If you’ve read this blog over the last two months, you know I’ve really been excited about Twitter. You see my last five twitters at the top of my blog’s main page. You can click “Rob’s Twitter” at the top and see a page with my last 25 twits. So what exactly is Twitter? How can I get in on this twitter action? Glad you asked.
The official description of Twitter, taken from Twitter’s home page says this: “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and coâ€“workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
Here’s a quick look at an example of you using Twitter. Twitter gives you 140 characters or less to write an update of what you’re doing or what’s on your mind. So, say you’re headed out the door to go to that meeting at the church. You twit “Headed to church for 7pm meeting.” You can send this update by typing it up on your Twitter home page or you can update from your mobile phone by SMS text message or a Twitter app on your phone if you have a data plan. No computer needed.
You update and “Headed to church for 7pm meeting” is now the latest update to your Twitter timeline, a chronological listing of your updates. It’s out there for people to know you’re headed to the 7pm church meeting. But who actually knows that’s what you’re doing? The people who follow you on Twitter. This is where the communication Twitter promises actually happens.
With Twitter, people can follow you, and in turn, you can follow others. When someone is following you, it means they are receiving your updates. If five people are following you, when you send your “Headed to church for 7pm meeting” they get that message. They know your plans.
Now, maybe someone who is following you knows the meeting has been rescheduled for tomorrow. He updates his twitter, “That meeting is rescheduled for tomorrow.” If you’re following him, you get his update and save $25 in gas! Thanks, Twitter.
That’s just one example of a practical use for Twitter. Within a church context, the communications possibilities are endless. With the entire church staff following each other, the communication loop will always be open. Church members can instantly communicate plans, questions, meetings, events, or anything else quickly and easily, with just one message.
How do you get started with Twitter? Easy. Go to Twitter’s Home Page and click the green box, “Get Started – Join”. You’ll be presented a form to sign up. The first box is “username.” Use something that people can readily identify you with later when they want to follow you. For instance, my twitter username is “robwestbrook.” When someone wants to follow me, they search for my name and I’m easily recognizable in their search. Complete the rest of the form and you’re now twittering.
You’ll be taken to your Twitter page with a text box ready for your first twit. There’s a search box at the top where you can type in a person’s name you want to follow. You’ll get a list of search results. Find the person you want to follow, click “follow” and that’s it, you’re following them. Their updates will automatically be sent to you. People can do the same and follow you.
One of the things I like about Twitter is the ability to update from your mobile phone. You can use your mobile phone in several different ways to update Twitter. For those who don’t have a data package, you can simply send a SMS text message to Twitter’s number. The text message is added to your timeline. If you have a data plan, you can point your phone’s browser to http://m.twitter.com and update. And, there are other third-party applications you can also use. I have a Blackberry Curve and I use a program called Twitterberry. I almost exclusively use Twitterberry for all my Twitter needs.
I know this is a really rudimentary look at Twitter but maybe it will tweak your interest enough to give it a try. It really is a nice communication tool. And, if you become a Twitter user, let me know. You can follow me by clicking here. Happy twittering!