Welcome back! Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed how to use Facebook for your ministry. While we definitely haven’t covered everything that Facebook can do, we’re going to move on to another platform for the next two weeks: Twitter.
Today I’m giving you a basic introduction to what Twitter is and how it works. If you’re already on Twitter and know the basics, then this article will be a remedial review; however, if you are completely new to the platform then this article is perfect for you.
To begin, let’s start with a definition. Twitter is an online platform where registered users post 140-character “tweets” (like a Facebook status) to their twitter feed. If you’re familiar with Facebook, think of it like a place solely for Facebook statuses.
Twitter is simple, but powerful. In fact, the “short and sweet” factor is what gives it influence. The more you can say in the least amount of words, the better.
On Twitter, you can also interact with users and share content by “retweeting.” Also like Facebook, you can access Twitter on your computer through twitter.com or on a mobile device by downloading the app.
Here are a few basic Twitter terms to know:
Tweet: The 140 character (or less) messages that you publish on Twitter. It can also be used as a verb. For example, “I’m going to tweet about this upcoming event,” or “I will tweet at you.”
Follower: Similar to Facebook friends. On Twitter, when you “follow” someone, their tweets will appear on your feed and you will be their “follower.” It works the other way too: people can “follow” you and become your “follower.”
Here is an example of what it looks like to “follow” someone:
Here is an example of what it looks like when people are following you:
Retweet: If one of your followers enjoys a tweet you posted, he or she could share it with their own followers by “retweeting” it. This is similar to sharing on Facebook.
Here, we “retweeted” J. David Stephens:
@Mention: When you want to tweet specifically to one person, you must “Mention” them. In order to do this you will type @ followed by their twitter name.
Direct Message, or DM: When you “Mention” someone on Twitter, other people are able to see it as well. If you want to message them privately, you can send them a “Direct Message.” You must be following each other in order to DM someone.
Hashtag: You’ve probably seen these on Facebook – it’s when someone uses the hashtag symbol (#) before a word or statement. “Hashtagging” relevant topics make your tweets more searchable and could draw more attention.
Feed: The homepage of your Twitter account where you see all of your followers’ tweets as they are being tweeted. Think of it like the timeline on your Facebook account.
Trending: Anytime there is a popular topic that a vast number of Twitter users are talking about, it begins “trending” on Twitter. For instance, events like elections, award shows, or breaking news often become “Trending Topics.” You can see these topics on the homepage of your Twitter account next to your feed.
That’s all for a basic introduction to Twitter, and moving forward, we will discuss how to use it for your ministry. As always, please send questions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.