People in ministry are busy people. We have work to do. Ministries to run; people needing us and more to fill our days than there are hours in the day. The last thing we need is some new social networking something after we’ve been Linkedin and Facebooked and whatever else somebody said we had to try. Then along comes Twitter, which seemed like the most useless of all. If you thought those thoughts, as I did, here are four reasons I am now tweeting :
Reason #1: Twitter has changed; matured might be a better word
Early on, I would sum up most of the Twitterverse as simply, “ME, ME, ME.”
I signed up for Twitter early on, but after reading a number of people’s tweets, I found myself honestly disgusted by the self-absorbed trivia and self-indulgent life-styles shared by many.
This blather was in response to the Twitter question you are supposed to answer which is “What are you doing?”
I do care what folks I care about are doing, but I really don’t have time to read about every time they make a sandwich or that it’s time to go to bed or who they are meeting for coffee. You have no idea how either boring some people’s lives are or what secret party animals they are until you read hour-by-hour tweets—and I find I really don’t want to know.
After checking it out for a time, I forgot all about the Twitter and the Twitter account I set up, using my name, yvonprehn. Though I forgot all about my Twitter account, Google had not.
I started getting emails that people were “following” me. Guilt is my middle name and I felt so bad that people had signed up for something that wasn’t thre, so I thought maybe I’d look at it again. I discovered a different world and learned that now many people, ministries and companies, use Twitter to post material that is extremely useful to other people.
I started reading and researching and this is indeed the trend. The following advice comes from http://tedchris.posterous.com/ where he advises, in response to the “what are you doing?” question that people :
“Don't take the update question literally”
Instead he says you should ask yourself:
“ What can you share that might interest others?"
He continues with this advice: “You could provide a thought, a quote, an article, a provocative question, a video, a picture, a funny turn of phrase -- or just "retweet" what someone else has shared. The best way to have a great experience on Twitter is to figure out your own way of giving your followers and potential followers something they'll like.”
The thing that is key here (and I’m still working on this on my new Titter account yvonprehn), is that if people signed up to follow you and you have a business or other area of expertise, that is what people expect to get tweets about. For example, I follow the pastor, John Piper. He is known as a conservative Bible teacher and his tweets are always about the Bible. He’s very good at packing a thought-provoking challenge into 140 characters.
I like that. I prefer a person who stays on topic. One unnamed Christian writer, whose writing I really admired in the past, rambles and babbles in his tweets and I’ve yet to read anything of substance in the endless lists of places he eats at and what his wife orders. Makes me wonder who edits the books he puts out.
#2 The development and my discovery of URL shortening websites.
Twitter only allows 140 character entries. But one of the things that makes Twitter useful and not just self-indulgent, is the ability to direct people to useful websites, but if the URL takes up half your tweet, they might not even know what the URL is for.
For example: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/03/the-ultimate-guide-for-everything-twitter/ is the link to an extremely useful site about Twitter.
The previous sentence is 152 characters, 12 over the Twitter limit.
To solve the problem and help make Twitter truly useful, along comes URL shortening websites. One of my favorite is www.tinyurl.com. It’s an incredibly simple site to use. You simply copy in the long URL, hit “make tiny URL” and it turns the URL above into:
One other really good use for the URL shortening is for linking to Bible passages. I’ve just started a tweet about my daily Bible reading(follow me on: yvonsbiblebits). I was frustrated because I was not able to include a Bible passage and I couldn’t link to a Bible passage. You can put in a reference, but I wanted people to be able to directly click to the passage from the Tweet and you couldn’t do that. I like to link to passages in the Bible Gateway, but again, you have the long URL issue.
For example, here is John 14:1-9 in www.biblegateway.com:
And after tinyurl:
That fit into my tweet.
3) All the fun things they do with a “T”
We all need a laugh in the deadly seriousness of life and Twitter makes me laugh at its Twictionary, a few examples:
A bunch of followers.
To sell something via Twitter.
Twittering while waiting for something.
Someone who Tweets too much.
Someone acting like an idiot on Twitter.
Another way to refer to friends on Twitter.
A group of users agree on a set time to Twitter to each other.
Networking with other Twitter users.
Twitter as the human version of Google, since you can post a question and get instant results.
Sending a private message to Twitter by accident.
A survey conducted over Twitter.
There is more from the Twittonary: http://www.twittonary.com/
#4 It’s a form of social networking that fits into my busy life
Many people in ministry today know they ought to be doing some kind of “social networking.” I feel the pressure also. But Facebook gives me a headache. I tried; I have a page, but I just can’t figure out what to do with it. I’m not into endless picture taking and posting and writing on walls and joining groups. I feel guilty--I consider family uses (my niece and nephew have babies), I'm considering having one for my ministry--but right now, Facebook is a core. Yet, I know social networking; I know making connections is important. Other ones just haven’t seemed worth the effort.
When I realized I didn’t have to talk about myself and could share something useful on Twitter, I got interested and the 140 character limit of Twitter is a wonderful limitation. It is a way to share about my ministry, update people, link them to useful information and do it in tiny bits of time. I don’t have to do a Constant Contact layout or agonize over a blog. One little 140 character burst of information and I feel I’ve contributed; I’ve updated folks; I’ve been internet social.
Now back to work. To follow me on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/yvonprehn