Twitter lists are a fantastic, if underutilized tool. In a nutshell, you can use them to organize other Twitter users into categories of your choosing. You can then publicize those lists, or keep them private, and follow the public lists that other people publish as well. These lists appear in a separate feed than your main feed. Additionally, on most Twitter clients, like Hootsuite, you can customize your channel so that you can view lists that you (or others) create.
I’ve come to the conclusion that you can really use these list functions to make Twitter work better for you as an elected official. Here are a few thoughts:
Create a series of public lists, and announce when you have created them:
Social media use is all about creating useful, value-added content, right? Well, what better way to give a value added experience on social media than by providing people with free and useful social media resources? Some examples of potential lists you can create include:
- Other local elected officials
- Fellow members of your particular caucus
- Local reporters
- Local news agencies
- Local non-profits
Also useful to note is that each list than has it’s own separate URL, so you can actually publicize the link for others to follow. For example, I’m a member of a list titled “PA General Assembly,” which can be found at this address: https://twitter.com/JamesCookUMA/lists/pa-general-assembly. You can post such a list on Twitter, but also on Facebook and your website.
For your own sanity: Create private lists that can be useful from an organizational perspective
One really useful list that you can create, and keep private (simply because there is no gain in publicizing such a list) is a list of your constituents. This way, you can see what they are talking about. Creating such a list, and checking that list on a regular basis, will ensure that you give your constituents who are active in social media the extra attention that they deserve.
The one functionality that Twitter lists like, particularly when compared to Facebook Lists, is that you cannot send a tweet to a specific list – its either all, one (direct message) or none. I do hope that this function gets added later.
What do you think – did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!