Twitter is a networking haven for businesses. But is there an easy way to draw the right people to you with Twitter?

The answer is yes and there’s a great Twitter feature that can help you: Twitter lists.  Twitter lists can grab the interest of people you most want to meet, help you make a great first impression and can help you with marketing segmentation.

Below I’ll show you some unique ways to use Twitter lists.  But first…

How Do Twitter Lists Work?

Twitter lists creates separate lists of people. If you haven’t already used Twitter lists, watch this video to see how you can get started.

There are two interesting points to remember about Twitter lists:

  • You don’t need to “follow” people on Twitter to include them in your lists.
  • You can have both public and private lists.

Now here’s a look at what you can do with Twitter lists.

#1: Listen with Private Lists

Twitter lists are great to monitor and listen to different groups of people.  No-one else can see your private lists, so this is a good place to start using the Twitter list feature. You can create private lists to:

  • Monitor your competitors
  • Carry out specific market research
  • Keep track of different networks of friends and colleagues

Private Twitter lists can help you segment the fire hose of information streaming in through your Twitter feed, according to Rohit Bhargava. Segmenting people into lists also helps you more effectively listen to and  monitor your market.

John Jantsch says Twitter lists make it easier to listen to what others have to say.

And monitoring people without following them makes it easy to carry out specific market research or intelligence gathering.  Once you’ve finished doing your market research, you can simply delete your list without making any changes to the people you usually follow.

#2: Craft Your Brand With Public Lists

There’s not much space to brand yourself on your Twitter profile page.  You do have space for a few words in the bio box and you can add in background graphics.  But you can also add another dimension to your branding by carefully crafting your public Twitter lists. Here’s how.

Choose appropriate names for your lists
Spend some time finding the best name for your list.  There are a few things to keep in mind when naming your Twitter lists:

  • Engage the right people.  You’ll get more people interested in looking at your list if the name sparks their interest.
  • Remember to communicate with everyone.  Don’t limit your audience.  The right name could help you reach more of the people you want to connect with.
  • The SEO bonus.  Another reason to think about how you label your lists is for search engine optimization (SEO).  Look at the screenshot below.  This Twitter list is in a good position in Google search results for a competitive keyword.

Twitter list showing up in Google search results

The bad news is that if you change the name of your list, the URL of your Twitter list changes too and you’ll lose the people following that list. So take some time to get this right.

Choose appropriate Twitter lists for your public profile
When creating your Twitter lists, you want to think of how lists help you:

  • Connect with your Twitter followers
  • Achieve your main goal for using Twitter
  • Continue the story you began in your Twitter bio

As you build up a following on Twitter, your followers will be interested in your Twitter lists. The choice of Twitter lists found on your Twitter home page is important for engaging with  people.

a example of public twitter lists

Choose the number of public lists
Remember, there’s a limited amount of space available for your Twitter lists on your home page.  Although you can create a larger number of lists, only about 4 to 6 will appear on your home page depending on the character length of the names of your lists.  Your audience will have to click on the “View all” link to see all of your lists if you have more than this.

So you may want to think carefully about the number of lists you want to create and the order in which you create them. Put your most relevant lists at the top.

choose the right number of public twitter lists

Advertise your Twitter lists
Create Twitter widgets for specific Twitter lists and put them up on your blog or website to engage people and establish your areas of interest and expertise.

an example of a twitter widget

Better Marketing With Twitter Lists

Twitter’s list feature can add some extra marketing power to your Twitter strategy if you take some time to get it right.  You also need to find the right way to make your lists work for you.  This will depend on your goals for Twitter, your audience and how they like to connect with you.

A good Twitter list improves your visibility in your market. Here are a few more benefits:

  • The people you follow in your public lists will appreciate the recognition.
  • By providing a useful resource, you’ll increase your credibility in your market and attract more followers.
  • As you become more popular, you’ll be listed on other people’s lists. This is another way to measure your social media influence.

What are your thoughts about Twitter lists? How are you using them?  Do you regularly follow other lists? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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  • I just sent a tweet 2 days ago asking how these lists work.- cosmic. 🙂 This is just the kind of help I was looking for! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow – what a great article and an eye opener on how to ‘really’ use twitter lists in your marketing and branding efforts. Thanks Cindy.

  • Great tips here. As a photographer, I’m always looking for how to increase SEO.

