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How Twitter Lists Can Help Build Your Network + 8 Lists to Create Now

Despite the numerous benefits social media affords writers, you’ve probably thrown up your hands a time or two, vowing to close your accounts and hibernate.

After all, it’s impossible to keep up with the ever-evolving stream of articles, photos, and conversations that exist on Twitter every day. And that’s just one social media account! Add Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, or other tools to the fold, and our time and attention are easily strained. Don’t give up…

Before you decide to give up, it’s helpful to remember the true purpose of social media: to build relationships.

Twitter, like other services, should be a welcome addition to our toolkit and a means to accomplish this, and if you’ve never set up Twitter lists to help with these efforts, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

The tips below will reveal why Twitter lists can make your writing day more productive and expand your network.

4 Ways Twitter Lists Can Help You

Like your shopping list that keeps you organized in the grocery store, Twitter lists serve the same function in the social media space. Lists help you organize people, organizations, and topics by category within Twitter to help you engage in a more targeted way.

It’s unrealistic to constantly follow your Twitter stream throughout the day.

Even if you have that kind of time (and if you do, you should probably stop procrastinating and start writing!), lists will ensure the time you do spend on Twitter is more productive. Here are four ways Twitter lists can help you.

1. Maximize your time.

Our time is valuable. Lists help you organize information so you can more easily stay informed on topics in the writing world and manage relationships. Creating lists means you’ll spend less time filtering through a never-ending stream, and more time gleaning content from the people that matter most.

2. Find what you’re looking for.

Let’s say you put the finishing touches on a few short stories you’d like to send out. By checking your list of literary magazines, you can see if any contests are running, or tweet the journal directly asking questions about the submission period. Interested in contacting a fellow writer about a possible interview for your blog? Check your Favorite Writers list.

3. Boost engagement.

A constantly shifting Twitter stream can be overwhelming. By taking time each day to check one or two of your lists, you can click on relevant links and respond more readily. Also, by seeing the same folks in your stream on a more consistent basis, you’ll be able to better engage by replying to their tweets, asking questions, and starting conversations.

4. Show your appreciation.

Lists extend your reach into the large expanse of Twitter in a very personalized way. When you list someone, Twitter sends a notification that they’ve been added to your list. This conveys that you appreciate their tweets and value their content. They might even decide to add you to a list of their own!

If they thank you publicly on Twitter, use the opportunity to start a conversation about writing. The same rules go for someone who adds you. If you receive a notification, thank them with a tweet. What begins as a way to organize your social media life can sometimes be the start of relationship-building.

4 Steps to Setting Up Lists

1. Login to your Twitter account. In the top right hand corner, click on the settings icon next to the search bar.

2. A list of options should appear underneath your picture and handle. Choose “lists.”

3. When the screen loads, you’ll see a button that says “Create List.” Click it.

4. When the pop-up window appears, write a title for your list, add a description, and choose whether or not to make your list public.

If you already have a large list of people you’re following, populating your lists will take time up front, so set aside an hour or two for this project.

Moving forward, whenever you follow someone new on Twitter, add them to one of your lists at the same time.


At the bare minimum, consider following other people’s lists instead. This approach will expose you to interesting content and help you expand your own network. If you’re looking for some good lists to follow, WiseInk has a handy guide.

8 Twitter Lists Every Writer Should Make

Don’t feel pressured to create all eight lists. Instead, pick and choose depending on where you’re at with your writing.

If your book is set to be published and you’re planning a reading tour, you might be very interested in the Bookstores category. If you’re looking for a home for your work, you might need the Literary Magazines list.

Also, feel free to combine lists, like putting Agents and Publishers together, or including the two Favorite Writers categories together.

1. Literary Magazines

2. Agents

3. Publishers

4. Favorite Writers (your own genre)

5. Favorite Writers (different genre)

6. Writing Inspiration (For daily quotes, writing prompts, and other inspiration, try The Write Practice, Brain Pickings, Goins WriterLiterBug, and Write to Done.)

7. Writing News (Stay up to date on the industry by following organizations like Poets & Writers Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and New Pages.)

