Should our small business/church/ministry/nonprofit tweet? Why?

You might think …
It’s stupid. How does what I had for lunch today enhance my business or ministry?

Why would anyone want to know what I had for lunch?

The answer to the last question is, they probably don’t. Or maybe they do …

Consider a typical day in the office. Do you ever stop for a brief chat with a co-worker in the hall? Talk about the latest cute thing their grandchild did, the local college basketball team or … maybe even what they had for lunch? If you’ve ever had one of these conversations, you’ve done the IRL (in real life) version of Twitter. We all have these moments — they are not by design strictly task-oriented, but that doesn’t mean they lack value. The spark for many a relationship is ignited in the small talk where persons discover common interests. Twitter is no different.

So how do I use it?

Imagine yourself at a cocktail party. Have you ever been the person penned into a corner by a boor who prattles endlessly about him/herself and will not stop talking? What is the boor trying to accomplish? He’s trying to be heard. She has a message to get out, a story to tell or something she wants you to buy. So next thing you know, you’re backed into a corner, forced to listen to every detail of something you have no interest in, while the motormouth shows no interest in you.

Don’t be the motormouth. Like real-life relationships, it’s about interaction.
The two-way kind. Begin by listening. Monitoring. Do a hashtag search for your name and see what people are saying. Listen before you leap.

After you’ve listened for a while, jump in. First, contribute. Offer something. Information, a helpful link or just retweet and recognize someone else.

But — jump in the right way. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you know the term level jumping. Don’t be a level jumper. If you’re not acquainted with Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer, look at it this way: You don’t meet someone, shake their hand, then ask them to help you move. It takes a long-term buildup of trust and relationship before you’re to that level of friendship.

Like the cocktail party, you may spend a few minutes (or 140 characters) making a contact that will be mutually beneficial in the long run. Or you may exchange an @ reply or two and move on. Take the time to build the trust before you ask for the order. It’s worth it to forge new relationships built on trust.