This column started with a question from a colleague who was looking for a way to create a customized news feed on Facebook – like a Twitter list, he said, where it was possible to see all the posts from a certain subset of people.
Not only is it possible, it’s easy, useful and fun. Yet for some reason – and I’m pretty sure I know what it is – Facebook doesn’t publicize this much. You see, Facebook wants you to digest everything from the news feed, which contains everything your friends are sharing and the ads that go with it. With Interest Lists, Facebook’s version of Twitter lists, you can bypass all the noise and look at a very specific list curated and maintained by you. So if you wanted an Interest List that contained just my posts (thank you!) and your favorite brand of ice cream, you could do that. Or an Interest List with the top 100 restaurants in the city where you live – you can do that too. There’s no waiting for the content to pop into your news feed, just click on your Interest List and whoomp! (There it is.)
Now let’s create your own. Remember when I said it was easy? Here are the steps to create your own Interest List. (Start at Facebook.com – it’s much more intuitive on the desktop version.)
In the left panel, scroll all the way down to Interests. Hover over Interests, and then click More.
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Click Add Interest, then Create List.
Here is where you'll choose and search for the people and pages you want to add. You can mix people and pages, and you don’t even have to be friends or like the page. If you need help choosing, there are categories.
Click Next. Here’s where you'll choose a name for your list and then set the privacy setting. Your Interest List can be Public or for friends only. And, if you want to create something that’s just for you, you can choose private Only Me. This keeps the content secret and off your page. And while your mind may go someplace less than wholesome when reading that, it shouldn’t. I think a great application for the Only Me Interest List is a holiday or birthday gift wish list.
Click Done, and you’re done. Now if you want people to follow your list, just send them the URL.
I told you it was easy. And if you need to make changes down the road, that’s easy too. Simply scroll down to Interests again as you did previously, hover and click More. Then, click on the name of the list and click Manage List at the top of the page. Here you can choose to rename the list, edit the people and pages on the list, change the notification settings or delete the list entirely.
After I explained this to my colleague, he emailed me back with the six words every social media editor likes to hear: “You have changed my life! Thanks!”
I completely understand the reaction. I remember when I created my first Interest List. I’ve had quite a few over the years, and some have been more memorable than others. I kept a robust one with more than 150 sources during Hurricane Sandy’s ravaging of the East Coast. And the gift wish list I mentioned previously? I’ve done that too, however I’ve since switched to Pinterest’s secret boards for that.