I absolutely love Twitter. What started out as a ‘let’s see what the buzz is all about’ quickly became an indispensable part of my daily life. Since I started my blog, my love for Twitter has only grown. I’ve met many supportive, interesting, kind people through Twitter and I can’t count the things I’ve learned through the wisdom of other tweeps (which is lingo for twitter people). That’s why I thought I’d share some of my insights with you in 10 definite Twitter-do’s.

1. Make a profile

The first thing I do when I encounter a new name in someone else’s tweet, in a blogpost or through a notice of a new follower, is look at their profile. So make sure you put something there. If people follow me, I always look for clues in their profile to see if they’re ‘interesting’ to me. If you’re in youth ministry for instance or if you’re a pastor, don’t forget to mention it in your profile! And if you’re smart, you’ll put in a link to your website or blog. Here’s my profile for example:

Rachel Blom (rachelblom) on Twitter-1

2. Picture please

Fot the longest time, I used a picture of a sheep as my Twitter avatar. It matched my website and there was nothing wrong with it, yet I decided to use a picture of myself instead. The reason was that I wanted to be more personal, to not hide behind a logo, but to be real. The interesting thing was that I got a lot of positive reactions to using that picture, including from tweeps I’d never met who said they were really happy to see what I looked like. I strongly recommend you to put a picture in your profile. It makes your Twitter profile more personal, more attractive and more real.

3. Use an easy and personal Twitter handle

I recently changed my Twitter handle (name) from @youthleadersac to @rachelblom. There were two reasons for that. The first was that a lot of people din’t read it right and read ‘youth leader sac’ which was kind of weird. But the most important reason was that I wanted to be more ‘me’. My blog isn’t who I am, it’s an important thing that I do, but I’m more than just my blog. So think carefully about your Twitter name. Don’t hide behind funny names, logos, blog names, etc. Just be you and use your own name whenever possible.

4. Tweet

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? But I have unfollowed many people who have a Twitter account, have followers and then just don’t tweet. Oh, once or twice a month they’ll write something and then they’re gone again. When I see people do that, I unfollow because I feel they don’t take me seriously. Twitter is a social medium, which means you have to actually be social. So tweet regularly. It doesn’t have to be every hour but a few tweets a day should keep your followers happy.

5. Reply

When someone sends you a tweet, reply. It doesn’t have to be within the hour or even the same day, but you should reply. Again, it’s a social medium and when people are talking to you, you should say something back. Preferably something nice. And yes, if and when you have 5+ million followers like the famous British actor Stephen Fry, you’re excused. Though he is famous for replying to random tweets from his followers even now.

6. Share photos

I love seeing photos. I don’t care of it’s your dog, your kid, your new car or the chocolate pie you just made. Seeing an image from your life makes me feel like I know you a little better because we shared something. It takes a little effort to post a picture, but it’s worth the while, trust me.

7. Retweet

When you see a great tweet, something insightful, funny or a link to a wonderful post, retweet. That’s what the whole retweet button is for. Just make sure you don’t retweet everything interesting that comes your way, because it will make your own tweets drown in all the retweet waves. And please make sure you give credit to the original author of the tweet by including his/her tweet name. Sometimes that means you’ll have to shorten the tweet (which means that if you want people to retweet your tweet, make sure it’s not too long so it can be retweeted without editing. Leaving 20 or so characters blank should do the trick).

8. Tweet your blog posts

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to link to your own blog in a tweet announcing a new blogpost. As a matter of fact, I wholeheartedly advise you to do so. I have discovered many a great blog through tweets that piqued my curiosity. I do appreciate it though if you don’t tweet about your blog constantly. Say, ten times a day, every time the same tweet. And the same goes for your new book you want me to read or buy. Tweet it, sure, but keep it real. Nobody wants to be clobbered over the head, and I can guarantee you I will not only unfollow you right away if you keep tweeting the same lines, but I’ll make sure to never buy your book.

9. Be real

As cheesy as it may sound: if I’m following you, it’s because I’m interested in you. Something in your profile or earlier tweets appealed to me and made me follow you. And I will keep following you if you keep it real. It’s fine to share a quote or Bible verse that inspired you or touched you, but I’m usually more interested in why it struck a chord in you that in the lines itself. Tweet about yourself, about your life, about what makes you happy/sad/energetic/tired/angry etc. And I promise, I’ll read it. Because I have a life that keeps me on my toes as well, and I can identify with your daily things much more easily than with any platitude or word of wisdom someone else wrote.

10. Be positive

Nobody likes people who complain all the time and who are constantly angry. Of course you can complain every now and then. Life isn’t always a smooth ride and you can share the bumps as well, but try and keep perspective. And remember that as a youth pastor, you should be careful of what you post online.

That’s my list of 10 definite Twitter-do’s. Which ones do you agree with? Do you have any more? Drop a comment!