Getting Started with Twitter

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Twitter may not be the biggest social media platform, but it’s growing.  Its short-form, 140-character style of posting makes it a unique arena to quickly communicate with your followers.  If your church is thinking about tweeting, here are a few things to consider as you get started.

Set realistic expectations.  Before using any communications tool, it’s always important to ask if it helps you reach a specific goal.  If it doesn’t, don’t do it.  Chasing a new technology doesn’t necessarily expand your ministry.

The biggest misconception about Twitter is that it’s where all the young people hangout.  That may not be true depending on how you define young.  While the 18-24 year old bracket did have the highest amount of growth in 2012, it’s still the smallest age group.  Nearly half of Twitter users are between the ages of 25 and 44. 

Learn the lingo.  Twitter has its own language of sorts.  It’s not that hard once you figure it out.  Twitter has a great glossary online.  Click here to see it.

Set up an account.   This goes beyond creating a username and password.  That’s the easy part.  Add a profile picture, create a cover photo and pick a background. Also, fill in your profile information.  As people start to find you on Twitter you want to look like you’re a real account.  The same is true as you start to follow people and become active on Twitter.  Users are skeptical of accounts that still have default icons.

Scope the scene.   Now that you’re all set up and ready to go, start watching and following other organizations and people you know or align with.  See what they’re posting.  Get a feel for how Twitter works.  Gain ideas for how you want to manage your account.

Find a need you can fill.  Once you have a better feel for the space you’re working in, think of ways you can be a valuable resource to people.  What can you post to fill a need your followers or other potential followers have?  What problem can you solve?  What’s the best service you can provide?

Commit to long term tweeting.  The most frustrating part of launching a social media account is the lack of followers and interaction you get in the beginning.  You’re working hard and posting smart things, yet the audience isn’t growing as fast as you want.  The easy move is to quit.  The right move is to stick with it.  If you’re providing good content on a regular basis, your audience and impact will grow.   

Interact.  If you see an interesting tweet, start a conversation with that person.  Did someone retweet you?  Thank them for doing it.  Social media is meant to be conversational.  When you’re interacting you’re showing there’s a real person behind your church account and it communicates you’re committed to Twitter. 

How about you?  What’s the best piece of advice you have for a church starting to use Twitter?

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Community Builder

Hi Jerod. 

Thank you for writing this helpful blog post on getting started on Twitter.  I've been tweeting for about a year now.  I really enjoy it!  I like your angle on service/mission.  How can I serve/encourage others and proclaim the Good News through Twitter?  I'm still thinking about that.  For now, I like to post a #verseoftheday and also reveal (in appropriate ways) the life of a local church pastor.  Anyway, thanks for giving me some things to think about regarding social media. Peace to you! 

--Leon H. Johnston

Community Builder

For anyone who wants to learn more about how to use Twitter, I would suggest reading Claire Diaz-Ortiz's book, Twitter for Good. It is especially helpful for organizations who want to tweet, but also helpful for individuals.  I will likely refer back to it occassionally as a reference tool as I seek to #twitter4good. 

--Leon H. Johnston