Why (basically) unlimited Twitter lists are amazing

9 Jul

Using Twitter without lists is like eating eggs without ketchup. (I love ketchup on my eggs. If you don’t love ketchup on your eggs, I trust you to create your own metaphor.)

Lists are one of the most powerful features of Twitter, and if you’re in journalism, PR or just have a lot of different interests, but don’t use lists, you’re cheating yourself.

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Until May 30, though, you could only create 20 lists per account, and they could only have up to 500 users per list. Five hundred users per list is usually plenty, but the 20-list limit was restrictive.

But now Twitter allows 1,000 lists per account, with up to 5,000 users on each list. (Not to mention you can still follow as many lists as you want created by other users. Which is great and all, but they still aren’t your lists, so you can’t customize them – you can only subscribe.)

That’s why I say we can now create “basically” unlimited Twitter lists, because I don’t see many users needing more than 1,000 lists, or more than 5,000 users on any particular list. (If you follow or list 1,000-plus people in a particular feed, it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with the information coming in during peak hours, let alone 5,000.)

I could write for a couple hours on the benefits of lists and best practices for utilizing them, but in the interest of time, I’ll stick to the basics and branch out future posts as necessary.


Organization: Lists are organizational tools for different beats or interests. Instead of sifting through your home feed or a Twitter search for relevant information, go directly to a designated feed. See the examples under “filter” (next point) to get a better idea what I’m talking about.

Filter: The more people you follow, the more clogged your home feed becomes. Be selective about who you follow so you can actually digest tweets and click a few links when reading your feed. There are probably a lot of Twitter users sharing information that interests you, but it doesn’t interest you all the time. Only want to hear about football on Sundays? Create or subscribe to an NFL list. Only interested in politics every two years? Create an elections list. You’ll have a dedicated feed to your particular interest and reading your feeds won’t feel like running on a treadmill at 15 mph.

Resource: Your followers may appreciate the fact that you created a list of sources for a particular beat or interest. Let’s say you put all the happy hour bars in your town on a list. Now everyone else in your town can subscribe to that list and keep up on whatever information those bars are tweeting. Or what if you cover real estate in Marin County, Calif.? Everyone who’s interested in Marin real estate can subscribe to your list and get the same useful info.


Go to any user profile, click the dropdown arrow and select “Add or remove from lists…” then…

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 11.01.09 PM

…check any lists to which you want to add the user, or create a new one.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 11.01.22 PM


Public lists can be viewed by and subscribed to by any other Twitter users, and anyone you list will get a notification. Private lists, however, are only visible to you when signed in to your account. No one else can view your private lists at any time, or even know if they’re on one. Unless you have a s— list (get it?) or want to secretly track (read: stalk) some people, I would make your lists public and serve the your fellow Twitter users who may want to subscribe.

(By the way, you can’t list anyone who has a protected account unless they allow you to follow them.)


Go to your profile and on the left side you’ll see the “Lists” option. (See first screenshot.) If you’re on the Twitter app, go to the “Me” tab and scroll down until you see “lists.” There they are!

What other benefits do lists give you? Do you have any tips I didn’t share?


2 Responses to “Why (basically) unlimited Twitter lists are amazing”

  1. Stephen Connolly (@stephencon) July 13, 2013 at 2:13 am #

    Lists are blessedly free of sponsored tweets.

    • numerounoh July 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      Great point! I hadn’t even thought of that. (Hopefully it doesn’t give Twitter any ideas.)

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