Be More Efficient on Twitter with Twitter Lists

Updated 1/3/2021.

Twitter lists are the most efficient way to use Twitter for the busy marketing professional or small business owner. Heck, it’s the only way I run my business.

Time and time again, I am asked how to be more efficient in one’s use of Twitter. The answer is simple. Use lists.

This allows you to spend more time engaging your targeted audiences, curate content for all platforms, and, more importantly, listen. For more on why Twitter is the best for business to business marketing, read this post.

This post has been updated in January of 2021 and includes a few videos. Read up from Twitter on everything you need to know about lists.

You know you don’t have to read every tweet, right?

Often those new to Twitter complain that there is so much to read. They unfollow “prolific” (often used as a derogatory term) tweeters because they “clog up” their Twitter stream.

You can scroll. And you can filter.

Twitter Lists are the most under-utilized tool available to Twitter users second to the reply button. Click To Tweet

How do you create a list on Twitter?

The one good update from Twitter is the prominence of lists on the sidebar. Go to your username (slash) lists like and click on the +List icon at the top. Or you can click on the Lists link on the sidebar.

Be intentional about your list names. You should lists clients, categories, industry, etc. More on that is below.

How do you list users on Twitter?

You can create and edit lists on Twitter’s web app for desktop.

When you go to a user’s profile, click the three dots, choose “add or remove from lists,” and then choose the list. You can add users to more than one list. Twitter just changed how this looks now (July 2019).

You can add people to existing lists from Twitter desktop, mobile, or Hootsuite. I primarily use HootsuitePro because the columns you setup are the same on desktop or mobile.

For In-Depth Tutorials See:

What do you need to know about listing on Twitter?

You do not have to follow someone to be able to list them.  This can be helpful for celebrities and news people (that you make lists for).

So give your lists some thought. Think keywords.  It is so much work to go backward and fix these.

Lists can be public or private. When you add people to a list, they will be notified that they are listed and the name of the list. Twitter users can subscribe to your public lists.  I don’t use private lists.

More: Twitter Help Center:  Using Twitter Lists

Listing by Relationship:

In my talk, “You Are What You Tweet,” I emphasized the importance of listing and relationships. It is important to think about what relationships you may want to list.

Pencil out some of the choices you might have. Think about your business and or interests. Humor, automobiles, travel, politics, and sports are just a few of the endless possibilities.

Think of your three target demographics you need to stay in touch with. Write those down. Be aware that they will be notified of the name of the list.

When I worked for Riggins Construction, I put our clients and brokers on and another for our subcontractors. Those were people whose tweets I always want to see, reply to, and share.

When I worked for GiveWP, I wanted to see our team, nonprofits, and WordPress users.

Listing can be done for any industry.

Listing by Topic

Sometimes it’s hard to remember a follower when you need to. Usernames are often hard to remember (exactly) and avatars frequently change.

When I wanted to remember the two painters I followed in Orange County, I was so frustrated.  I had a “construction” list for the @RigginsConst account, but it was too diverse.

I finally ended up making several lists and put the floor and tile people together the HVAC and roofing people together, the General Contractors on their own list, etc.

For GiveWP, I started an #NPChat list. This helped me engage with those who are participating in our weekly chat during the week.

Listing by Geography

There are many benefits to listing by geography.

For business and networking purposes, it’s good to put people who live in your vicinity, say county, on a list. This is especially important for brick-and-mortar businesses who depend upon local clientele.

For example, I have an Orange County list, I can go to that column on Hootsuite, and read only those tweets.  The list filters out my whole twitter stream (currently following 11,600) to show only the 376 on that list. Obviously, making the information more relevant and manageable for me. This gives me the ability to scroll through tweets and find gems even from four hours ago that I missed while otherwise occupied. I simply reply to start a conversation or share (retweet) their post.

Another reason to list by geography is if you’re researching an area to travel and/or move.

My backup plan, should I ever have to leave California, is to move to Arizona.  I started putting people on a list with other Arizonans.  I can read their tweets, interact, get to know the area, learn new things, and make friends before I even move.

Organization is the Key to Being Effective

Listing is the only way I think I could be truly effective at building relationships on Twitter. Prioritizing who you engage with is not bad, it’s common sense.

There are a lot of non-sense tweets, check-ins, and such, but those are also the tweets that show an individual’s humanity and personality. Discovering shared interests is the start of any friendship.