    -Amanda Hill

  • Another great post. Cindy, you are one smart cookie. Keep ’em coming, Thanks, Dave

  • Thanks for the information. Does anybody know how to send a tweet to all people on a list without following the members of this list like @seckendorff/museum ?
    Greetings from Germany

  • Twitter does not yet support such a feature (and I doubt they ever will)

  • Cindy probably read your tweet and wrote this for you 🙂

  • And I don’t think we want this option either. Will just open a can of (spam) worms we don’t want.

    Cheers.. Are

  • laurademeo

    I am realizing that Twitter lists are becoming more and more of a powerful Twitter strategy– Thanks for pointing out all the benefits

  • Wow Cindy!

    This was very informative and helpful info for many of us.

    I was not aware of that if I edited the name of the list that you lost the followers of the list. Was also awesome to know how SEO friendly your list can be if you do it the right way. Guess I need to start rethink some of my list and tweak their descriptions.

    Cheers.. Are

  • You can also automatically follow all the MEMBERS of a Twitter list (as opposed to simply following the list) as


    – Don

  • Thanks for the insights. All this while I knew about the lists but never really gave it a thought. This post helped.

  • Waouw!!! These are really useful tips! I must review right away how I’m using that feature.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Thanks for highlighting the power of Twitter lists. Yet another option for Marketing your business effectively.

  • I love when it’s all about me. LOL!!! 🙂

    Seriously, I was so frustated by trying to figure out the benefit of those lists.

  • Twitter lists have been very helpful in putting together a list of local businesses. I’ve been able to create my own list by adding people I know, to running searches on specific terms, to looking at other lists created by local businesses. Thanks for expanding on this!

  • Very well done and educational. I am no longer in the dark regarding Twitter list. Thanks!

  • Hey Cathy, glad to help. I’d love to hear how you decide to create your lists.

  • Thanks Bill! I’m sure there are some fun ways to use lists and these could be useful for some businesses too.

  • Great post! Love your images, too. Make the blog post fun to read – and very practical.You very clearly communicate the effectiveness of these lists – love the monitor the competition suggestion. I’m sharing this article for sure. I recently wrote a Twitter list post geared toward the publishing field, which is on the blog linked below. Good stuff. Keep it up.

  • Hi Are, I found out the hard way about losing the list followers when changing my list name. Luckily it wasn’t a big list.

  • Hi Don,

    I really like having a tweepml list for this reason. It’s great for lists you want to share with everyone.

  • This is helpful. I currently have a private list to distinguish the companies that I follow from the many personal accounts that I follow. I’m also following a few public lists that contain professionals in my industry. Next I’ll begin segmenting by target market and my competition, as you recommend. Thanks!

  • Thanks for the explanation. All I’ve done with lists so far is to create a private list of those who I follow who I also know in “real life”! I’d probably use lists more if my main method for reading/posting tweets wasn’t PocketTwit. I group people in that according to how heavily they tweet – makes it easier to read the normal tweets, then move onto the section of people who tweet twice an hour 🙂

  • steelcollins

    Hi Cindy

    When you said that no-one can see private lists, does that include the people ON the list?


  • This is why I read your blog…I never knew that if you change the name of your list, the URL of your Twitter list changes too and you’ll lose the people following that list!! What a little gem of information. Thank you.

  • I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with lists. The idea about following your competitors via a private list is very interesting.

  • Is there a way toget the Twitter list gadget into your Woldpress blog without HTML code?? Thanks

  • That’s right Steel. No one can see your private lists. And this can be a bit frustrating. For example I belong to some groups that are not 100% on target with my main online presence, so I put them in private lists. But they don’t see this, and some of those members may not appreciate not having public recognition.

  • In a way it makes sense when you think about it. The name of your Twitter list is simply added to the end of your current URL. So your Twitter lists have a URL that looks like this:

    So when you change the name of your list, it also changes the URL for your list. And when people follow you it works through the URL, so if you change the URL you break the path for your followers to follow you.

    This is what I’ve seen so far. But Twitter may decide to change this later on.

  • Hi Glenn, unfortunately I’m pretty sure you need to put in code to get it to work. What’s your problem exactly though?

  • LOL I’m sure there are many surprising ways people can use private lists!

    I really like using them as a one-off market research tool. It’s easy to use for a couple of weeks, you don’t have to follow everyone through your Twitter account and you can easily delete it when you’re done.

    No one needs to know you’ve suddenly become interested in listening to people suffering from hair loss or something embarrassing.

  • Pat Wooldridge

    Absolutely! (Especially since I had never heard of Twitter Lists until I found Cindy’s column thru an E-mail from Social Media Examiner! Now I’m going to thank Cindy, and Michael Stelzner!

