Using Twitter Lists

How To Effectively Follow The Masses On Twitter

Twitter is a powerful social networking tool that can help build our brand, our influence and expand our social media reach. This article and video takes a look at the two different thoughts as far as Twitter Strategy – Should we build Twitter big or keep it manageable?

I should also state that this is my way, not the only way of managing our Twitter accounts. I have heard some VERY convincing arguments from others that go in almost opposite directions. As with everything we do, find what works best for you and ignore the rest. 😉

Why Twitter?

Twitter is currently Hot Blog Tip’s social second biggest social traffic referral, second only to Google Plus. (At the time of our video below, Twitter was number one but we’re at the beginning of a three month Google Plus campaign to boost G+ engagement.)

Hot Blog Tip’s Twitter Strategy

I personally control our Hot Blog Tips Twitter account and I follow my own rules when it comes to who to follow, block, engage etc.. I’ll follow anyone if they are real and not a spammer. It’s really just personal preference but I’ll share the loose guidelines I follow:

I try to follow almost anyone real the follows me as long as they aren’t deceptive, negative, evil or hateful and have:

  1. Completed their profile.
  2. Are not using the default egg avatar. No avatar – no follow.
  3. Listed a URL in the website space, even another social network will do.
  4. Tweet on a regular bases.
  5. Are not following a handful of people with thousands of followers.
  6. English based account. I can only read English right now.

Your WHY

Why are you on Twitter? Your answer might be totally different than mine and that’s fine. We all have different goals and aspirations. Twitter can be an amazing tool for  communication, networking, collaboration, customer service, marketing, keep a macro-journal of almost anything, or just to kick back and socialize. Twitter can be useful for research or staying up on the news. I’m actually guilty of Tweeting a link from my phone to “bookmark” it for later when I get home.

With so many different uses for Twitter, of course we’ll all use it differently. I actually run many Twitter accounts and some have very different purposes. Your “why” will help you find the best practices for you.

It’s that statement, I’ll follow ALMOST anyone if they are real and not a spammer that causes many of my peers to think I’m out of my mind. Here’s my way of thinking on the matter:

I’m on Twitter to expand the social reach of our brand and to interact with our readership, followers, subscribers, viewers, listeners… not to enjoy a personal experience (See Are You Stuck On Social Media Consumer Thinking? for more on that).

Your Tweeple

Since I’m on Twitter to interact with those that have taken the time to read our blog, watch our videos, subscribe to our VIP List and all of the other things I’ve strived for, why the hell would I kick those same good people to the curb when it comes to social interaction? That way of thinking makes absolutely no sense to me if you’re REALLY in it for your readers. It’s like saying,

“I’m here for you but I can’t be bothered with the people that support me, I’d rather boost my own ego and look like a big shot by following only very important people that carry the influence to help ME.”


“I’m here for you but I’m more concerned with MY personal experience and interaction with you will ruin that for me. Feel free to follow me though because I have a lot to offer – I’m special.”

Don’t Be A Low Life

This is a low life tactic that really shows a lack of character, but it’s been a common practice for many years. It goes like this, they follow as many people as they can and build their following but unfollow everyone later to make themselves look important. This happens in two ways, they either wait until their Twitter following is very high and then mass unfollow everyone or they actually begin unfollowing as soon as the people follow back (See number 5 above). Could you ever trust someone like this PLEASE, don’t risk your reputation by cheating and lying , you’re better than that.

The Solution

I don’t want to turn this into a rant or a “how-to Twitter” post so let’s jump into the question at hand,

Should we build our Twitter following big or should we keep it small and manageable?

How can we possibly follow thousands of people on Twitter? Twitter is an awesome social network and their awesomeness allows us to have our cake and eat it too (whatever the hell that means).  The solution is in creating Twitter lists to follow when you are trying to engage particular groups of people.  Twitter lists are a powerful tool and I encourage our readers to take advantage of them if you’re not already doing so. There’s more on Twitter lists in the video below but I’ll give you a couple of examples of recent lists I’ve created for Hot Blog Tips on Twitter. Feel free to follow these lists if you want but don’t forget to create your own.

Adding Tweeple To A Twitter  List Without Following Them

Did you now you can add someone to a Twitter list without directly following that person on Twitter? The actual number of people we’re following on Twitter may have nothing to do with the people we are “actually” following and interacting with. And this doesn’t even take search and hashtags into consideration.

Following A List Without Following The People

Following other people’s list. Did you know you can follow other people’s lists? You Can follow other people’s public lists without actually following the people in that list – or even the person that created the list.

