Want to know the secret to following 7077 people on Twitter?

I love Twitter! I’ve been using Twitter since 2006, back when everything you said got a response from someone, and there were no automated direct messages, and no spammers trying to get you to click their links and buy their junk.

Over the past few years, a lot of people have started following me. A lot of interesting people have started following me. Many of these are people who add value to my life, and thus to the lives of my readers. And many new interesting people have joined Twitter, so I’ve started following them. I used to think I couldn’t follow them all, so I kept my follower count down low. Has that ever happened to you, where you’ve felt you couldn’t possibly follow even 1 more person, or you’d never be able to keep up with it all?

I’ve got a secret for you: You can’t! That’s right – you can’t! You can’t possibly keep up with 2000, 5000, or 7077 people on Twitter.

At least not without help.

No, I’m not saying hire a virtual assistant to read you your Tweets. I am saying you need a better system for using Twitter. And it starts right here.

Getting Started Following 7077 People on Twitter

Before you begin, write down or type up a list of all the types of people you want to connect with on Twitter. My people include Milwaukee people, Chicago people, social media people, authors, speakers, and small business owners, to name a few. It’s important you make this list FIRST, and you’ll see why in a moment.

Next, go to Twitter.com and create some Twitter lists for these buckets. You’ll find the lists feature underneath the gear in the upper right corner of Twitter.com.

twitter listsOnce you click the Lists link, you’ll see a screen that says Create List. Make a list for each of these lists. It’s up to you whether you make the lists public or private.

creating twitter listsNow every time you follow someone new on Twitter, think about why you’re following them. Do they fit into one of these lists? If not, take a deep breath and ask yourself “Why am I following this person?” If they’re a truly interesting person who deserves to be followed, create a new Twitter list called Interesting People and add them there.

Then, when you have time on a snowy Sunday afternoon when nothing else is going on, go back and fit all the people you’re already following into one of these Twitter lists.

Just adding people to a Twitter List is not enough

Good work! Now you’ve created your lists. Now what?

Every time you use Twitter, limit yourself to looking at only the list you wanted to look at. Set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever time you have, and get your work done. Don’t let yourself drift off into “playing” on Twitter when you have other work to do. Focus your attention on the one bucket, and work on that and only that bucket for the time you have. Repeat as needed for the other buckets so they all get your attention.

One last thing about Twitter lists

Remember  that bucket of interesting people you just HAD to create? After 30 days, try to think about how many times you’ve actually looked at that bucket. Was it often enough that you need to keep that list? Was it profitable for you, or did it provide the break you needed to be even more productive? Or was it just a time suck, a distraction from doing your real work?

So that’s the secret to following 7077 people on Twitter. Create some Twitter lists. Add everyone you follow to the lists. Be disciplined enough to only look at those lists.

What’s YOUR secret for using Twitter? Please leave a comment below!

Phil Gerbyshak
Phil Gerbyshak works with people who want to leverage social media into real life connections. He is the author of many books, most recently The Naked Truth of Social Media (available for free until 12/2/2012 at http://socialmedianakedtruth.com). Phil has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, Investor's Business Daily and many other publications online and offline.
Phil Gerbyshak
Phil Gerbyshak

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Comments

  1. geoffreiner says:

    Hey Phil,

    Great post! I just recently started using lists and they have really helped me become more strategic on twitter (and limit the amount of wasted time).

    I agree with your point too about asking WHY. It's so important to understand why we do what we do even in the smallest cases with twitter followers. If we don't know why we're following someone, we run the risk of being bombarded with information that isn't relevant or aligned with who we are and what we want to accomplish.

    Thanks again for the information!

    • Phil Gerbyshak says:

      Geoff – Thanks for your comment. Why is the best reason for everything we do. If you can't answer it, don't do it.

      Appreciate you stopping by! Don't be a stranger!

  2. rayhiltz says:

    Solid advice, Phil.
    My whole experience on social platforms is about lists, circles, groups, corrals…anything I can use to focus on listening and interacting with people who share interests and experiences.
    As you mentioned in your comment on revisiting your "interesting people" list, it does takes continuous "file management" or you risk defeating the whole purpose.

  3. ideagirlmedia says:

    Phil,

    Great to see you here on SteamFeed!

    Excellent advice on using Twitter realistically. Some great pointers and reminders for me here. Like the list that I probably need to edit or delete… :)

    I've learned a lot from you, and continue to. Thank you!

    ~Keri

    • Phil Gerbyshak says:

      Wow Keri – thank you! I'm glad I can share good stuff with you. I learn from you as well.

      And thanks for inviting me here. I'm feeling my way out, but I think I'll like the place :)

  4. Berni Xiong says:

    Thanks Phil! You're one of the peeps I follow that I learned that "list-making" from. Thank you for breaking it down even more for us! Miss ya bud!

  5. Nice to see you in the Steamfeed family, a nice addition. Ah the power of the list, nicely done and communicated in an easy to understand format for those that are new to Twitter and it's tools. Looking forward to more Phil.

    • Phil Gerbyshak says:

      Thanks Gerry. I try to write as plainly as I can, so everyone can benefit. Glad that came through.

      And I'm glad to be here. Thanks for the welcome!

  6. BrandEdu says:

    Welcome aboard Phil. Great to have you contributing to Steamfeed, always good to add more #smrebels.

    Great job of outlining how to not only set-up Lists but also how to use them.

  7. Phil Gerbyshak says:

    Thank you VERY much! Glad to be here.

    I'm happy my post was useful. That is always my aim – not just what to do – but how to use it.

    Until the next post!!

  8. Gina Valley says:

    The lists are definitely sanity savers. I actually need to do some cleaning out in mine right now and I am dreading that chore big time!

  9. elizgreene says:

    I got HootSuite Pro (as you directed) and am impressed with it. You are right, however, I am overwhelmed by the numbers… Going to reevaluate my lists right now. One list I look at every day – and has been very helpful – is one I call "Blog Fodder" It is 20 people who stuff I use regularly. (You are on it – of course!) Thanks for a great post!

    • Phil Gerbyshak says:

      I have a single awesome list too – and yet I don't spend too much time there else my view on the internet gets very small.

      Make time to move around when you can – and you'll see your creativity and productivity soar Eliz!

  10. Patty Hendrickson says:

    Wow Phil!! Once again you give me great gems that immediately make things manageable and less daunting. Thank you for making my life better!!

  11. jacobkcurtis says:

    Fine, I submit – I'll make a list!

    Great article Phil, I especially like you points on always optimizing your lists for increased efficiency on Twitter. Always looking back to see if your list is even necessary or utilized.

    I just reached 3k followers and I can definitely see the benefits you describe for creating lists as well as how separating followers into buckets lets you cultivate and communicate to those connections better.

    • Phil Gerbyshak says:

      That's great Jacob! Do report back on how it goes – as I think you'll be surprised at how helpful it really is.

  12. Kittie Walker says:

    Hey Phil!

    Awesome to see you here. I couldn't possibly manage social if I didn't use lists. The thought actually horrifies me now because you get completely overwhelmed without them. Some people are a little adverse to lists in general, but once they start using them in social they never look back…

  13. If only Twitter would extend the number of lists you are allowed to create… in my opinion, the 20 cap sucks!

    • Phil Gerbyshak says:

      Now that's interesting Dwayne. How many ways are you trying to slice your stuff up? Perhaps following others' lists would be helpful for you? I think 20 is plenty to keep me focused yet help me stay on track.

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