6 Ways Twitter Lists Are Changing the Game

    November 6, 2009
    Chris Crum

We knew Twitter lists were going to be big for Twitter. We knew they were going to greatly increase the usefulness of the service, and for many, even the enjoyment. What we didn’t know, however, was that right out of the box, we would see so many different uses for them, providing a window to the potential that they really do hold not only for Twitter itself, but for any business or individual who uses it. Let’s look at a few of those ways that Twitter lists are being used.


Tell us how you are using Twitter lists.

1. Organization and Noise Reduction

When Twitter first made the announcement that the Lists feature was coming, my first thoughts were about how great that would be to organize the Twitter stream. It has worked out as such. It’s a great way to separate the people you follow into groups.

For example, if I want to keep marketers, news organizations, sports stars, musicians, and my actual real-life friends all separate from one another, I can do that. It’s a great way to reduce the "noise" that has commonly been associated with Twitter. You can look at a custom-made list and simply get tweets related to a certain category. It’s very much like organizing a feed reader into different folders.



Twitter Music List

2. Changing the News

Mashable’s Pete Cashmore wrote a pretty interesting piece for CNN about how Twitter Lists are already transforming online journalism. Journalists are using friends to filter massive amounts of data through lists. Again, it’s about noise reduction.

Vadim Lavrusik also discusses ways news organizations are using Twitter lists. He looks at how different publishers are creating staff directories, recommending "tweeps" and specific information, using lists for curated real-time steams, and to follow events.

3. Directories

Mike Butcher points out that Simplezesty is creating lists of Twitter users in entire countries. This is a concept that could be taken by anybody to run wild with, particularly with regards to niches. Lists are essentially an organization tool, so anything can be broken down into categories.

Let’s say you are a restaurant critic. You could create separate lists for the best pizza places, the best burger joints, the best bars, the best Mexican restaurants, etc. This could be applied to virtually any industry.

Shameless plug: Of course our own Twellow.com has served a similar purpose and more for quite some time, and it’s already pretty well-established, so you if you’re looking for people to follow by industry, I suggest checking that out.


4. A New Way of Interaction

Look at what the NHL had done. Jennifer Van Grove points to a Tweet from the National Hockey league, which called upon fans to tweet @NHL their favorite team with a specific hashtag. The purpose was to create lists fans by team.

I can see a lot of potential for this type of thing too. I could see such a thing being turned into a game, or being used by businesses for promotions, contests, etc.

5. Popularity Contests and Paid List Spots?

I would have to imagine that people are going to covet spots on certain lists. It’s potentially going to be a great way to get new followers, so people are going to want to appear on the lists of influential Twitterers.

Could this lead to paying for spots on Twitter lists? I’d actually be shocked if this isn’t already going on to be honest. It’s not much different than the old-fashioned paying for a link. Only in this case, Google isn’t there to keep you out of search results, because here you’re trying to be found on Twitter, not Google.

That actually raises some more questions, however, as Google (and Bing) has recently made a deal with Twitter, which will see Tweets make their way to the search engine. We don’t know yet exactly how this will go, and whether or not lists will ever factor into the Google part of things. Could being on more lists be taken as a sign of authority? I’m only speculating.

6. Exploitation and Spam

Inevitably, Twitter Lists will also be exploited and used for spam purposes. It’s on the Internet and it’s a chance to gain exposure. It pretty much stands to reason than spam will follow. Why would this be any different than any other tool? Valleywag thinks Ellen DeGeneres is already engaging in such tactics. That’s an interesting read.

Are Twitter lists going to change how we get our news? How we find information? How we market our businesses? What do you think? Share your thoughts.

Related Articles:

By Tweeting, You Could Appear All Over the Web

Twitter Expands the "Lists" Feature

Microsoft and Google Score Deals with Twitter