Twitter for Dummies: the basics, the point, and how it works in Youth Ministry

The two biggest complaints I hear from people about Twitter are:

  • “What’s the point? Twitter is stupid. I don’t care what people are doing!!!
  • “I’m too busy. I already have email, text, web, etc – now Twitter? Why???

MYTH: Twitter is for telling people what you are doing every moment of the day.
FACT: Twitter is a means for sharing IMPORTANT information.

The TRUTH is that Twitter:

  • Connects you with the people you care about
  • Offers you an abundance of relevant info
  • Is quick and convenient

_______________________________________________________________________
In This Blog Post… ______________________________________________________

I. The Basics

  • What is Twitter?
  • Example message (Tweet)
  • Twitter is Stupid?
  • Sending updates: Easy as text messaging

II. The Point

  • Stuff Worth Tweeting
  • Twitter Stats

III. Youth Ministry Implications

  • View links to important websites
  • Send tweets to specific people
  • Spread relevant ideas
  • Search using categories

IV. Conclusion

Twitter is a simple tool by which to communicate!_______________________________________________________________________I. The Basics
What is it?

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. People write short updates, often called ‘tweets’ of 140 characters or fewer. These messages are posted to your profile [and] sent to your followers.” *

Here is a screen shot of my Twitter profile (www.twitter.com/dhub, yes, my username is dhub). My most recent “tweet” is seen in large font, older tweets are listed below it. However, with Twitter we aren’t really concerned about profiles (unlike Facebook). Instead, when you log in to your home page, you will see a public timeline. A public timeline is simply a list of updates from people you follow, posted in real time. No need to go searching through a bunch of pages.

What does it mean to follow someone on Twitter?
You can see in the image here that I am following 39 people and have 21 followers. When I log in to Twitter I will see recent tweets from the 39 people I am following; that’s it. And for the 21 people that are following me, they see my tweets when they log in.
Following is not like friend requests on social networking sites.
“Unlike most social networks, following on Twitter isn’t mutual. In other words, someone who thinks you’re interesting can follow you, and you don’t have to approve, or follow back. If you want to approve who follows your tweets, you can – just protect your account.” *

Example Message (Tweet)

So, lets say I just went out to eat at Red Robin and had a really good burger. I want to tell all of my friends. I could call them, text them, email them, snail mail them, drive over to their house, blog about it, or some other means (all of which I still encourage you to do) ORI could tweet it. And on the public timeline it’ll look like this:
Instantly, everyone knows that I just ate a good burger.

Twitter is Stupid?
Now, I know that some of you are thinking right now, “This is stupid” (remember, biggest complaint). And even though I personally make statements like these on Twitter from time to time, I have to admit that I agree with you. Who really cares that I ate a good burger? No one (and if you do, it’s a bit obsessive). Which is why making statements like these aren’t the point of Twitter. What is the point then? We’re almost there.


As easy as sending a text

How can I send updates to Twitter?
“Twitter offers many ways to post updates: from the web in the update box, from your phone, from your mobile web browser using m.twitter.com, or from any third party application.” *
The other big complaint from anti-twitterers is that they don’t have time to check it. But, that isn’t true. It really isn’t very time consuming to use Twitter, nor is it difficult. If you don’t want to log in to the website, use your phone. It’s as easy as sending a text message.

“Setting up your phone allows you to: Send tweets with text messaging on your phone. Receive texts for…the tweets from users you want to be notified about.” *

(Setup is easy: on your Twitter home page click the Settings tab, then click the Mobile tab, and follow the instructions). See, now there are a lot of you who text me frequently, but tell me you don’t have time for Twitter. The truth is, you do have time for Twitter. Note: Many phones now come with Twitter apps. With this app you don’t even need to log in to the website to see your public timeline; it’s all on the app. I highly recommend this approach to using Twitter.
II. The Point of Twitter
Stuff Worth Tweeting
We’ve already discussed that it can be stupid to use Twitter to tell people about the burger you ate at Red Robin, but there are some things that are actually worth tweeting; things that people really do care about. There are probably lots of things you like to read about. Twitter can help you find all of them. You can still read the paper and watch TV, but with Twitter you can follow your favorite sources or people (Internet sites, sports teams, newspapers, businesses, etc) and be notified of relevant information.
Twitter Stats: 105,779,710 registered users
If you doubt that you’ll find anything relevant on Twitter, look at these stats from Chirp, the official Twitter developer conference held in April 2010:
•Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users.

