Twitter is a strange type of social media. It has a strict character limit that forces you to condense your message. This makes communication using Twitter more concise, but it also requires more thought, and can sometimes feel intimidating. While there’s not a set of rules on using Twitter as social media for your church, there are some mistakes that you can easily avoid once you’re aware of them.
At the heart of it all, Twitter is best viewed as a platform for virtual conversation. If you think about conversations you have with people face-to-face, you know how boring it is when someone only talks about himself. Or how about trying to hold a conversation with someone who talks and talks and talks, but never acknowledges what anyone else has to say?
This carries over into your interactions with others on Twitter. Your church’s message is very important and is the center of what you want to express. However, be sure to balance outgoing communication with sincere conversation with your followers.
Did you see a follower tweet something spiritually inspiring? Respond to that. Maybe even retweet that. Did one of your church members tweet about feeling a little under the weather? Encourage them. Let them know their church family is listening and cares.
Tip: Keep in mind that if you start a tweet with an @ sign when responding to a person on Twitter, only that one person will see it. If you place a period in front of the @ sign, then all of your followers will see that response. This is a good way to hone in on just one person, or to share your sentiments with everyone.
Sometimes you have a message that is so important that you feel the need to tweet it more than once. Maybe you want to remind your followers of an awesome church event happening this weekend. Or maybe you want to encourage prayer or fellowship with your church family.
While it’s okay to tweet a message more than once, be mindful to not over-tweet something to the point that your followers view it as spam. Keep your tweet content as balanced as you can to keep people from feeling “marketed to.” Tweeting the same information too many times within a short space of time is a way to lose your followers’ attention, and possibly followers, period.
Tip: If you must tweet an announcement more than once, try finding different ways to phrase your message. Use appropriate humor (Twitter followers enjoy a good laugh) and give your tweets personality when you can. Include different images each time to draw attention to your tweets. Or, best of all, try to spark a conversation about these tweets to get other people to pass on the announcement to their followers without you having to repeat it.
It’s very tempting to see a Twitter hashtag trending and want to jump on the bandwagon. After all, that means your tweet will more likely be seen if you embrace something popular, right? Well, maybe not, especially in the situation where a hashtag just has so many tweets that your own gets lost!
Choose your hashtags wisely when you apply one to your tweet. Depending on the sensitivity of the topic, you may want to look into the content of other tweets that have used the hashtag in the past. You don’t want to accidentally tag your tweet with a hashtag and be completely misunderstood.
Once you choose a hashtag, be consistent with its use. If you’re tweeting to remind followers of a church picnic, and you use #churchpicnic the first time, don’t change it to #churchevent the next time.
It’s also tempting to toss a whole string of hashtags at the end of your tweet to fill up the rest of that empty character limit. However, in this case, less is more. Choose one or two solid hashtags and stick with them.
Tip: Consider picking a hashtag that’s unique to your church to set your tweets apart and allow followers to find church associated tweets more easily. This could be your church’s initials or something that represents your church. Again, just be careful to really research the previous use of the hashtag and try to pick something that isn’t already associated with another topic.
Once again, viewing Twitter as a platform for conversation is an important mindset when using it for social media and outreach. Avoiding the above mistakes, and finding a good balance of social give-and-take can help you earn Twitter followers, and more importantly, engage with them.