Saturday, May 9, 2009

How to Get Noticed on Twitter

I remember from when I was a child, sitting the car watching the corn fields fly past and imagining how much fun it would be to walk between the rows of corn. These days, they plant an extra row where I would have walked. A child could hardly make his way through and an adult certainly couldn’t. But for a moment there, weren’t you thinking about what it would be like to wonder off into a corn field? Maybe you were riding along with me in rural Missouri, watching the ten foot tall corn stalks pass outside the window. When we tell a story, the listener shares the moment.

I’ve been giving Twitter a try. I’ve been following a few people. Some of these people are more prolific Tweeters than other. I mostly ignore the most prolific. I figure that if they can tweet every minute then they haven’t taken time to think about what they’re saying. But this week, one person in particular has gotten interesting. Michael Hyatt is in Ethiopia and every so often he tweets about what they are doing. On one hand, what he is saying is nothing new. We’ve all heard stories about people visiting the poor areas of the world before. That’s one of the things that I like about reading The Gleaner. Missionaries write about sharing the gospel as well as providing food and medicine. So, hearing Michael Hyatt tell a similar story is not particularly special, but it is interesting for a different reason. It is interesting because he is telling a story.

As we read the tweets Mike has been sending back, we are there as the children crowd around them. We see the fields where the workers are using old tools to scratch out a meager existence. We are there as they arrive back at their hotel room, hoping for a shower and finding only a bucket of water, since the water isn’t working. We saw the children wearing Obama t-shirts. But we were also there when they were at the airport waiting for a plane. We will be there when they arrive back in the states.

If you want my attention on Twitter, or anywhere else, tell me a story. It doesn’t have to be about a trip to Ethiopia. It could be a trip to the grocery store for all I care, but tell me a story. Let me come with you. Let me see through your eyes. Use your words to paint a picture I haven’t seen before or one that I have, but tell me a story. Then and only then will you get my attention.