As part of my ongoing Twitter optimization, I have extracted a key optimization question:
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.