Grab your stealthiest coat and binoculars. I’m going to teach you some tips on following people.

When you first join Twitter, you have no followers. The best way to gain followers is to follow other people, preferably people who are in your field. If you write books about flying planes, you’ll probably want to follow people who write and publish books, who use social media, who fly planes, who make planes, who teach aviation courses, etc. But now you have hundreds of people in your feed. (Your feed is what you see on your front page of Twitter when you are logged in. You see the most recent posts of all the hundreds of people you are following). You have gained followers, but how are you ever going to make sense of all these posts? There are probably many of them who only tweet about how they are going to make fish for dinner or are dreading cutting the lawn. You could unfollow them (they aren’t likely to notice)…or…

Twitter Lists

You can create as many lists as you like. You can also follow other people’s lists. (You can also create private lists that only you can see.) You might want to make a list of book people you like, another for people who give good tips on social media, another on people who work with new plane technology, another for aviation educators, another for pilots. Then if you use something like Hootsuite or TweetDeck, you can line up all your lists and browse with ease.

You can also just pull the tweeters you actually want to follow into a list of your favorites. Maybe this includes your friends and family and your favorite bands who you like to follow in case they announce they’ll be playing in your town. Once you have this list, instead of checking up on the people you follow by going to twitter.com, you can go to

twitter.com/[yourtwittername]/[yourlistname]

 As an example, I am following 714 people, but I only want to read 35 of them, so I created a list called “besttweeters” and now instead of going to Twitter.com, I go to

twitter.com/milohtomb/besttweeters

So, how do you create a list?

Here’s one way. First you find a person who you want to add to the list. Let’s say you want to add Jim Keats. Here’s what his page looks like (twitter.com/jimkeats):

On the left, under the name “jimkeats” you’ll see the Follow button. On the right, you’ll see two more buttons: one that says “Lists” (big green arrow pointing to it) and the tools button that looks like a gear. Now, if you click that Lists button, it says “New list.” Click that and it will prompt you to name your list and give a description. Once you’ve done that (and chosen if you want it public (anyone can see it by putting in the URL) or private (only you can see it and only when you’re logged in)), you have created your first list. Congrats. To add other people to the list, start the same way by going to the person’s page. But now when you click the Lists button, you are given the choice to add another list or check mark the box to make this person go into the list you just created. Your new list will basically be like your front page feed (showing all the most recent tweets) but only of the people you put into the list.

Following other people’s lists

Sometimes creating a list is a lot of work, especially if there are people who have created better lists that suit your needs. Looking for a list of social media gurus? You could either seek out all those people yourself, or you could just follow http://twitter.com/ApplauseBooks/social-media

To follow it, you can:
A) Bookmark http://twitter.com/ApplauseBooks/social-media
B) Insert this list into your TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or any other tool you use to follow people
C) Click “follow this list” (which may be a bit messier)

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