Thursday, August 28, 2014

Twitter: I am not an expert

This post goes with a social media class I'm leading the Thursday after Labor Day for clergy in my District. I expect a wide range of thoughts and feelings about social media from this group, so I'm posting some short essays/commentaries on social media on this blog in case they are helpful to someone from the class. 

So: Twitter. 
Twitter utilizes short posts of 144 characters or less. Content can include links to articles and photos. If you see an @ before a word, that's a reference to a person/account on twitter. If you see a # before a word, that's a tag to help people sort through the piles of words moving through twitter. 
One good way to learn about twitter is to set up an account. Setting up an account is very easy and I think it feels less intrusive/personal than setting up a facebook account. Each twitter account you set up will be connected to a different email address, so if you plan to have an account for both your church and yourself, plan ahead which email address you will use for which account. I suggest never using a personal email address as the main contact for a work social media account. If you don't have a separate email address for your church, it's easy enough to set up a new google account that you use only for church social media accounts. Here's where you go to set up a twitter account:

Once you have a twitter account you can follow accounts like @tweetsmarter, which has as its purpose the posting of tips and stories about how to improve your twitter skills. 

Twitter is a fast-moving information delivery system, but users determine how much information they would like to receive by selecting their information sources. This is called following. As a twitter account holder, you'll want to remember that unless you use a "private" setting, anyone can see what you are tweeting and who you are following. 

I am not a twitter expert. I tweet at @revstephanie and am the author/curator of the South Gate account at @southgateumc. When thinking about a twitter name, try to think of something fairly short, spellable, and descriptive. Few of my social media accounts include my last name because for most people it fails the spellable test. I don't write out United Methodist Church because that's a lot of characters I could be using for content. 

Here's an article from UMCom about twitter that answers 10 FAQs: twitter FAQs answered

Wormwood stem

Today's garden photo is from the front yard of my Omaha house. In the middle you'll see a silvery plant. It's wormwood. I think every pastor's garden should have wormwood in it so we can pluck off a stem to show kids what wormwood looks like when we sing the hymn with the lyrics "wormwood and the gall," which I think is used to rhyme with "this celestial ball."

My favorite hippie master gardener says that wormwood repels rabbits. My spouse reminds me of this each time we see a rabbit hanging out next to this plant.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Media Resources. Squash and Ironing Board.

In preparation for an upcoming presentation for a group of UMC clergy on the topic of Social Media for Churches I've been gathering a list of online resources that I think might be helpful.
Links and brief descriptions are below.

United Methodist Communications has a helpful website that includes a number of topics. is an excellent source for current UMC news; resources on the topic of digital communications and social media; communications best practices; and more.. including how to order print and digital official UMC program calendars.

Great Plains UMC communications office has a resource page: GPUMC communications resources
This website page contains links to a variety of communications resources, including photo/video release forms and how-tos for setting up church websites.

I'll update this list as I continue remembering favorite websites. I decided to go ahead and post even though the entry is not finished because I'm working on actually posting and not just thinking one day I will. 

The garden theme continues this post with a photo I took in East Tennessee, somewhere between Dandridge and Bristol. The hardware store/flea market where we stopped was also home to a vegetable garden, which was home to this squash plant... growing on the frame of an ironing board.

Ironing board with squash