Some of the more common phrases expressed by advisors when Twitter comes up in a conversation are "useless," "completely pointless," and "a waste of time." But a new feature released last week is poised to increase the social networking site's utility to even the most casual of users.
The latest feature rolled out on Twitter is "Lists." Lists are used to categorize Twitter users into meaningful groups, and lists can be public or private.
Previously, Twitter users relied on desktop or web-based clients (e.g. TweetDeck, HootSuite, etc.) to assign Twitter "follows" (accounts selected to view) into groups or categories of users. Grouping follows drastically increases the signal to noise ratio of the networking platform by segregating messages by meaningful categories.
Lists opens up a new way of identifying influential people based on the Lists in which they are included. Let's take a look at the Lists to which Andrew Gluck belongs (I considered offering my own account as an example, but I don't want to end up in a "self-promoter" list):
Very quickly we can ascertain that Andrew Gluck is involved in financial services, with a hint of technology and industry insight characteristics (but we already knew that). Still, names and labels assigned to Lists by other users offer independent insight as to the value of list members' messages.
In the days before Lists, users had to search Twitter profiles containing certain keywords or use the "following" or "followers" listings, showing 20 people at a time.
From now on, Lists essentially opens up a community rating system on Twitter, a la Amazon.com reviews (only without all the rambling text). So if there's ever a doubt on whether or not a user should be followed, a quick review of the Lists should reveal what others think.
Remember, if you're concerned about compliance and the use Twitter, don't post any messages on the platform. You can still create an account and follow other users to gain insight on current events and newsworthy items they post. But once you start posting messages of your own, they most likely will be considered as advertising by aggressive FINRA and/or SEC examiners, requiring you to follow compliance requirements for advertising.