How to Use Hootsuite and Twitter Lists to Engage Your Audience
Jack Martin May 8 2012
And a fine Twitter Tuesday to you as well. A Hootsuite tutorial about using Twitter lists can only begin with a beautiful memory.
I remember when I got my first Twitter follower. I was a bright-eyed web surfer with a bushy tail (since birth).
@getfree_ebooks3 followed me, and our relationship blossomed. She was beautiful. I would tell her about what I was eating for lunch and other important Twitter issues, and she would suggest nice pieces of malware for my computer to download.
I eventually discovered that @getfree_ebooks3 was a spam bot. It was heartbreaking. I realized the truth about Twitter.
At that moment, I realized that the best way to create quality relationships on Twitter is to seek out the people in your target audience and engage with them.
At first, I could manage this pretty easily. But once I was following over 150 people (often the magic number for our brains), it was too difficult to manage them all just with Twitter.
Why did it become so difficult so fast?
When you follow someone on Twitter, you are subscribing to their insight and opinions. So here you are, following hundreds or thousands of people because they might say something that’s interesting to you. But unless they tweet at you, retweet you, or happen to tweet moments before you check Twitter, you will miss out on everything they have to say.
And once you’re following +150 people, it’s pretty easy to miss out on everything.
But there is another way!
You may be familiar with the social media management tool Hootsuite. A free account with Hootsuite lets you monitor your Twitter, Facebook, and other feeds (called streams), as well as schedule updates for your social accounts. I’m sure the premium version does some more neat stuff.
Hootsuite is real swell.
Let’s focus on Hootsuite’s Twitter services. The average Hootsuite user may have a basic tab setup for their Twitter account. It probably looks similar to this:
From the left, you’ve got your home feed (the tweets and retweets of everyone you follow), @ mentions, and something else (I’m keeping track of who is retweeting me here, but this might also be your direct message inbox or favorites).
Not too bad. But there’s another way yet!
Enter Twitter Lists
A seasoned Twitter pro might have a good chuckle at the mention of Twitter lists. Twitter introduced lists in 2009 as a way to segment the people you follow into more specific groups.
You can easily add someone to a list by clicking their name to bring up a profile box, then selecting the “Add or remove from lists” option.
But, I would wager that less than 1% of Twitter users utilize lists.
And I don’t blame people for not using Twitter lists; Twitter lists suck. From the homepage (which already has your regular feed), it takes three clicks just to get to a list. Why would I ever do that when my home feed is right in front of me?
The concept of segmenting all these people we follow is great, though. Twitter just doesn’t let you use lists efficiently. But Hootsuite does.
Lists in Hootsuite
My Hootsuite tabs are made up of a combination of the basic Hootsuite stream functions shown above, and Twitter lists. Adding a list as a Hootsuite stream is easy. Just click Add Stream and select the list you want to monitor.
So What Type of Lists Should I Make?
That depends on what you use Twitter for. Make lists that group types of people that you want to interact with. Here are some lists you might make:
- Real life friends
- Professionals in your industry
- News or daily deals sources
- The blogs you follow
- Your favorite actors or comedians
Add those lists to your Hootsuite tab and you can create the ideal dashboard for monitoring the Twitter users you want to engage with the most. Follow Ian Lurie’s content curation schedule to start engaging with your segmented audiences efficiently.
My Twitter Dashboard in Hootsuite
Each Hootsuite tab will comfortably hold between 3-6 streams. You can have up to eight streams in a tab if you like horizontal scrolling. I use six streams, organized between two tabs. I call the tabs:
The Me Feed
The Me Feed tab is for me (I’m really good at naming things). I monitor:
- My @ mentions. No-brainer, right? If someone tweets at me, I see it. If they’re not a spam bot, I reply (and sometimes when they are a spam bot).
- My real life friends. Real Life > Online Life. Separating my real life friends has been a great way to follow the more @-heavy conversations between my closest friends.
- The people I regularly interact with. These are people I’ve already made a connection with. I know I want to see what these people are tweeting about, but other than Google+, I probably haven’t “hung out” with them before.
The Focused Feed
The Focused Feed tab is for more specific engagement. I monitor:
- Industry professionals. Instead of adding the top 20 internet marketing blogs to my Google Reader, I follow big and small time internet marketers and see what SEO cream rises to the top. When someone tweets out an article I like, I tweet back at them. What an easy way to start a conversation.
- Future friends. When I follow someone new, they often end up in this list. These are people that I think are interesting, but haven’t interacted with me yet. I keep an eye on these tweets, and tweet back if I have something to add. Once I build a relationship, I move them into the Me Feed.
- Favorite tweets. I favorite a tweet if I want to follow the link or reply to it later. I also use favorites to save the best tweets of the week so I have ammo for Follow Friday.
What’s missing from my feed?
- My home feed. I’ve segmented the followers I want to interact with the most, so I rarely need the home feed. If I did, I could just go to old-fashioned twitter.com, or check my phone.
- Hootsuite keyword/query monitoring. Hootsuite allows you to add streams that monitor specific keywords in tweets. This is a great feature, and you should use it. For this post however, we’re focusing on ways to engage the people you already follow.
What’s the Low Fat Version?
You don’t want to go through all that trouble? Well, I can’t make you. I’m not your mom. And I realize that.
If I was going to give you one tip to increase your engagement on Twitter, I would say make a list. Make one list. And fill it with the 25 to 50 people that you want to engage with the most. Add the list to your Hootsuite dashboard.
Watch that list like a hawk, or like another creature good at watching things. If those tweeters ask a question, answer it. If they tweet a link, check it out and let them know what you think. Make them your friends and allies.
Now you’re building a real Twitter following, not just making complex Canadian wedding plans with a spam bot. In related news: I’m single again, ladies!