Twitter is the fastest-growing media application in the world with a volume now greater than the New York Times.  With the increasing number of people joining Twitter, it is important that you stand out, and by that I mean making your Twitter updates worth reading, even if they are just a few sentences long.

Those who use the Tweetdeck know of the ability to place people in groups (e.g., I have “church planters” “triathletes” and “ministries/organizations” as groups).  The ironic thing about Twitter is that once you follow so many people, you actually end up not following hardly any of them at all.  Time does not permit you to spend hours scrolling up and down your stream to read what everyone has to say, especially if they are talking about matters that have little to no value.  Over a period of time where your updates are not valuable to those following you, they will then ignore you entirely because they have not come to expect anything worth reading, engaging, favoriting, or reteweeting.  One tweet wasted at a time, and your presence on Twitter becomes twasted.

I’m no social media expert and I have not polled an audience of Twittering giants on this subject matter, but I want to offer eight suggestions on the kind of tweets that add value and are worth reading:

Twitter Turn-On’s

(1) Links – if there are articles, media, or other resources you’d like to pass along, people will appreciate that. In fact, my twitter favorites has become the primary place where I develop my “quick hits” compilation of interesting stuff on the internet. To a degree, Twitter has replaced my Google Reader.

(2) Quotes – good, informative, encouraging, convicting quotes are always good to share. If you are reading a book, pass a great quote along. Or a passage from your study of Scripture.  But remember a quote is meant to stand out, and if it does say something, then it will be twasted.

(3) Questions – engage the Twitter community about things you’re working on or are important to you. Many if not most of the people who follow you do so because of a shared interest or common passion.  The discussion and conversations on Twitter can become very valuable to both/all parties involved.

(4) Pictures – pictures are hard not to click, especially if people know you and care about what you are doing.  A good photographer adds spice to a good tweep. Like quotes, however, your pics should show something in a way that people will want to look at future pics.

(5) Hobbies – when you are talking about your life, say something about a hobby or interest that others could relate.  You talk about what you are passionate about, so don’t keep your stream boring because you are afraid you might upset somebody and lose followers.  It’s all superficial anyway.

(6) Events – when you are at an event or meeting, share with others the people in your life and perhaps the topics that bring you together.  In the strange world of Twitter, you will be surprised at who you might have in common as friends or acquaintances.

(7) Humor – twitter is a great place to insert a little humor into people’s lives.  There are some guys who are great at this,  and there are others who probably try to hard.

(8) Encourage – be an encourager to others. Just like the real world, the Twitterverse has enough sour and bitter people in it.

Contrariwise, here are five turn-off’s you would want to avoid, IMO:

Twitter Turn-Off’s

(1) Boring – people really don’t want to hear about random and insignificant details in your life all the time. It’s okay to mention that once in a while, but don’t make that the substance of your stream.

(2) Critical – if a person is always sarcastic, critical, and on a rant, eventually the threshold of tolerance will wear out.  Ironically, that person becomes someone most folks become really critical of.  Don’t tire people out by being a jerk to others.

(3) Spam – while this does not happen as much on twitter as blogs, when your stream is a like a broken record making the same pitch, your “advertising” will have a negative impact, even if it is presented authentically.

(4) Lengthy – I know this sounds crazy (and I have been guilty of this in the past), but some tweeps quote a paragraph or make a statement that is 500 characters long instead of less than 140.  That’s not the point of Twitter!  Be succinct, precise, and pithy.  If what you have to say is longer than 140 characters, get a blog.

(5) Gossip – Don’t say on Twitter what you will not say to a person if you were standing in front of them. Not only is it wrong, it’s just plain stupid.  People will find out about it, and some have even lost their job because of it.

For those who are new to Twitter, those are my suggestions.  Whether you are serving others through links, engaging others with questions, encouraging others with comments and quotes, laughing with others through humor, or identifying with others through hobbies and events, just remember: don’t waste your tweets!  Don’t find yourself floating down the twitter stream of irrelevance 140 characters at a time, but make them count.

>> Got any other turn-on’s or turn-off’s you’d like to add?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.