WIKIPEDIA DEFINITION OF TWITTER: Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.
GUS’ DEFINITION OF TWITTER: Once you sign up for Twitter, the game is to see how many followers you can get. Followers are accounts that want to see what you have to say in 140 characters or less. Presumably because they are interested in you. Early on, you learn that people just want to collect followers and, according to Twitter etiquette, if someone follows you, you should follow them back or risk losing them as a follower.
When I initially created my account, I could see an immediate benefit to Twitter. I could get quick updates from various news sources. My friends would send out free movie rental coupons. I even scored a Dave Matthews Band exclusive listening party for my Starbucks in Brownsburg, Indiana.
But as my followers list grew, I felt a pressure to return the follow-favor. Many of the people I didn’t even know, but I played along to see if I could become a “whale” (someone with more than 1,000 followers).
As my follower list grew, my home page where I see the tweets or posts of all the people I follow, was becoming littered with crap I didn’t care about. Posts that I wanted to see would be crowded out of my rotation. I tried a few third-party apps like TweetDeck where I could create lists, but I couldn’t get used to the application running in the background all the time.
Finally, Twitter introduced Twitter Lists. This is where you can collect a group of people you follow into a special list where you see only their tweets. I have three lists. One for local people I know. One for marketing folk who posts I follow. Then one for news sources and blogs. You can make lists by clicking on the “new list” link on the right-hand bar on your home page. Just create a list name, choose your privacy setting, and then start adding names to the list. You can easily go to you following list and click on the left button to the right of the account name and click to add to one of your created lists.
Should your lists be private? I don’t know, quite honestly. I sometimes peruse other people’s lists to find new sources of entertaining status updates or informational tweeters. It should probably be an individual choice.
It’s easy to create your own lists and well worth the time because you don’t have to delete annoying tweeters who spam your home page with stuff you don’t care about. Several will post 4 or 5 tweets in a quick window. This can be really annoying.
Lists give you the ability to keep all your followers and not have to pay attention to them. In addition, it gives a new status listing on your profile page. Underneath your bio info is statistics. They include how many you follow and how many follow you. (I’m sure there’s a psychological effect in a visitor’s mind based on that ratio.) There’s also a “Listed” stat that reveals how many of your followers thought it was important enough to list you in one of their exclusive lists. Ashton Kutcher, the most popular Tweeter in the land with more than 4 million followers, is listed more than 17 thousand times.
I’m listed 4 times.
Oh well, room to grow, I guess.