Eugene Cho

to twitter or not to twitter

Upon my return from the Idea Camp,  I was pretty stunned by the elevation and usage of all forms of technology – including social networking.  I thought I was pretty tech savvy but such was not the case.  One of the tech languages is something called “Twitter.”  

Some of you may be using it right now and if so, help me out with some of my questions as I consider ‘to Twitter or Not to Twitter.’ I also have a feeling that there are many readers that are unsure about Twitter and have doubts and questions of its benefits .

My three questions:

  • Bluntly: Should I use it?  Why?
  • How has it personally benefitted you?
  • And what are your tips if I use Twitter?

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46 Responses

  1. Dean says:

    Eugene,

    I’ve used it to great benefit for making personal connections. Web connections via Twitter (I use TweetDeck to manage my Twitter account, which lets you pull in search terms and such). I’m working toward a Christian community in Detroit and I’ve been able to find people based on their search terms and get to know them. It’s resulted in lots of face to face coffee chats and then partnerships and friendships.

    Like much of the new media, Twitter can suck away hours of your time to no end, but if used properly and to a purpose, Twitter can be a huge ally in whatever you are doing.

  2. Michael W says:

    I use it. At the very least, it is just a facebook status update. I have them connected, so when I update my twitter, it automatically updates my facebook status. It is easy to send a text from my cell phone (I just have a regular cell phone, no blackberry or iphone) to my twitter with an update.

    It is fun to search around, follow people, and search popular phrases and terms.

    For example, you can search “Happy Hour near:Minneapolis” and find everyone near minneapolis who has the words ‘happy hour’ in their tweets. Good if you want to find a good happy hour special.

    Granted, I have never actually done that, but it is possible 🙂

  3. d says:

    PE, check out this Introduction videos from Twitter:

  4. Benny Salas says:

    I think you should twitter! I has helped me reach out to many people spiritually through updating status for Facebook and has allowed me to also have other leaders pour into my life. Also has connected me more to whats going on in the Christian community. I have been waiting for you to twitter anyways.

  5. Tyler says:

    I think it connects well off of blogging. Some people use it to just tell others what they are doing (like some blogs), and some people use it to pass information (like other blogs). I kind of use is as a combo (like my blog) and I’ve found it a great way to network, and a faster way to communicate. I’d love it if you twittered Eugene. You’d have a follower in me 🙂

  6. Tyler says:

    by the way…i watched your portion of the ideacamp online and really enjoyed what you had to say. thanks eugene.

  7. Hey Eugene,

    I’m a big twitter fan, but I’m not one of the “mega-power user” types that wants to have 20,000 followers but no interaction.

    As to if you should tweet or not, well, that depends on you. When I first started it was something novel. Actually, I thought it was quite foolish. Then, I found some friends, then I met those friends, then I started “networking” with those friends. Now I follow techmeme to get tech news, BBC to get a Euro view on things and I’m trying to limit the number of people I follow because I enjoy relationships and interaction.

    In addition to enjoyable chat, I’ve found twitter is a great resource for a wide range of opinion, information and crowd sourcing. I find some people motivate me (I love Guy Kawasaki for instance, and Jason Calacanas) and some people annoy me but provoke thought.

    I’ve found twitter to be beneficial for sharing the faith (after building relationships – not just spouting verses for goodness sake!), I even tweet the message from the second row of the sanctuary on some Sundays. Twitter has helped me to send two OLPCs to help kids in Haiti (where I’ve been on missions trips). So, really, I’ve found it to be an incredible benefit on many different fronts.

    It’s easy to use, the right tools (twhirl and tweetdeck are the two I use most) allow me to watch things without drowning in the huge flood of tweets going by. So, decide if you want lots of followers or a smaller interactive crowd, pick a tool and jump in if you’d like. The water is fine!

    I think the answers to your questions are in there, just one caveat. Be careful, it can suck serious time!

  8. I jumped into the twitter and facebook world a couple of months ago, and found twitter to be especially appealing. Main reason is the ease with which you can connect with folks, and the immediacy of the feedback you receive. In many respects, twitter is like micro-blogging – many of the random thoughts/links I would have put on my blog in the past, I now put on twitter.

