Twitter lists are a useful tool for artists to make the most of Twitter for developing your reputation and fan base. If you are not already using them, or are but are not sure how to make the most of them, there are some suggestions below. But first some key facts about Twitter lists.

Image how to get to your Twitter lists

Facts about Twitter lists

  1. You can have up to 1000 lists
  2. You can have up to 5000 users per list (but if you do that you are defeating the objective of the list)
  3. They can be public or private
  4. If you add someone to a public list they will be notified (this can be used to advantage)
  5. If you add someone to a private list they won’t know – you can use private lists for strategic purposes that you don’t want people to know about.
  6. You can subscribe to other people’s public lists and they will show in your list of lists
  7. Other people can subscribe to your public lists
  8. You can use other people’s lists as a source for following people
  9. You can have a list as a feed column in an app such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
  10. You don’t have to be following an account to add it to a list
  11. Lists are used for reading Tweets only. You cannot send or direct a Tweet to members of a list, for only those list members to see.
  12. You can mention a list @[username]/[list-name] (example: @dentonpotter11/mosaic-artists) This doesn’t work.
  13. List names cannot exceed 25 characters, nor can they begin with a number
  14. You can create a new list from the ‘add or remove from lists’ option
  15. To see lists that you are on, on your Lists page (desktop version), click on ‘Member of’.
  16. You can create a widget for your website or blog for all tweets from members of a twitter list (Settings > widgets > create new. Choose timeline source from user timeline, favourites, list, search, collection. If you have a blog you just need to create the widget and then insert the ID number into the provided Twitter widget – see instructions for more info.)
Alternative way to get to your lists
Alternative way to get to your lists

Lists that I find useful

I am assuming that you have some understanding that building your following on Twitter is a good idea. I think you want to be aiming to have at least 2-3000 as a minimum, but part of using Twitter as a promotional tool should be about steadily growing your following. For some tips how to do this see an earlier post on this blog. Below are some lists that I am using both on my own Twitter account and those that I manage for other people. The point of this activity is getting to know your followers and selectively filtering those who you can actively interact with. Keeping a record of people who really are appreciating your messages, rather than just skimming over them or ignoring them altogether, allows you to target what you are doing towards those key followers.

Favouriters – private. Every time I get a notification that someone has favourited one of my posts I add them to this list. You could make a distinction between favouriting generally or just favouriting posts that have examples of your work. However, be aware that people sometimes use favouriting simply to acknowledge they have seen something. Think of it as these are people who like your stuff so could be turned into buyers of your stuff, at the very least promoters of it. So it is useful to keep a list of them. Personalised messages to people on this list are likely to be retweeted.

Retweeters – private. As with favouriters, if someone retweets one of my messages, I add them to the list. Optionally you can have separate lists for people retweeting things that you have retweeted from other people and retweeting your own work.

Interacters – private. People who have made enquiries or commented on your work by sending @messages – as with favouriters but more so, they are engaged with you and you should nurture this relationship, keeping a list of them is a tool for that nurturing.

Multiple retweets/favs – private. This is a very important list. You could say these are your actual fans and you could turn them into people who interact regularly with you. Perhaps make some distinction between people who are massive habitual retweeters (some bots do this, some people act like bots) and those who seem to be genuinely retweeting because they like your work. If you find you are clicking the list option and they are already on the retweet or favourite list, then this is when you add them to the multiple retweets/favs list. After a while you will recognise your super fans and won’t need to check them.

Real life – private. People you have actually met. To allow you to be more personal and respond to things they tweet. Adding people you know in real life to a list allows you to filter to easily see what they have been posting about.

Buyers/Clients/Collectors – private. People who have bought your art in the past. Worth sending personalised @messages to them when you have new work or exhibitions. How do you know their Twitter handles? Ask them if they are on twitter and what their handle is when they buy from you. Ask them via email if you have that? It may be a small list to start with, but this is about building up a useful marketing tool. Having your buyers on a list allows you to get to know what kind of things they are tweeting about and how to communicate well with them.

