Making Twitter work better for you


Has your Twitter account grown like topsy? Are you having difficulty cutting through the noise? Ryan Arnold has three top tips on how to make Twitter more useful to you.


Having a Twitter account has always been an accumulative process. You start with no followers and an empty news feed, and then you begin to fill it. A person here, a company there, each addition an attempt to build a better Twitter feed. But overtime, the opposite can occur. Your feed can become less relevant and increasingly noisy with each additional follow.

But while we all try to “build” a better feed by adding quantity, we often neglect to focus our attention on the quality of whom we follow and the necessity of reducing the number of people or organisations we are following. Three simple steps can not only prevent you from being overloaded, but also improve your user experience and enjoyment of Twitter.


1. Define what your objectives are

While having an objective for a social media account sounds a bit stodgy, it can help you get the most out of your Twitter experience. Platforms like Facebook have a loose, but inherent objective built in – to connect and share with others you already know. Twitter’s experience on the other hand relies much more on building connections with people you’ve most likely never met.

This difference often leaves people scratching their head on who to add. The hope always is, that if you add more, you will get more value in return from the platform. But Twitter is not about the quantity of who you follow, it is about quality and personal relevance to what you’re looking for. This is where an objective can help.

In the end, your objective can be as professional or relaxed as you wish, but it’s a good idea to ask yourself who it is you want to follow and why. Are you after insight into a specific industry? Building a stronger online professional presence? Making new local connections? Finding your dream job? Or perhaps you just want to follow your favorite celebrities. All are perfectly valid objectives.

As intuitive as it sounds, taking a few moments to define your objective allows you to evaluate if accounts you’re following and the tweets you’re sending are contributing to that objective. Once you’ve defined how you personally define “quality”, you can then move on to the right size of quantity for you.


2. Decide what (and who) really interests you

While Twitter can be a powerful tool for receiving lots of great information, from a whole range of sources, there is only so much information that a person can meaningfully digest in any given day. Overloading your feed is ultimately counterproductive to your Twitter experience.

One of the best things you can do to make Twitter not only more enjoyable but more efficient is to do a routine inventory of which accounts you are currently following, and if they are still interesting to you. With the Twitter follow button built into many websites and attached to anything or anyone interesting online, it can be easy to overload your feed by following too many people, only to later realise that they may not be worth following after all.

If you haven’t done an inventory like this before, you will be surprised how many followed accounts you don’t recognise, have ceased to be active, or are just no longer interesting to you. If you’re on the fence about unfollowing someone, a good rule of thumb is to read through their last page of tweets and see if you feel they’re adding value to your feed, or contributing to your objective. If not, it’s time to let them go.

Finally, if you’re feeling you just can’t live in the black and white world of either following or unfollowing people, there is a third trick you can use to keep the functionality of following accounts without having them in your main feed. It is utilising Twitter lists.


3. Decide who is worth following and who is worth listing

One of the most underutilized tools that Twitter provides for organising your Twitter feed is the ability to put accounts into Twitter lists. A list is just like creating a separate Twitter feed, but with more specific topics. For personal organisation, this helps in two ways.

First, building lists is a good way to organise your interests into a more coherent, separate feeds for reading. Your Twitter feed represents all of your interests, and at times mentally jumping back and forth between topics in one main feed can be a little wearing.

Instead, bundle your separate interests together so you can read one broad topic at a time. Creating and maintaining lists of your interests also has the nice side effect of preventing you from following odd topic accounts. If it doesn’t fit into any of your lists, is this really an account you want to start following?

The second thing that creating a list does is allow you to pick which accounts you want to see in your main feed and which may be less relevant but still worth keeping an eye on. This is because you can add accounts to your lists without following them in your main feed.

Use lists to keep track of your interests and instead of following someone in your main feed, test them as a trial on a list. If you notice they are providing consistently great content you don’t want miss, then follow them and add them to your main feed. That way you can isolate the really great accounts you always want to read from the others that some days you can do without but you don’t want to eliminate completely.

Using these three steps will help you reconfigure your Twitter feed into what it was always meant to be: easy, efficient, and personal. Take the time to use these tips and tend to your feed and you will not only find using your Twitter account is more useful, but also more fun.


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Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...