    Downside is it can be a time drain if you don’t put limits on it — easy to become addicted…

    Incidentally, I’m putting a link to this post in a twitter tweet to solicit feedback from other twitter-ers…

  9. Daniel Azuma says:

    I don’t Twitter. With the caveat that I’ve only poked around with it a little, and haven’t actually used it for a sustained period of time, I’m suspicious of the benefit of microblogging, compared with the real discourse made possible by real blogs. Twitter (intentionally) doesn’t provide enough space or breathing room for significant or thoughtful conversation, and so it devolves into a means for broadcasting shallow and largely meaningless tidbits into the ether. I suspect it thus has a tendency to spread online social relations thin, a tendency that then of course necessarily leaks into offline social relations.

  10. d says:

    Bluntly: Should I use it? Why?
    — You are pretty much already “twittering” with FB status updates. might as well start an account and have it update your fb status’ as Michael W suggested.

    How has it personally benefited you?
    –I have 2 accounts, one personal, one for vfx work. my personal one is nice because i don’t have the time or patience for entire blog posts. tweets work better for me. but the real benefit has been through my vfx account, which lets me connect with and follow industry heads. it’s great to get news, links, comments, daily-happenings and even feedback from pros i would never have the opportunity to meet otherwise.

    And what are your tips if I use Twitter?
    — Don’t tweet every hour like some do. it’s annoying and takes up valuable screen space for those following you. i stopped following some people because their tweets were numerous, annoying and all-together useless. only follow people you are interested getting tweets from, otherwise you’ll be scrolling through pages and pages of,”i drank coffee today” types of updates. choose your account name wisely, it cannot be changed. people following you receive all your updates, even if you are not following them. you can lock your account so that all your updates are private and only visible to those you allow, you probably won’t do this =P. you can follow someone and respond to an update with @, and they will receive it, even if they are not following you. and most importantly, i just started following @levarburton because he is the man.

    http://twitter.com/numalab
    http://twitter.com/dshin78

  11. danw says:

    Of course you should twitter. All the cool cats do (including myself). I’ve had friends tweet with links to interesting and informative articles, I follow a couple local politicians, so get updates on what they’re doing in Seattle, I’ve kept in touch with some long distance friends. For me, it’s mostly about the quick stream of information regarding issues I find important. I follow one of the reporters for the P-I, so get instant headlines for articles they’re working on. I follow a couple musicians, so get instant info when they schedule shows. Granted, there’s a lot of tweeting that’s pretty needless, and it can feed our addiction to shallow but instant communication, but it can also be used to point people to information that they might otherwise never see. And it’s a lot easier to follow people on twitter than to keep checking up on their FB status.

  12. Dan Iwo says:

    Eugene, if you don’t use twitter I will make up your name and twitter for you. LOL. It was great meeting and listening to you at idea camp.

  13. Paul Wang says:

    Eugene, you are doing the Church a great dis-service by not twittering. : )

  14. djchuang says:

    I’ll mention what I said to you in person earlier today, that since you already use Facebook status update, get one of those FB apps that sync’s up your FB status and copies it to Twitter. That’s all.

  15. David says:

    Eugene,

    Twitter has provided me with an incredible way to keep friends, family, those in the ministry I oversee as well as colleagues up to date on what is going on my life/ministry. On the flip side I am able to stay up to date on the happenings of the fore mentioned groups of people.

    I would definitely suggest using twitter.

    I sync mine up with my facebook and blog as well. Just another way to tie everything together.

    David Miles (@dnmiles11 – my twitter name)
    New Life Church, Renton

  16. J. P. says:

    if you get really popular, I bet someone will start twittering as @fakeEugeneCho

  17. GayleO says:

    Hi Eugene!! I use twitter occasionally – I mostly use it to update friends and family on what we’re doing, so that they feel a bit more connected. It’s sometimes also a challenge to phrase concisely in 140 characters all the details of your activities, so it can become an exercise in being blunt (!) or of developing novel ways of conveying your daily routine in a more exciting manner…
    However, do be careful of the pull of Twitter – my husband is a techy person and has put TweetDeck on his phone; I sometimes find myself sitting on a sofa/bed next to him trying to converse/watch tv together and all he’s doing is checking the latest updates from those he’s ‘following’ or waiting to hear the phone ‘tweet’ to announce some more news.. It gets tiring when he does that, though for some part of the appeal is being able to update your status and check others when you’re on the move.. God bless!

