Tag Archives: Lists

How to follow a Twitter list

We all know how well Twitter lets us keep up with friends and family, but did you know how useful Twitter is for news? Twitter lets users organize the people and organizations they follow into lists. These lists can then be used to create topic-specific news feeds. The @genBUZZ user offers several genealogy-related lists providing a sort of genealogy version of the Associated Press. The @genBUZZ lists let you follow (keep up with) specific topics that match your interests. For example, there’s a list for archives, another for old photographs and another for society news.

This is all well and good, but just how do you keep up with the topic of your choice? To do that you need to know how to follow a list.

View the list page of any Twitter user.

If you know the username for a person or organization, you can easily visit their list page using this URL: https://twitter.com/[username]/lists. So, https://twitter.com/genbuzz/lists will display the page you see above. Scroll through the lists and when you see one you find interesting, click on the list title to display its page.

From here you can see samples of the tweets being feed by this list as well as the Twitter users who make up the list. If this is a list you want to follow, just click on the Subscribe button and it’s added to your Twitter feed. You don’t have to follow a Twitter account to follow one or more of its lists.

While you can “read” the list in your favorite web-based twitter app, there’s a growing number of mobile device apps which will turn that 140 character tweet into a delightful reading experience. Probably the best of these is Flipboard [iOS & Android - free]. It supports Twitter lists as well as searches.  Once you have followed a list in your Twitter account, it appears in Flipboard under Accounts > Twitter > Lists You Follow. All you have to do is tap the list name to add it as a Flipboard content section.

A Genealogy Reading List

My love affair with Twitter continues as I find even more ways to put this deceptively simple service to use. Today it’s the reading list. The iPad is being tested at work and recently I was tasked with building a news service for our new iPad users. My first thought was to create a Twitter account and use it to find and tweet links to news articles from various sources. They could then follow that account on Flipboard and have the news they need on a beautiful, yet efficient, reading platform. While looking for useful Twitter accounts to follow, I stumbled onto one who had already created the ultimate reading service – using Twitter lists. It was a beautiful thing to see and, unlike the curated account I was planning, much easier to maintain. So, taking what I learned there, I’m building a genealogy reading list using Twitter lists.

Some of you may have noticed a genBUZZ Twitter account recently added as a follower. If you look at the account, you might think it’s a spammer. I created this account some time ago for a project that fizzled. As a result, I forgot I had it. I stumbled on it again and saw it was being abused (Twitter abuse – who knew?) so I quickly changed the password to stop that. At about the same time I had my Twitter reading list epiphany and decided this would be the perfect account for a genealogy reading list. So here we are in the construction phase of The Ultimate Genealogy Reader.

Step number one is complete. I’ve created several Twitter lists. There is the all-encompassing Genealogy list and several niche lists like Cemeteries, Research Techniques, The Archives and, of course, GeneaBloggers. Now I’m in the process of finding and following genealogy tweeple and adding them to the appropriate lists. I’m sure this will be an on-going process (more on that later).

Here is an example of the genBUZZ Genealogy list in its early stages as it appears in the Flipboard reader.

Genealogy Reading List on Flipboard

To follow a list, you first need to find them. Use Twitter’s search feature to look for topics that interest you – like “genealogy” – then follow interesting tweets to the submitter’s page on Twitter. The Lists command is visible on their page (even if you aren’t following their account) and when you click on it, a list of their lists is displayed.

Finding Lists

Following is a simple process. Select a list to display it and you’ll see a Follow this list button prominently displayed. Once again, you don’t have to be following the account to follow the list.

Following a List

When you follow a list, you will receive the tweets from every member of that list. If you’re already following someone who’s also a member of a list you are following, you won’t get duplicate tweets from that person. Even if you don’t have access to a reader like Flipboard, using lists in your preferred Twitter client gives you broader access to a growing number genealogy and news resources.

Now that you know what I’m up to, here’s what you can do to help. First – and most important – if you are blogging, make sure you are announcing each post on Twitter. [Find how-to help here.] You can follow @genBUZZ, then direct message me to include you on the list. If you have recommendations for niche categories, I’d like to hear them. Right now it’s all an experiment so things will be arranged and re-arranged until we find a nice comfort point. Even then it will always be changing as sources come and go.

I’m excited about this project. A growing number of developers are putting Twitter to work developing all kinds of interesting apps. I am looking forward to seeing more apps like Flipboard created for all platforms so everyone has access to a pleasant reading experience. As these apps come online, we genea-tweeple will be ready with a comprehensive list of great reading resources.

Happy Tweeting!



Christmas Cards in a Facebook World

At 500 million and growing, there’s a good chance that many of your friends and family are on Facebook. We’re finding it’s a delightful way to keep up with each other, share photos and organize events. I love the birthday celebrations with all the notes and cards posted there.

October and its cooler weather always gets me thinking about Christmas. This year, I’m thinking about sending most my Christmas cards via Facebook. I’ve already got friends and family organized using Facebook lists so there’s my mailing list all set. If time and energy allow, I may even create different cards for different lists.

Speaking of cards, several of the eCard companies (I’m a Hallmark subscriber) are set up to send their cards to Facebook. Hallmark offers both sending to a specific individual as a private message and posting as an update for all to see. You can also build cards online in Scrapblog – like the one you see here.

Scrapblog card

I’ve been sending digital Christmas cards for several years now and with most of my family now on Facebook, I’m looking at it as my delivery platform. Going this route gives me a lot more flexibility regarding what I can do with my “card”. With normal email delivery, I’m limited to a graphic image inside the message or providing a link to some kind of video sharing service, but with Facebook I can create a video greeting and it’s right there in Facebook for all (or some) to see.

Thanks to Facebook lists, I can target different greetings to different people. The card I send to family members can be different than the one I send my friends.

Creating a list is easy. Go to your Friends page – the page that displays everybody you’ve friended – and you’ll notice a Create a List button at the top of the page. Click on it to display the Create New List pane. Give your list a name – something easy to remember like “Christmas” – and start selecting people you want to add to this list. Click the Create List button and you’re done. Once a list has been created, you’ll see it listed under Friends in the left sidebar. You can return to it at any time and add/remove people. You’ll also notice a little drop-down arrow on new friend requests where you can assign that person to a list when you accept their request.

That’s all there is to building and managing lists, now let’s put them to work. Once your digital Christmas card is ready to go, upload it to Facebook (digital image or video), Slideshare, YouTube or whatever platform you’re using, then copy the web address you’ll need to share it at Facebook. Now, in Facebook, create a direct message and attach the link to your Christmas card, add any message you want to include and address it to the list. All you have to do is enter your list name and Facebook will send it to everyone on that list.

Take another look at how photos and videos show up in your Facebook message box and news feeds. It’s a lot more pleasing than the automated email telling you there’s a card waiting for you wherever. And, with Facebook lists, managing your Christmas card list just got a lot easier too!

Stay tuned, I’ve got lots of Christmas card ideas coming up soon.