Rebecca Bowman Woods, DisciplesWorld news and website editor

Rebecca Bowman Woods, DisciplesWorld news and website editor

Wow, what a week it’s been. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) had more than its 15 minutes of fame, with General Minister and President Sharon Watkins preaching a challenging and solid sermon during the presidential inaugural prayer service.

With our editor and publisher, Verity Jones, there in D.C. for some of the festivities, we decided to amp up our social media efforts.  We’re fairly new to Twitter, but tried to tweet there (spotty cell phone service and freezing cold hands made this difficult for Verity on Tuesday). We learned how to upload photos to our Facebook page (Verity’s got 3 albums up, and Wanda Bryant Wills of Communications Ministries graciously allowed us to post photos she took there also) and of the importance of having a back up camera battery (Yep, I’ve been there and done that too). We wrote articles and posted them on our website, linked, and blogged (scroll down for some great updates from Verity). Now we’ll step back and debrief on it, see what worked and what didn’t.

Meanwhile, we’re introducing a new feature: Social Friday. We’ll use Friday’s blog entry to lift up something happening in the world of social media, share what others (Disciples, church folks, or really, anyone) are doing, what’s new, what’s interesting. Ideas are welcome, as are guest bloggers, so if you’re interested or want to tip us off about something cool, email me at news@disciplesworld.com.

Since we’re just introducing the feature today, I’m going to take the easy way out and link to something cool that was shared this week (thanks Jeff Gill): The 5 Stages of Twitter Acceptance. This comes from Rohit Bhargava, a contributer to the SocialMediaToday blog.

“What’s Twitter?” you ask. Technically, it’s called microblogging. You create an account with a profile and a photo (like Facebook), and then you start posting stuff – what you’re doing at the moment (again, like the status updates in FB), links to interesting items you’ve found on the web, things like that. The catch: your post must be 140 characters or less. (the Tiny Url website has become my best friend for link-shortening).

There’s another component to Twitter, sort of like friending on Facebook – people can “follow” you (meaning that they receive your updates on their Home page in Twitter), and you can follow other people. Some Twitters have thousands of followers, others have just a handful, and that’s ok.

Once you get going (again, this goes back to the 5 Stages) you start playing around with @replies (public posts that are directed at another Twitterer with whom you have a follower-following relationship). You can also “retweet” other people’s posts – this is one way information gets spread around. And you can send a direct message (private email) to people you know.

What I’ve learned (and so as not to be pretending to be too hip for the room here, I’m at about stage 3 of the 5 stages) is mostly that you just have to get on there and play around. Look at what other people are posting, how they format it, what they share. Watch the “public” timeline (the conglomeration of everything that’s being posted, starting with the most recent posts — you can opt out of having your posts appear here but you can still view it). Find a few people you know, check out who they follow. Most people don’t require approval for you to follow them on Twitter (unlike Facebook, although you can exercise this option in Twitter). So if you’ve been hearing about Twitter, my advice (as a Twitter novice moving up through the Stages) is to get on there, play around, and see what happens. And here’s an excellent article from PBS’ website that explains the Twitter phenomenon and will have you tweeting in no time.

So come and follow us on Twitter. Learn from our mistakes, and evolve with us. And send us your ideas for the next Social Friday blog entry.

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