Private Twitter Lists

Did you know you can create private lists? Yes, you can “privately” create a Twitter list and there’s nothing wrong or shady with that. There can be a number of reasons why creating a list would be better listed privately than publically. The most obvious reason that comes to mind would be a list of competitors in order to keep tabs on what they were up to. Only you and/or your account managers would be able to see those private Twitter lists. Not even those that you added to the list would see it it be aware they were added to it.

I have a private list of clients on one of my account so I can keep in touch with them. I do publically follow them but I wanted a list setup so I could could easily check in on them but I didn’t see any reason to make it public since others have no reason to follow that list OR see a list of my clients.

Using To Twitter Lists To Relieve Social Media Overload
The video embedded below isn’t a how-to tutorial, it’s just a short hangout with Sheryl Loch where I explain my way of thinking when it comes to Twitter lists, following too many people and the naysayers.

Action Step

If you agree with my way of thinking and haven’t built your Twitter account yet, decide what your reasons are, set your goals and plan of action as with any task. Create lists for things like your top engagers, top retweeters, top commenters, subscribers, etc.. Check lists your favorite Tweeple have created for inspiration or to follow. Keep in mind, a Twitter list that isn’t used is just a waste of time. Make it a habit of actually using the Twitter lists you make and follow.

Helpful Resource: Using lists in TweetDeck

Your Thoughts?

I know I get a little opinionated at times but don’t let that stop you from disagreeing or expressing your thoughts here, your comments are always welcome. 🙂 Do you use and follow lists? Do you have any Twitter tips or advice for us?

I know you can have a massive following and still keep those you follow very manageable but I’m referring to those that want to play fair and don’t have the masses lining up to follow them on every network. I’d like to thank the following people for helping me decide to revisit this issue:

Related Posts:

About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. Hello, thank’s for a very informative post. Twitter is not actually popular in my country, therefore it would be even more popular to use an Twitter account properly. I’ll try to use your tips, thank’s once again!

  2. Thanks for the mention Brian. Joe and I have this debate amongst ourselves regularly, and I think that lists are the solution as well!

    Thanks again for thinking of us,

  3. Hi Joe, I love your show and never miss an episode of Entrepreneur Showdown. I love those debates and that ‘s one of three podcasts within two weeks that influenced this topic. Thank you for putting out such great content, you guys are great. 🙂

  4. Hi Darkan, that’s Poland, right? I didn’t realize Twitter wasn’t big there but, you’re right, that’s all the more reason to work it right to get the most from it if that’s one of your main social media tools.

  5. Hi Brian – yes, it is Poland. Facebook, then two local social networks, G+, Linkedin and finally Twitter – that’s how it looks in my country. But out of them, Twitter is growing fastest.
    Great time for this post for me, as I’m going to start Twitter activity on my blogs.

  6. Brian, Twitter is my fav spot through Google+ is quickly catching up. I love using Twitter lists and was so happy when they allowed us more lists and more # of people we can add to those lists. It really can help you be more focused there. I try to use Tweepi about once a month to unfollow those that may have unfollowed me that I’m not crazy about and maybe I will add them to a list depending on their profile, etc. I also check for inactive peeps to unfollow so my stream is cleaner. I follow back about 1/2-3/4 of those that follow me if their profiles look interesting and their last tweets are good. Otherwise I may wait or add them to a list.
    I also use Twitter 90% of the time, once in a while I will use Hootsuite or Tweetcaster on mobile.
    Brian, I noticed you have 2 accounts like myself, how do you manage the two?

  7. Hey Brian

    I’ve been pretty hopeless with Twitter Lists up to now.

    After reading your post though, I can see how useful they can be.

    I reckon I’m going to give them another try this afternoon.

    My Twitter feed is just getting too darn full. I tried to actually follow it the other day and it was just too overwhelming.

    Twitter Lists here I come!

  8. Hi Brian !
    I started loving twitter from yesterday onwards after getting more than 20 followers in a single day . I followed the same strategy as you followed and i got real followers. I would recommend these guidelines to all the peeps who want twitter followers . Thanks for sharing the information mate and Happy new year to you and your family !


  9. Have just started using twitter list. Though not yet using it to its fullest, I hope to maximize its use this year.Thanks Brian for sharing

  10. Hello Brian D. Hawkins,

    Wonderful post , Indeed twitter is a great and top social platform and very great for marketing. I’m doing great at twitter and achieve and achieved a great amount of twitter followers.

    Thanks for sharing your strategies

  11. Ganesh J. Acharya says

    I agree with you… with countless interesting people in this universe to follow, deliberately showing more follower and following lesser is narrow mindedness.

  12. Great points, Brian 😀

    I try to follow everyone who follows me (I wanted to avoid this with my latest account, but eventually went with it) depending upon their profile (photo and url) and niche 😀

    Twitter lists are the way to go!

    I already have a twitter list (created it a few years ago…and I did clean it few weeks back). But, it is still kind of big (and that just discourages me from adding more bloggers to the list).