Follow followers – private list. Influencers/gurus/people who have a lot of followers who are likely to be also interested in things that you do. You might add other artists to this list who do work similar in style or medium to your own, even if they don’t have a lot of followers, just because their ‘genuine’ followers may also like your stuff. Then when you are having a session of building up your followers you can go to this list and pick a member of it, look at their followers and pick out any to follow yourself with the view that they may follow you back.

How to add people to a list
How to add people to a list

Here are some other lists that may be useful for you. You can add people to these lists during sessions where you are looking at the followers of other people with the aim of attracting them to be your followers too, or by doing searches on particular topics.

Artists – could sub categorise this into similar type of art to yourself, artist you like or are influenced by.

Galleries – could sub categorise into those that might show your work and those that might have followers who could be interested in being your followers

Art magazines – may promote your work to their followers and may have interesting tweets to retweet to your followers.

Local press – may promote your work and any events/shows/exhibitions/courses you are involved in.

National press – less chance of promoting things but may be a source of retweets.

Influencers or some other title – for accounts that have things to say that you want to follow, but who are unlikely to follow you back (followers hugely exceeds following). Why? Because if you use the technique of following people in order for them to follow you back, eventually you will hit a Twitter limit where you wont be allowed to follow any more until you have got your followers number closer to your following number. So you will need to use a service, such as manageflitter or justunfollow, to unfollow those that are not following you back, and in that process you can easily lose this category of people. By having them in a list, you can chose to re-follow them or you can just watch the list without adding them to your following numbers.

Another way of adding or removing people from a list
Another way of adding or removing people from a list

General recommendation how to work

I believe that using Twitter on a laptop not on a phone is easier for strategic use of it as a marketing tool. Using on a phone is useful for when on the move, but has restrictions and is cumbersome for large scale tasks.

If someone favourites or retweets your work you should receive a notification. Click on their name or profile image and, if you are not already following them, do so (which will encourage them to move from being a favouriter to a follower). Then click on the cog icon, then choose from the menu ‘add or remove from lists‘ and click the tick box to add them to your favouriters and/or retweeters list. If they are already on those lists then they are a multiple retweeter/favouriter and need adding to that list. After a while if someone is regularly favouriting and retweeting your work then you will start to recognise them and won’t need to check. Then you can engage them more by sending them personalised messages with an image by way of thanks and encouragement. Or even have a conversation with them.

I have written this guidance in a very clipped form. If you have any questions or want any of the points expanded upon, please leave a comment and I will try to help.

Other reading about Twitter Lists

Here are some other posts about using Twitter lists, which I will add to if I find others that are useful. Although, I wrote this post because I couldn’t find anything that really gave tactics specifically for artists using Twitter.

Info on using Twitter lists from Twitter here:

How to Use Twitter Lists to Follow Thousands (and Appear Superhuman)

How to add yourself to your own Twitter lists

Twitter Lists are the New “Follow”

PS Twitter Analytics

Did you know you can see analytics on the performance of your tweets by going to and being logged on to your Twitter account?  When you first sign up there will be no data. You will need to return later to see the performance of your tweets. Once you have done this the first time you may get a menu item of Analytics or Twitter Ads showing in your list of options from your profile button on the right of your desktop or you may be pushed down the route of signing up for a Twitter Ads account. Things are changing all the time in this aspect. Don’t sign up for anything that you don’t want to and certainly don’t put in your credit card details unless you are thinking of paying for Twitter advertising. You may find bookmarking is a better way to get back to just view your data, rather than having to go into a Twitter Ads account.

PPS Email notifications

If you are doing a lot of activity on Twitter, you may find you receive too many email notifications. You can turn these off in your settings, email notifications ( I have them all turned off. But you may want to be selective and still for example have news updates from Twitter.