As part of my ongoing Twitter optimization, I have extracted a key optimization question:
When you want to see an account’s content, should you follow them, or add them to a list? Or both?
I suppose to the logical thing would be to determine what characteristics each has:
- Following allows you to subscribe to their updates via notifications. Lists do not.
- Following can be seen as a personal endorsement—both to the person being followed and to others—since one’s follow list is public.
- Adding an account to a list seems more impersonal, as if you are sorting them into a folder or category, e.g., “security news”, or “humor”.
I think that might be the distinction:
- Follow when there’s a relationship involved that benefits from visibility, i.e. it’s good for them (and others) to know you’re following them.
- Follow if you need to be notified in realtime of that account’s updates
- Add to a list when you are organizing accounts into categories for consumption, like “current events”, or “politics”.
[ NOTE: If someone is a big name and either doesn’t follow people or isn’t following you, I put them into a list instead of following them. This is in line with the rules above that basically make a follow a personal endorsement, which should be reciprocated. ]
This will be my approach until I find a superior method. Suggestions for improvements welcome.