Friends, we have come to a crossroad. To tweet or not to tweet?
For those of you grumbling and threatening to move your cursor over to Stumbleupon or Catholic Answers, hang on a second. I have been on Twitter for two and a half years now and I’m convinced it is a valuable idea sharing tool.
Yes, it is also valuable for telling the world about the fly you found in your water glass and your bite-sized review of the Winnie the Pooh movie. Believe it or not, it can go deeper.
In short, it is a giant Facebook newsfeed with each status limited to 140 characters.
If you’re on Twitter already and want some tips, I hope you can find some new ones below. If you’re considering joining the conversation on Twitter, read on, my friends, read on!
1. Love your neighbor. Even if they’re antagonizing you and picking a fight. Many anti-Catholics and/or anti-theists use certain hashtags to “bring to the light” their criticisms of that which involves the Church. Don’t bite. If they reach out to you directly, gauge your patience and either respond up to two times or none at all.
2. “You said hashtags. What are those?” Putting the # sign in front of a word changes it into a link that leads to a real-time list of every tweet that includes that same “hashtag.” Some people use them for humor: “The Girl Scout cookies keep disappearing #nomnom.” Their intention is to connect people through their common ideas and thoughts.
- Some popular Catholic hashtags to follow are #Catholic (beware, this is where a lot of anti-Catholics and anti-theists hang out and provoke on Twitter street corners), #Cathmedia, #JMJ, #JP2, #B16, #Cathdate (more info here, from Ave Maria Singles), #Cathdudes and #Cathsorority.
3. Tweet! Be yourself, be a good defender of the faith, be funny, be informative, be helpful, just be tweeting! Before you follow anyone, tweet a few things that would make someone stop and decide to follow you.
4. Follow people! I have gathered a list of about 460 (and growing) Tweeps entitled, “Catholic Awesomeness.” You can follow the whole list so you can see when I update it, but you need to click the individual follow buttons next to the tweeples’ names in order to get their tweets. UPDATE: That list grew to be too full of Catholic awesomeness, so I had to create a new one. Enjoy both!
5. Retweet. This one is pretty easy, but shouldn’t be overused. To retweet, which rhymes with repeat (see the progression of logic that is Twitter?), is to share another person’s tweet with your followers. You can click the “retweet” button on the web-based Twitter, copy and paste the tweet into the field where you would type your tweet (making sure to give credit. Ex: “RT @EHillgrove: I just love @VirtuousPla_net! It is such a great resource!”), or you can use a desktop-based application to retweet (Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc).
- Retweeting flatters the original tweeter, it allows you to comment on a tweet (Ex: “You are so right! Hey, me too! RT @EHillgrove: Being Catholic is awesome! I love Jesus!”), and it spreads more information around the interwebs.
6. Thank people for following you… individually. Some tweeters use an automated follow-back or direct messaging service to operate their Twitter feeds. There is really no reason anyone starting out on Twitter or someone with fewer than 3000 followers would need to use one of these services to thank their new followers.
7. In the same vein, the only way Twitter can be a valuable tool for e-vangelizing is if we foster relationships on it. Make friends, have inside jokes, and retweet your friends’ blog posts or interesting articles. When people ask for prayers on Twitter, grant them your time. Consider it a small investment in the joy of other people and work on the unique relationships that come out of a Twitter friendship.
8. Connect your Facebook to your Twitter. Some may frown on this, but if you’re having trouble getting into the Twitter groove, it will kickstart your time on Twitter. More info here.
9. Sign up for Dlvr.it and have your favorite blogs’ posts automatically tweeted. Now, listen carefully: if you don’t break it up with a few “Hey there, I’m a real person” tweets, this is not a helpful tip. Signing up for Dlvr.it allows you to input some RSS feeds of your blog and your favorite blogs (as well as a place to proceed the auto-generated link with something like “via @EHillgrove,” to alert the blogger that you tweeted out their blog post). Overusing it makes your followers feel like you’re not really there.
10. Create lists. Twitter allows you to follow people of all shapes and sizes and then organize them into separate lists. The lists can be private (only you can view them) or public. Some of mine include: Catholic Awesomeness, pro-life, travel, have met, DIY, decorating, art, and Richmond. Don’t be afraid to diversify, you can organize them into lists and then access those lists to find content related to your interests.
You might be thinking, “Hey, why should I listen to you?” And I would answer, “Hey, why did you wait so long to ask me that?”
I do this for a living. Yes, Twitter is part of my daily life. But I also think it’s a great tool for news, idea sharing, and friendship fostering, as I have said many times. Blogs like this aim to e-vangelize by pumping the interwebs with Catholic rhetoric that supports the Magisterium. Why not start with Twitter?
*Original photo of Pope Benedict XVI can be found here. I altered it with the Twitter bird perched on his hat, which would undoubtedly happen in real life.
For more… www.elizabethhillgrove.com. Thank you!