I’m a huge Twitter list user. Mainly, I keep private lists to monitor conversations from groups of people I want to network with or learn from. Lately, I’ve been unable to create or edit my lists! Sometimes I’ll get a “This user does not exist” error when trying to add a user to a list. Other times, the edits I make to my lists simply won’t save.
Naturally, the support team at Twitter is aware of the problem, as so many users have been asking for help:
Search on Twitter is useful for watching hashtags or brand mentions, but advanced search features let you treat search queries as boolean expressions. Boolean expressions are commonly used in programming languages. Think of them as the true/false questions on your old high school tests. In order for one of those true/false statements to be true, all of the conditions had to be true:
“Austin is the capital of Texas, home to the annual music festival South By Southwest, and a safe harbor for 1,000 Martian ambassadors” evaluates to false, even if 2/3 of it are true. (I won’t reveal which 2/3.)
Twitter searches work the same way. You can build multiple conditions into a query, and dictate how many of those conditions need to evaluate to “TRUE” in order for Twitter to populate a tweet that meets the conditions in your search results.
SOLVING THE TWITTER LIST PROBLEM
You can duplicate a lot of the Twitter list functionality using advanced search. You won’t be able to share these list-like-queries, and Twitter users you add won’t be notified that they’ve been added to a Twitter list. But, you can still access these list-like-queries anytime by saving your search, or opening the queries as columns on your TweetDeck, HootSuite, or third-party app of your choice.
- Use the “from:” advanced feature to specify which twitter user you’d like to add to your list by typing “from:username” into your query.
- Append additional members of your list-like-query by adding ” OR ” (spaces on either side) followed by another “from:username.”
- Keep adding members to your faux Twitter List as you see fit.
I’ve been reading Andrew Chen’s thoughts on Growth Hackers, and wanted to make a list of the Growth Hackers he acknowledges. Naturally, I got the typical Twitter list error messages, so I built a list-like-query:
from:deekay OR fro:mike_greenfield OR from:mickbirch OR from:iviko OR from:dzohrob OR from:blader OR from:yeeguy OR from:eshmu OR from:aatif_awan OR from:ibringtraffic OR from:gregtseng OR from:othman OR from:jkatzman OR from:gustaf
These kinds of queries also allow you to do things Twitter lists can’t like monitor tweets from specific people and terms. If I wanted to, I could add “OR ‘growth hacker’ OR #growthhacker OR growthhacker” to the end of the query to return the results of anyone talking about this topic.
Advanced searching is an art. To learn more about the types of queries Twitter search supports, visit the How to Use Advanced Twitter Search page.