Twitter's "Listed" Stat: Is It a Measure of Influence?

twitter-logoTwitter Lists appeared last Friday, right before the weekend when many people tend to take a break from their computers. But that didn’t stop plenty of us from playing with the new feature and creating our Lists.

Based on the tweets I’ve seen, and some early posts on the topic, some are already wondering if Lists will lead to competitiveness or a way to “judge influence.” A.J. Kohn of Blind Five Year Old believes that Twitter promotes competitiveness and comparison by including “listed” as one of the three big metrics on each profile page, right after “following” and “followers.” Similarly, Chris Brogan believes Lists promote exclusion, rather than inclusion.

I believe it would serve Twitter users better to leave that off, or at least only make it visible to the user and no one else. Come on, admit it. When you see someone with a “listed” number of over 100 and yours is only 20, it evokes not-so-happy feelings. Lists are supposed to help us better organize our data for easier information retrieval, not to create a popularity contest or stroke egos.

Do Twitter Lists Identify Influencers?

By now, most of you know that having thousands of followers doesn’t automatically mean you’re a celebrity or authority. “A Twitter account with 100 engaged followers is much more influential than one followed by thousands of disengaged users,” writes Todd Zeigler in Bivings Report. “I would argue that getting added to a list is a bigger deal than simply getting someone to follow you.”

I disagree with the latter statement. First, some of us follow hundreds or thousands of people. It’ll take time for us to sort them into our Lists. Second, people create Lists for different reasons. Sure, some will create Lists to identify their favorite tweeters and thought leaders. But many more — from what I see so far — create Lists based on topics.┬áThird, it works two ways. You can add someone to a list without following them back, and you can follow someone without listing them.

Stop Studying the Numbers

Not so long ago, people put a high value on the number of followers a person had on Twitter. Since then, most of us figured out that a person can artificially boost that number without being an authority or influencer.

Lists are new to all of us. Obviously, people with loads of followers tend to have a higher number for “listed.” Like Kohn, I think Twitter didn’t do us a favor of adding the “listed” number because it takes the attention away from better information management and sharing and moves the focus toward popularity.

An obsession over the number of followers does you no good. They might not be listening to you. Instead, focus on joining conversations, listening to others, sharing valuable resources and helping each other. Make Twitter work for you — your way.

What do you think of Twitter Lists so far?

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