Should Your Twitter Lists Be Public Or Private?

Twitter Lists Public or Private


If you are a power Twitter user, you have already harnessed the power of Twitter lists. But how much attention have you paid to their privacy settings? Does it matter whether your Twitter lists are public or private? More importantly, can they have an impact on your bottom line? Let’s get our hands dirty and get to the bottom of this!


What is a Twitter List?

Simply put, a Twitter list is nothing but a group of Twitter users you have assembled together and given a certain name. This just makes it easier for you to read the tweet stream of a particular group of people at any given time.

This is very helpful for people who have hundreds or thousands of followers ( or follow many people). It is not humanly possible to be glued to your screen all the time, and read everything a person tweets. By ‘listing’ people, you can make sure you can go back to their particular tweets any time.


Some obvious advantages of creating Twitter lists


Better Contact Management – Lists allow you to segregate people by profession, age, geographical area etc. You might want to create a list called ‘news’ that you only read once or twice a day, or one called ‘jokes’ or ‘fun stuff’ that you want to read for recreation only.


Better Ratios – You can list someone that you do not follow. This is great for listing people like the POTUS or our very own Amitabh Bachchan. These people will never follow you back, but you definitely want to read their tweets. You can create a list of 500 such people – bigwigs – that you are interested in giving you a better chance to have a closer  ‘follower: following’ ratio.


Giving and gaining Recognition – Who doesn’t like to be noticed? I am sure I for one do! When you add people to a list, you are subtly acknowledging that they’re special to you. That you do not want to miss their tweets, meaning you hang on to any words of wisdom they disperse. And this could maybe work in your favor, because at least some of them will reciprocate.

[box type=”info”] The number of times you’re listed on Twitter is directly proportional to your popularity on it.[/box]


Ok. So now you might be convinced that you absolutely need those lists if you are ever going to make sense out of the chaos of thousands of followers. But when do you choose public or private? This depends on you totally – you might want to keep all your lists public! But this is what I would do –


When to create Public Twitter lists

  • Well known news sources such as the WSJ, NBC, Fox etc. that millions read
  • Well known personalities like Oprah, Bill Gates etc.
  • Special interest groups like Agile/Scrum(in my case)
  • List of clients – just one more way to publicize your brand
  • People you look up to, your gurus, mentors etc.
  • Professional areas of interest
  • Peer groups or competitors


When to create Private Twitter lists

  • Topics related to upcoming product or service launches
  • Any profiling based on geographic region, profession etc. for upcoming products
  • Competitors you want to shadow
  • Topics you want to know about without letting others know – for example, you might want to learn about any health condition, or alternate lifestyle, or diet habits like raw food etc.
  • Anything really that you feel is so personal that you don’t want to share it


Twitter lists are the only way to make sense out of a situation that can turn into chaos pretty soon. By having organized lists, you can make the time you spend on Twitter more productive. And isn’t making the best use of time critical in our busy lives?


Next Steps

It always helps me when I pin down the action items, so that I can work on them pronto. Here is what you can do –

1) Create your Twitter lists first, then make them public or private

2) Leave a comment here so  I know you stopped by and whether this made sense to you or not

3) Share this with your friends, so every one gets to spend their time fruitfully. Believe me, they will thank you for it!


Before we go, just a fun fact about Twitter. In case, you STILL aren’t using it for your business!

67% of Twitter users buy brands they follow


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  1. David Plunkett says

    Thanks for the tips about ‘lists’. Very helpful.

    I use an iPhone and have tried to figure how to create and work with list from the iPhone. I cannot find the create lists tab on the iPhone. I don’t know, am I missing something??


  2. Sandra says

    I do not have any lists, but people have me on their lists. Is there a way to make that private without asking that person to remove my from their list?


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