Last week, Twitter rolled out its lists feature. The basics of it are that you can create your own lists of people based on categories you define, and then others can subscribe to those lists (if they’re public). People can now evaluate people they are considering following, and see if those folks are worth following. I would imagine this is a real blow to those folks who have been gaming the Twitter system by inflating their numbers of followers without engaging. Whether or not a person is included in lists will be, I imagine, a much better indicator of someone’s level of engagement and influence online, than the number of followers is (although I’m sure the spammers will find a way to game this system as well.) Twitter lists also let you look at the conversation of a particular group, often related to a particular topic, which can be valuable when trying to organize your Twitter conversation stream. (For a great overview of Twitter lists and how to use them strategically, check out this post by @newjerseyliz on Twitter.)
Facebook has had friend lists for a while, and while you can’t subscribe to these or share them, they’ve always been a great way to organize your friends and see updates from a particular group. By organizing your Facebook friends into lists, and then organizing those lists by dragging them up and down the list on the left side of your Facebook home page, you have more control over who you see, and when.
Now especially with the Twitter list rollout, I’ve heard some grumbling. People complain that this is going to be another “popularity contest” and if you’re not on lists, it somehow indicates your value as a person. But seriously, people, if you’re that concerned about being on lists, then ENGAGE. That’s how social media works. The more value you provide to the discussion, the more people will want to read what you have to provide. And if you’re not using social media like that, well then why are you worried about it? Just connect with the people you want to connect with, and call it a day.
If you’re using social media for any type of business purpose (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably are), then your goal should be to build influence in social networks. You should be engaging like crazy. That’s the whole POINT. And therefore lists should be a valuable way to help you find other quality Twitter followers, while also giving you more exposure for your business. But if you spam, you’re going to quickly find that you become irrelevant as Twitter lists become more prevalent in how we decide who to follow.
I love Facebook lists because they help me organize my Facebook stream. I can follow the conversations of people I want to make sure I engage with for my business, while also tracking conversations of people in my personal life. They are a great way to stay on top of the many people I connect with, so I get the information that I need, when I need it.
I love Twitter lists because they help me measure the influence of people I am considering following, they help me find real people to follow who are not spammers, and they help me gain greater exposure for my business. Will they be the ONLY tool I use to connect with people on Twitter? Of course not. Engagement trumps lists every day of the week. But they are another tool to help filter through the noise and find the information that matters to me. And that’s why I love them.
What do you think? Have you tried out the lists features on Facebook or Twitter? How have they affected your online experience? Can’t wait to see what you think in the comments below!
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