Top 10 Ways For Small Business Owners To Use Twitter Lists

[This post was inadvertently published yesterday. I recalled it, but not before Feedburner picked it up. I apologize for the inconvenience.]

A few days ago, Twitter announced Twitter Lists, a great new feature that allows users to create pubic and private lists of people on Twitter. If you read Item #9 on Top Ten Actions To Increase Your Twitter Influence, you know that even after a few days, I think that creating and using Twitter lists is important. This video shows you how to create Twitter lists and discusses how they can expand your productivity and sphere of influence as a small business owner, and also how they can enhance the experience of people who follow you on Twitter.

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Before the launch of Twitter Lists, many other desktop applications had already made “lists” a part of the user experience. I have used many of them, my favorite (so far) being PeopleBrowser. Now that Twitter Lists is a part of the Web interface, I'm sure I will use the Web more. Here are the top 10 ways for small and independent business owners to use Twitter Lists.

  1. Your Industry. Set up a list to track people in your industry. This is a wonderful way to see at a glance at any point in time what people in your field are talking about. If you make chocolate, for example, you may set up a list called “chocolatiers” and include people who blog about chocolate, make chocolate and love chocolate.As with all of your Twitter Lists, consider including people of influence who Tweet frequently and who use their Twitter page for professional purposes and in a professional manner. If you are using your lists to expand your sphere of influence and inform your followers, it won't do you or anyone else much good if the people on your list are inactive and/or unprofessional.
  2. Competitors. Set up a list to track your competitors. You may wish to make this list private of course. The ability to track what your competitors are saying and doing in one place keeps you informed and up to date with the new things they are involved in. A competitors list is probably one of the most valuable ways you can use Twitter Lists.
  3. Gurus. Set up a list to track people you consider to be gurus in particular fields. If you track technology issues, create a list of tech gurus. This way, you'll get their blogs posts and the news and information they feel is important delivered right to your list. Setting up a Guru List such as this also lets people who visit your Twitter page know that you care about the latest technology trends and track them regularly. This can help solidify your platform as an expert in your field because it shows that you value and keep up with the latest trends.
  4. Media. Set up a list to track the magazines, radio shows and newspapers you'd like to be featured in. Keep up with these media outlets and their editorial staff members. In this way, you always know what your target media outlets are focusing on. You can also track the queries they post to Twitter so you can respond to them quickly.
  5. Members. I set up an IBN Members List to stream the Tweets of IBN members. For those who don't know, IBN is the trade organization for small businesses that I founded 10 years ago. This is my favorite list because I can see what my members are doing at a glance. It also makes it easy for me to ReTweet the information they share to my followers. You can set up a list to follow your fellow members in the groups or trade organizations you belong to. Examples include moms groups, chambers of commerce and even the neighborhood Bunko participants.
  6. Your Town. Like Shel Israel said in his Indie Business Radio appearance, despite Twitter's numbers, it's still a community. You can use Twitter Lists to create mini-communities in your town. You can check the list a few times a day to see what's going on in your neck of the woods. This makes it easy and fun to find local events and attractions and to support my local community. After all, local is the new global!!
  7. Family. This is probably my favorite feature and I would use it if I could just get my family to join me on Twitter. My husband is here and so is one of my brothers. My husband Tweets a bit but my brother still doesn't get it. If your family members are active on Twitter, a family list is great way to stay in touch and collectively share what's important to you and your family. Again, it's great that you can keep the list private if you'd like. You can also create a list just for personal friends, or you can combine your friends and family lists.
  8. Breaking News. I may create a list like this someday. It would contain the steams of top journalism outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Economist and others. Since I'm an incurable news hound, this would surely become one of my favorite lists.
  9. Co-Workers. Lots of small and independent business owners have full- or part-time jobs, so many will be able to create lists that include fellow employees. Co-Workers List, you will obviously want to comply with your employer's social networking policies. A list like this is a great way to stay connected with co-workers throughout the day. Maybe you forgot what time the staff meeting is or you're stuck in traffic and need to let a group of team members know that you'll be late. The possibilities are endless and a list like this could help everyone be more efficient at work.
  10. Referrals & Resources. One of the ways you can make your Twitter page help more people is to create lists of people who have helped you. Since I've had so many blogs and blog designs (going back to 2001!), I get a lot of questions from people about who they can use to design or help with their blogs, so could set up a list of people who have helped me with my blog. Such lists make your Twitter page a helpful resource, and when you help people be successful, you continue to be successful as well.

Question: What do you think of Twitter Lists? What good examples did I leave out? What lists have you created and what do you use them for?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.