This is a continuation from my earlier post ‘How to set up a church Twitter account‘.

Now that you’ve set up your church account on Twitter, it is important to learn the basic rules of thumb in order to make your Twitter experience – and that of your current and potential followers – smooth and valuable.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 top tips I use to ensure I have a great time using Twitter and to ensure my followers enjoy my tweets, retweet them and recommend me to be followed by their friends.

 

Tip 1: Tweet regularly
The last thing people want is to follow someone they feel would be a great source of valued tweets – especially if the tweet is about Jesus – and get only a tweet a week. You’ll lose followers quicker than you’d gain them. And yes, people unfollow. Alot.

Here’s what I suggest:
Do some research, collate your sermon notes, make a list of your favourite quotes, one-liners, inspiring Scripture verses etc. for the week and ensure you have at least 5 ready for each day, maybe 10 for the first day of the weekend. Software like Hootsuite (I’ll speak about what software to use and why in a tip below) allows you to create and schedule tweets to go out automatically, so you’re set.

A rule of thumb for new-comers to Twitter: Tweet an original tweet at least once every 3 hours. That way you’ll get up to 5 tweets out during waking hours.

Reason: The more you tweet, the more people will wait for your next tweet. The more they wait, the more they’ll re-tweet because you’re building an anticipation of quality content.

 

Tip 2: Use hashtags
A hashtag is commonly misunderstood by new comers. I was completely clue-less about this and learnt on my own after reading websites, forums etc and it took some time to put my head around it. If only someone had written a detailed blog post making it easy for me to figure it out.

Voila! 🙂 Consider your internet explorer or Firefox (or whichever browser your use). When you like a certain website, you bookmark or ‘favourite’ it so that you can access it for updates etc easily at a later time. A hashtag (or #tag) is similar, but with broader repurcussions.

See, after Twitter launched, there was a realisation that many people have common interests, and the only way for them to find information in that particular interest was to always use the search function. Instead, Twitter started #tags which are Twitter bookmarks. A theme or keyword of an interest group would be preceded by a hash e.g. #jesus or #church. To find an interest #tag, one only needs to search for that #tag (based on what they think would be out there or by following other peoples’ tweets) in Twitter’s search function and click ‘Save’. Next time they want to find new tweets under that #tag, they simply need to click on the saved button which appears on the side.

To create a #tag, all you need to do is think of the keyword you want everyone to follow/bookmark and place a # next to it the next time you tweet something relevant for that #tag. E.g. If I wanted to let people who are interested in Audi cars that this car maker has launched a new model, I would create (unless it already existed) a #tag called #Audi and tweet it as ‘#Audi launches new model for 2011 #cars’. Notice how I added a second #tag for another favourite interest group.
(Image is copyrighted here)

 

Tip 3: Retweet often
Retweeting is simply affirmation on Twitter. By retweeting someone else’s tweet that you liked, you’re

  1. Telling the world this tweet was important or insightful enough to be shared with them
  2. Telling the world this person tweets good content
  3. Telling the original tweeter you appreciated their tweet – a virtual pat-on-the-back

Plus, if people see you retweeting stuff, they’ll want to follow you and have you follow them, so that you can retweet their’s too. Point being, humans want to feel wanted.

How to retweet: If you are using the website itself, under the tweet that you like there will be a ‘retweet’ option. Click on it and it will send that tweet out with an ‘RT’ followed by the original sender’s Twitter handle. E.g. RT @digitalchrist: I love #Jesus

 

Tip 4: Try to tweet 120 characters or less


Yes, I know Twitter’s character limit allows you to tweet up to 140 characters, but here’s the thing: if everyone on Twitter can only tweet 140 characters, and when they retweeting they add the original tweeter’s address, you’re not left with space to retweet.

When you tweet only 120 characters, (it can be 125 or 130, the number is simply an indication to go by) you leave room for people to retweet your stuff. That’s what you want, because others can see your address and follow you.

 

Tip 5: Follow quality, not quantity
It is easy to get swayed by people in your interest area who have thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of followers. Be careful of these numbers. There are a number of apps out there which allow Twitter users to add hundreds of followers a day and vice versa, which may boost your numbers but doesn’t guarantee visibility, especially since you’re one of 10,000 odd tweeters on that person’s stream.

Look for quality tweets and see who’s sending them. They may have thousands of followers, or just 10. That shouldn’t matter to you. If you retweet quality, people will remember you. And they will most definitely follow you.

Rule of thumb, if you’re still interested in following people with many followers (its ok if you do, I’m just helping you get more out of your experience on twitter) then follow this rule: follow people who are following at least 60% of the number of people following them. E.g. if Bob has 1,000 followers, and Bob is following 600 people, follow Bob. He seems to be someone who a) follows back one of every two people and b) he doesn’t follow for the heck of following.

Hot tip: Follow anyone who follows you. Its only fair, and its polite. Beware of spammers and bots though.
(Image courtesy here)

 

 

Tip 6: Promote people


This is a tip I learnt from Chris Brogan. It is always good to promote the lesser known tweeters and newbies. But only if they’re worth promoting. See a tweet you like from someone new, someone with very few followers? Got an instinct about them? Then send something that is becoming a good trend on Twitter: Follow suggestions. Simply make a list of 4 or 5 people you think others should follow, and some new ones like I mentioned above, and tweet the following: ‘Gr8 folks to #follow: @xyz @abc @123’. They’ll appreciate it and retweet you and more.

 

 

Tip 7: Put a good picture of yourself as your avatar (profile display image)


People want to follow people. People are human. If you see a logo or a graphic, yeah you may follow it or may read its tweets, but you always feel more comfortable following a person they can see.

 

 

Tip 8: Use Bit.ly as a URL shortener
When sharing links you like from websites you’ve visited, most often it’s difficult to share the URL (the internet website address) because they’re quite long. For this, there are many services that offer URL shortening and among them, I recommend www.bit.ly the most. The reason is analytics.

Bit.ly allows you to create register and use its services to shorten your URLs, and in the bargain also gives you some great analysis tools to see how your links perform, who shares them, which geographic locations are sharing them and so on. This is great to know if you are using your Twitter account for your Church, because it shows you how far-reaching your tweets really are.

 

 

Tip 9: Use Twitter on your mobile phone


If you can. Some folks prefer to keep their mobile phones specifically for calling and text messaging.

But if you really want to be in personal contact with your followers and keep your finger on the pulse of the Twitter-verse, install either the Twitter application on your phone or any of the various other applications from 3rd party providers. I’ll list some good ones in Tip 10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip 10: The best software to use
There are more than enough Twitter applications for the desktop, smart phone, tablet and other digital devices out there to confuse the life out of you.

This is why I thought I’d collate a list for you to help you along. This list is not exhaustive, its simply the apps I have used and liked among others. There are probably other apps out there much better than these, so please add them in the comments section, it’ll help me and others check them out as well!

Desktop applications:

Phone applications:

I hope these simple 10 tips will help you have a richer Twitter experience. Please do share your own tips and suggestions as well as comments in the Comments section. We live to learn!

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