro-communities (within Twitter) will continue to grow, making mass message penetration across Twitter harder, but the fruits of the labor with targeted communication more plentiful.
- Bring on the widgets. With an open API, announcements from Twitter are always met with new widgets. No exception in this case. Twitter list widgets (one from Twitter here) allow you to bring your lists and the tweets from the folks on your lists into a blog or other online property. A nice value add, which serves as an aggregation tool. Want to have the entire staff of the New York Times contribute 140 character posts to your blog? Done. If you’d rather have the widget bring more of a community feel, how about making a list that includes the people that comment and contribute most to your online property? Or perhaps the staff of the blog?
- Monitoring is easier. This is probably pretty self explanatory, but the ability to create non-public lists which allow you to track media, investors, partners, customers, competitors, etc; for yourself or on behalf of a client will be a great use of lists.
- Curing the Data Overload. Lots of folks I chat to have trimmed the list of people they are following on Twitter down to a few hundred folks. They tried more, but that was just too much data and information. However, they seem to miss hearing from some of the folks they previously followed as their need changes. Lists make it a lot easier to follow more people. You can filter the information based on your current intent, which is something that Twitter didn’t allow you to do before. Looking at a new vertical for a new product? Or a new geography? Lists make it easy to filter based on the information you need now.
- Support a corporate cause through lists. It will be interesting to see how brands begin to build their own lists with their corporate handles. Jet Blue has built a few lists made up of team members and crew. But think about how brands will begin to build lists based on their social causes. Intel could start its own “green power” list to match its renewable energy drive, then market it to key constituents and share updates with that group.