•New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day.
•180 million unique visitors come to the site every month.
•75% of Twitter traffic comes from outside Twitter.com (i.e. via third party applications.)
•Twitter gets a total of 3 billion requests a day via its API.
•Twitter users are, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweets a day.
•Twitter’s search engine receives around 600 million search queries per day.
•Of Twitter’s active users, 37 percent use their phone to tweet.
•Over half of all tweets (60 percent) come from third party applications.
•Twitter itself has grown: in the past year alone, it has grown from 25 to 175 employees.

Twitter isn’t completely occupied by weirdos (although there is spam), but by tons of businesses as well. I don’t have an official stat but everywhere I look I see businesses and people using Twitter to share their information. I’m sure you’ll find something you’re interested in on Twitter; like YOUTH MINISTRY INFO.
III. Youth Ministry Implications
Links, Send tweets to specific people, Spread relevant ideas, and Search using categories

Links
Since this is a youth ministry blog, lets look at it in the context of youth ministry. If you were following me on Twitter, this tweet would show up on your public timeline:

If you’re interested in reading my blog and hearing about what’s happening in youth ministry at Peace, you can do so very easily. All you have to do is click on the link. You no longer will forget to check my blog.

Or let’s say at Confirmation next week we are teaching on a particular topic and there is a good article you could read to help better understand how to speak to your kids about it. BAM. I post it and it is right there at your fingertips.

In a busy world where it’s easy to overlook information, Twitter helps you personalize the info YOU want to see and allows you to receive it in a variety of ways.

Send tweets to specific people (Reply)
For illustration purposes only, let’s say that you have a Twitter account and your username is Imold. If you wanted to ask me a question, you could send me a message (in Twitter this is called a “Reply”). To do so, you simply put the “@” symbol in front of the username.

So if you were to ask me a question in regards to youth ministry, it would look like this on the public timeline:

I would see that on my public timeline and reply back to you. Since Pastor Al is on Twitter (his username is AZXfollower), and he is speaking this week at Confirmation, I could mention him in the reply too. You and Pastor Al would both see something like this on your public timeline:

Spread relevant ideas (Retweet)
Have you ever heard of the Robbie Seay Band? If you hadn’t and I wanted you to see something they posted, I could easily share it with you. Simply hover over the message and press what Twitter calls the “Retweet” button. All of your followers get the message. Here is a retweet I posted for Robbie Seay’s concert last week:

If there was something important you read about youth ministry, you could easily share it with others using the retweet feature.

Search using categories
We are all familiar with searching the Internet. You can do the same thing within Twitter. One way to find specific tweets is to label a them. To do so, you simply put the “#” symbol in front of a word (in Twitter this is called a “Hashtag”). If we were to, say, tweet about how cool youth ministry (ymin) is at Peace using the hashtag #peaceymin, it would look like this:

By clicking on the hashtag, #peaceymin as seen above, theoretically you would see a list of tweets. So if there were a bunch of us talking about Confirmation using this hashtag, our search result would show us what everyone is saying about youth ministry.

IV. Conclusion
Still wondering how all this is beneficial to youth ministry at Peace?

Twitter is a simple tool by which to communicate! I’ve shared a lot of information with you, but like most things, once you learn how it works it makes sense. Twitter really is simple. If you read my last post then you know that I’m blogging because I want to share the story of what’s happening in youth ministry at Peace. Twitter is another way to do so. You can either be a Twitter hater (which is fine), or you can see that it is an excellent way to communicate. So how ’bout you give it a shot? Any questions?

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*Excerpts taken from Twitter’s website. Learn more here.
Note: This post went through a few drafts. Thanks to Denise, Rita Mae, Nanette, Brent, and Lara for proofreading and helping me come up with the final format.

2 thoughts on “Twitter for Dummies: the basics, the point, and how it works in Youth Ministry

  1. Imagine (come on try) you were one of Jesus' disciples and Twitter were available to you back in the time immediately following the resurrection. As a disciple, Twitter would have been an awesome way to not only blow up your friends' cellies with the good news, but it would have also informed all those people who were interested in the news making company you kept (i.e. – Jesus!) Then all of those people could have retweeted your post and the news would have travelled a lot faster than you on a camel in the desert.

    Like

  2. I learned how to fully use the hashtag, which used to be my enemy, and I hope to use it to contact all my friends at church. I also learned that Dave ate a good burger at Red Robin.

    Like

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