The power of Twitter is two-fold: the people and the information. First, you can find and connect with others who share your interests, developing appropriate online relationships with peers. By contributing and “listening,” you can become part of a professional or ministry network. Second, through your newsfeed or by searching for specific #hashtags, you can stay on top of news and trends in any particular interest or industry. This is especially true for niche interests, like Catholic ministry or catechesis!
So the best way for beginners to leverage their Twitter account is in their list of who they are “following.” The most recent tweets of people you follow will show up in your news feed. The more people you follow, and the better their content, the more useful Twitter will be for you. How do you find such folks?
1) Look at your actual desk! Pick up a publication you trust, and leaf through it to see if they have a Twitter logo (which indicates they have an account). Generally, their username will be listed also.
To find US Catholic magazine on Twitter, type “@USCatholic” into the search box. When you see the match, then click the follow box.
2) Look online for a website’s “follow us” and twitter icon. Click, and it will link to their Twitter account. In this screenshot of an America magazine page, you can see the “Follow Us” and Twitter button in their header, just under “Catholic Weekly.”
Now, in both of these examples, you’re following established news sources for content you trust delivered in a different way. In my opinion, the best people to follow are individuals dedicated to what I’m interested in. How to find those?
3) Search for #hashtags that you want to know more about by noticing a mention of them, on Twitter, Facebook, at a workshop or even in an article. For instance, the above screenshot article is about an interesting event and conversation… that was on media blackout, but (perhaps) allowed live Tweeting under the hashtag #DolanColbert or #Dolbert. By searching for #Dolbert (the apparently spontaneous hashtag!), I found a plethora of tweets that linked to articles from people at the event, like Cardinal Dolan’s opening comments, OR reflections from outside observers.
In the hashtag search results, when you see a tweet that seems interesting, click on the username to bring up that person’s profile. Read through a page of their tweets, and you’ll get a sense of their style. If you like what you read, click the follow button. (It’s easy to undo, or unfollow, someone later if you change your mind.) You can also make up and search for hashtags to see if you get any results, such as #catholic or #RCIA or #youthministry.
4) When you find a person you love, look at who they’re following. The cliche is doubled on Twitter: “Birds of a feather flock together.” When you find a person with a similar ministry position or interest, looking at who they follow is sure to lead to other great finds. Here’s a great example of someone interested in technology, teaching and Catholicism:
Take a look at the main, right side column: FOLLOWING. Scroll through this list to find new leads. Sometimes, reading the short profile is enough for me to make a decision. Other times, I’ll click their name and read through tweets. In the bottom left corner of the screenshot above, you can also see how Twitter will recommend other accounts that are similar to what you’re looking for. Warning: there’s always a “promoted” or ad choice in there!
5) Ask others on Twitter. If you know someone on Twitter, ask them to recommend a few people for you to follow. For example, if you’re looking for Catholic news, check out the article by @srsusan. For teaching Catholic classes, there’s @jareddees (above screenshot), @paprockij or @sullijo. For RCIA, try @TeamRCIA. Don’t be shy to ask… Twitter is, after all, a social network!
These five steps are great to begin building your Twitter network. What’s your favorite way of finding new people to follow? Comment below or send me a tweet: @Kristine717