I thought I’d share a quick idea I had for our mission trip this year: using Twitter to keep parents and the congregation updated. The first two years I took our current youth group on our mission trips, I would upload pictures and write up the day’s events to our youth ministry blog. Unfortunately, it took me at least an hour every night to make that happen. As you know, killing an hour on a mission trip isn’t the best thing to do, but I thought it was important to keep people informed if I could.
But now, I think there is a better way. By using my cell phone (and my intern’s cell phone), we can update on the fly via Twitter with quick blasts of information and pictures in only about 60 seconds. Since most youth ministers have an iphone, blackberry, or smartphone, you might want to do this as well. If you have internet access where you are going and want to take your Mac with an integrated webcam, you can easily post video now, too. Here’s how we’re doing it:
- Create a twitter account just for your mission trip. I also have a twitter account for our youth group that I use to send out text message updates, but I don’t want to inundate people with 20-30 texts a day while we are on the mission trip, so I created a separate account.
- Put a twitter badge on your church or youth group website. This will update your website with the latest updates from your Twitter account. That way, parents and other people can just go to your website to get updates, and not have to go to your twitter page. Here’s how it looks on our website. I’ve put a few updates up just to demonstrate what it will look like.
- Download a Twitter app for your iphone, blackberry, or smartphone. I use Tweetie on my iPhone, and I think TwitterBerry is about the only thing for Blackberrys. I’m sure other smartphones have ways to connect to twitter. After doing this, you will be able to post updates and pictures to Twitter using your phone. As I said before, it takes about 60 seconds to do this per update.
- Have other adults with supported phones download Twitter apps; give them the account login information. Our intern has a Blackberry, so I’m going to have him be able to update our twitter account as well. You can do this for as many adults as you want.
- If you want to post quite videos, download Tweetie for Mac. This allows you to quickly post videos straight to twitter from your webcam. Adam Walker Cleaveland was playing around with this feature: here’s what it can look like. I might have kids record individual videos at night for their parents.
- Update on the fly on the mission trip. You can let parents know when you arrive at your destination (with a picture even!), what your housing looks like, projects you work on, fun you have, and all sorts of stuff. I’m also planning to update about every hour as we drive home to let parents know how far along we are coming back home.
- [UPDATE: Suggestion from Andy Arnold] Use Jott to update Twitter. Jott is a web service that converts your voice notes to text. I have a paid Jott.com account and mostly use it to send myself reminders to my email when I can’t get to a pen and paper (like when driving, especially). You can link your Jott account to Twitter and update your status with your voice. I’m not sure if you can do this with a free account, though.
That’s what I’m planning on doing this year for our mission trip. Any other ideas for using twitter to keep parents and the rest of the congregation informed?