Twitter started out for me as a bit of a goofy novelty. I was at a conference in early 2007 and we all jumped on board with new Twitter accounts as a way of interacting with one another and the speakers during the conference. I was already blogging here at chrisfromcanada.com so I thought it made sense to grab the @chrisfromcanada Twitter name.
It was fun while it lasted but I thought it was a bit of a trend which would only interest a small number of people. I was intrigued by the concept, thought Twitter was lots of fun to be a part of but couldn’t see how it might become a part of my daily life.
Those thoughts lasted about one day!
When I returned home from that conference, I tweeted that Twitter had been fun for a little while but I was giving it up. If you follow me on Twitter (@chrisfromcanada) you know that my decision did not last long. Nope. Within a few days, Twitter roped me back in and I’ve bought in to it hook, line and sinker ever since.
I will often get questions about how I use Twitter (I’ll outline some of the tools in this post), why I tweet so much (anywhere from 10 to 100 times per day) and how I track with the thousands of people I’m following. I’m going to gather up a bunch of my thoughts on Twitter and the tools I use in this post. If you haven’t given Twitter a shot, maybe this will inspire you. If you are already using Twitter, maybe you’ll find a suggestion or two in this post which will help take your tweeting to the next level.
Over time I’ve looked at a ridiculous number of Twitter apps (desktop and iOS) and for me the big winner is Tweetbot. The layout, speed, functionality and design of both the iPhone and iPad apps can’t be beat. Tweetbot actually makes Twitter more fun than it already is! Adding accounts is a breeze since Twitter is now embedded right in to the iOS and the app has all kinds of shortcuts to save you a couple of steps in your Twitter tasks.
Tweetbot is not free (and I’m not one to usually buy apps when there are free options available) but the quality and fun factor are totally worth the $2.99 price tag. You can get Tweetbot in the app store here for iPhone and here for iPad.
Apps like Tweetbot make it very easy to track Twitter lists, allowing you to break down the ones you are following into more manageable chunks. I have Twitter lists for everyone I know from my church on Twitter, other worship leaders I follow, pastors and other leaders that I find really inspiring, plus a list of people that I just like to keep up with on Twitter.
Buffer is an incredible Twitter app which I discovered almost a year ago. Ever had a handful of links (maybe articles, quotes, interesting stuff on the web) you wanted to tweet but knew that if you send four or five tweets back-to-back it might annoy your followers? Buffer gives you a solution to this. Setup your account, tell Buffer what times during the day you’d like it to tweet for you and then input the links as scheduled tweets. Throughout the day, those tweets will be sent to your account automatically giving you a nice spread out pattern of posting.
You can use Buffer to post links to your blog posts, remind people of important events, send out interesting quotes, whatever you like.
Don’t want to always head to the Buffer site to send your tweets? Tools like the browser extensions, iPhone apps and send-by-email all make Buffer a really great “next level” tool for Twitter and it has become a crucial part of my Twitter strategy.
(If you click the Buffer links in this post and sign up, it’s a referral link so we’ll both get an extra slot in our Buffer – free!)
The real value in Twitter is the people. Technology and tools like Twitter really are only as good as the people who are using them. Thankfully, there are lots of people using Twitter – over 300 million accounts, right now. When you get that many people using the same tool to communicate, the value of the collaborative communication is incredibly high. Got a question? Someone on Twitter can answer it. Stuck with a software problem? Someone on Twitter can help you get unstuck. Looking for some new ideas? Someone on Twitter can give you inspiration.
The downside of a massive community group like Twitter is information overload. How can you possibly sift through all of the content which is produced by Twitter users every day? One really great way is by using hashtags both when you are tweeting and when you are searching.
Here are a few hashtags for worship leaders that I’ve found to be really helpful -
Worship leaders all around the world are posting their setlists from weekend worship services using this hashtag. You can get some great inspiration from looking at the songs that other worship leaders are doing in their churches. I will also use this hashtag if I have a song selection question that another worship leader on twitter may be able to answer.
This is short for “creative ministry” and is a great way to scan for new ideas as well as events or conferences related to church creativity.
Church Technical Leaders Network is a great way to get connected to anyone serving in audio, video, lighting in church world. This hashtag has been a huge help to me and others as we’ve been planning the Reconnect Tech Conference. You’ll often see job postings listed with this hashtag, as well -
Posting tweets using these hashtags and also searching those hashtags can give you some really great information. Of course there are also hashtags for specific events, conferences, online discussions, etc.
As far as free tools go, it’s hard to find anything as valuable as Twitter. I can’t tell you how many real life friendships have been initiated and sustained because of Twitter. It is so much more than the “Look at what I’m having for lunch!” social network.
If you’re on Twitter, are we connected? Go ahead and follow me @chrisfromcanada so I can follow back and keep up with you. Are you a Twitter dropout? I’d love to hear about it. How are you using Twitter?