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Your questions about Twitter answered

By Tracy Wood

Twitter is akin to a worldwide party to which everyone received an invitation. Read answers to 10 of the top questions people ask about this great social media tool.

1. How can I get the most mileage from a tweet?

For many people, Twitter has become their first stop for breaking news. To make your tweet stand out among the billions sent each day, it is important that your tweets are fresh and topical. There is little point retweeting stale "news." Stay on the hot topic and add your own insight.

2. About what should I tweet?

Tweet content that has value to users, such as personal and professional insights or original content. If you have links to new articles on living like Christ, an infographic you've designed, an upcoming church activity, a blog post you've authored, an answered prayer or a mobile photo, you may generate interest. Check out this article about the best time of the day to tweet.

3. How can I use #hashtags effectively?

You have seen tweets that include four different hashtags. For many Twitter users, this is an annoyance. The true value of hashtags is that they enable both your followers and the hashtag's followers to see your updates. Visit to find hashtags that are relevant to your tweets as well as viewing their volume and trend data. Also, visit, which defines trending hashtags and allows individuals to add their own. Watch this video on 5 ways to use hashtags.

4. What is a tweetchat?

A tweetchat is an effective, low-cost way of attracting new followers to your Twitter account. A tweetchat is a prearranged chat that happens through tweets that include a predefined hashtag to link those tweets in a virtual conversation. If you are new to tweetchat, observe a few chats to see how they work. Check out #dreamumc and #10foldumc.

5. How can I use Twitter to best promote my offline/online events?

First, create a volunteer team to manage your social media campaigns. Next, while still in the planning stage, decide on a hashtag that best relates to your event - either the name (if it is short) or an acronym (if it is long). Use this hashtag on all marketing materials about your event. Most importantly, tweet the hashtag from your Twitter account in the days leading up to the actual event. Be sure to follow anyone who engages with you on Twitter and expresses interest in the event. If possible, use live tweeting during the actual event.

6. How can I use Twitter to encourage conversation?

Twitter provides a stream of commentary and conversation about anything and everything. When conversations are tagged with an appropriate hashtag, Twitter users from all over the world can join in. There are many hashtags, but here are some popular hashtags for churches. In addition to text tweets, photos (via Twitpic or Instagram) can be just as powerful in engaging dialogue. Ask questions and add layers of discussion with your followers.

7. What should I avoid when tweeting?

Keeping your tweets succinct and to the point will go a long way toward getting them noticed. Avoid superlatives as much as possible. Consider keyword optimizing your tweets so that those interested in a specific term will discover them.

8. What can I do if someone hijacks my Twitter account?

The easiest way to combat hijackers is to link your Twitter handle to your website, and vice versa. This is called a "cross-link" and confirms to Twitter that the account is official. Be proactive by considering any future Twitter handles you may need. Be sure to be active on Twitter or else your account is more vulnerable. If you only check your account once a month, just deactivate your account until you have time to manage social media. If someone does hijack your account, go to the Twitter Help Center.

9. How can I "untweet" a tweet?

Twitter is essentially the same as a written conversation with the entire world. Once you post a tweet, it is out in cyberspace forever. Watch what you post. Even though you can delete a tweet, it remains in RSS feeds, caches and other exports avenues like Facebook.

10. Who should tweet for our church?

How often will you tweet? What will you say? Who will say it? How will you become part of the conversation? Whatever you decide, it's best to have a social media policy with official guidelines outlining best practices as well as the dos and don'ts of what tweeters can say. Represent your church in a positive light and make sure your tweets reflect your overall communications strategy.

* Editor's note: It is with great sorrow that we share with you the death of MyCom writer and friend, Tracy Wood, on Nov. 1, 2013. Tracy was a certified, recognized and undeniable original, and we will miss her dearly.