I like Twitter. It is an enjoyment every day to read the collective thoughts of people all over the world. Specific search tools available for Twitter make it more than just a million 140 character snippets of vanity. It is a great tool. (For example look at the number of Twitter tools on my Delicious account HERE). But the truth is, I mostly just enjoy the social part of it. The sharing, the ideas, the people … Twitter has filled a niche left untouched by other networks. I’m not alone. Recently Twitter passed the 10 billion tweets mark. Of course some people won’t even give it a try.
Yes Twitter has a funny name – one that has earned it’s place into the vocabulary of our interconnected world! Yes Twitter can be annoying and some just give up in frustration. But one thing Twitter does is connect people. Interesting people (or you wouldn’t follow them!). Twitter is fairly easy to master (my mother tweets, and does it well!).
But like everything in which Christians involve themselves, there is a mission. Twitter is like a conversation with the world. Even so, there are boundaries. Here are some ideas on how to reach out for Christ using the social networking joy of Twitter!
Be A Real Friend. My friend Mike Ellis has a spirit that draws people to him. He is genuine, encouraging, and a friend to the downhearted. He currently has 1,765 followers on Twitter (@marketermikee). He often writes on his blog about the tweet-ups (Twitter users meet for coffee and conversation) in Daytona Beach at a local coffee house. HERE is a list of some of Mike’s ‘greatest hits’ on his blog. Through his efforts several people have visited his church – but more than that – they have gained a friend. Mike makes the most important point about Twitter. Be a real friend. I’ve enjoyed some great lunches with @r2d2rogers, @bayoufretless, @blannwich, @philipparker, @guttermouth and several others. Making friends on Twitter is great. If you happen to meet someone seeking Christ, all the better.
Interact. If you are not going to interact, then don’t bother with Twitter. I’ve enjoyed some interactions with someone who works at Tiger Honda (@tiger_honda). Haven’t met them yet, but I’m more interested in meeting them when car shopping than someone who hasn’t interacted at all on the net. (Oh, and he offered me coffee … so I gotta stop by there sometime!) One local chiropractor (whom I’ve never met) followed me … so I reciprocated. Not long after I got endless tweets offering his services because he thought I had been in a wreck. What the poor guy did was sign up with a twitter bot that automatically tweeted his followers. I eventually called his office and informed him that he was chasing away business, not bringing it in! Another friend was selling something … he did the same thing. I got endless tweets from him – but he responded to none of mine. This is social networking…so be social! So if you’re a Christian and you want to encourage others to follow Christ, you must do it within the context of socializing.
Retweet Wisely. I know my friend Cecil (@cecil3) will wince at this, as he bemoans retweeting. Yes, it can get out of hand. One of his good points is that if you are re-tweeting someone that most everyone else in your circle of friends follows … stop doing that! I try to retweet things that are meaningful to me, links that are interesting, and sometimes a breaking news item. Retweeting is the way we express appreciation and the desire to spread the word. Sorry C3, but I think most Twitter users appreciate a quality retweet!
Relax. I currently follow 544 people. At one time I was following over 1,000. But most of those were not posting, or perhaps were annoying, so I just unfollowed them! Even with 544 people there are more tweets than I can keep up with! I don’t worry about trying to read them all. Relax and enjoy the Twitter stream… you are not accountable for the ones that float by while you’re not looking! Because of the @ function and direct messaging, if something is really important you’ll see it! If you can’t enjoy it, then it’s not much use eh?
Go Local! One way I try to reach out locally is to follow local people. I enjoy people from all over the world – but I really enjoy following locals. You can go HERE, click Advanced Search, enter your zip code, decide how many miles you want to search, and read all the tweets in your area. I try to follow most of the Twitter users in our area. Yes, sometimes since they do not know me they choose to block me. But mostly I’ve had a great experience getting to know local people.Also in the local area there are several members of our church who use Twitter, and some of their friends.
Share, But Not Excessively. If one is observing the other thoughts here, then it is ok to share an event in your church. I will share events going on at Forsythe, and there is a Forsythe twitter account (@facoc). I do try to not overdo it.
Wow, this post is getting long. You might be wishing I had a 140 character limit! Maybe you have some other ways to use Twitter on your mission to serve Christ. Love to hear them!
Thanks for reading,