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Are you a Twitter user that perhaps is struggling to keep up with all of the ‘white noise’ that you may find is happening on Twitter? If you’re following more than 100 people (and most do), it’s possible that not only do you not get to see all the tweets that are on your timeline, but you’re missing the ones that you perhaps are a bit keener on seeing.

What you need to know about Twitter Lists: White noise

Asynchronous Relationships

One of the features that sets Twitter apart, in my opinion, is its asynchronous relationships. Simply put, this means that I can follow you on Twitter, but you don’t have to follow me back. This allows us all to build timelines that are demonstrably useful and interesting to us – not because of some pseudo obligation, but because the person you’re choosing to follow is interesting.

Choosing who to follow based on this concept will help keep your Twitter vibrant and interesting. Too many fall into the trap of following a bunch of people, then unfollowing the ones that don’t follow them back…rinse & repeat. This may build up ‘numbers’, but who cares how many people follow you? Surely, you should be more interested in how many people engage with you?

It’s this fundamental that is often missed and it leads to worrying results. Accounts that have 10,000’s of followers (and ‘following’), but devoid of any real substance.

But, what if you find more than ‘a few’ people who are interesting? Well, that’s what Twitter Lists are for.

What are Twitter Lists?

Twitter Lists are a feature of the popular micro-blogging platform that allows you to segment the accounts you’re following. This, in turn, lets you see more of what you need to see, right now.

Used correctly, they help you to become more responsive and increase your engagement (which is what social’s all about, right?).

Using Lists allows you to sub-divide these accounts into smaller, more manageable groups. And once you’ve done that, suddenly, Twitter takes on a whole new feel.

Different types of Twitter Lists

There are two types of Twitter list, each with its own purpose and use. Used well (and in combination), you can take your Twitter ‘game’ to a how new level.


The public list is, as the name suggests, a public (visible, notified) list. The name you give it can be seen by the Twitterverse. The description you give it can add additional context to why you’re curating this community which will help others decide if they want to engage with the list or its individual members, but also send a clear signal to the members.

Each time you add someone to your public list, a notification may appear in their Twitter. If this is useful, it can help provide context to the relationship between you and them. Used poorly (spamming etc.) can lead to you getting blocked and/or reported. So, please use this wisely.

HypeXpert Twitter List

Public Twitter List

This is a list we use at Hypestar to keep a list of who has contributed to the HypeXpert series on the blog. It’s manual task, but takes only a few seconds to add someone to the list – and it helps elevate the members’ profiles a little more (we believe it giving credit where it’s due).

This is a [small] perk of being part of the programme, so it’s something we like to maintain.

Adding the description to this public list adds the critical context to why we’re building this community. Imagine having a public in your industry that curates people who are doing amazing things in ‘X’. It’s a wonderful way to ‘introduce’ yourself to brands.

It’s not enough to just follow people anymore

I firmly believe this – it’s just not going to cut the mustard anymore. Following someone on Twitter, whether because of how long the network has been around (and the novelty of being followed has worn off) or because the notion of being followed has been ruined by would-be spammers and crappy social media management companies desperately trying to get their clients the promised “‘x’ thousand followers by the end of the month“, doesn’t really matter – the fact is, it just doesn’t mean what it used to.

And many of you will know my hatred of the ‘if you follow me, I’ll follow you back’ mentality.

But public lists are (can be) special. If I’m added to a list and it’s called “People who are awesome”, that’s going to mean a whole lot more than just “You’ve been followed on Twitter”. And it’s not even the vanity aspect, if I were added to “People who annoy me” – while notably upsetting – it would add context to the relationship.

Think really carefully about how you name/describe your Twitter Lists.


This one’s a really interesting one. Forget everything I’ve just said because private lists are a wonderful secret mechanism that you can use to monitor some pretty powerful stuff. On the same ilk as public lists (cutting out the white noise), private lists let you do this is a much more subtle way.

Members will not be notified when added to this list and there is no way for anyone [who isn’t logged into your Twitter acount] to find this type of list.

So if there’s a group of accounts that you may want to make sure you keep a close eye on, private Twitter Lists could be a great fit.

This would be –

  • Family members
  • Current customers/clients
  • Prospective customers/clients
  • Competitors

I tend to use it more on the client side. Especially for those that I have trained – I obviously have a vested interested in them succeeding, so I keep a closer eye on those accounts and can then jump in and say ‘hey, try this and toggle that’ to see if I can enhance the effect of training already covered.