Everyone’s all atwitter (forgive the pun) over the service’s new Lists feature.
It is, if you will, a glamorized, organized version of the site’s ubiquitous “Follow Friday” meme, in which users recommend people for other users to follow.
Some seem to regard the Lists function with a combination of fear and contempt: that it will turn into a popularity contest of sorts; that the number of Lists on which one appears will become the new success metric.
However, I’d urge a second thought about spurning the feature, for these reasons:
1) It’s a tremendous educational tool. Think of those you admire who you follow on Twitter: artists, authors, experts, executives, journalists. We’re all lucky that (as fans, students, colleagues, competitors, whatever) we can – with a click – have access to a curated group of people they think enough of to add to a List.
2) Leave aside the potential clique-ish-ness of Lists, and think big. Think about making more connections in your world. For whatever your hobby, cause, or career, wouldn’t it be nice to find a List – or multiple Lists – of people you can follow, with a click, who share that interest? And who, once you follow the List and interact with those on it, may choose to follow you back?
3) Conversely, think about advancing your own hobby, cause or career. Do YOU follow a group of Tweeps because of their field or area of interest? It’s probably taken you some time to cultivate that list. Share your expertise with the rest of us. It’s a generous thing to do, and it makes you look good in the process.
4) It makes it super-easy to do Follow Friday. Want to recommend everyone you follow who has a food blog? Those tweeps who share your love of horror films? Your collection of food trucks operating in L.A.? Make a List of ’em, and Follow Friday the list address. No more worrying about forgetting someone, or about not having room for all the names.
One thing I’d like to see added to the feature: a brief (140 character, if need be!) explanation field so that one can, beyond the name, add some context to one’s Lists.
Will Lists cause some social fallout? Inevitably. Maybe someone you follow, whose blog you DON’T admire, will be put out at being excluded from your List. You may have to choose between 100% integrity on your List, and keeping the social peace. But in this way, online social life simply mirrors offline social life. We don’t all get invited to the party. We don’t all get the gig. That’s how it goes.
In the end, everyone should use Twitter the way that works best for themselves. You don’t have to create any Lists, and you don’t have to follow any, either. I just wanted to state some cases for why Lists aren’t necessarily evil.