I finally got a chance this week to look at the new Twitter Lists feature, and I must say, now that I’ve seen it in use, I get it a little better than I first did. When I first heard about it, I honestly thought, “Yeah so what, I already have groups in Tweetdeck, I don’t care about lists.”
Now that I’ve seen exactly how it’s implemented though, I come away with a couple of new thoughts. First, I see now that what you’re building when you build lists isn’t necessarily just a group of Twitter users, it’s an actual timeline that others can “follow”. So, for instance, instead of looking at a group of users that someone else put together and finding new people I might want to follow, I can take the lazy way out and just follow the timeline. Then, when I want to check in on that topic, I just click over and see what that group of folks is talking about. Probably the best example I can give for this is on my sports twitter account, where I was added to a list of NY Islander fans. That would be an awesome timeline to pay attention to while the Islanders are playing, wouldn’t it? Again, there may be some folks in there I want to follow myself, but since I don’t have time right now to spend going through it, this makes things way easier on me!
It’s also a easy way for someone new to Twitter to find traction. Now, instead of trying to help them find good people to follow, and helping them figure out how to interact with them, I can point them to a list, let them look at that timeline and get a feel for what they can do with this tool in that way. It gives them a head start compared to the days of signing up and then wondering “now what?”
The second thought I had was that this really increases the visibility of things I tweet, including blog posts, in a way that may be harder to measure. I have over 800 followers on my main twitter account who may see anything I tweet, but now I’m also on a handful of lists, which have followers of their own, where things I tweet will show up. So, suddenly, there’s another chance that something I say on Twitter will be seen by others outside of my existing circle of contacts.
On the downside, building a list when you have a significant number of friends can be a bit time consuming, as you have to go through the list and add them one by one. An importer from Tweetdeck groups to Twitter lists would be an awesome tool, if anyone is paying attention and has the skills to build that. 🙂
All in all, it’s an interesting little feature that I’m looking forward to playing with, and more importantly, seeing how others use in their own social networking workflow.