I've been on Twitter for two years and almost since day one, I've subscribed to the belief that the more people I followed, the more opportunities I would have to learn something. For the most part, that strategy worked until I got to the point where I was following 2000+ people. I was around that point that my Twitter stream got too busy for me to keep up and my strategy of following everyone started to devalue my Twitter experience. At that point I began forming lists in Tweet Deck, but even that didn't work the way I wanted it to (in part because I didn't have enough screen real estate to see all of my groups at once and in part because of some technical glitches with Tweet Deck groups this summer). Last month, Twitter introduced lists. Lists have made my Twitter experience better than it has been in months.
Twitter lists allow me to create small lists of Twitter users that fit into a specific niche that I've identified. For example, Larry Ferlazzo and Kevin Jarrett are in my "ed-tech-guru" list while Alec Couros is in my "ed-thought-leaders" list. I've purposely kept these lists short so that I can quickly find out what the people in those lists are sharing. Now when I login to Twitter (actually, I rarely log out) I can view my mainstream of 3700+ people I'm following without worry that I've missed something from one of the people that I've come to count on over the last two years. Twitter lists have enabled me to start following more people again.
Some people, like Chris Brogan, think that Twitter lists are too "exclusive." I view Twitter lists like RSS feeds. You may subscribe to hundreds of feeds, but there are always a group of feeds that you read first.
If you find yourself not getting enough value out of Twitter, try creating a list or simply subscribing to an existing list made by someone you trust. The image below includes directions for making a Twitter list.
If you're looking for ways to authentically expand your personal learning network on Twitter, check out my Two Guides for Constructing a PLN.