how to use twitter

This post will show you how to use Twitter lists and hashtags. I’ve referred briefly to these features in the previous posts in this series. Go read those now if you haven’t already.

How to use Twitter, Part 1: Get Started
How to Use Twitter, Part 2: How to Tweet

How to Use Twitter Lists

This is how I keep my Twitter feed organized. When you follow more than 3000 accounts, as I do, it’s simply not practical to try to consume the entire feed — I’d be there all day and all night.

I’ve added those I follow into lists. First, you need to know that I now do this as I go along and follow new people. I review their profile, then decide whether to follow, and if I choose to follow them, I’ll add them to a list at that point.

A few years ago, when I followed far fewer accounts, I did go through them one by one and add them to lists. It was painstaking and took a long time, but worth it in the end. Do this soon after you begin following accounts and you won’t have to catch up like I did.

How to Add an Account to a Twitter List

Here’s how you add a Twitter user to a list.

add to a twitter list

This is my husband’s Twitter account. As you can see, I’m already following him. To add him to a list, I click the three dots to the right of his profile. photo.

add to a twitter list

This menu will drop down; choose Add/remove from lists.

twitter lists

Then choose your existing list or create a new one.

Now that you’ve got users added to your list, how do you follow your list? On the web, click Lists in the left column. Then click the list you want to see and you’ll see only tweets from accounts you’ve added to your list.

how to use twitter lists

In Tweetdeck, add a column and select “List” for the column type. That column will now show your list.

how to use twitter lists

You can make your lists public or private and others can subscribe to your list if it’s public.

To subscribe to someone else’s list, go to their profile and click the three dots next to the follow button. On the dropdown menu, click View Lists, then you’ll see a list of their lists.

how to use twitter lists

At the top of the list page, there are links to lists they own, lists they are subscribed to, and lists they are a member of. This is a great way to find similar accounts to follow.

how to subscribe to twitter list

Edit Your Lists

To edit your list, just go to your Lists page, click Edit List, and you’ll see the accounts you’ve placed on your list. Click Remove to remove an account from your list. You’ll also see a list of other accounts who subscribe to your list. To make a list private, just check the box next to Make Private.

edit twitter list

In Tweetdeck, you’ll see a list of your columns on the left. To edit your list in Tweetdeck, click the icon at the top of the column, then click Edit List. You’ll see a screen similar to that of the web interface where you can remove accounts from the list. Tweetdeck also shows suggestions for your list you can add in the left column.

how to use twitter list

Once your lists are populated with the appropriate accounts, it’s easy to manage them going forward and it’s worth the time you invest in building them if you’re serious about using Twitter.

Hashtags on Twitter

Hashtags are powerful when used well, but are often misunderstood. A hashtag is a word with the # symbol in front of it. Hashtags have no spaces or special characters — only numbers and letters — and are not case sensitive.

You see them everywhere, on t-shirts, on your television screen, and, of course on the web. Most social media platforms have some hashtag use and on some, like Instagram, they are critical if you want your posts to be seen. Hashtags were first used on Twitter in 2007 as a way to group messages around a particular topic.

Hashtags make your tweets findable by those who don’t follow you. A great example of this is conferences. Most conferences have a branded hashtag that contains the year, such as # CoolConference2020 or something similar.

On the Explore page in the Twitter web interface, you’ll see hashtags that represent current trends in the world, or your country. For example, as I write this post, it’s Monday and the #Monday Motivation hashtag is trending. That means there are many people tweeting with this hashtag. Click on the hashtag and it will take you to a page that shows tweets that use it. You can click at the top if you want to save that search.

Twitter hashtag

In Tweetdeck, just click the search bar at the top left and recent searches will pop up. Click on any search and it will automatically create a new column for that search.

twitter hashtags

If there are search terms you want to monitor on Twitter, such as mentions of your name and/or brand, this is how to do it. If your search term is more than one word, surround the phrase by quotes to search instances where the words are combined. Here I’ve created a column for the hashtag #socialmedia, and one for the search term small business marketing. I can easily monitor each in Tweetdeck.

twitter hashtag search

How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

As you’re tweeting using hashtags, don’t go overboard. Although Instagram limits you to 30 hashtags, you don’t want to use nearly that many on Twitter. Two or three are enough. Consider each hashtag as a topic someone might search to find your tweet. Don’t use a hashtag that’s unrelated just because it’s trending — it just frustrates the reader.

Hashtags and Trends

Trends are an excellent way to get more exposure for your tweets if it’s relevant to what you do. Each Monday I tweet inspirational quotes using the hashtag #Monday Motivation, which is trending today and often does. Keep an eye on trends to watch for those that might be related to what you tweet about.


More Twitter Reading from This Series

How to Use Twitter, Part 1: Get Started
How to Use Twitter, Part 2: Conversation


Composing Your Tweet With Hashtags

As you’re writing the copy for your tweet, just use the # symbol and add it to your tweet. If your desired hashtag is already part of your tweet, you can just add the hashtag as part of the copy. This saves character space and it doesn’t matter where in the tweet you add the hashtag.

Be Careful

If you’re hosting an event, or even running a special promotion, use a branded hashtag to encourage followers to tweet their own content around your brand. Think carefully about this as it can easily backfire if there is existing controversy around your brand.

Several years ago, the social media team at McDonald’s had an idea for a campaign to generate heart-warming stories associated with the brand and created the hashtag # McDStories. Instead of the warm and happy stories they had hoped for, they got snark like this tweet:

Also be sure you understand what the hashtag means. There are numerous cautionary tales about hashtag campaigns that have gone wrong. Do a thorough search on a hashtag before you incorporate it into your campaign.

Use hashtags to grow your following and get exposure to new accounts that may not follow you, but are interested in the topics you tweet about. Use Twitter lists to organize those you follow so you don’t miss good tweets.

Now that you know how to use Twitter lists, spend sometime setting up your lists now. You’re welcome. 🙂

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