Social Media for Ministries
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A 4 Part Twitter Strategy

twitter birdAs Twitter continues to grow into a powerful online influence platform it’s important to have a strategy in place for your ministry or non-profit.

This strategy includes breaks down the management of an account into four different parts:

Information 

  • This is the who, what, where, when and why of your organization.
  • This is where most organizations start and stop, which limits their potential for influencing their followers, and risks coming across as impersonal (spammy).
  • These tweets should compromise no more than 1/3 of your total tweets per week/month.

Influence 

  • These tweets demonstrate your values, interests, and passions. They contrast well with the informational tweets and help establish a personality in your follower’s minds.
  • Common influence tweets include: blog posts from other people/organizations, YouTube/Vimeo videos, photos (Flickr, Instagram, etc), music (Spotify, Rdio, Pandora), also “old” retweets from other like-minded influencers.
  • These should comprise 1/3 of your total tweets per week/month.

Interaction

  • These are tweets that include @ replies, retweets, and mentioning other people/organizations. An @ reply is only seen by those that follow both you and the person that is being mentioned. A mention is using the @ reply anywhere but at the beginning of a tweet.
  • There are old and new retweets. The old retweet is to manually type “RT” + the username of the person, then copy and paste their tweet into yours. In other people’s Twitter feed the tweet will come from you (your profile picture will be displayed).
  • The new retweet is when you click on the retweet button from Twitter. In other people’s Twitter feed the tweet will come from the original person, with a note that acknowledges you retweeted it.
  • Interactions should ideally comprise 1/3 of your weekly/monthly tweets.

Increase

  • It’s helpful to be intentional about following new people, rather than rely on people finding and following you on their own.
  • The easiest way to find followers is to search the accounts of organizations similar to yours either in mission or geography.
  • Other ways to find followers: Twitter search, “Who to follow,” or go to the profile page of current followers and use “Similar to ________”

I suggest starting a Twitter account only when your organization can tweet at least once a day. I recommend having 90 days worth of tweets pre-written and scheduled (Hootsuite) before launching. It’s hard to keep up with Twitter on a day to day basis, so by having 90 in the queue to start it gives you a large enough start to keep the account active and vibrant long after the launch.


11 Comments

  1. This is some really helpful stuff! I like they way this is laid out keeps us effective with how we use this tool. Speaking from the college ministry stand point our twitter account didn’t help us connect with any new students here. We have about 350 students connected on FB but we ended up only having 3-5 on twitter. It seems a lot more students here mainly stick to FB. However Twitter has been huge for me connecting with other ministry leaders and sharing resources that way. Just my experience. Has anyone found this to be true for their campus ministry? https://twitter.com/#!/PaulWorcester

    • paul my understanding is that most college ministries do not have enough students using twitter to warrant a strategy such as this.

      many small to medium sized churches and organizations are starting to get traction on twitter, and most are in defense mode. even at my church here in indy it’s been a battle to be strategic and intentional on twitter.

      connecting w other leaders and sharing resources is powerful–hoping that trend continues!

  2. Great pointers.

    I agree… fewer college/youth on Twitter when compared to FB (though I have seen a few of my youth start tweeting in the last month or two; I suspect it has to do with the ease of access and the lack of parental oversight).

    • thanks tre! one of the bible study leaders from my church here in Indiana mentioned that she has seen Twitter become popular with her high school students. have you noticed a similar trend in your area?

      something i’m watching since they are the next gen of college students.

  3. Thanks for sharing Brian some really valuable insights here but I do disagree on one point. By planning out your tweets 90 days in advance you are missing the real value in Twitter. The community and the interaction. By scheduling the tweets out like that you miss the opportunity to be personal.

    • hey dan thanks for the comment.

      i actually agree with you that interactions are personal and powerful.

      the 90 day suggestion has come from working with ministries that try twitter out, feel overwhelmed by what to say and when to post, and end up either abandoning their account or becoming discouraged by their results.

      the ideal place would be what you are suggeting. at my church we have scheduled 90 days worth of information and influence tweets in advance, and then on a weekly basis we are focusing on interaction and increase.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you and I think the mindset of getting the dirty work out of the way so that the interactions can happen is a stellar idea. Starting is always the hard part. Everyone thinks they have something to say until it’s time to actually say something. One of the principles I go back to over and over again is from Guy Kawaski. Make Meaning!

    • so true. i was just in a mtg with a ministry starting out on twitter and the first question they asked was “what do i tweet about?”

      i’ve also noticed a lot of fear/apprehension in saying the ‘wrong’ thing, especially related to influence topics. if you have run into this or have any suggestions for how to encourage people to tweet more about things they like let me know.

  5. Yeah this is a tough one. Building confidence can be really difficult because everyone seems to have a different idea of how it should work and expectations need to be reigned in. Once that is done I encourage them to try things and see what works for them. Sure they need to “make meaning” and provide value, but social media is all about relationships. Sometimes you have to make mistakes to find your groove. The best way I can think to explain it is as a dance.
    Personally I think most ministries have a ton to offer they just don’t realize it. I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about content curation and I really do think there is a lot of value there for ministries. Is there a video that someone in leadership saw? Post it to an organizational blog, have them give a brief paragraph on why they like it and send it out. That’s the approach I’m taking with my clients at this point.

    • that’s helpful. i’ve also encouraged ministries to look at what those that are following them are sharing and talking about, and finding content that connects with what they are sharing and the ministry’s mission/vision/values.

  6. great points. once again leading back to the relationship. I think an issue for a lot of Christian ministries is that in the past most of them didn’t really need to define what they did as long as their motivations were good. Today however, there’s too much competition and “noise” for to motivations to be worth much. It’s becoming more and more essential to be able to clearly articulate what the ministry is about without a lot of legal speak.

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