First let me begin by explaining that title. From a personal standpoint, I understand Twitter lists. It’s a great way to organize those people who I follow, and keep up with the latest and greatest in subjects that I’m interested in. For goodness sake, we create lists everyday (offline or online) to make our lives simpler and more organized.
As Twitter lists have become the new rage, several thought leaders have already come up with some ideas of how to use them. One that I’m particularly fond of can be found here http://mashable.com/2009/11/04/twitter-lists-uses/. While Ms. Evans has some interesting ideas; they seem to fall mostly into the category of personal usage. Yes, she says a PR person could create a list of their clients as a way to publicly show what tweets might be a conflict of interest, but again, where’s the intrinsic value to the client?
I suppose the biggest hurdle I’m having with Twitter lists is that lists are exclusionary by nature (side note: Chris Brogan does an insightful job of explaining this). Certain people will be left out of certain lists for reasons mundane or spiteful, while others are allowed. As a PR person, why would I want to run this risk of causing problems with my clients, or worse yet my client’s consumers, by leaving them off a particular list?
Personally I am aware of a friend of mine, who’s a prominent member of the public relations community in the city I reside, that has had to issue several Twitter apologies already for leaving certain clients off of lists he’s created. To his credit, he not only apologized for the indiscretion, but also explained the “newness” of the list functions and that he was still trying to figure it all out. But again, why would I want to risk that with one of my clients?
Brian Solis (PR 2.0 in the blogroll) wrote a book entitled Putting the Public Back in Public Relations. This describes my second issue with Twitter lists. I can create a specific list and make it public for others to follow. I can follow lists (not people). But I can’t send a reply wholesale to a list, if someone on that list says something that strikes my fancy. For that type of transaction, I would have to make sure and follow the person with the interesting comment (if I’m not already); then reply back using the usual main feed means.
So how is the Twitter lists themselves fostering public, two-way communication any better than following individuals through the regular feed? In my book, it’s not. So why would I waste the time setting them?
I know there are those of you out there smarter than I, so I open it up to you. Someone please explain to me the value in Twitter lists from the client-practitioner perspective. Right now, I don’t get it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go create some Twitter lists to get my personal life organized. Man, that’s a mess!
This article, written by Jeremy Fischer, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.