I recently wrote about managing your Twitter network by cleaning up your following list using a free website called ManageFlitter, which you can read about here. Not too long after that post went live I was engaged in conversations with members of my Twitter family about how to best use Twitter lists. While lists are easily the most undervalued feature on Twitter, when used correctly, they are incredibly effective in helping you to manage the Tweets in your network.
Even if you have swept out the inactive users, spammers, or otherwise uninteresting Tweeters from your network, there will still be tiers of those whom you are following that engage you at a different level. Yes, all might have something to offer. With lists you will be able to focus on the Tweets from those who have the most to offer.
I've created a short screencast showing you how to create and manage your Twitter lists here. After watching this, I will explain a few more different ways for getting the most out of Twitter lists.
So, now that you've created a list or two of your own, how can you use them? Going to your list to read Tweets is pretty obvious. Still, there are a number of ways that you can utilize lists to strengthen your Tweeting experience.
You might have someone that you have connected with on Twitter who has assembled a list of users that you would like to follow. You can follow that user's public list as well simply by clicking on a public list and subscribing.
Not sure how to find a user's lists? No worries. If a Twitter user has created a public list, it can be viewed at his or her Twitter homepage on the left-hand side of the page under the lists tab. Pete Cashmore at Mashable has a well-organized library of lists which you can see here.
Here's the golden nugget with using lists. I can subscribe to someone else's list and keep up with the Tweets from that group of users without having to add any of them, keeping my home feed and following count uncluttered.
Suppose you want to find a list of educators, but don't have anyone in your network that has already made one for you to follow. There are third-party sites that act as a Yellow Pages of Twitter lists to serve that purpose. Listorious is one that I have used to search for various lists for me. Either select from a general category of lists or search their library using your own keywords. The more specific your search keywords, the better the results will be.
Additionally, if you use a third-party app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage your Twitter experience, you can create threads for each of your lists so that they are all viewable on the same page. I highly suggest trying this out so that you don't miss out on a thing.
Like I said before, Twitter lists are the most undervalued feature that Twitter has to offer. That doesn't mean that you have to ignore it's value for you.