8. Bookstores

When used strategically, Twitter can become a partner in your writing career by exposing you to valuable content and interesting people.

Over time, you’ll find that conversations started in the social media space can develop into long-lasting professional relationships and friendships, so don’t view Twitter as something you have to keep up with, but as a networking tool with the capacity to be as authentic as you make it.

If you’re brand new to lists and have questions, or have used lists successfully in the past, please share your experiences in the comments!

This is Nicole’s second post on Positive Writer, you can read her first here. Nicole will be a regular contributor on Positive Writer. Let her know what you think of her writing in the comments.

About Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, blogger, content developer, community builder, and good food advocate. She is currently eating her way through Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and French bulldog. Twitter: @nicolegulotta Blog: Eat This Poem

  • Christa Sterken

    Great information Bryan, really appreciate. Can you reply and thank someone for favoriting a tweet?

    • I’m not sure if you can directly reply. I’d have to try. Nicole, who wrote this wonderfully helpful article probably knows the answer. You can always send a direct message

    • Nicole Gulotta

      Yes–that’s a great practice to have! When you’re logged in to Twitter, click on “Connect” and then “Interactions.” Someone who favorited a tweet will be designated with a yellow star. Just click on their handle, and from the drop down in their profile page, click “Tweet to @NAME” to create a new tweet. Let me know if you need more clarification!

      • Christa Sterken

        Thanks Nicole, that was helpful information today!

  • Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    Nice post Nicole, thanks for the info!

    • Nicole Gulotta

      You’re welcome, Paula! Glad it was helpful.

  • Wow! Helpful, timely, exactly the Twitter-advice I need. Ties in with a social media how-to conversation I just had with my hubby. Thanks, Nicole. 🙂

    Thank you, Bryan Hutchinson, for sharing Nicole’s helpful post.

    Guess I should rewind also to thank Jeff Goins for implementing his vision of Tribewriters.

    Always, I thank God for His gifts–this one in the form of visionary, helpful people–and not to exclude a writer’s guide to creating Twitter lists.

    • Nicole Gulotta

      Hi Shannon, I love it when I stumble across something just when I need it most. So glad this post was timely for you!

      • Absolutely! So I began creating lists in my settings this morning. At this point I’m keeping them private until I figure out the best way to categorize my lists. I started with the categories you suggested and will tweak/invent as needed. I also added a list for Tribewriters.

        Here’s where I’m hung up. How do I add my existing Twitter followers to my created lists? I see the search feature and the link to my followers. But somehow I’m not “getting” what step I need to take in-between to add my existing followers to my created lists.

        Any tips if you have a minute to share? Thanks again for your helpful post, Nicole.

  • Good post Nicole. I am certainly not as twitter educated as some. I learned twitter just months ago and my tweet numbers, twitter followers are not many. Still I got out the nest and flew.

    • Nicole Gulotta

      Hi Anne, Now is a great time to set up your lists! It’s much easier when you have a smaller number of people you’re following. Once set up, you can just add people to your lists when you follow them in the future.

    • You’re doing great, Anne. You already spend your time and gifts so well encouraging Tribewriters as we work through the modules. Hopefully you’re making progress on your next book. And I know you’re cherishing your grand babies. Keep flying, Anne Peterson. 🙂

  • LadyJevonnahEllison

    Thank you for sharing these tips Nicole. I didn’t know how to set up a Twitter list before. Thanks to you, I do now.
    Keep writing!

    • Nicole Gulotta

      Thanks for the encouragement, and I’m glad the post was helpful!

  • Thank you, Nicole! I have been nothing but overwhelmed by Twitter – there’s just so much to consume – so this provides some order in the chaos. Thanks!

    • Nicole Gulotta

      You’re welcome! Twitter can be really overwhelming, and lists can definitely help you feel more organized.

  • OK, OK, Nicole – I did it! This was a great post, and timely. Thanks!

    • Nicole Gulotta

      Great–glad this post helped you set up some lists.

  • Nicole, Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been trying to learn more and more about twitter and this really helped! Thanks again! 🙂 This will save me a lot of time on twitter! 🙂

    • Nicole Gulotta

      Hi Devin, Thanks for the feedback. Glad I could help!

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