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How Marketers Can Leverage Twitter Lists

It's Time to Go Beyond List-ening

Sunday, October 4, 2009 | Posted by Aaron Goldman

Posted In: Digital Marketing / Tips and Tricks / Press / Press Mentions

Santa's Twitter List

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Last week, Twitter announced that it would soon be rolling out a new feature that enables people to create lists of Twitter accounts. So, for example, you could create a list of restaurants in New York or SEO professionals as a way to better customize your Twitterstream and make it easier to keep up with everyone you follow. These lists would be "public by default (but can be made private) and the lists you've created are linked from your profile."

Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost has coverage of this story and included my two cents into her article. I'll add a third penny after the excerpt...

Some point to the fact that Twitter is playing catch-up with third-party application developers such as TweetDeck, which allow people to create lists and follow tweets in separate columns. Connectual Managing Partner Aaron Goldman says the difference between TweetDeck and Twitter is that the latter will give people the option to make lists public. He says it's not unlike WeFollow, which aggregates lists based on specific interest categories.

Giving credit for innovation where it's due, Twitter's Lists feature enables people to share them. And while some of the features in Lists appear more as a we-follow strategy than taking the lead, Goldman says it gives people an easier way to "consume" tweets, and "discover" people like Danny Sullivan that search engine optimization (SEO) peers may want to follow.

For marketers, Lists gives people a reason to add you and seek out influential tweeters. Goldman says it also gives a new dimension to celebrity endorsements. "Get Ashton Kutcher to put you on his list and you're golden," he says. "Create lists that will appeal to your target customers. Show that you're an expert in your category. Give people a reason to visit your Twitter profile page to see what list you create next."
While not a huge innovation -- and I question why this was prioritized in what must be a queue a mile long of new features and enhancements -- there are some clear benefits of lists to Twitterers. As it stands, once you start following over 200 people, it's nearly impossible to keep up. I follow nearly 300 folks but use TweetDeck to monitor lists of much fewer accounts -- typically the people I care most about and those that don't tweet every other minute and hog the Twitterstream.

As for marketers, this doesn't really change the game much. Until Twitter rolls out an ad platform -- hopefully in line with the 4 ad formats I suggested a few weeks ago -- the key to success for marketers is to continue putting out good content and amassing followers. Lists will give you a chance to get additional exposure though. Until now, the only Twitter-sanctioned list was the one that's shown after first signing up with celebs and other big-wig fancy-pants that they suggest you follow. So, as I told MediaPost, marketers should reach out to influential (read: popular) Twitterers that have created lists that are relevant to their business and ask to be included -- not unlike link-solicitation for SEO.

Marketers should also consider creating their own lists as a way to attract more visibility and more followers. Here, too, marketers must be mindful of relevance. Create lists that your followers and your customers will care about. If you're Apple, create lists of music artists by genre as a way of subtly promoting iTunes. If you're Bank of America, create lists of local merchants near various branches to build up your cred as a neighborhood bank, not a big corporation. And, if you're Adobe, build lists of creative ad agencies as a means of demonstrating your support to those constituencies -- oh yeah, might also want to start up the list of e-commerce retailers too what with the Omniture acquisition (speaking of relevance -- or lack thereof).

Marketers take heed, though... if you've been assailed with negative word-of-mouth on Twitter to date, all those detractors on just got a louder megaphone so do whatever you need to do to stay off their sh*t list!


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