Lists have the potential to become one of the most powerful aspects of Twitter – but they’re just that: potential. As they are right now, Twitter lists are a weak, watered-down version of possibly the most effective way for people to organize their Twitter experience. Here are 5 things I’d like to see added to Twitter lists which would make them infinitely more useful.
Twitter lists today
Right now, I look at Twitter lists about 80% of the time, and my home timeline the other 20% of the time when I’m browsing for information on Twitter. Why is this? Lists group people together into parameters set by myself or someone I trust. They are a constantly curated group of people and accounts who share something in common. The only thing the people who appear on my home timeline have in common is that I’m following them. Lists are more specific: they are defined by a topic, an interest, an industry, an opinion.
For instance, I follow several “social media” Twitter lists. These are different groups of people who all work in or comment on social media, and who share their thoughts on Twitter. I don’t necessarily follow all of these people, but by glancing at their tweets compiled in a list, I get a great snapshot view of the current conversations happening in social media. You can do the same for politics, news, sports, fashion and anything else you’re interested in.
However, lists have their problems. They’re not a priority right now, and I think they should be. Here are the five things I’d like to see changed to make lists infinitely more useful:
5 changes that could make Twitter lists better
- The ability to make lists of lists – This one is for the list power user, which I’ve become without realizing it. I follow between 6 to 8 different social media Twitter lists, some curated by myself and others by people I follow on Twitter. If there was a way to combine these with some flexibility (i.e. show tweets from all of the lists in a single column on a Twitter dashboard or even show conversations between people on different lists), I think Twitter’s network could become much more robust.
- More customization of what you see when you follow a list – Right now, when you follow a Twitter list, you only see the tweets sent from the accounts on that list. You don’t see conversations between those people and their followers, and you don’t see the retweets of those on the list. Adding options like this could be useful, especially if you’re following people who retweet a lot.
- A Twitter-supported public list “wiki” – It’s great that we can create and constantly update our own lists, but what if there was a wiki-like website where users could collectively create the “ultimate” list of news outlets on Twitter to follow? Sure, there would be lots of controversy, but it would definitely spark conversation, and I bet it would become pretty useful, especially for people new to Twitter looking for a quick way to find people in their niche.
- A way to pull stats from a list – OK, this would be a pretty advanced feature, but I think it would offer some serious insights if you could view the top 10 trending topics on a specific list. Imagine knowing what the biggest CEOs on Twitter were all talking about the most on any given day.
- Lists as a potential “follow” – When you follow a list right now, you might be really jazzed about it for a few days, but it’s easy to forget about it after a while. That’s because lists are a second class feature right now, and they’re not at all visible in your home timeline. It would be a great reminder to users if, at certain intervals, your list would appear in your timeline with a message like “ListName tweeted 54 times since you last checked”, acting sort of like an account you follow. This way, you’d be reminded of your lists without having to see every single tweet in your timeline.
Do you use Twitter’s list feature? If so, what changes would you like to see? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @alltwtr.