Twitter can be overwhelming at times. Each time you log in you are confronted with an endless stream of tweets that shoot to the top of your timeline faster than you can read them.
As a PR pro, you know you should use Twitter to engage with people, but the prospect of finding a relevant conversation among the noise can be daunting.
Today I’m going to explain how you can use Twitter lists to organize incoming tweets and engage with the people who can directly impact your PR programs.
What are Twitter lists?
Twitter lists are curated groups of Twitter users that you can create to group similar users together. Twitter lists also allow you to only see tweets from those groups.
For example, I have a list of social media blogs and bloggers where I’ve grouped all my favorite writers and the publications they write for. I can easily access these writers’ tweets when I’m looking for great content to share on my Twitter feed.
You can choose to make your Twitter lists public or private, depending on whether you want anyone else to see them. Public lists are great if you want to recognize the people on your list for being superstars — they can see that you’ve added them to the list — or allow others to subscribe to receive tweets from the people you’ve included.
Private lists are better if you don’t want your competitors to access the information (customers or media friends, for example).
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Twitter list ideas to get you started
1. Media friends
Go to your recent press mentions and add each journalist’s Twitter handle to a media friends list. This will help you maintain your existing relationships with journalists who have covered your business. Assuming their beats are related to the article they wrote about you, they should have plenty of content you can comment on and share with your audience.
Maintaining relationships with journalists can keep you top of mind when they need a subject matter expert to weigh in on an article, or when you have a story you’d like to share with them.
2. Industry journalists
Do a search on your competitors’ recent press mentions, and add those journalists to a separate list. Again, these journalists should have plenty of relevant content you can engage with and share with your followers. This can help you build a relationship with a journalist you haven’t met yet.
You may want to break this group into several lists, perhaps by geography, beat or past interaction (for example, media friends from list No. 1).
You may also want to create a list for a story you’d like to pitch in the future, like an IPO. Target journalists who have covered IPOs in your industry. By starting relationships with them on Twitter, they may be more inclined to consider your pitch. Just make sure you add value for these journalists, and that you start building these relationships well ahead of time.
3. Industry bloggers
These days, anyone can be a publisher. And you can benefit from treating these bloggers like journalists — they can give your stories targeted coverage.
As with industry journalists, you may want to break this group into more specific lists, such as the topics they write about, who speaks at events, where they’re located, etc. This will help you keep your content stream focused, which will make it easier for you to interact with people.
Now that you have Twitter lists, what do you do with them?
Engagement is the name of the game. Check your Twitter lists regularly to respond to tweets and retweet updates to your followers. Stay on the lookout for journalists and bloggers asking for subject matter expertise; this will help you position yourself as the go-to person when they need more information for a story.
Above all else, make sure you add value for the journalists and bloggers — extend their content’s reach or provide sources for their articles — to build and maintain meaningful online relationships that can be mutually beneficial for years to come.
When she’s not doing marketing at Meltwater, you can find Jen Picard snowboarding in Tahoe, traveling abroad, or enjoying a night in with friends and a good bottle of wine. Follow her on Twitter, connect to her on LinkedIn and circle her on Google Plus. A version of this article originally appeared on the Meltwater PR blog.