For reasons you cannot understand you feel compelled to plant a church.
So you move to a new town, city, village, country or planet to start your brand new church and you decide it’s time to drag your sorry ass into the 21st century and use that Social Media thing your mum told you about. You sign up to twitter and start slamming out Spurgeon quotes. Stop. Stop right now.
How should church planters and church leaders use twitter most effectively? Let me tell you.
1. Understand what twitter is and what it is not.
Twitter is like a loud pub. Music is playing. There is fight in the corner. Someone is definitely drunk.
Imagine you are in this pub. You sit with a group of friends and you discuss the issues of the day, your interests, your hobbys, your successes and your failures. Your friends respond, comment, console, provoke, laugh at you and laugh with you. Sounds like a normal night out. Right?
Then a new guy wanders into the pub. He sits at your table and then starts shouting quotes at you. Weird.
Another guy walks in. He sits at your table. This guy has a book to sell. He spends the evening repeating the nice things people have said about his book and ignoring the rest of the pub. Everybody moves to a different table.
Twitter is a community. It is a place to hang with people you already know and make brand new friends.
2.Follow people in your city
When I moved to Manchester I follow marketing firms, designers, bloggers, journalists, promoters, writers, local politicians and leading business types. I got a quick inside track on the culture of Manchester.
3. Tweet people
Get into conversation. Simple really. There are people in my church that I met on twitter.
The best part of twitter is when someone new responds to a tweet and you meet someone completely new. The world just got a tiny bit smaller.
4. Don’t just tweet quotes
A few quotes are OK but if you fill my twitter feed with quotes and retweets (RTs) of other peoples quotes then I am going to unfollow you. If you just tweet Piper, Driscoll and Spurgeon quotes it does make you seem a little narrow minded. Tweet your interests outside of church stuff.
5. Work at it
Longevity is the key. Keep checking your followers and follow back the people you are interested in. It’s also worth glancing at who they follow or are followed by.
6. Watch your tone
Rick Warren says “Arguing with people on the internet is like a wrestling a pig. Everyone gets covered in mud and only the pig likes it”. I honestly don’t bother seriously debating or arguing on twitter. It has no nuance or subtlety and you often end up looking ridiculous.
Twitter is largely a liberal place (certainly in the UK) and so I think very carefully about what I tweet or retweet. If I hold a particularly counter cultural opinion then I want to be able to explain it to people clearly, compassionately and I want to hear their opinion. That is not easy on twitter.
7. Don’t tweet angry
Just don’t. Trust me.
8. Don’t retweet compliments
It is hard to explain how vain this looks. Instant unfollow.
9. Enjoy Twitter
You will find plenty of people like you and you will find people who are completely different to you.
May 1, 2012 | Categories: Church Marketing, church planting, church planting strategy, Social Media | Tags: church leaders, church planters, church planting, social media, technology, Twitter | 3 Comments
I have been mulling my previous post on why Christians need to be on facebook (or twitter, google+ or whatever else). My basic argument being that all these digital places are where people find a form of community and so Christians must also be there.
In recent times I have often heard people argue that face to face community is more valid than social media or digital community. One of the comments on my previous post made this exact point. I would like to politely suggest that this is wrong. I think it is no longer possible to separate the “real” world from the “digital” world. Community works wherever it works and it seems obvious to me that social media has changed how we relate to each other. I don’t think this has brought about either a deterioration or an improvement in how we relate it has just brought change.
The idea of face to face community being having greater validity than digital community will soon give way to our new reality. In fact the two places will merge as augmented reality apps take hold. The time will soon come when you can access someones digital identity just by looking at them through the camera on your phone.
Community and human interaction has changed forever. As christians do we try to hold onto the old ways of doing things or do we go where there are people?
I came across this article about how religions use facebook and twitter by a Manchester marketing, SEO and web design firm called The EWord.
They have noted how Christians are using twitter to pray and even use hash tags like #dailyprayer to pray with other people. They also explain how the christians are using facebook in huge numbers. Apparently the Bibles facebook page had more usage over Easter than Justin Bieber and Manchester United.
The church needs to be on the front foot in social media because whether we like it or not we are in the marketing business. We had a visitor to CCM:City recently who was training to baptist minister. He confided in me that he was worried that following up visitors and having good presentation (online and offline) was a little bit to much like marketing and PR. I explained that I viewed a huge part of my job as marketing. The church is not trying to sell a product and we are not really looking for people to consume the church but we do want people to commit, buy in, feel part of something bigger and we hear these terms applied to all sorts of products or companies.
Social Media is essential to church planting. A significant amount of our growth at CCM:City has come from the way we use Twitter, Facebook and how we improved our Search Engine Optimisation. I think it should be a job requirement for church leaders and potential planters. At the very least they should not hold social media in contempt and realise the incredible opportunity it provides for meeting new people and engaging the ones you have.