What is a Twitter List and Why it Should Be Used

Article by Wendy McCance

Over the past few years, I have shared everything I know about blogging, social media and freelance writing on this blog.  My goal was to provide as much information as possible all in one place for those who are staring out as a blogger, writer or want some help with their social media efforts.  The topics I have touched on are pieces of information I have learned as I began blogging and went on to become a freelance writer.

I have to admit, there is something I realized recently that I have been holding onto.  A piece of knowledge that seemed so obvious, but was so powerful that I kept second guessing myself.  How could I have overlooked something that was so easy and held so much worth?  It had stared me down for years and yet I never bothered with it.  Do you know how powerful a Twitter list can be?  I didn’t until recently and it has changed my life!

A few weeks back I went through each of my social media platforms and began looking for ways to improve upon what I was doing.  I rewrote my profiles, changed images and did some other minor tweaking.  I also looked at any offerings of additional tools I hadn’t bothered with on each site.  On Twitter, the tool I hadn’t used was the Twitter List.

I decided to rework my profile and add a few lists.  I had always wondered what the big deal was and why so many other people were using lists.  Well, I found out quickly just how valuable those lists can be.

Building lists is a long painstaking process if you haven’t been using them right from the start.  I have a few thousand followers and adding people to the lists I created took several days (get ready to put in some time).  I didn’t put everyone of I followed on a list.  Some people just didn’t fit on any of the lists.  Even so, it was well worth the effort.  (Read on to see how the magic unfolded).

For those who need some help with Twitter:

  • If you need to brush up on using Twitter, here is a guide I found: Twitter Guide 
  • If you aren’t sure how to put together a list, here is step-by-step instructions from Mashable.  They do a fantastic job of explaining how to create a list with screen shots to help you out.

When I started using the lists, I put together just a few categories.  Once I saw the power of the list, I expanded to a total of eleven lists.  They are:

Michigan Arts/Culture
Inspiration – Seeing life in a more enlightened and peaceful way.
Music Superstars – Amazing music makers from around the country.
Michigan News – Current events in Michigan
Tourism in Michigan
Marketing – Learn tricks and tips to master your marketing efforts.
Bloggers – Get to know bloggers from around the world.
Celebrating Michigan – Products, companies and places that make Michigan such a great state!!
Writing – Sharing writing information.
Social Media – Tips and Tricks from the experts!
The eleventh list is a list I follow.

After the lists had been compiled, I realized several things:

1.  I had essentially put together all of my interests on the lists.

2.  It helped me weed through future followers and decide who I really felt was important to follow.  If I could place a follower on one of the lists, then they were worth following.

3.  It helped me determine who I should reach out to.  Although I had a fairly good idea, when you have your core interests written down in front of you, you tend to focus differently on what you want to achieve.

Okay, so up to this point it was nice to make lists and organize, but the benefits were about to come my way in droves.

As a freelance writer and social media manager my goal is to connect to as many companies in my local area as possible.  Using the lists was a terrific way to build business.  I reached out to several companies and put each one on an appropriate list (either Celebrating Michigan, Tourism in Michigan or Michigan Arts and Culture).  It worked and I gained new followers and clients.

I have wanted to get more immersed in music.  As a hopeful songwriter, I want to connect with musicians, studio owners, producers etc…  I put together the list Music Superstars and have acquired a few incredible connections.  A local music producer contacted me about my songwriting and has shared some of the songs he is in the process of recording.  I also connected with two people who I truly admire, Linda Perry @RealLindaPerry who has an incredible voice and a real talent as a producer/songwriter and Ken Caillat @kencaillat who is the producer behind the genius Fleetwood Mac album Rumours and is also Colbie Caillat’s father.  I still pinch myself.  I can’t believe I am connected to them.

I put together a list for Bloggers, Marketing and Social Media and ended up with several well-known people following me.  I connected with some fantastic bloggers/writers: Sophie Lizard @sophielizard, Write to Done @WritetoDone and Jeff Goins @JeffGoins

The crazy thing is that I hadn’t reached out to either person below but I guess the universe was really beginning to work its magic.  One day I got this notification:

RT : Clues you Should Decline a Job Offer – Article by Wendy McCance After several months at a…

I was stunned.  Carol Tice retweeted one of my articles.  I truly admire the career she has created and the amount of knowledge she has acquired.  After a couple tweets back and forth, I put her on my Writing List and she began to follow me.  I was thrilled!

A few days later I got this notification:

great articles for writers Wendy!

It had followed this tweet that I had sent out:

Secrets of a Blogging Pro is out! Stories via

I stuck Jon Morrow on my Bloggers list and next thing I knew, Jon Morrow (amazingly, knowledgable and most determined person to create an incredible career out of blogging) was following me.  Now maybe it was the list or maybe it was the shout out or maybe he follows Carol Tice and saw we are connected.  I’m not sure I can attribute this follower or Carol Tice to the lists, but I can say that once I made adjustments to my Twitter account, within a small span of time (seriously look at the dates of the notifications above), some amazing things happened.

I have seen the same pattern time and time again.  Here is the recipe for some incredible moments:

  • Put in the work.  You have to work hard and be willing to spend a lot of time and effort to get it right.
  • Keep it fresh.  Look for new ways to get noticed and get more business.
  • Seek to be unique.  Think outside of the box and trust your gut.
  • Look for ways to start over.  Technology changes quickly. Don’t rely solely on what you already know.  Look to expand your mind and keep up with new trends.
  • Never discount something like a Twitter list.  It is there for a reason.  I never saw a use for it other than to organize my own contacts.  It seemed like a lot of work and a waste of time.  I’m glad I changed my mind and tried it out.

Twitter lists have helped me gain some incredible connections.  Just putting people on a list peaks a person’s curiosity.  If you are lucky, the person you added will take a moment to see what the list you put them on is like.  They will check out your profile and if they like what they see, will follow you as well.  I have gotten a better quality of followers not just by following them, but by also adding them to a list.  Trust me, a list can work magic.

I hope this article has inspired you to go make a difference in your own career.  I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on using a Twitter list.  I’d also love hearing what you have done along the way that surprised you and gave your business a boost.

If you are interested, you can check out my Twitter lists at: @w_mccance

Shhh, hi there. Don’t tell anyone but I just found an extra trick I must share with you.  People will check out your lists and hit follow all the way down the side to create their own quick list.  If you add your own profile somewhere in the middle of your list, you will get an extra chance at being followed by that person. Although you might not care if the copier of your list follows you, it’s still extra exposure because now you are on a list they built and they are following you.  You also get the benefit of being surrounded by the fantastic people you put on your list. 🙂

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