external image twitter_logo_header.pngDefinition

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Messages can be sent and received via the Twitter website on a computer or cell phone, using Short Message Service (SMS), or external applications. It is sometimes described as "SMS of the Internet."

Twitter is particularly effective for covering a real time event. Many journalists are serious users of Twitter.


A topic, keyword, common descriptive term preceeded by the # sign, included in the body of the text. Because there are only 140 characters, hashtag length should be considered. Common tagging in a community allows message recipients to get all messages on a topic without subscribing to all posters of those messages or messages not on a desired topic. Twitter users apply hashtags outside of community; trending topics is a popular way to follow (mostly pop culture or news) topics.
  • Hashtags.org gives you the past week's worth of messages. Lookup #sudan
  • Mashable on getting the most from hashtags

Twitter Tools

  • Twitter clients are the readers you install to cell phones or computers. They come in many varieties and are sometimes platform specific. Twitstat provides a daily ranking of Twitter clientsin use. Google compare twitter clients.
  • Twubs are Twitter groups built around content aggregated from #hashtags.These pages can pull several feeds and display them together; in addition to the twitter feed, external images, videos, hyperlinks, calendar functions.
  • Twitter badges and widgets deliver the Twitter feed to web pages and other social media.
  • Blog devoted to Twitter widgets

Twitter without setting up a Twitter account

Because of the ability to receive Twitter posts over the text messaging (SMS) of a cell phone, many church groups have used this function to include group members who are less comfortable with web 2.0 applications.

Using a cell phone:
  • FOLLOW username: this command allows you to start following a specific user, as well as receive SMS notifications. Example: FOLLOW jerry
  • LEAVE username: this command allows you to stop receiving SMS notifications for a specific user. Example: LEAVE jerry
  • Send this SMS to 40404 (Twitter's location)
  • More SMS commands for Twitter
Using a website:
The Twubs site is very useful. It follows a hashtag and presents the Twitter feed on a web page.

Twitter in Ministry

  • Twitter for Churches. com blog and book: Twitter allows churches to send quick updates, drive traffic to websites & remind people of events more efficiently than ever.
  • On Good Friday 2009, trinitywallstreet.org reached out to the worldwide community with online Stations of the Cross, and produced a Passion Play on the social networking site Twitter. The Stations, which were also syndicated so that parishes and organizations could use them on their websites, were viewed more than 6,500 times via trinitywallstreet.org and other sites. The twittered Passion Play was picked up by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the AP. By the end of the day it had more than 2000 followers.

Twitter Resources

  • Twitter writes tips for business application. Sections include: Learn the Basics; Optimize your Activity; Promoted Tweets, Accounts, Trends; Analytics
  • Mashable's Guide book (2009) includes: Twitter 101; Building Community; Business applications; Sharing; Managing your Twitter stream
  • If you are on LinkedIn, consider joining the Twitter for Communicators (closed group). Created March, 2009, it has (on 6/11) almost 2,500 members and active discussion.