If you’ve already been tweeting for some time, or even if you’re new to Twitter you’ve probably worked out that it’s an immensely powerful tool for finding up-to-date information from experts in almost any field, branding yourself or your company and keeping up with all the latest trends in the world of social media.
But while we’re all happy retweeting, mentioning, direct messaging or Follow Fridaying all our followers, we often forget to bother with twitter lists. If you’re anything like me, they have always been something that you know other people use, but something that you’ve never found the time to get to grips with properly. For a long time I thought they were for die hard Twitter fans, who simply wanted to keep all their followers and followees nicely and neatly grouped into different categories, you know, the sort of people who also iron their socks or fold their underwear.
Thankfully, though, after some deliberation and careful research, I’ve found that this is not the case, and that Twitter lists actually can be pretty useful, partly for the sake of neatness, but more importantly in order to position your Twitter profile better in the search engines.
What are Twitter lists?
According to Twitter’s very own dictionary, a Twitter list is:
“a curated group of Twitter users. When you click to view a list, you’ll see a stream of Tweets from only the users included in that group. You don’t need to follow another user to add them to a list; you can follow lists themselves without following the individual users in that list.”
So it’s a list of users grouped together by whatever criteria you choose. As a user we’re only allowed 20 lists, and in any list we’re allowed up to a maximum of 500 people.
How should you use them?
Granted, their use might seem obscure at first. It’s obvious that it benefits the people you add to groups, because you’re making them easy to find by anyone who visits your profile, how do they benefit you?
Well, one benefit of Twitter lists is that they allow you to see at a glance all tweets from people with a common interest. This can be handy if you want to look at tweets about a single topic, away from the hustle and bustle of your timeline. Lists are a way of curating content, so that you can quickly and easily check updates about any given topic. For example, you could have a list for SEO, a list for SEM, a list for travel bloggers, one for a particular event, or one for people who interact a lot…
You can also use them to help you with crisis management, to help you to suss out the haters. After all, lists don’t have to be public; you can create a private one where you put all users who have posted rude complaints about your company, or any other such social media trolls. Nobody likes having nasty things said about their company, so it’s always better to be as prepared as possible.
So how do they help you with SEO?
You most likely know that for your Twitter profile to get a good rank in the search engines you need to have a suitable profile picture, along with all the appropriate keywords in your profile description. But Twitter lists also contribute to the positioning of your site because they break users down into segmented groups, which further helps search engines to pick out the individual groups and interests that you’re targeting.
So this means that to make best use of your twitter lists it’s crucial to name them appropriately, choosing keywords that aren’t too competitive, but that are instead as specific as possible. If you want to make a list of SEO tweeters, for example, check the Google Keyword Tool for some lower competition keyword ideas. You’ll notice some simple alternatives come up, like “SEO Community”, or “SEO Questions”, both of which would be entirely appropriate names, and much more likely to bring you visits to your profile. More importantly, using a long-tail strategy like this, you won’t be competing against big, well-positioned pages for highly competitive keywords.
These techniques have helped me a lot to make use of and understand Twitter lists, which were a mystery to me for a long time. I’m guessing I wasn’t alone in not quite understanding their purpose, so hopefully this short guide will be useful to one or two of you at least
If you’ve found any other innovative use for them, let us know; we want to hear your ideas!
Image author: koalazymonkey