Basics: Grow your blog with Twitter’s List feature

(You can follow me on Twitter: @neicolec)

Twitter will shortly be releasing its new Lists feature. As I blogged about, I have hopes this will help reignite Twitter’s growth. I think bloggers can play a key role in doing that. If businesses and bloggers see enough benefits from Lists and use them right, they can be an enabler of Twitter user-growth.

In this post, I discuss how to use Lists to create a cycle:  visitors to your blog follow you (via a List) on Twitter, Twitterers see your tweets, which lead them back to your blog.

blogcycle

Basic steps:

  1. Plan to share your lists outside of Twitter
  2. Add yourself to your List (if necessary)
  3. Name your List well
  4. Create Lists for your target audience
  5. Promote and share your lists in the right manner

Note, step 4 is the one that requires the most thought, but will determine your results. Start thinking about this now, before Lists are released.

1. Plan to share your Lists outside of Twitter

Everyone is planning on sharing their lists within Twitter. But don’t stop there. Plan on sharing the links to your lists on your blog.

Lists will be accessed via a URL like this: http://twitter.com/user_name/list_name. To promote the list on your website, you’ll just add a link with the URL. And you don’t have to stop there. Why not share them on Facebook, in email, and through your newsletter?

2. If necessary, include yourself in your Lists.

I haven’t been able to use Lists myself, yet. So I’m not certain on all the details of how they are being implemented. Specifically, I haven’t seen information about whether the List creator is automatically included in the List and/or whether their tweets are automatically included. (If you’re in the beta, please comment and let me know.)

If they aren’t, then make sure to add yourself to any Lists that you promote on your blog. (I’m assuming Twitter’s feature doesn’t prohibit this. If it does, they shot themselves in the foot.) That is part of the benefit that you get from creating and sharing lists–subscribers see your tweets, too.

3. Name your Lists well

You’ll give your Lists names, and those names will be part of the URL. Naming your Lists may not be as important as choosing your Twitter handle, but it is important. You want the name to be enticing but accurate. One key type of List I’m recommending is what I call a Twitter Solution (see #4). When you create a Twitter Solution, make sure your name reflects the goal or problem you are solving for your audience.

4. Create Lists for your target audience

The first use for Lists that most people will think of is creating a “Top X” List, such as My Top Social Media Picks or Top Sports Bloggers on Twitter. Sure, you will want to create some of those lists and promote them on your blog. In fact, you should always keep Lists in the back of your mind and use them if a List makes an appropriate accompaniment to a blog post. But keep in mind that there is a limit of 20 Lists per account, so you will want to use them only for your best posts.

Aside from posts, you want to think strategically. Take a marketing approach and think of Lists as a marketing tool. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • Does my audience fall into distinct segments with different needs or interests? If so, define each segment.
  • What are their goals, as they relate to the topics I blog about?
  • What kind of information helps them reach those goals?
  • What kind of information is this type of person generally interested in?
  • Who on Twitter regularly tweets that kind of information? What Twitter resources can be valuable to this audience segment, given their goals?

Now, using the answers to that last question, create one or more Lists for each audience segment, designed to meet their goals. That’s a Twitter Solution.

5. Promote your Lists in the right place and manner

Obviously, you’ll have to decide where to put your Lists on your site. But since your blog page is the place where most users will arrive or go, you will want to put your key Lists there. Put the List link in a visible location near relevant content. If you already have a Follow Me button, you’ve probably put it in a prominent location, and that’s the same location where you’ll likely want to put your Lists.

The point of creating these Lists is to provide a valuable resource to your audience, and gain some followers in the process. As discussed, you probably already have a Follow Me button on your site. But people are going to be more inclined to follow a List than a single individual. A List, promoted as a Twitter Solution to their goal, is a lot more appealing than just little old you. Sorry.

So, promote your List as a Twitter Solution. For example, If you’ve created a list for first time home buyers, don’t just say “Use my List.” Say something like:

“I’ve created a Twitter list chock-full of Twitter resources to help first time Seattle home buyers learn more about the home-buying process, and connect with local resources. Just click Seattle Home Buyers to join Twitter and use its many resources to find your perfect home.”

Or you might use a graphic (surely we’ll see badges for Lists, soon) to highlight your List.

That’s the basic strategy for using Lists to grow your blog. I hope you have fun with Lists–and are able to find some new followers through them. I’m a contributor to the Bloggers’ Bulletin. Watch my own blog for my next post, where I’ll give you some ideas for using Lists in unique ways.

Neicole M. Crepeau

Creator of TweetPackage.com, I'm a tech industry veteran with 25 year in the industry. I've done technical writing, usability testing, user interface design, and product and program management work. Most recently I've been applying a research and marketing perspective to social media and blogging about that on my personal blog, http://nmc.itdevworks.com. I'm also a mother of four wonderful children and wife of a terrific man--who also happens to be a fantastic software developer. 

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  5 comments for “Basics: Grow your blog with Twitter’s List feature

  1. October 21, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I don’t think I’ve had my head in the sand, but I’m not quite sure how Twitter Lists work. What kind of content will go on the lists? Are they lists in the true sense of the word, numbered or lettered, like the “10 Best” or are they narrative blogs on a single topic. I’d like a fuller explanation.

  2. October 22, 2009 at 3:48 am

    I’m with Jeannette. I know I have not had my head in the sand either and am really confused on the Twitter lists. I guess I’ll wait for more information and do some studying on it.

    Thanks Neicole for the wonderful information and informing us of what is going on. I’ll stay tuned for further information!

    Deb :)

  3. October 22, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Hi, Jeannette. Lists are like groups in TweetDeck. You’ll pick a set of people and create a list that consists of those people. Then, you can view just their tweets in a separate window or screen. It makes managing the stream easier, especially when you are following a lot of people. Now you can say, “My Friends” and “News Sources” and so on. You might check My Friends frequently to keep up with them, nad News Sources less so.

    Other people can view (if you make your Lists public) and subscribe to your Lists, allowing them to view the tweets in a separate stream as well. So, if someone creates a List for Fiction Authors on Twitter, you don’t have to go to the trouble of finding those authors and maintaining the list when new authors come on line. They do that and you just subscribe to see tweets from the Fiction authors. You aren’t actually following those people, so they don’t count toward your limit (that’s my understanding, anyway).

    Hope that helps.

  4. October 22, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I promised you all some unique ideas for using Lists. Just posted them on my blog: http://bit.ly/3nvrWa

    Enjoy!

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