Everybody thinks Twitter is stupid when they first hear about it.
My Start on Twitter
I first heard about Twitter in December 2006 through a long blog post by Kathy Sierra. And I thought it was stupid. (Twitter, not the blog post.)
140 characters about what I’m doing right now? In my mind Twitter was,
“I’m sipping coffee.”
“I’m on the phone.”
“I’m typing on my keyboard.”
“I just spilled coffee on my keyboard!”
Or so I thought.
I had a friend (who, as it happens, became one of our EmmanuelPress beta testers) that bugged me about Twitter for months. It was classic peer pressure. “All the cool kids are doing it. Blah, blah blah.”
Then one day he finally said something that made sense to me. He said, “Chris, with Twitter I have access to folks I could never get a chance to talk to in real life. The real power of Twitter is in the DM conversations.”
So on Thursday evening March 9, 2007 (at 10:48 PM to be precise) I created my Twitter account.
Unfortunately the way Twitter currently has things set up I can’t track down my very first tweet. Not that I expect it was very profound or anything.
The earliest tweet that I can actually find seems to bear out my initial impressions of Twitter. Here it is.
Cat juggling on a Monday evening! (Hope I don’t get scratched too badly!)
— Chris Cree (@ChrisCree) March 12, 2007
That was about a week after I opened my account. Fortunately I quickly figured out a higher use for Twitter…
Most people quickly see the potential of Twitter as a broadcast medium. You can send information and links out to to hundreds or thousands (or tens of thousands) of followers very easily.
However that’s just scratching the surface.
Twitter really becomes powerful when we engage in conversations with other Twitter users. Twitter makes that very easy to do too!
Just use the @ sign before the person’s Twitter username and your tweet will be addressed to them publicly. Here’s an early example from my account:
@genuine: Maybe you need 5 fewer friends? LOL!
— Chris Cree (@ChrisCree) March 19, 2007
(That tweet made sense at the time in context. Trust me.)
Then the two of you can have a dialog on Twitter. Plus, since that conversation is in public and others can read it as well, it is potentially influencing them as well.
You can also have private conversations with people on Twitter as well, sometimes at the same time as your public conversations. To address someone privately just start the tweet with a D and a space before their user name. Then, as long as you are both following each other on Twitter, you can talk privately.
Since those early days I’ve had conversations on Twitter with all sorts of folks from many different countries. It’s been a very powerful tool in my business.
Real World Benefits
From a business perspective I’ve seen real world benefits from Twitter including things like
- New client referrals
- I’ve found vendors on Twitter
- I can get obscure questions answered quickly
- Recommendations on software and other tools I’m considering
From my perspective Twitter has saved me time and money. And that doesn’t even count the people that I’ve been able to network with which I would have never connected to in other ways.
So how does that relate to churches and ministries?
Well Jesus told us to go and make disciples, right?
That discipleship process involves people, connecting with people, talking with people and building relationships with people.
Twitter is a tool that can help that process.
Not only can you meet new people that you might never connect with any other way, but you can also strengthen the relationships that you already have.
The key is to start with an understanding of Twitter as a two-way dialog tool instead of just a one-way broadcast tool.