  18. daniel so says:

    Eugene — At the prompting of DJ, I joined the Twitterverse a couple of weeks before The Idea Camp. I found it really useful during the conference: real-time feedback for what was resonating, insights & conversations from other conversations, and a lively & engaged community. The downside: huddling for power around the one power strip in the NewSong sanctuary (if you want to make Twitter friends at a conference, bring your own powerstrip!).

    Being a sad non-iPhone user, I found that using an application like Tweetdeck on my computer (or any number of similar programs) helps sort through and organize everything. For me, using my janky old cell phone to Twitter didn’t make much sense.

    Once you become an A-list Twitterati, I’ll totally run your @fakeEugeneCho account 🙂

  19. Michelle says:

    LOL! I posed this same question on my blog last week! I am deciding whether to start or not too. I have not started and am waiting to see if it’s something that would enhance my communication with people. I am not 100% convinced yet but it is an interesting concept.

  20. Rob Go says:

    Hi Eugene,

    A friend of mine forwarded your post. I attend Highrock’s church plant in Brookline (another ECC church). Full disclosure, I work for a firm that is an investor in Twitter.

    Here are my thoughts on your questions:

    1. Should I use it?

    Twitter is a very organic thing, and people are finding new ways to use it every day. My view is that it represents a new form of the “Agora” – or the open, public, marketplace of ideas. Ultimately, we invested in twitter not because it’s the next great social network, but because we believe it is the next great venue of public discourse and real-time information.

    I think it’s important for a pastor like yourself to engage in this discourse and also, to share a bit about your day-to-day life with those who will follow you. It gives a nice bit of color to the person behind the pulpit and the blog posts, and it’s also a great way for you to keep a pulse on the chatter that is occurring every day on the topics you care about.

    2. How has it personally benefited me:

    a. it has helped me deepen my relationships with friends and colleagues who use it.
    b. it has broadened by thinking because of the velocity of thoughts, opinions, and links shared through Twitter by the people I follow.
    c. it has been practically very useful to see what people think about topics in real time (using http://www.search.twitter.com)
    d. it has been useful in helping me share my thoughts and my life more broadly to the outside community of people that are interested in following me.

    3. Tips

    a. You can see a post from my colleague on this: http://bijansabet.com/post/63363337/getting-started-with-twitter

    b. I would suggest using Tweetdeck as a more elegant way to view the site.

    c. I would suggest initially linking your Twitter updates to your Facebook Status updates. This helps overcome the feeling of talking into an empty room initially. You can unlink it later once you feel like your twitter community has taken a life of its own.

    d. I’d let people know through your blog that you are using Twitter.

    e. I’d try to encourage some of your other counterparts at other churches that you respect to start using it as well. It would be great if more leaders in the Christian world had the kinds of following on Twitter that the tech crowd or celebrities like Shaq have amassed.

    Hope this helps. I’ve always wanted to visit Quest, and hope to do so next time I’m in the Seattle area. If you want to discuss more, I’m happy to talk. You can email me at robert dot go at gmail dot com

  21. I have found it to be a wonderful way to connect and maintain connections with people… and to have very instant feedback on things… BTW, i’m “drewplaysdrums” on twitter… just FYI. 😀

  22. Just Meee~ says:

    Here are some Twitters I’ve read:

    *getting on the bus

    *getting off the bus

    *saw someone I thought I knew

    *it turned out to be a stranger

    *real tired, gonna take a nap

    *up now and gonna eat lunch

    *WOW, the deli has fresh ham and cheese

    *guess what I had – soup

    *walking to class

    *dumbest class in the world

    *teacher doesn’t know squat

    *bored to tears

    *hope dinner is ready

    *watching the History channel

    *going to bed
    – – – – – –
    If you ask me… I think it’s just another way to avoid FACE-to-FACE contact. Actually speaking to someone and them talking back.

    Just another brick in the wall…

  23. Andy M says:

    I kind of agree with Just Meee. Too many ways to avoid the difficulty of building a real relationship. But other than that, my suggestion is for everyone to get rid of all of their webplaces that they use and choose 1, just 1. I go to someone’s blog, and they have that, but then also a Facebook page, and then a Twitter thing, and something else, and something else. I haven’t actually looked at Twitter to see how it works, but I just have trouble seeing the benefit of being scattered out like that. But that is just my opinion.

