Twitter Tips & Techniques

Let Twitter Help Tell People What Your Church is Doing
by Vance Morton*
Twitter. Chances are you’ve probably heard of it and maybe even “tweeted” a time or two, but do you really get it? Really, how much can you say in 140 characters or less that can make an impact or move the needle? Some folks swear by it and some just swear at it. So, is Twitter a social media must or a communications bust? As in anything, it all depends on how you use it.
If you get down to the core of Twitter, you find that there is nothing mysterious about it. It is simply another tool in your social networking tool belt. And like any tool, it’s designed for specific purposes and is most effective when used correctly. I mean I guess you can hammer a nail with a socket wrench, but it sure isn’t as easy, and have you ever tried to tighten a bolt with a hammer?
Twitter’s tag line is “What are you doing?” This question is answered, literally, by millions of users throughout the day, every day. Think of it as a huge bulletin board where users can post about anything they want in 140 characters or less. Sure, some will post about inane minutia that not even their mother would find interesting, but those folks really are the exception – and the good news is that you don’t’ have to follow those people and receive their clutter.
Twitter allows churches to easily provide timely, helpful information and resources to their communities – from small groups to volunteer leaders to ministry participants to seekers who want to know more about you – without needing up to date e-mail addresses or worrying about “spamming” folks. Twitter is a very straightforward tool that even the non-technical people in your church can start using in a matter of minutes, right from their cell phones.
Here are some other bits of goodness that can be yours if you give Twitter the chance to help make your ministry contagious.
Twitter creates and fosters a vital social network
Businesses, freelancers, and everyday people alike are using the power of twitter to create traffic through networking, so why shouldn’t churches do the same? Taking your social network online with Twitter will drive traffic to your site and even more importantly will drive possible local visitors to your church. No matter if one is an internet guru or not, people each day are signing up for twitter.  Fly-by and take your church to the next level with Twitter.
It’s Interactive
Twitter is all about sharing thoughts, ideas, tools and updates about various items to your followers; in short, it’s very interactive but has the potential to contact many. When you make a tweet you don’t just talk to one or two people, rather you are sharing that thought with everyone that is following you and people like that interaction.
Twitter Helps Promote Your Church Events
Speaking of interaction – we all know how hard it is to promote church events and to actually get existing members and visitors alike to add them to their busy schedules. Twitter can help. Once you’ve created interaction you can easily promote church events in just 140 characters or less and as much as you’d like. And the more peeps that are tweeting about the event, the more it becomes a “must attend.”
It Can Help Build Relationships
Let’s face it, people visit churches all the time but a main reason of what turns them from a visitor to a member is that connection of a relationship. No matter the size or faith of your local church – there is a need to connect and have a relationship with your local congregation. Leverage your church twitter account to your advantage to help create and grow that relationship with your visitors and current members. Share important links and thoughts with them, tweet praise reports, send out ‘Thank You’ tweets and just make everyone following you on your church’s twitter account feel a special connection that they couldn’t find elsewhere.
It’s Fast and Easy to Use
Anything done on a daily basis must be able to be completed quickly and easily and Twitter is both. With a 140 character limit, you can tweet two times a day and still not invest more than a few minutes for both tweets. Use Twitter to your advantage by tweeting about church events, successes, ideas, updates, invitations, and cool new discoveries.
For instance, let’s say you want to bring attention to a special service and you pass out 400 flyers in five hours, which is hard work. You could do the same type of advertising, online via twitter, and advertise to your entire church twitter community in less than five minutes. This is not to say you shouldn’t still do face-to-face advertising, but why limit your church to JUST flyers and paper invitations when doing it online via Twitter doesn’t take much more time or cost ANY money? Twitter is also fun because you’re able to see what others are thinking and new tools they find.
Tips and Techniques
Now that you are convinced to give Twitter a try, you might be wondering if there are any right or wrong ways to Tweet. The broad answer is no. As in other social media tools, the only really wrong thing you can do is to not participate. But there are some good tips and techniques that have been posted from folks that have used Twitter for a long time. Among my faves have long been Twitter Tips for Tip Top Tweets and 40 Twitter Power Tips. There is also a book, The Reason Your Church Must Twitter that is receiving a lot of buzz.
As always, If you have questions, comments or other tips to share, please contact CTC_Communications and we’ll try to help and/or post up your thoughts in an upcoming post in this series. Or if there is a specific topic that you’d like us to explore, please let us know.

*Vance is the Director of Communications & IT for the Central Texas Conference.