Launched to much fanfare towards at the end of October last year, the creation of new Twitter Lists and the use of existing ones seems to have ground to a halt from what we can see. Here are seven reasons and one sign that we think Lists are dying. First, of all…
Most Twitter users aren’t power users & don’t need Lists
Most people that use Twitter (and we’re talking most likely the vast majority) probably follow around 100 people, if that. When you only follow a small number of users, partitioning them out into Lists just seems to be a waste of time. Yes, Lists can be used to highlight experts in a field or put users into categories (lawyers, baseball players, etc.) but…
Following people in the main stream is easier than following a list
A new era of tech events has begun
We’re back in New York this November for the 4th edition of our growth-focused technology event.
If you find someone that you find interesting, what is the first impulse – to put them in a List or simply to just follow them? Yes, Twitter.com has an “add to a List” button, but without having all of the numbers, we highly suspect that most people follow people first and then add certain people to a List later (if they remember to do so). That said, we also suspect…
Everyone that wanted Lists has all the Lists they need already
The people (read: power users; see above) that were screaming for some kind of list or group functionality in Twitter before Lists were launched now have built all the Lists they can think of. They’ve categorized as many people as they know/follow, and since…
People discovery is disabled on Twitter, so if you can’t find people, you can’t put them in a List
For whatever technical reasons involved, Twitter just doesn’t seem to want to turn on what in our minds is an essential service, without which, finding people on Twitter (especially the kind of people you’d want to add to a List such as “doctors”) is difficult, though of course not impossible. For example, you could find people through your main stream, find them through other people’s Lists (a good use of the function) or through Twitter search.
So those are some of the reasons why more Lists aren’t being made, but another problem with Lists is that functionality around Lists really hasn’t evolved, either from Twitter itself or from third-party developers. For instance…
Still no way to direct a tweet only at members of a List
Twitter is a messaging platform – what good does a List do a user if they can’t target messages to and from that List? There are spam issues involved of course, and also Twitter wants every tweet to just be out there in the wild (although there are private accounts, which has always been a great feature and commitment of Twitter). The only way you can really message a whole bunch people that have the same interest is if they are all following the same hashtag, and that is spotty communication at best. Another example of how Lists aren’t really being considered a major feature of Twitter is that…
All Twitter clients don’t support Lists
This means that if you switch to an otherwise rocking Twitter client that doesn’t support Lists, Lists then become dead to you. We expect this to continue, because developers understand that…
It was never really a good idea to start with
This is really the heart of the problem. Twitter was receiving a lot of requests to add groups to Twitter, with the assumption that it would be integrated into the core of the messaging service, perhaps as group DMs or something similar. However, that never happened, and since power users (especially those that simply follow too many people) were starved for some kind of organization of their Twitter accounts, when Lists came out there was a frenzy of list making that has since – again, from our observations – trickled down to a grinding halt. Seriously, if Lists were still taking off and people using them nearly as religiously as they interact with their main timelines, then we wouldn’t be seeing this major road sign pointing to Lists dying:
If Twitter Lists were going strong, Listorious would be evolving as an app, but it’s not
This is one of the strongest indicators to us that List usage has dropped off dramatically since the weeks following its launch. Highly publicized (especially by Twitter itself) site Listorious is today what it basically was in November last year. Unless the people behind the site simply don’t care about this business (and Sawhorse Media runs the popular Shorty Awards, so we’re assuming they’re not only legit business people but that they have a pretty good grasp of the pulse of Twitter), if Lists were even going a stable clip, Sawhorse probably could have gotten plenty of cash to built mobile apps, upgrade the site, etc, but since they basically haven’t done anything major, we can only assume Lists are dead on the vine.
Read next: Now That Is Just Ironic