How to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool


To-do list book.
Image by koalazymonkey via Flickr

We’ve posted before about why Twitter lists are great and some of the uses that can be made with them. Over the last few weeks since they were launched to all users, we have been experimenting with them at FreshNetworks and with our clients. One clear and valuable use for them has become clear - as a free social media monitoring tool. Here’s a guide to how you can use Twitter Lists in this way.

Twitter Lists for social media monitoring

Social media monitoring is the best way for brands to understand who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. They can analyse the sentiment expressed (are people broadly positive or negative to them) and identify individuals who are promoters or detractors of a brand. Whilst it may not be appropriate to react or respond to their posts, monitoring these people can be a useful exercise. Knowing what your promoters are saying about you and where, and tracking the sentiment of detractors. Are they becoming more positive to your brand or more negative. Who are they talking to and influencing, and what are they saying.

So it’s important that when you identify Detractors, you have a mechanism for keeping track of what they are saying online. This is where Twitter Lists come in useful.

Twitter Lists can make it very easy to group your Promoters and Detractors and have an easy and accessible source to find out what they are saying online. Putting all of your Detractors in a List means that they are in one place. When you find a new Detractor online you can put them in this List, and if somebody stops being a Detractor you can move them from it.

This use of Twitter Lists is effective for two reasons:

  1. As a brand, you can put somebody into a List without having to be following them. If you have an powerful Detractor online, you may not want to follow them from your branded Twitter account, but you may want to keep track of what they say.
  2. Twitter Lists can be private. You probably wouldn’t want a list of your brand’s biggest Detractors to be shared online. All the people who hate you most in one convenient list. Because Twitter Lists can be made private, you can mitigate the risk of people finding this. You know and can monitor who they are, without sharing this information with other people.

So Twitter Lists can be a great, and free, social media monitoring tool. Identify the people who love or hate your brand most, or who write about your brand most online and then put them into Lists. Have a List of Detractors, a List of Promoters and a List of Ones to Watch. Make these Lists private and, if you don’t want to, don’t even follow the people you put into the List.

Then track what they say. Follow the List, read the comments and learn on a daily basis what your Promoters and Detractors think and say about you. Easy! The hard work begins when you try to change opinions or harness those who are positive about your brand.


For social media agency support get in touch or follow us on Twitter.


  1. How to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool …:

    [...] Read More Here… Share and Enjoy: [...]

  2. Paul L'Acosta:

    Nice post Matt. Lists have become so much more than just another way to group people and your alternative could really payoff for businesses. If only they knew how to answer… -Paul

  3. Joseph Fiore:

    I agree with Paul. It seems each day we uncover a hidden gem using Twitter, and the list feature seems to just add to the fun of mew discoveries. They can be used to track a much anticipated announcement, update, event. And as this post illustrates, Twitter helps us keep our friends close, and critics even closer.


  4. Joseph Fiore:

    While I wouldn’t exclude discoveries of a feline variety, I actually meant to type “new” :)

  5. Nigel:

    Interested to hear your thoughts on lists being used negatively… if someone puts you or your business in a list with a negative name, there’s nothing you can do about it…

    Maybe this kind of thing would be self policing? But it could do quite a bit of damage…

  6. Louis Halpern:

    Whilst I’m a twitter addict I think it’s inserting that Twitter is now (with lists etc.) clawing back the traffic from 3rd party apps. What will happen when their investors say they have to produce money from their users….

  7. THINKing » Using Twitter Lists:

    [...] 2. Social media monitoring. There’s a good piece on this at Fresh Networks‘ blog. [...]

  8. FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in November | Social media agency London | FreshNetworks blog:

    [...] 2. How to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool [...]