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Friday, 6 November 2009

The rebirth of Twitter as a social utility

At the end of last week Twitter launched lists. Lists allow registrants to create or follow lists of Twitter users that are useful or interesting to them in a more segmented way and without necessarily having to follow those individuals.

In one very carefully calculated move Twitter has managed to filter the noise incredibly successfully. The idea was jumped upon by the early adopters and by Monday morning there were over 6.5 million lists created.

The move by Twitter coincided with the first major newsworthy celebrity defection (or so everyone thought), followed by announcements by sports teams and the entertainment industry that they were asking their stars to either pull out of using the platform or limit their interaction to conversations outside their core job.It would appear that Twitter is moving away from being a media fuelled celeb filled vanity vehicle, towards being a more powerful social utility. It's a method of linking, connecting, researching and discovering, which has always been there, but had been run over by the media bandwagon driven by Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and the like.

The move hasn't been without its critics some have said that Twitter should have concentrated more on its core functionality before launching lists. Others (and very influential others) have argued that lists actually exclude those that are not yet power users and therefore hampers potential mass adoption. This is an argument that simply didn't wash with Robert Scoble who argued that social media isn't always about one big love in, but actually sometimes needs to be filtered so that users can find the conversations they are most interested in.

Despite these arguments lists have been siezed upon as a tool by organisations who wish to aggregate content more effectively, notably news organisations which have started to filter and segment vigorously. We're at the peak of the hype cycle with lists at present, but frankly the trough of disillusionment isn't going to be very deep. Twitter has definitely taken a giant leap forward in its battle with its competitors and by all accounts it's not finished yet.

If you're not following lists yet we have a few suggestions for you:

The Teamspirit team
Interesting Financial Services commentary
A list of IFAs that Tweet
Most popular Twitter lists

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

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