Part 1: What are Twitter Lists?

by Adele McAlear on October 16, 2009

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series cross-posted from



Back on September 30th, Twitter announced on their blog that they would be launching their new Lists feature to a small group of users to beta test. Lists allow Twitter users to organize the people they follow into groups. By segmenting your following list into groups, you can then filter tweets from your main stream and just view the tweets originating from a selected list. You can also subscribe to other people’s lists.



There is a new section in the right-hand sidebar for List management. Create a new list by clicking on New List the sidebar. Give the list a name and it will become a URL that you can use wherever, for example, Decide if you want the list public or private.


There is a new Lists drop down menu located beside the Tools menu. From the Lists drop down you can add people to any of your groups from their profile page or from your following list.

guys-list-counterIf you’ve been added to a list it will show up in a new Lists counter beside the number of following and followers you have. If you’ve added someone to a private list, it will not register on their counter.

When you click on the URL to someone’s list, you are given the single click option to “Follow This List.” According to How Twitter Lists Work, when you follow a list your following count does not increase, because “you don’t have to be following someone to add them to a list.”

When visiting someone’s profile page, you can click on their list counter under their bio to see which lists they have been included on and which they follow. (The Twitter url ends in /lists/memberships.)


The Lists membership dashboard shows two tabs: Lists following you and Lists your are following. The Twitter user and name of list on the left side. On this page Following refers to how many people are included on the list. Followers refers to how many people have subscribed to the list.

If you want to view the lists that someone has created themselves, you will see a list of them in the right-hand side bar on that person’s profile page, right underneath their Favorites link. The lists  I followed showed up hear as well.


While merrily starting out making my lists, it occurred to me that I might hit a limit. So I sought out the person I knew who would be trying his best to break the new feature, Robert Scoble. Sure enough, he’d found limits already.


It’s not yet clear if the limit of 20 lists includes created and subscribed to, or created only.

There were some  annoyances that came up in my brief test prior to writing this post.

At this time, you must add people individually to your lists, which could be quite time consuming if you follow a lot of people. It would be much faster if you could select multiple people from your following page and add them in bunches to lists.

There is no way of organizing the order in which your lists appear, either in the drop down menu when adding people or in the right-hand side bar of your profile page. The newest list is always on top, with the oldest at the bottom.

Also, and this has nothing to do with functionality, but the font style used on the individual list pages doesn’t match anything else in the Twitter brand. What can I say? I’m a marketer and for years I’ve worked with companies to build brands through consistency. I find it irritating and unprofessional for a company with $155 million in funding  to launch a new feature that doesn’t  seamlessly blend with the rest of their look and feel.


In Part 2 of this series I’ll look at the impact of Twitter Lists on desktop client applications, followers services and popularity ratings.

Part 3 will look at the opportunities that brands will have with Twitter Lists.

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{ 3 trackbacks }

Part 2: Twitter Lists: Developers and Applications
October 19, 2009 at 9:36 am
Twitter Lists: What Are They And How To Use Them
November 2, 2009 at 8:35 pm
Staying up to date with twitter services
November 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Brooks October 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Hi, thanks for the explanation of Twitter Lists. I haven’t been offered that capability yet, and am eager to set up my own lists!

TweetFind October 1, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Great informative post!

To find a way to search for new Twitter Lists to follow, visit:

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