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Twitter List Rollout Spreads, Fueling Web’s Newest Popularity Contest

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How many Twitter Lists are you on?

I’m on 32. Danny Sullivan’s on 273. Sockington the tweeting cat is on 367, a total I’m sure that will skyrocket as the feature rolls out.The New York Times is on 1,864. Discovering that a venerable news institution is more popular than a tweeting cat is just one of many serendipitous effects of this new Twitter feature.

Twitter Lists lets users create lists and follow groups of people (and/or cats). If you create a public List (and it can be private), other Twitter users can follow that list too. You can see what lists you’re on by going to, of course replacing USERNAME with your Twitter handle or anyone else’s. The lists are accessible in the right-hand box of your home screen when you’re logged in, below Saved Searches and above Trending Topics.

Twitter Lists may in time signal more about users’ influence than raw follower count. Viewing Lists can also provide anecdotal insight into how a Twitter user is perceived. For instance, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is on lists about fashion, strategy, gurus, shopping, inspiration, and other subjects, so it’s a hint of how he’s perceived in the marketplace. Brands should try such reviews of their own lists over time and how they’re perceived compared to their competitors. It should also be helpful for marketers and others to view who else is considered to be in their peer groups.

Marketers, publishers, and other users can more fully take advantage of Lists by sharing them with others. Walmart, for instance, has a site with all of its Twitter accounts; now it can package them all as a List. The New York Times can create Lists for its beats, blogs, and writers. Comcast can create Lists with their employees. You’ll only be able to view all of these Twitter Lists if you’re already part of the beta (you’ll know by visiting, so it only makes sense to offer this once Lists are more widely available, but that’s coming very soon.

Don’t expect these Lists to rapidly boost your follower counts. If you follow someone’s list with 10 people, for instance, you don’t need to follow any of the 10 people individually to read that list. Some users who feel that they follow too many people may use Lists to narrow down who they’re following and only read select tweeters, just like people do through applications like Tweetdeck which has always let people create their own lists.

This does make far more useful, and for some users who still like but like the functionality on other applications better, they may find this enough of an improvement to use Twitter’s site more often.