Monday, February 27, 2012

All about TWITTER

  Let's face it folks.  Our world is being built on the latest greatest technologies with the world of the INTERNET as the backbone.  It's nearly impossible to go 'back-to-basics', as some would say.  Those 'basics' almost don't even work in the U.S. these days.  You actually may lead a healthier and happier life if you embrace these 'modern advances' with a cautious restraint, a little skepticism, and always a healthy dose of knowledge. 
  When we have a question - any question - we don't need to seek out a dictionary, an encyclopedia or even someone knowledgeable;  We have Google.  When we need to connect to a friend, we don't need to write them a letter in the mail (SNAIL MAIL), or drive over to their house, or even make a phone call.  They are a mere text, email or social network message away.  And the beauty of these options, is that there is no obligation to carry on a mundane conversation, or to answer immediately.  One can take one's time to think about the question, and get back to them when it's convenient.
  I am writing today to tell you a little bit about Twitter.  You can learn about them by visiting their page, and/or - of course - Googling them and reading their history.  I'm going to tell you why I use it, and what value it holds in my life.

  I've had my Twitter account for quite a while, but didn't use it until I got my smart phone almost a year ago.  Since then, I've been using Twitter regularly through my phone and my laptop.  The SINGLE MOST attribute of Twitter that has attracted and held me:  EVERYONE is limited to only 140 characters in each post.  This forces people to stop chattering with useless information - and get creative on how to get their point across in such a small space.  SOOOOOO much different than facebook - guaranteed.  There's even a "Twitter Jail" that someone will be locked up in if they over-post. 
  We'll start off at my Twitter account:  @jncutright (all Twitter profile names are preceded by @).

 This is a screenshot of my profile page from Chrome Browser on my laptop.  The top is a very short bio, my custom picture and stats on my tweets. The left is buttons to show my recent tweets, who I'm following, my favorites, etc.  The right side displays the clicked buttons, currently showing a list of who I'm following.  Pretty basic and simple.  I chose the purple background also.  That's customizable. But you don't have to if you don't want.  If you're at your computer a lot, you could choose to leave this site open on your browser, and it will update itself automatically or you can hit refresh whenever you want.
  There are many different types of 'dashboards' or external programs to access Twitter without using their website.  The most common and popular being HootSuite, BufferApp and TweetDeck.  There are hundreds more (Google 'Twitter programs'), but these should get you started.  Most of these sites offer multiple network access (ie:  check out feeds from Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and LinkedIn all at once), multiple network posting with one click, business-oriented themes and options and even more if you pay for the app.  Some of these open in your browser, and some will become their own window on your desktop for easy viewing at all times.
  I mostly use my phone to access Twitter and other social networks.  Since we are talking about Twitter, I'll try to stick to the subject.  I have an HTC Incredible 1 through Verizon Network.  It is Android based with HTC Sense overlay.  However - I have 'rooted' my phone, thus 'hacking' into it's framework in order to change it and customize it as I see fit.  It's basically just an Android phone right now.  That fact aside, these are some screenshots showing first one of my home pages with two different widgets:
Twitter's official Android App on top.  TweetCaster's App on the bottom.
 This second screenshot is the TweetCaster App open to the list of tweets by the people I follow:  I can scroll up and down, or use the tabs at the top to search for people, see direct messages (like an email in Twitter), and view tweets that I've 'starred' as my favorites (things I want to remember). (I don't pay for apps, so they get stuck with annoying ads at the bottom, but you can close it on some)

Once again, pretty basic and simple.  All you need is a smartphone.
  Now, I can't speak for iPhones, Blackberries, or Windows Phones, because I don't have one - purposely (I can give you my reasons another time if you wish to debate on which phone would be best).

  Let me tell you a little bit about the folks I follow.  I currently follow 27 people - and only 6 of them are people I know personally.  The majority are big names in the world ( world anyways).
  My very first Tweep (you gotta use silly names like this for people on twitter...): Chevelle, a rock band that I really enjoy.  For the most part, they only post about once a week and it's something to do with their tour schedule.  In addition to my musical inspirations is Air1Radio and one of their hosts Brant Hansen.  They, in turn, led me to follow Cure International (talk about an amazing ministry to listen in on).
  My biggest list includes my 'spiritual/biblical' teachers:  Kay Warren, Rick Warren, Dr. Jim Reeve (Pastor at our new church), Faith Church (our new church), Steven Furtick, James McDonald and Pastor Rick Dorr.  These fine leaders post verses, anecdotes, sermon quotes, links, prayer requests, praise reports and links throughout the day.  Biggest Tweeter:  Rick Warren - he tweets all day long and into the night.  He DOES NOT use an auto-tweeter either, so he must not get much sleep.  But every single post is direct and worth every minute it takes to read them.  Sample tweet by Rick Warren:  "If people tell me "We worship the same God" I say "Are you sure? My God is Jesus Christ & I believe God is Trinity"".
  I follow Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, outstanding author and blogger) and Andy Stanley (Son of Charles Stanley, gifted preacher at North Point Church) as my Leadership go-to guys.  They post links to great podcasts, articles and blogs.
  My financial counseling via Twitter is one and only:  Dave Ramsey and his radio show The Dave Ramsey Show.  He says awesome stuff all day long - and isn't afraid to reply to the haters.
  Finally, a smattering of my interests includes (sorry no links) Xbox, GuildWars2, UFConXboxLive, and FitPregnancy.  They offer news and info regarding their particular subjects and links to helpful articles.  I even won free tickets for a UFC event through their Twitter page.
  The best part is - none of these people I follow tweet about 'what they had for lunch' or 'when they're headed to bed', like we see so often on facebook.  Not that it's a problem, but I feel that Twitter is my little world of 'strictly-helpful-posts' that are no more than a sentence long.  Just right for a quick glance.  Also - just right for retweeting when I find something I feel the rest of either my followers or other networks should read.  If you follow me on facebook, you'll see I often post things that appear with the RT @ 'so-and-so', with 'by Tweetcaster' at the bottom.
   I highly recommend you give it a shot before passing it off as too technological for you, or that you think you'll be addicted like you are to facebook.  You'll never develop healthy self-control unless you're presented with situations that require it.  (I should tweet that)
  There are a million other articles on how to use Twitter efficiently - which you probably don't need unless you're using it for a big-time ministry or a business.  Feel free to follow me, I won't spam you with useless over-posting.  (I don't want to go to jail...).  
  As a side note -be aware of scammers, spammers and general weirdos on Twitter -just like everywhere else in the world.  I used to select the option to 'approve' those who want to follow me - and I got emails constantly to approve people I didn't know and that had VERY SKETCHY profiles.  I rejected them all day long - then I figured, what's it gonna hurt?  Once someone is following you, it's not like you will ever see posts by them.  They only see your posts - and all I ever post is verses and quotes from my fav pastors.  That seems like a good deal.  The only reason these kinds of people 'follow' you initially:  they think you'll do the customary twitter-good-etiquette of 're-following'.  They are 'friend-gatherers'.   You'll meet these people on all social networking.  I just refuse to 're-follow'.  Plain and simple. I never even know they are there.
  Let me know if you have any questions - I'll help as much as I can. 

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Jen. An insightful look into practical reasons why Twitter adds value to your life. Many people have the pre-conceived notion that Twitter users are all self-absorbed narcissists tweeting about their latest breakup. Not so, as you've so clearly pointed out.