Get more out of Twitter

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by Twitter.  Once you start following more than a 100 people the timeline can quickly become a fast flowing “fire hose” of information.  Once you start following more than 500 you could spend all day trying to keep up to date and informed.  I think a lot of times, this is why people get turned off by Twitter.

One option is to use an app like Flipboard to help make your Twitter-stream more consumable.  News.me and Pulse are similar alternatives.

There is a very simple, yet powerful tip that will change the way you use Twitter forever – and will allow you to get so much more from your Twitter experience.

Lists

The best way to get more out of Twitter is to segment your timeline into lists.  Here’s how you do it:

1. Create a list.

Lists are part of your Twitter account.  You can create lists on Twitter.com or most feature-rich Twitter-clients such as TweetBot.   Lists can either be private – only accessible by you – or they can be public – others can see your lists and can even subscribe to them (you essentially become the “membership officer” of your own group).

The first step is to create an empty list into which you can then add members.  And so on Twitter.com, simply click on your profile icon at the top right:

And then select lists.  All of the lists that you are currently subscribed to or a member of are listed.. but to create a list, simply click on the “create list” button.

You then give the list a name and decide if you want it public (available for all to see) or private.

I would recommend creating lists that allow you to group people into areas of interest or how frequently you may like to speak with them — this is similar to Google’s Circles or Groups in Facebook.  For example, I have a list for people I work with, a list for local information (events, news), general news, family and close friends, etc.

Here’s how the lists look in a 3rd party Twitter app like TweetBot:

2. Add people to lists

OK – so we have an empty list, we now need to add people to this list and this is where a 3rd party app really shines.  Twitter.com is great and the “official” Twitter apps is fine – but for some reason, neither have made it that easy to manage and view lists… but it’s pretty straightforward all the same.

Look at who you are following (from twitter timeline or from your profile of “following”).  Next to each name is a down arrow – and when you click on it, you will see a “add or remove from lists..” option

You will then be presented with a pop up window with all your lists and you simply select which ones they should be included in (they can be in more than one).  And press save.

In TweetBot, this looks like this:

Now do this for everyone that you want to segment – perhaps start with some obvious ones – friends, family or perhaps news sources.  When you choose to follow people in the future, decide what lists (if any) to add them to.

3. Forget about the Firehose.

You can now totally forget about the full Twitter timeline if you like.  When you jump on Twitter to keep up to date with news or with colleagues, go directly to the lists.  You will get a subset of the Twitter stream – but including only the people in your list.  Want news?  Go to your news list. Want to see what your work colleagues are saying?  Go to your work list.

Follow as many people as you like – you no longer have to worry about your twitter feed getting to be too much again.

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