Twitter lists

by | Apr 15, 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes

What is a Twitter list?

A list is essentially a curated feed of a limited number of accounts. They are a great way to make your Twitter newsfeed more manageable, by grouping accounts together. They can not only help you focus through the fast-paced nature of Twitter, but also help with gathering important insights, to find content to share, and for user engagement.

Here’s a few examples of Twitter lists you could use:

  • Competitors
  • Clients
  • Prospective clients
  • Colleagues
  • Go-to experts / influencers
  • Journalists
  • Industry bodies / professional associations
  • Event attendees (most events have a specific hashtag)
  • Useful resources
  • Location-based contacts
  • Followers who have mentioned you and / or followers who Re-tweet you
  • People from Twitter chats

You can create up to 1,000 lists per Twitter account and each list can contain a maximum of 5,000 accounts so don’t worry about having too many ideas for how you can use this feature!

Public vs Private Twitter lists

When creating a Twitter list, you will have the option to give it a name and to make it public or private.

If your list is a commercially sensitive one (i.e. one created to follow competitors) then it’s best to take the option to make it a private list. Only you can see this information.

A public Twitter list, however, can be viewed by anyone viewing your profile; and anyone can subscribe to a public Twitter list.

Anyone added to a public list will know that they have been included by way of a notification when they get added.

Don’t be too obvious adding people to a public list of ‘my top prospects’… this will attract attention but your prospect will also be able to see who else you are considering and they won’t feel quite so special in a long list, which no doubt includes their competitors. It would be better to make this kind of list private.

If you’re looking to get in front of someone then name the public list something flattering, eg ‘social media experts I admire’ or ‘great people tweeting about X topic’.

If you can find a Twitter list already created, then that’s saved you a heap of work! Make sure to take a look for are any public lists when you are viewing people’s profiles – especially your competitors as they might inadvertently be sharing what accounts they are keeping an eye on and who they interacting with.

How to set up a new Twitter list

Creating a Twitter list is simple.

  1. Click on Lists in the navigation bar.
  2. Click the Create new List icon at the top.
  3. Choose a name for your List, and a short description of the List. Then select if you want the List to be private or public.
  4. Click Next.
  5. You can start to add members to your list straight away, or come back to it late.
  6. Click Done.

You can add Twitter users to a list at any time by clicking on the three dots from their profile page. The dropdown you will see shows options to ‘Add/remove from Lists’.

Viewing Twitter lists

You can view your Twitter lists by visiting your own profile. Go to ‘Lists’. You will see three headings for listed you own, lists you are subscribed to and lists you are a member of. Select the title of the list you wish to view to see a timeline of Tweets.

Here you can also edit your list – change the name, description and switch from public/private. You can see all members of the list, anyone that has subscribed to the list (if it’s public), add more people and also delete your list if it’s no longer required. There’s also another option here to remove people from lists when you are looking at the list of members.

Note, you do not need to be ‘following’ to include a profile on a list. This is why they can be so invaluable for competitor monitoring and prospect list building. Using lists can also help you to maintain a credible following:follower ratio. When you are following more people than you have followers it can indicate that your content might not be that great because people are not always following you back.

Using Twitter lists

Once you have Twitter lists set up they will become your go-to place to keep up-to-date with new Tweets. For example, I find it particularly useful to head to my list of ‘industry updates’ as soon as I come out of a long meeting or training session so I know what’s happening in my world right now and can share something timely with my own followers. I don’t have to do too much scrolling to find what I’m looking for.

They are also really useful for events – for collating a list of people Tweeting about the event, and to use for engaging with attendees during, and after the event. Some event organisers may create public lists for you to subscribe to, or you can just create your own by following the event hashtag. You don’t even need to be attending the event yourself to get involved on Twitter!

You can add up to five lists to your home timeline (currently only available on a mobile, rather than via desktop).

To do this:

  1. Click on your profile image (top left)
  2. Select Lists
  3. You will see Lists you’ve created and other people’s Lists you subscribe to.
  4. Tap the drawing pin icon to add a List to your Home timeline.
  5. Swipe right to access them from your Home timeline.
  6. To remove a List, under Pinned, tap the drawing pin icon to un-highlight the pushpin and it will be removed from your Home timeline. (Note: This will not delete the List.)

If you are using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can set up any of your Twitter lists as a column view for easy monitoring.


I’m only a fan of automating actions on social media when you have tried and tested something, know that it’s working… but could really do with a tool to make life easier!

Zapier is a tool that allows you to connect apps you use every day to automate tasks and save time. It’s similar to If This, Then That… but Zapier has the functionality to allow you to automate the building of a Twitter list whenever someone uses a specific hashtag… that’s my specific reason for using Zapier.

Here’s a screen recording to show you how easy it is to create a ‘Zap’.

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