The One Twitter List You Should Be Keeping

Image that says 1) Tweet 2) ??? 3) Profit

If this is all that your social media plan consists of, you may want to put more time and thought into it.

Are you a writer on Twitter because you’ve been told you need to be on there? Are you trying to establish “a social media presence” while not quite sure what that involves? Relax and don’t worry. Twitter can be easy and often a lot of fun as well as useful, as long as you take the time to learn some of the basics for Twitter use.

One useful tool for making the most of Twitter is the list feature, where you can sort a subset of your followers into their own group. If you’ve never used it, you may want to start by reading through Twitter’s own basic tutorial on lists.

Twitter lists are a great feature that are worth making the most of. I’ve got a few set up for industry professionals, close friends on Twitter, members of various writing groups and organizations, former students, and people in a variety of fields. But there’s one that is more important than any of the others.

Building Your Followers

A pack of followers made up of people who followed you back because you followed them is not a particularly useful list. You want followers who retweet your content, help spread your message, and who provide interesting and useful content that you may want to share in turn. For this reason, it’s worth putting a few minutes each day into maintaining it. I use two tools to help me do this: Buffer and Justunfollow.

Buffer allows me to schedule tweets (which I also like because I can post stuff when not around and find new followers that way). When I initially post a link to a blogpost, for example, I can go ahead and set up a couple of additional mentions further on down the line. More importantly, I use Buffer when doing my daily follower check, looking to see who’s following me that I want to follow back. I look at each new follower’s tweets and usually favorite a couple or find tweets that I want to retweet, sticking them in my Buffer queue. (I should note that I am not using the free version of Buffer but the next version up, which lets me schedule roughly ten days of tweets in advance.

Who I Don’t Follow Back

I don’t follow everyone back automatically. Here’s the list that’s evolved over time of profiles I don’t bother following back:

  • Sell, sell, sell. Is your stream full of nothing but links to your book on Amazon? Then I’m probably not worrying about.
  • Nonexistent. No photo, no background info, no tweets? I’m not going to bother.
  • Promising me social media success. I’m not buying Twitter followers, nor am I paying for expensive seminars that tell me things that are common sense.
  • Hate speech. That should, I think, go without saying.

Disagree with me politically? That’s fine. I enjoy conversation. Post nothing but silly puns or kitten pictures? I’m fine with that. I’m even good with total nonsense. This sorting stage is where I build a lot of my lists, though not that crucial one I want to talk about. That one comes later.

The Interactives List

Lists are a terrifically useful feature of Twitter, allowing you to create subgroupsand view tweetstreams made up of only tweets from people on that list. Many of my lists are devoted to either a specific group like former students or players of a MUD I used to work with or an industry niche, like book reviewers or editors. And then there’s the most important list of all.

This list is top of my heap and it’s titled Interactives, for people that interact, who RT and reply and generally signal boost. I try to periodically thank people for RTing, which means running through who’s done it recently, and I add people to it at that point. The people on that list have demonstrated that they enjoy my content and want to spread my message. That’s a very good reason for working at building a relationship with them.

When I’m just poking at Twitter, looking to see what interesting conversations are happening or what content is noteworthy or a good candidate for retweeting, I go to that list first. If I’m filling up my Buffer stream with some interesting content, I can find it there, and continue to build the relationship while also giving my followers interesting and/or entertaining content.

If you’re worried about it getting too cluttered, run the tool I mentioned, Justunfollow, periodically to weed out people not following you back and inactives. That should do the trick for all but the most popular of Tweeters.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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