Monday, November 02, 2009

Why and How: Local Twitter Lists

If you don't live in a metro area, social media community building can be daunting. Last year, I organized a charity tweetup in my medium-sized town and thought that at least several Twitter contacts were confirmed. It turned out as a small crowd of me and my best pal from up the street. Now, there are many other posts to be written about successful tweetups, and perhaps I'm not the one to write them.
But I do have one action-oriented tool I wish had been there last year: location-based Twitter Lists.
In fact, I also wish I'd had this tool, or had created something like it, when I recently ran for U.S. Congress in a far-flung district of medium-sized towns. See, I believe that community building among social media users in a geographic area has great potential for businesses, activists and government. Twitter Lists are far better than Facebook's location-based groups for this, because, unlike Facebook groups and friend lists, they are easy to share and manage and require no immediate buy in from the folks you're listing.
I've got plenty of ideas on how to effectively use local Lists, and I hope you'll share yours as well.
So, on to building them.
Pretty soon, there will be tools to automate this (and as soon as you build one, please let me know), however, getting ahead of the curve is what helps set you apart in the social media world. Be the first to build a valuable list and folks will notice. If you're already in a big metro area, this is a no-brainer. The guidance here is for folks in the Twitter wastlelands. First, decide what towns you want to have in your list. Create a placeholder Twitter account for each one. Also create a List for each. Use the Google-powered LocalFollow.com - which I expect to make this much easier very soon - to search out and bulk follow users in each town from its own Twitter account. Then add them to your town-specific list. Repeat for each of your towns, then create a new list for the region and add all your town-listed folks to this one. Ta-da, you've got micro- and macro-targeted lists to build community within. And hopefully your first tweetup or Congressional race goes better than mine!

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of Gov 2.0 Radio.

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