This Sunday, my message is dealing with, “Belong.” Basically, a challenge to get connected to New Season through serving and getting into a Community Group. We also want our church to be connected by using Facebook and Twitter. I am amazed at the stories I hear of people who connect to family members, high school friends, business associates/clients using these forms of social media. On Sunday, we are going to encourage all of our people who are not yet on Facebook and Twitter to sign up. The church needs to use these tools which are the #1 method in the world to stay connected. 1 out of 12 people in the world are on Facebook and 250 million people are on Twitter. Let me share a step by step process written by popular blogger, Michael Hyatt to help you get started on Twitter:
1. Set up your account. Go to Twitter to get started. Enter your name, email, and a password. Click Sign up.
You will now be taken to a second screen where can select a username. This is the name by which you will be known on Twitter. What name should you use? Now click on the Create my account button. That’s it. You are now an official member of the Twitter community. Next, Twitter will assist you in getting started. It will explain what a tweet is and give you the opportunity to “follow” a few friends, popular people, or brands. You can opt out of these steps for now if you wish. Simply click the Skip this step link.
2. Tweak your settings. Make sure you are on your Twitter home page. Click on the Settings link. You should be on the Account tab. Set the time zone. Do not check “Protect my updates” unless you only want those whom you approve to be able to get your updates. Now click on the Profile tab. Upload your picture. This is important. Many Twitter users will not follow users without photos, because it is a tell-tale sign of a spammer. Remember that the maximum upload size of your photo is 700k, so you may have to re-size your image to meet this requirement.
Enter the rest of your information, including your location, website or blog (if any), and a brief bio. This, too, is important to keep you from getting flagged as a possible spammer. Your bio can either be serious or fun, but it must be brief—no more than 160 characters. Note that you can also connect your Twitter account to Facebook on this page. This will post all your Tweets directly to Facebook. When you are finished, click the Save button.
3. Follow family and friends. If you haven’t done so already, add your family and friends by clicking in the “Search” field at the top of your home page. You can type in a username or first and last name. When you do, you will get a list of users who match your search criteria. You can also do a more advanced search (e.g., searching by location) by clicking on “Refine results” or by going directly to the Advanced Search page. You can begin “following” them by simply clicking on the Follow button.
4. Learn the basic commands. Think of Twitter as a room full of people, all sitting in a circle. It’s a conversation. When you update your status, you are speaking to the whole group. Everyone can hear what you have to say.
Replies. If you want to direct your comments to one specific person in the circle, but loud enough that everyone else can hear, use the “Reply” function. You address the person by using their Twitter user name preceded by the “@” symbol. For example:
@spencesmith I get my haircut at Dion’s South in downtown Franklin. Everyone who is following Spence and me will see the message, but I am specifically directing it to Spence. (Those who are not following both of us will not see the message.)
You can also use the Reply function to refer to someone by name. For example:
I’m headed to dinner at Tin Angel with @gailhyatt and @meghmiller. I am looking forward to trying the new menu.
The thing about replies is that they are “clickable links.” If someone who is following me, clicks on one of the names, they will automatically go to that person’s Twitter page. This will give them the opportunity to follow that person, too.
Direct Messages. Continuing with the metaphor of a conversation with a room full of people, you can also use the “direct message” function. This is like whispering in one person’s ear. They can hear you, but no one else can. You are directing the message to them and only them. For example:
@spencesmith Can you bring my Business Review notebook down to the cafeteria conference room?
Or: @gailhyatt It looks like I will not be able to leave the office for another 30 minutes. Bummer.
Twitter direct messages have largely replaced simple text messaging for me and many people I know.
Hash tags. You are probably familiar with tagging photos with a short piece of text. Twitter has this capability, too.
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. If you click on a hash tag, it will show you all the other tweets associated with a hashtag.
I have attended many conferences where an official hashtag was announced. This enables everyone at the conference to track what everyone is saying about the conference. For example, someone might say:
Man, I loved @AndyStanley’s opening talk. He never ceases to speak to me. #cat2011
#Cat2011 was the hashtag for the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta in the fall of 2011.
Other Commands. You can add people you want to follow from your cell phone. Just type in “follow [username].” For example:
You can check your stats–the number of people you are following plus the number of people following you–from your cell phone by typing “stats” without any additional text.
You can find answers to almost every other Twitter question in the Twitter Help Center.
Start twittering. So now you are all setup. It’s time to start Twittering. You can do this from your Twitter home page or from your cell phone. The main thing you need to know is that the message can be no longer than 140 characters long.
How often should you Twitter? Personally, I think 10–12 is the upper limit. Obviously, there’s a balance here. Some of the people I follow, post way more updates than that. No one probably wants to hear the blow-by-blow of your life. However, some color commentary is good. However, this is definitely art not science, so there are no hard, fast rules.
Regardless, you should consider every Twitter update as a branding impression. You are developing a reputation with your online friends, so make sure you are adding something to the conversation.
This is really no different than a face-to-face conversation. You want to say something that is interesting, helpful, or just plain entertaining. Don’t over-think it, but don’t just text the first thing that pops in your mind.
Be careful. You definitely need to be cautious. It’s probably not a good idea to say something like, “I’m headed to the west coast for a week. My poor, beautiful wife is going to be home all alone.” Bad idea. For obvious reasons.
You need to think about the fact that crazy people and criminals have Twitter accounts, too. You especially need to be cautious about sharing too much private information that could compromise your safety or that of your loved ones.
I have also had some experience with stalkers, so you may only want to Twitter after you have gone somewhere, not before. Otherwise, you might find people showing up to watch you. Twitter is one of those apps that is best learned by using it. The most important thing you can do is get started. You really can’t make that many mistakes. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the people you meet online.”
I hope this will help you in setting up a Twitter account if you don’t have one. It really is a great way to connect and keep in touch online. And the great thing is you can tweet invitations to church, quote scripture, share the gospel, provide details for various events, etc… Join us as we tweet and connect at New Season!