Yesterday I explained why I use Twitter, and I gave an introduction to the basics of the Twitterverse. Today I want to explain how to get the most out of Twitter.
Who to follow:
That depends on what you want to get out of Twitter. Do you want to see what your pastor is preaching on Sunday? The follow him. Do you want to see who what NFL rules experts are saying about every controversial play in the Super Bowl in real time? Then follow Mike P.
I follow a mixture of people that make me laugh, people that tweet quotes from Puritans, and friends of mine who like the same kind of blogs I do. That mixture means that when I open Twitter I chuckle, see ministry highlights from a few of my friends, and get a hint or two about any blogs I might want to read that day.
Every month or so I add a few new people to follow and drop some others, so that I’m always following around 50 people. Some people tweet more than I want to read, or about topics I don’t care about, and so I don’t follow them. And I just live in a world where it is OK/not personal to follow someone for a while then unfollow them. If you take it personally that someone doesn’t follow you (or unfollows you), then Twitter probably is not a good medium for you.
Yesterday in the comments I was asked about those who follow thousands of people (for example). I don’t understand those people, but I can only imagine they are using Twitter in ways I’m not familiar with.
You can reply to other’s tweets by pressing the reply key below them. Any time you do that, their user name starts your tweet. IMPORTANT POINT: If someone’s twitter handle is the first part of your tweet, your tweet will only be automatically seen by those people who follow both you and that person. Anyone else can see it, but only if they scroll through your timeline. So for example, this exchange below was seen only by those who follow both Eric and Joe–unfortunately for them, that happens to be me:
@EricTeetsel Bates and Anna’s love has not been tested yet. This show still has me hooked.
— Joe Portnoy (@joe_portnoy) January 13, 2014
But what do you do if you really want your reply to be seen by all of your followers, and not only those that follow both of you? You have two choices: either remove their handle (their twitter name) from the reply, or move away from the beginning of the reply. This is why some people put a period or a quote mark before their tweet if it begins with someone’s handle:
.@BarackObama is coming to the Triangle today! Just in time, too. I’ve had this nagging cough for weeks & I need a diagnosis.
— Fake J.D. Greear (@FakeJDGreear) January 15, 2014
“@UberFacts: The Bible is the number one most shoplifted book of all time.” The true crime really, is selling the word of God. Should b free
— CHRISTIAN DELA CAMPA (@CHRISDELACAMPA) January 8, 2014
Or you could get more creative than a period and put “Agreed” or “disagree” or “are you crazy” or whatever before the reply. If you do that, it is seen by everyone who follows you, not just by those who follow both of you. Had this tweet started with only @ndwilsonmutters, it would have only been seen by those that follow both CT and Nathan Wilson. But by adding “From” it is seen by everyone who follows CT:
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) January 15, 2014
You might see some people put an HT before someone’s handle. That simply means that whatever is in that particular tweet was brought to the person’s attention by that person. It stands essentially for “hat tip” and translates to “this person alerted me to this.” So if you see a cool thought by Piper, and you tweak it to make it your own, you would put “HT @johnpiper” there.
— Phil Johnson (@Phil_Johnson_) January 10, 2014
MT simply means “Modified Tweet.” So if you take someone else’s tweet, but for some mysterious reason you don’t want to simply retweet it, you can copy it into your own tweet (or select the “quote” option from the retweet button), then edit it. So for example, if I see a tweet from @austin_duncan that says the best preachers of all time are Spurgeon, Finney, and Edwards, I think, “I want to say something about that.” So I’d quote it, and write something like “2 out of 3 is ok. MT @austintduncan The best preachers ever are Spurgeon, Edwards, Finney.” I tweaked the order and shortened it to get it to fit, but the MT indicates that. This isn’t graduate level research here, but it is letting people know you altered the quote a bit.
— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) January 11, 2014
There are two ways people use hashtags. We will call them the “right” way and the #wrongway. First the right way:
The pound sign serves as a hashtag, which is a cool feature on Twitter that allows someone to immediately see all tweets with the same hashtag. So for example, if you wanted to tweet about the Strange Fire conference, you’d include #strangefire in the tweet. Then when anyone wants to read everything tweeted about the conference, they can click on any tweet with the tag in it, and they will be taken to feed with every single tweet that used that hashtag.
“If you want to hear from God, read your Bible. If you want to hear Him audibly, read it out loud.” – Justin Peters #strangefire
— Rob Moore (@Pilgrim_83) January 13, 2014
Sometimes people use a hashtag for a particular theme. Such as “#evangelicalpickuplines. Then all kinds of random people that you wouldn’t normally interact with post their own replies, and you can see them all at once.
— Church Curmudgeon (@ChrchCurmudgeon) November 16, 2013
But some people use hashtags in what I will call “the wrong way.” They use it to say something clever, and basically the tag stops being a tag and starts being the equivalent of making fake quotation marks in the air when you are talking. In fact, I bet it is the same kind of people that do both.
But, to each his own.
Is there anything missing from above? Any other questions or things you’d like to add?