I used to follow you.
If we met at a cocktail reception and I thought we clicked, I followed you. If we sat next to each other at a conference, or if you were a panelist on stage, I followed you. If someone I previously followed retweeted you a lot, I followed you. If I subscribed to your blog or liked your Facebook updates, I followed you on Twitter, too.
Over time, your updates–however insightful, meaningless, or sublime–melded with other people’s updates until I saw dozens, hundreds, thousands in a given hour and I lost track. By increasing the multitude of people and organizations I opted to follow on Twitter, you shifted from a name to a number to a lost tweet.
You don’t deserve to be lost. You don’t deserve to be one of many. After a lengthy telephone conversation the other day with Sid Burgess–spawned from numerous blog posts I’d previously read about the new Twitter List feature–I decided to prune everyone I followed.
I’m still following you but my Twitter name may not appear in the sea of names who follow you.
Here’s a list of tweets from marketing and communications professionals I am following on Twitter:
Despite following 94 names in the /ariherzog/comm list (which you can follow, too, by clicking the above image and then the appropriate link there), my name will only appear in the “followers” list of some 12 or 13 users, such as Dirk Singer, Thierry de Baillon, Des Walsh, Rachel Kay, and Lawrence Liu.
In other words, while I’m following 94 names on a manually-created targeted list, I’m only seeing about a dozen of those names in my real-time updated stream. The rest I need to click a link on twitter.com to see.
Twitter Lists, therefore, improve my user experience and make my online time more productive. Sid wanted Twitter to be less about following conversations and more about enhancing his daily life. By following less people in the stream and more people in lists, I am slowly perceiving Twitter less as a distraction and using it more as the tool it was built to be.