Turning inner space into outer space

July 12, 2014

Use lists to get around Twitter's follow limit of 2,000

Twitter's fail whale

Today I learned that not only does Twitter have a limit on how many accounts you can follow — it’s 2,000 — but also that Steve Buttry considers this to be an annoying limitation on the ability of journalists to do their jobs.

And it’s not just him. A post he wrote on the subject a year ago continues to receive dozens of readers a day:

That post is now my second most-read post, with more than 19,000 views. Day after day, nearly a hundred people come to my post, invariably from Google, looking for help with Twitter’s follower limit (97 came on Thursday, 83 on Friday).

I’ve come across people on Twitter who follow over a thousand other accounts, and have marvelled at their ability to do so. How do they keep up? Is it even possible?

Buttry’s solution — curated lists — is one I’ve used myself. You create lists based on various subjects and add Twitter accounts to them. It helps get you organized and reduces the number of accounts you need to keep on top of. Some lists will be more worthy of your attention than others. In fact, you might even want to organize them in terms of priority.

You don’t really need to follow someone unless you hope they will follow you back so you can establish a relationship with them. While it’s useful to create dialogue with community leaders via Twitter, it’s incomprehensible that you could keep track of thousands of them.

In fact, by using lists, you could drastically cut the number of accounts you follow to colleagues and regular sources. Why would you need to follow, say, a columnist, when all you really want are updates on what he’s writing?

I’ve got a public list called Media. Feel free to check it out for inspiration and maybe subscribe. And here are instructions on how to create your own Twitter list.