Using lists on Twitter

During last Friday’s coverage of the fatal shooting in Aurora, Colo. I used a tool we often use to compile public comments from Twitter called Storify. The tool scans Twitter for tweets about the subject you’ve searched for. While doing this I was looking for comments made by local politicians about the tragedy and found it particularly difficult because my Twitter lists were in need of a good sprucing up.

So in between the hurry up and wait process of uploading several videos from our newest video intern, Jared, I decided my time in the lab would be good for the task of updating my Twitter lists.

The lists function on Twitter is incredibly useful, and as I started digging around I found it to be pretty underutilized by many of the people I follow. I find the lists to be helpful because I follow a lot of accounts, and often get lost in the fray of it all. Also because I’m a compulsive organizer, but that’s a different post.

You can see the lists I’ve created here. What’s particularly useful for my work as a journalist is how I’ve created different lists for the cities I cover with people and businesses that reside there. This lets me look at the Twitter contacts I have for a specific area of the county and see what’s going on at a glance. This is easier in the larger cities such as Ypsi and Ann Arbor that are more plugged into the Twitter, but it’s a continual process anyway.

I also have lists set up for Michigan-specific news and national/world news at large. This helps me quickly hone in on what’s going on at the local and more broad levels without having to do an advanced search. I also have other lists for politicians, favorite musicians and colleagues.

You can also follow other Twitter user’s public lists if they’ve compiled particularly good ones. I found this option really useful when I first started at Heritage last November. By following lists of other journos in the company I was able to get familiarized a little bit quicker.

So I suggest trying out the list function on Twitter and getting yourself organized. As your following and the amount of those you follows grows, it becomes a pretty helpful tool.

Follow me on Twitter @kgjestland, and let me know if you have any more questions. As usual I am stationed in the lab 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Monday. You can also reach me via email: kgjestland@heritage.com.

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