Go read: “Twitter Lists for the Power User” by Carol Stephen for more ideas.

Happy Listing.

Feel free to check out my lists here.


  1. Rhonda Burgin on May 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Excellent info, thanks for the reminder for me to clean up.

  2. Toyota Equipment (@ToyotaEquipment) on May 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I wish more would follow your lead. You may also want to use to go back and review your followers. After a follower reaches several months of inactivity [four or five] we’re compelled to un-follow them.

  3. GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Hi can u tell me how someone created a ‘list’ on my profile?
    I didn’t create it, but noticed it was there one day.
    It’s showing in the area on the profile called ‘Listed’, not actually in my account Lists.

    How’d that get there? Should I be worried someone may have access to my account, or is this normal, and not someone getting into it with my password?

    • Bridget Willard on June 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      I’m not sure I follow.

      • GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm

        If you’d look at my profile it would be easier to see what I mean 🙂
        I’m new to twitter and may not be explaining the area correctly.

        @GHsoapViewer is the account.

        To bad I can’t just attach a screen capture here. lol

        Thanks for replying, BTW

  4. GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Looking from a browser I don’t see this showing, but when I look using my twitter client I see it. How can I have you see it too?

  5. GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Could this be something I’m seeing listed on someone else’s account, linked to mine, and my client ‘TweetBot’ shows it?

    As I said, I’m new to all this twitter listing stuff.

    Maybe I can post the screen capture on a photo site, and put that link here for you to browse to it. Unless attachments are able to be placed directly here.

  6. GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Hey, I have an idea, I can Tweet the screen cap to you 🙂

  7. GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Ahhh, so my client is showing me someone else’s list of my twitter name, that THEY put onto their own account?

    If so, if I ever want to remove it, I simply block them?
    Not that I want to now, I’m just curious.

    • Bridget Willard on June 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Yes. Blocking is the only way to remove yourself from another user’s list.

      • GHsoapViewer on June 25, 2013 at 11:03 pm

        Thanks for explaining it.
        Your blog is very helpful for us newbies to twitter 😉

  8. sandyconnolly on July 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    You give the best advice Bridget and I know I need to do the lists on twitter!

  9. live hi up (@livehiup) on August 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Nice article! I was so happy to hear that Twitter finally starting allowing more than 20 lists. I was literally having to delete lists to make room for more before that change.

    • Bridget Willard on August 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      I know. List maintenance is a major time commitment. Thanks, Live Hi Up.

  10. Christopher Fox on November 1, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Do retweets get added to lists?

    • Bridget Willard on November 1, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Nope. Lists are for users, not individual tweets.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  11. jill jackson on November 13, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Who sees a reply you make to someone you list but don’t follow?

    • Bridget Willard on November 13, 2013 at 5:33 am

      Potentially, anyone unless your tweets are protected.

  12. Annette Read on December 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Bridget!
    I’ve been on Twitter for years and don’t understand why I can no longer create a new list? I have four lists and wanted a fifth. My good friend just wanted to make his first list today too, and he also got an error message. I’ve Googled everywhere to find the answer but hit a deadend. Got all excited that perhaps Tweetdeck would fix it; Tweetdeck is now gone, lol. Any advice is so appreciated!

    • Bridget Willard on December 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm


      Good question.

      Make the list on Twitter (dot) com not in a third party app like TweetDeck (though owned by Twitter) or Hootsuite.

      Also, subscribed lists can mess you up. Both my friend and I had to UNSUBSCRIBE from all but ten of other people’s lists.

      Let me know if that helps.

      • Annette Read on December 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

        Thank you so much for your suggestions! I tried both with no luck. Just amazed that Twitter doesn’t have that covered in their FAQs.

  13. Annette Read on December 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Don’t ask me how or why but at least this worked to make two new lists. Instead of going to Lists on the PC on my main page to create one, I found a person to add to a new list, but I went to THEIR page, then clicked on their drop-down to add/remove to list, and in that pop-up window, I clicked on “Create a New List.” Day made, thanks!

  14. Alissa on April 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Bridget! Thanks for this article. I made a list in Tweetdeck called “BASEBALL”. How can I filter my “HOME” list so that I don’t see tweets from members of the “BASEBALL” list? Can I do this without unfollowing them? Thanks in advance!

    • Bridget Willard on April 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Alissa. I don’t think you can filter the home list. In tweetdeck, it looks like you can exclude words so maybe you can exclude “baseball.”

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