While there’s an abundance of ways to monitor your industry, one of the most undervalued is Twitter lists – an avenue that’s been around since 2009. Creating a custom Twitter list allows you to follow selected feeds in real time, giving you a window into the conversations of peers and thought leaders worldwide.
This post will show you how to create a Twitter list that gives you insights into your industry and gives you a valuable frame of reference for understanding emerging trends.
Creating a Definitive Professional List
Let’s say you’re a journalist here in Indiana and you’re just starting to see the possibilities of Twitter. You’ve decided to create a Twitter list that will help you monitor news events across the state in real time. Click the Lists tab on the left side of your Twitter profile and then the “Create List” button. Then, name your list “Indiana News” and give it a brief description, choosing to make it a public list so that others can subscribe to it.
Next comes the task of adding relevant Twitter feeds to your list. You start with colleagues at your hometown newspaper, and then find reporters at local television stations and radio stations. Then methodically add feeds from reporters across the state so you can monitor news from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis to Evansville. This intermittent process could take weeks, but you’re building a custom information network that will keep you informed of breaking news like nothing else.
Or, let’s say you’re in the tech sector and want to build a Twitter list that keeps you on top of breakthroughs, analyst reports and news coverage. You can add as many as 500 feeds to a list and you don’t have to follow a feed to list it. In other words, you can keep an eye on a competitor’s Twitter feed without following them directly. (Also, it’s worth noting that you can make your list private so that others can’t subscribe to it.)
You can also choose to follow someone else’s list, and there’s no shortage of opinions on lists you should follow. But there’s something gratifying about creating your own list and discovering new voices in your field by digging a bit deeper. And once your list is built, you’ll always have it.
Here are some metrics to help you decide whether to add a feed to your list:
Engagement Level: You can get a sense of someone’s Twitter maturity with a quick skim of their last 20 tweets.
Tweet volume/frequency: When was the last tweet, and does the feed have a history of tweeting regularly? One glance at the feed tells you all you need to know.
Followers: Consider how many people are following that feed, but a better indicator is who is following that feed. If you see thought leaders in their follower list, the feed is probably worth adding.
Followers to followed ratio: At a minimum, the feed should have close to a 1:1 ratio. If they’re following significantly more people than are following them, it’s a red flag.
Make it a column, monitor and adjust
Now that you’ve created your Twitter list, set it up as a column in a dashboard like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. That way you can watch the tweets in real time alongside your regular Twitter stream. If you’ve set it up correctly, you’ll see thought leaders talking about the latest developments in your industry. Pay close attention to the developments that interest you and look for opportunities to join the conversation and offer your own insights.
Over time you’ll want to make adjustments to your list. Review it occasionally so you can eliminate inactive or irrelevant feeds, or those you simply no longer want on your list.
What has been your experience with Twitter lists? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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