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How (and why) to use Twitter lists to grow your business

By Alexandra Gavril - October 22, 2016

If you’re using Twitter but not Twitter lists, you’re missing out on a fantastic tool to monitor interesting conversations, spy on your competitors, cultivate new connections, and interact with the right people – all without wasting time sifting through feeds.

In this post we’ll walk you through what a Twitter list is, how you can create one (or as many as you like) and how you can use these lists to get organised, save time, and grow your business.

What is a Twitter list?

Twitter’s Help Center defines a Twitter list as “a curated group of Twitter accounts.” In other words, it’s an easy way to organise multiple Twitter accounts into separate groups that make sense for you. This allows you to read and interact with tweets from users based on criteria that you choose. It also saves you time by cutting out the irrelevant tweets that show up on your feed.

You can create as many lists as you like, whether public – such as a list for networking with journalists, bloggers or authorities in your industry – or private, for your eyes only – like a list of your competitors.

Later on we’ll dig deeper into the types of list that you can create to benefit your business.

But first…

Why create Twitter lists?

If you’re on Twitter, you need to take advantage of these lists. Here’s why:

  • Save time. As you follow more people, your feed will soon grow to an extent where you’re likely to miss out important tweets from influencers or customers you want to interact more with. A list can save you lots of time as it filters out the noise in the massive flow of tweets, and helps you to stay focused on the most important people and tweets.
  • See what your competitors are up to. Creating a private list with your competitors enables you to monitor their activity on Twitter and see what type of content they share with their followers, how they interact with them and more. If you can see what works for them, you can adapt their strategy to your business and always be a step ahead of the game.
  • Engage with influencers, bloggers, journalists and customers. When you have a dedicated list of influencers, it’s difficult to miss their content in your feed. A list makes it easy to interact with them and to build valuable connections.
  • Stay up to date with the latest news in your industry, without having to scroll through the massive amount of tweets on your feed.

Next we’ll walk you through the simple steps to creating a Twitter list.

How to create a Twitter list

To create a Twitter list, go to your Twitter avatar and click Lists.


In the right-hand sidebar, click Create new list.


Next you’ll need to give your list a name, add a description if you wish, and set the privacy level. If you want your list to be public, meaning visible to everyone, a description is important so people know what that list is about if they want to follow it.


Click Save list and then you’ll be able to populate the list.

Now, to add someone to your list, go to the Twitter account of that person, click on the Settings icon, and then scroll down to Add or Remove From Lists.


Now check the box of the Twitter list you’d like to add that person to.


Now that you know how to create a Twitter list, here are eight ways to use them for your business.

Nine ways to use lists to grow your business

You can create Twitter lists to target just about any group of people you’re interested in engaging with or selling to. Here are a few examples:

  • Bloggers and journalists who cover your field
  • Experts and authorities in your industry
  • Competitors
  • Complementary, non-competing businesses
  • Potential customers who you want to work with or sell to
  • And anyone else whose radar you want to be on

Let’s get into more detail and look at how you can use Twitter lists to build brand awareness, attract more customers and grow your business.

1. Monitor your competitors

If you want to be better than your competitors, you first need to take a closer look at what they’re doing on social media. But instead of checking their Twitter accounts on a daily basis, why not create a private Twitter list with your competitors’ accounts?

Keeping all your competitors’ accounts in one handy list allows you to easily check in on what they’re tweeting, when they’re launching new products or offers, and how they’re engaging with their customer base. You can then use these insights to come up with ideas on how to improve your Twitter strategy.

For example, you might notice that they’re getting more engagement when they tweet early in the morning. If you’re not tweeting in the morning, perhaps it would be beneficial for your business to adjust the time or frequency of your posts.

Just make sure to set that list to Private so your competitors won’t know that you’re monitoring them.

2. Become an authority

If you really know your stuff and are always writing and sharing useful resources, creating a dedicated Twitter list can help set you up as an authority. For example, if you’re an agency and you also offer social media marketing services, you can create a list of “Social media experts” and add people who are also knowledgeable in this domain. If your list is solid, it can become the destination for users looking for social media advice and expertise.

3. Connect with influencers

The key here is to create a powerful list with influencers in your industry and set its privacy to public. So add the people you admire and respect within your industry, and use this list to manage and improve your relationship with them. A list makes it easy to follow their tweets and to engage with them consistently.

Making this a public list means that when you add someone to your list they will get a notification. That little rush of validation that people get when they receive a notification that they’ve been added to a list of experts can help you to get noticed. And that’s exactly what you want if you’re trying to get on their radar.

Need more help? Watch our Sift Six videos to learn how to find influencers on Twitter and how to engage with them to get them to talk about your business to their audience.

4. Build relationships with bloggers and journalists

Twitter is an excellent platform to build relationships with media people. Engaging with influential and up-and-coming bloggers and journalists can lead to direct opportunities to pitch to them. And over time, if you manage to build a strong relationship, they may even come directly to you.

So create a list with reporters, journalists and bloggers who write about your industry, and start working that list to your advantage.

5. Engage with your biggest fans

Create a list with people who are avid fans of your brand and actively engage with your content, whether they share your posts directly from your blog, retweet, or comment on your tweets. Make sure you pay attention to these fans and engage with them on a regular basis as they are a veritable marketing army for your posts.

This can mean anything from thanking them for retweeting, to sharing any of their content you see as potentially useful for your brand. This creates a win-win situation and also incentivises them to share more of your content.

6. Reward your most loyal customers

You should always make an effort to show your gratitude to your customers for their loyalty. A great way to show your appreciation to highly valued customers is to add them to a private “recognise and reward” Twitter list. You can use this list not only to thank them for being a customer but also to reward them with exclusive discounts or private sales, or even the ability to test run a new product or service before anyone else.

This list will also come in handy when you’re launching campaigns in which you’d like to engage some of your most valued customers.

7. Create lists for events

If you’re planning an event, make sure to create a Twitter list of speakers and attendees. It not only helps everyone connect with each other prior to the event, but also allows those who can’t attend to follow the activity from the event in real time.

Use this list to also keep in touch after the event, as well as to promote the next event on your calendar.

8. Your own local list

If you’re a local business, playing nice on the local scene can be vital to your success. Supporting other businesses in your community can also go a long way.

So create a Twitter list where you highlight what you feel is the best your city or region has to offer. Add other businesses and local customers. For example, if you own a pet shop, you can focus on local veterinarians, pet-friendly parks or coffee shops, or activities that people can enjoy with their pets.

If you also use this list to start conversations with other businesses and you may end up partnering with some of them and introducing your products or services to a brand new audience in the process.

9. Stay on top of trends

It’s easy to get distracted by irrelevant tweets as you follow more people. So if you want to keep up with the latest news and trends, create a Twitter list where you add the top websites and users who constantly share breaking news in your industry. This is a great way to not only unclutter your Twitter feed but also to increase your profile’s status as an industry leader.

Wrapping up

Twitter is a fantastic tool to collect and share information, as well as to interact and build relationships with influencers and customers. But to be able to fully enjoy the benefits of Twitter for your business, you need to get organised.

So, go ahead and use your account to its fullest by creating the lists that will be most useful to you and your business.