  24. Capt Ralph says:

    Sorry, I am ignorant and only quoting from today’s Seattle PI – keep in mind it might be one of the last statements from the PI.

    “Of all the social networking sites, Twitter is the most absurd. I’d like it better if it were called Burp. A tweet is a note that almost always arrives surrounded by its fellows, but a burp stands alone. Burp and hit send. Others can burp back at you. It will never be a song, but it allows people with nimble thumbs to pretend they are in touch with others.

    I can see why the illiterate are enthralled, but writers of substance and merit are climbing all over each other to muffle themselves in these primitive excuses for an exchange.”

    Please don’t kill the messenger!

  25. queermergent says:

    Here is Twitter in Plain English:

    http://www.existentialpunk.com/existential_punk/2009/02/in-plain-english.html

    i think you should sign up for twitter. i have increased traffic to my blog, met some very interesting people, and have a great twurch community all over the world! We share life, pray for one another, encourage one another, laugh with and at each other, etc! LOL!!!

    Come up with a name. i recommend a desktop app like Twhirl, which allows you to @ someone or direct message (dm) them. Go to Twitip for advice and tips and guidance!

    Adele

  26. Ben C says:

    There’s a balance to many things in life and I think you Twittering would be bordering over exposure.

    Quality > quantity more often than not.

    I don’t do the Tweet thing because it’s just too much txt interaction. It’s a highly watered down way to engage others esp when these others are more acquaintances than true friends.

  27. stan Friedman says:

    Welcome to the world of the rest of us who are trying to figure out what to do with this. I would highly recommend tweetdeck as mentioned above.

  28. I think the Twitter phenomenon is in too much of an infancy stage to determine whether or not it will be a healthy or useful tool over the long haul. I am on Twitter and find that it has been useful in connecting with people, but have some friends who are strongly opposed to it and feel like it cheapens human interaction.

    I assume there were people in the late 1800s and early 1900s that were concerned the telephone would cheapen human interaction because it eliminated face to face contact. But, you don’t hear too many people today arguing against the use of phones we carry with us everywhere we go.

    I think Twitter can be a great tool to “connect” with others as long as we don’t replace our human interaction or “community” with Twitter, Facebook, cell phones, email or any other technology.

    While I think it is silly to “tweet” something like, “Eating a sandwich”, it is nice to keep people who live across the miles posted on what I am doing… and to have some quick updates on what’s going on in their world.

    There is a great discussion on this topic on the OutOf Ur Blog.

  29. queermergent says:

    Ben,

    i disagree that ‘these others are more acquaintances than true friends.’ i have several true friends on Twitter i have never met but we share life together through blogs, facebook, twitter, skype, etc. We know what is going on in each others lives, ups and downs, and we truly care about one another. For me it is not highly watered down and has been a great source of inspiration, connection and care.

    Sorry if you have not experienced this.

    Warm Regards,

    Existential Punk

  30. jrbriggs says:

    Twitter can be a waste of time.
    But if you are intentional about it, it really does enhance your ministry reach and learning capacities.

    A few things to keep in mind:

    (1) who you follow makes all the difference (i.e. don’t follow people who tweet “I am at McDonald’s” – instead follow good thinkers and leaders (like Len Sweet, Don Miller, etc)

    (2) Vary who you follow – follow news outlets (CNN, BCC, etc), friends from around the country, your congregants, and some fun celebrities, too (Tina Fey, Elijah Wood, Lance Armstronge, Shaq, Jimmy Fallon, etc) – and, of course, Guy Kawasaki, mr twitter-er himself.

    (3) how often you log on will determine a lot, too. Don’t overuse it. You get addicted.

    (4) When you are on Twitter, don’t answer the question, “What am I doing?” Instead answer the question, “What am I thinking/pondering?” Its much more rich and meaningful.