  • Pat Wooldridge

    Yes, Cindy. I have an equine art business, and thought there was only one (social !) use for Twitter. Yet there are people who sound as though they receive many more results than I, from Twitter. NOW I begin to see why they say this. Can’t wait to look into Twitter Lists. Thanks!!!

  • Pat Wooldridge

    Michael, thank you so much for your Social Media Examiner! The info I just received thru Cindy King’s piece on Twitter Lists, is just what I need. Now: I don’t think Twitter should support tweeting people on a list without following them. We need to take an interest in others. If there is a genuine interest in others, it will come across and work to everyone’s advantage.
    All the best,

  • I must admit to not being at all sure how lists worked, so thanks for clearing it up…. In particular the Twitter widgets for certain lists, makes a lot of sense.

  • Great Twitter organizational tips. You definitely need to logically organize all the data you listen to and collect and using Twitter is a great way to accomplish this.

    Mark K.

  • Cindy:

    Before your blog, I attempted to create some lists. I’d like to delete some lists and create new ones that will work better (particularly after reading your great post!) For the life of me, I cannot find where to delete a list. I see where you can edit the name and description and change from Public to Private but not how to get rid of it. How do I do this? Thanks.

  • Major DOI…just found the Delete link—hey these Baby Boomer eyes can’t always read the fine print! LOL!!! 🙂

  • Fantastic insights once again Cindy – you’re a treasure!

  • Thank’s for your answer. What a pity…

  • Great post. This is really very informative and helpful information for many of us. Thanks for sharing article.

  • Excellent article. Nice information. These are really useful tips! Thanks.

  • Great post Cindy. I´ve just began using Twitter 3 weeks ago and this info is just what I was looking for.
    greeting from Buenos Aires.

  • Suzanne

    Great insight on how to build your personal brand online via Twitter lists!

    Question…I can’t figure out how to change the order of twitter lists..any suggestions.


  • Good summary Cindy. People have often said it gets too hard to follow people on Twitter as the numbers grow. Lists can bring everything back under their control. I’ve put each person I follow into a private list to match my reason for following them. Friends, various types of business contacts, suppliers, people in various cities I visit, and so on. You can assign several different lists to the same person. This makes it very easy for me to be very focused and quickly check the latest news from different circles.

  • La explicación es excelente y practica, espero dar una segunda lectura para un correcto manejo y sobre todo tomar el tiempo necesario para colocar el nombre de la lista y su palabra clave.
    Gracias por el post!

  • Excellent informative article. Thanks for shareing.

  • Very good post, before reading it I didnt even know about the list feature lol 🙂

  • Great post and list of recommendations. I am relatively new to Twitter and this will definitely help me build a network.

  • I’ve been trying to get traction for my site,, and I think this will deffenatly help. Thanks for the great ideas.

    Brian Robinson
    3D HD Video Game Parties, Portable Roller Coaster, Human Sized Hamster Ball and Indoor / Outdoor Laser Tag play for all ages

  • approfe

  • Paul Simon

    Finally got back to reading this. Very helpful, Cindy. Thanks.

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  • Twitter has many millions users. Today it is one of
    the largest marketplace to promote any business. There are many
    application like that help us to promote our business without any investment.

  • Try’n To Stay Private

    Lists are great for building relationships but I have an issue with clandestine techniques that are more akin to stalking than building trusting relationships. I know marketing types often tend to think that profits come before morality, but am I the only one who has an ethical problem with spying on other people? Surely creating secret lists for surveillance falls in the definition of spying even if it is legal. If I knew someone was doing it to me I would consider that person to be low scum invading my privacy in the same way as people who send spam. Offering quality products and services that you create buzz about benefits most by upfront honesty and trust.   

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    Twitter Salvation System is a highly converting home study course on how to use Twitter for marketing and business expansion. Covering everything from psychology to technology, it’s your Twitter all-in-one Bible.

  • Jmreynolds4

    Twitter Salvation System is a highly converting home study course on how to use Twitter for marketing and business expansion. Covering everything from psychology to technology, it’s your Twitter all-in-one Bible.

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  • Aimee West

    I have a question on twitter lists…. I have a business account –

    Where I want to make better use of my lists. I read somewhere that says not to follow more people than are following you. The problem with that is we are a grocery store with lots of products and brands… so would that bit of advice not work for us? or should we just add those brands to a list and not follow them?

    Any suggestions would be great. Thanks so much.

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  • Arun

    Can you advertise using twitter ads with twitter lists. example: i want to my adverts to appear to only the 1000 people in ‘example list’. can twitter ads allow you to specify that?