Is the micro-blogging service “Twitter” growing past it’s “geek” factor chic? I think so. Recently, I’ve been reviewing several items discussing the service. I’ve downloaded ebooks for church leaders on Twitter, there’s a great free business ebook about learning how to use Twitter more effectively, and then there are the countless posts on blogs, forums, and Twitter itself on how best to make Twitter work for you.
Generally when I share my love of Twitter with others, I either get a smile (you’re a geek!) or a shaking head (I don’t get it!). This excludes the friends I have who actually DO Twitter and understand its usefulness. So how can a 42 (soon to be 43) year old pastor and parent utilize Twitter? The following are just a few of my ideas that I hope you can use..
1. You can use it to promote your web sites and/or blogs.
Many that follow me know that I use Twitter to let them know when I have a new blog post up or to promote older posts that haven’t been read in a while. The benefits to this are numerous. You gain new friends, your writing (if you do that sort of thing) gets noticed on a larger scale, and you share in an exchange of ideas. So many times I write blog posts seeking interaction and Twitter has allowed that to happen. People who live close by and across the World in the United Kingdom and Spain will drop me a line to share thoughts and ideas. In addtion to “tweeting” about daily happenings and the unusual, regularly promoting yourself through Twitter may seem a bit over the top to some but I can tell you from my own experience that my blog site’s readership has increased by nearly double since I began this practice. #2 will take this a step further….
2. Use hashtags to research topics you like.
The new rage in Twitter is to use hashtags (#) to mark a post for easy retrieval. Twitter’s own search site allows you to enter a favorite hashtag and it will pull up all posts containing that tag. In the productivity world, David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system is quite popular. “Tweeters” that wanted to discuss GTD set up the hashtag #gtd and then add it to their tweets. There’s even a Twitter Church, #twurch, and one for using the popular “Facebook” site #fb (A service called selective Twitter uses this hashtag. More on that in #3). When you tag your Tweets with one of these ‘tags’, you might be surprised who reads it. David Allen himself reads the hashtags on his system and many times will answer questions for you.
3. Twitter updates your Facebook page.
Not every tweet needs to be on your facebook page. It used to be “all or nothing” when it came to integrating Twitter with your Facebook account. When the idea of merging the two social media networks first surfaced, I jumped on it and soon, every tweet I posted was available for my Facebook friends to read. Then, as I began reading the sites of my other friends, I realized it was overkill. It’s annoying for your friends to have to sift through every stinkin’ tweet on your facebook page. Enter “Selective Twitter” as a Facebook add on. With selective Twitter, you can tweet to your heart’s content and when a certain tweet seems appropriate for your facebook page, you hashtag it with #fb and “Selective Twitter” will take only those posts with the hashtag and use them to update your facebook status. It provides more control over your networks and make using Twitter even better! And last but not least…
4. Twitter makes a great informational tool for your church/business
I’ll use my church for this illustration. We have a Twitter account for my church and I use it exclusively to disseminate information about our church to the congregation. Even members who refuse to use Twitter can “follow” the church through Twitter by sending a simple text message. Then, anytime I post anything about the church, it will send a text message to that person’s phone (and anyone else who does have Twitter and adds us as a friend and then elects to receive notices from us) and pass along the information. Best of all, that person can opt in or out of the service at any time. For me as a leader, it means one less list for me to manage. It also provides a place where I can send one message (whether I have internet or not) and have everyone in my church up to date with little effort. I can send last minute reminders, cancel services in the case of inclement weather, and pass along kudos for jobs well done. All of this from my cellphone and all with the free Twitter service.
How do you use Twitter (assuming you do). These are just a few short ideas that I wanted to share but I know of many other ways people are leveraging Twitter for their benefit. Share your ideas here if you have time and let’s discuss them!