  31. graceloveandpolitics says:

    I volunteer for a small nonprofit organization. We just started using Twitter a few weeks ago and it works for us. We produce several programs and classes each week. A short message to our followers serves as a quick reminder. Each Tweet encourages some attention rather than an email no one reads. We send one or messages every day usually before noon. A few followers reply with thoughts. Others post typical “what are you doing” messages. I also follow a few nonprofit organizations. It’s a quick way see how nonprofits with few resources can engage audience members and build relationships. With some thought it may become an effective fund raising tool. Meaningful exchanges are possible with Twitter, friends just need some encouragement and commitment to making it work.

  32. eugenecho says:

    lots of helpful advice.

    @jrbriggs: especially liked “what am i thinking…”

    since i already use my facebook status to let folks know about recent entries to blogs or stuff i’m reading, this made sense

    for those interested, my twitter handle:

    @eugenecho

  33. Daniel Ra says:

    Eugene,
    I am in the same boat as you. I was astonished by the use of innovative technologies, so I made the jump. Glad you posted these questions, because I was wondering about the same things.

    @danielra

  34. jHong says:

    i created a twitter account for several reasons:
    1) i didn’t want anyone to steal hongdotcom
    2) i realized i feel compelled to update my facebook status way more often than anyone should [i don’t follow through with that compulsion for the benefit of all my FB friends)
    3) i’m way too entertained by the internet and mySpace has completely lost its already minimal luster.

    however, i’ve been on for a half a day and have already discovered the following problems:
    1) i don’t really get it at all. my brain hurts.
    2) i’m already having the whole “am i allowed to reject people?” debate that plagues me on FB and (formerly) myspace.
    3) i’m afraid i might end up saying something crass/offensive that might jeopardize my job at church.
    4) i think #3 already happened.

  35. eugenecho says:

    @jHong:

    regarding #3: what the twitter? or how about, “what the tw.hell?

    no biggie. you can reject me. it’s ok.

  36. Swainster says:

    Here’s a good talk from the CEO of Twitter

  37. Tom says:

    No dog in this fight, but I’m fascinated by the evangelical fervor for twitter here.

    I like what I hear. Makes some sense to try to reproduce the short, fits and starts way we actually talk to each other in real face to face everyday interactions. We probably do most of our best communicating in lots of small chunks over time.

    But at this age I’m always cautious when I pick up the scent of the ‘new believer.’ :^)

    Normally don’t get that kind of passion for something new unless you’ve got an early adopter dynamic along with strong opposition. Marketers understand that equation and play to it.

    I get the early adopter part of the buzz, but I’m wondering about the articulate opposition. A few people alluded to it here but nobody fleshed it out.

    When an obviously thoughtful person says something like, ‘I don’t have the time or patience for blog posts’ as a way of supporting twitter, I’m thinking there’s some rich material for cultural and maybe spiritual criticism here.

  38. pastoralan says:

    Just read the thread. Can’t add anymore than what’s here. Do it man. You are a Twitter kind of guy.

  39. Kacie says:

    I signed up for twitter to evaluate its usefulness for raising money and attention for non-profits. It’s a tough call. It does seem sort of embarassingly mundane – like a facebook status update without the rest of what make facebook so great. I do see a little more use to it when you’re following a large organization. I get updates about the news in my city, news from Christianity today.. etc. So perhaps it is useful for people that want to stay up to date with the going ons of your foundation… but I think twitter is a tough call.

  40. queermergent says:

    Welcome to Twitter, Eugene!

    Existential Punk

  41. Anette says:

    Yes, you should definitely twitter. Let’s talk arguments for and against, but let’s wait till you’ve been doing it for a few weeks.

  42. […] of all, I’ve sold out more of my soul and am now on Twitter [thanks for all the Twit advice].  My handle is @eugenecho.  My goal is to get 5,000,000 followers so I can start my own […]

  43. […] twouble and twuth about twitters After mulling over Twitter and receiving some advice whether to Tweet or Not to Tweet,  I sold out my soul and  joined Twitter two weeks ago and I’m still twying to “get […]

  44. […] to twitter – at church As you know, I joined Twitter (@eugenecho) about two months ago after asking you for Twitter advice. I’m convinced that it’s very useful – particularly because it is what you make of it. […]

  45. […] to twitter or not to twitter « Eugene ChoMar 1, 2009 … danw says: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm. Of course you should twitter. All the cool cats do (including myself). I’ve had friends tweet with … […]

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