    I never thought of creating another twitter list (my main concern was how I would categorize….your lists gives me some ideas – buddies/commenters, bloggers whom I respect/follow, bloggers I just met and so forth :D).

    Need to test it out and see how it works out (honestly, all I have actually done is create lists…don’t really check the list timeline).

    Anyways, thank you for sharing these tips, Brian 🙂 Appreciate it!

  13. Really enjoyed your article, did not know people built up a following, then un-followed people. You are right, that’s shady. Hope all is well and wishing you a new year.

  14. I need to clean up my Twitter accounts too Lisa, I haven’t done that in a very long time. I rarely follow anyone, just follow back if it looks legit. I’m sure there are a bunch of accounts that have unfollowed because that’s how many of them build their numbers up.

    It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one that uses the Twitter website. Most people use apps, I think. I do try to use Hootsuite on the weekends when I have the other computer setup with an extra monitor.

  15. I read so slow Tim, I wouldn’t stand a chance keeping up with even just a small following. I like that I can add people to lists and follow their tweets without actually following them; I do that with my news/media list when I want to use Twitter to catch up on the news. I don’t have to follow them but the latest news is just a few clicks away right on Twitter.

  16. I’m glad to help Pramod, it’s not really about gaining Twitter followers but how to keep up with those you do follow but it’s all good. 😉

  17. I’m glad to hear that Peter, I hope it helps.

  18. You forgot to leave your Twitter link Vicky.

  19. Hey, very well put Ganesh. 🙂

  20. That’s a good point Jeevan, a big list with some very active people can be just as difficult to follow. Personally, I don’t try to follow every word on any of the networks but it’s nice to keep up with some of the conversation.

    I don’t remember if I mentioned it on the video but we can also set-up lists to be private so they wouldn’t even know we were following, for following the competition for example.

  21. It is pretty lousy Randy but it’s standard practice for many.

  22. Hi Brian

    I follow almost 80k people on Twitter and follow similar rules to yours above.

    I never read my timeline as its impossible to keep up with. I don’t use lists either but I do use Hashtags.

    Things like #SEO and #SocialMedia plus a few UK specific marketing hashtags like #Bizitalk

  23. Balance is key when it comes to Twitter. You can’t be following a million people and have 12 followers and expect people to start following you. If you’re just starting out on Twitter, make sure to follow around the same amount of people that are following you. In addition to the rules above, this will help draw in more people to follow you and make you look legit.

  24. Hello Brian,

    Nice article.
    Twitter is third in my list of traffic source. I don’t seem Mass following and unfollowing will surely work out for anyone. I mostly try to follow like minded people. So I find such people from sites like justretweet and also checking out to whom they follow.

  25. Hello Brian,

    That’s cool strategies mate, I think twitter shall be used as top social promotion list. Everything on twitter is free of course and I’m enjoying great referral traffic from it.


  26. Hi
    I agree with you… with countless interesting people in this universe to follow, deliberately showing more follower and following lesser is narrow mindedness.

  27. You are very correct and I totally agree with you suggestions. As we all know twitter is like a hot spot for online and social profile booster. To be honest twitter taught me to be very genuine on it. The more you tweet sensible the more you get noticed. Your info will definitely be helpful. THanks !!

  28. Hashtags can work too Mark but I don’t see how it would cover everything. For example, I have a list of blogging buddies so I can see what they’re up to. Hashtags wouldn’t work since their tweets could be about almost anything.

    I guess it matters what you want from Twitter. Nothing personal but I checked out your profile and I couldn’t find any real interaction at all. Every tweet is a link, you retweet and even get a handful of retweets yourself. That’s fine if you just want Twitter as a marketing tool and nothing more.

    As an example, Pat Flynn has fewer followers than you but check out the interaction he has. Do you think that interaction helps with his reputation and influence? It’s something to think about.

  29. Thanks Sagar, I agree with you. Now I’m curious what number 1 & 2 traffic sources are?

  30. Hi Brian, thanks for the reply.

    I don’t deny I use Twitter solely as a marketing tool – it’s a very good source of leads for me.

    I prefer to build my reputation and influence using customer reviews. I’m a web designer so that’s what I like to be judged on, not talking to lots of people on Twitter.

    All the best.

  31. Yeah man,Thanks a lot for your valuable tips on twitter to drive traffic.I do agree with your attitude towards maintaining a prescribed list of followers.The new one here for me was making lists publicly and privately.Of course , the name “lists” was entirely new to me.Another point I would like to mention is , it is really helpful to novice bloggers like me to follow the lists of other people without actually following them.Thanks again.

  32. thank’s for a very informative post. Twitter is not actually popular in my country, we mostly use facebook. For my idea the best way now i try pinterest.

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