Social Media ‘A-Lists’

I’ve been thinking lately about our ability to filter down social media messaging, and the process of building ‘A-lists’. Not a list of popular people in social media, but rather, a personal ‘A-List’ — your inner circle. The goal being closer tracking of the people that you get the most value from.

One of the biggest drawbacks of engaging these tools is the raw number of follow requests. It’s almost impossible, for example, to keep track of hundreds (or thousands) of followers on twitter without using tweetdeck or another tool to group your contacts. Filtering follow lists like this, remains one of the better techniques available and one that most long-term users eventually employ.

Another option is to use a separate tool entirely. I’ve been enjoying my friendfeed account more lately, mostly because I’ve kept a tight filter on contacts – tracking content for those people I’ve worked with or have a strong history of web-interaction with.

And yet another option, is to route social media feeds into an RSS filtering tool (Pipes, feedrinse), and then into a personal feed reader. This involves a fair amount of work, but the final results are far more precise. That time invested can also save small amounts of time on a daily basis.

Now let me open the floor… Does having an inner circle hold any value to you? Do you have a preferred strategy for grouping contacts?


  1. So far I haven’t done anything “scientific” or methodical, but am getting to the point where I should.

    Right now I run Google Alerts–for general websites, Google News, and Google Blog Search–for those people I want to keep tabs on. Right now I have it feeding to me as emails, but these could be set up as RSS feeds and filtered further.

  2. I’ve come up with a “groups” system in Tweetdeck that works really well for me. I have one column for everyone, another for people I know in real life, and one for local people. Then I have search columns for terms or hashtags I’m interested in. The “everyone” column I keep half an eye on (jump in the river, jump out), but the other two I read more carefully.

  3. There are lots of ways to group. One of my favorite ways to group is by people I have actually met face-to-face.

    Sorry that you do not currently make that list. (We need to change that.)

  4. Why not connect with/follow ONLY your A-List; each service automatically generates your B-List (ie your A-Lists’ A-Lists). That’s how SNEs work!

    Of course your approach to who’s on your A-List is going to be different for different services, but my point is that it pays to be selective in whom you connect to/follow. I just don’t get the benefit of having several hundred connections on LinkedIn or following several hundred on Twitter. You generate noise for yourself and for others who connect to you and you then have to … ahem … filter that out.

    Even Kevin O’Keefe is weeding out his follow list!

  5. It may be a harsh approach, but I just keep whittling down my Follow list. I follow about 300 people right now, which is still about 100 more than I’d necessarily prefer, and that’s just about the limit for me to get value from the resulting information stream. I suspect that if I grouped the people I follow into A-lists, B-lists, etc., I’d only ever look at the A-list anyway. As Clay Shirky said, it’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.

  6. My method is totally unscientific and based on the amount of information I can reasonably process. For Twitter I have an under 50 rule…I will not follow more than 50 people. By following people who are trustworthy reproducers, I am made aware of their exceptional bits of info through retweets. If my intuition tells me something is missing from the information picture, I search.

    For news feeds. I have a time limit. If I can’t get through my feeds in 40 minutes, keeping in mind that I monitor things for others, I take a hard look at the list and eliminate.

    Its all about productivity.