I’ve got to say that I like Twitter. There is something about the challenge of saying something valuable with only 140 characters! For pastors, Twitter can be an incredible tool to share Scripture, remind church members about upcoming events, or celebrate milestones with graduates, new babies with parents and grandparents, etc. But like anything else, Twitter needs to be managed. So here are my top 10 tips for pastors on Twitter.
15) Make every character count. All you have is 140 characters, including spaces, commas, and everything else.
14) Use a real pic for your Twitter account. No pic at all or some cartoon character is not going to be your best option. People want to know that you are a real person. If you are wondering what “pic” means, then now might not be the right time for you to join Twitter.
13) Learn how to shorten URL’s. When you want to send people a link to a website you think they might enjoy, don’t type out the site, like http://www.bobmayfield.com/5-ways-to-start-a-new-group. That is 55 characters. Instead use a URL shortener. I use bit.ly but you can use any shortener you want. Shorteners save valuable character spaces.
12) Consider customizing your URL shortener. The above link is shortened to http://ow.ly/lweOw in Hootsuite. I customized my URL shortener using bit.ly to help with branding. The same link looks like this http://bmayfld.us/14uDR0u. That is 30 characters less than the full URL of the webpage and I am reminding people who I am.
11) Use Twitter to encourage. During the recent tornadoes in Moore, Shawnee, and Carney I saw pastors sharing Scripture verses and prayers to console church members and also encourage relief workers. It was incredible to see people connecting and sharing on Twitter.
10) Share the text of your sermon prior to Sunday (advance preparation required!). Announce sermon series.
9) Congratulate church members on accomplishments. Use Twitter to build a sense of community in your church.
8 ) Rarely should you send this tweet: “Excited about leaving for XYZ location for a 5 day revival”. Your wife and family that are home alone will appreciate your sensitivity. Do share how God worked at the revival when you return!
7) Schedule your tweets. Try to avoid sending tweets in bunches. Break them up through the day. I use Hootsuite to help me schedule messages at appropriate times.
6) Guard your time. You do not have to respond immediately to every @message you receive.
5) Share a daily Scripture verse with your church members and followers.
4) Include your Twitter account in publications, like the worship bulletin, church website, etc. Include your twitter account as part of your email signature.
3) If you want to have a date with your wife, don’t Tweet the name or location of the restaurant you where you are dining. People will show up!
2) Remember the 20 – 1 rule. Michael Hyatt suggests that you send 20 Tweets about others to every one Tweet that sends people to your blog or church website. I think that’s a lot and I have trouble meeting that ratio, but do realize that Twitter is meant to be a conversation or a dialogue. If everything is about you and what you’re doing, then it is not a conversation and people will quit paying attention to you. Forwarding links from pastor friends and others helps people see that you are involved in the conversation. Retweeting church members is another way to help with this.
1) If you want your church members to retweet your tweet, be sure to leave enough room. Again, during the recent Oklahoma tornadoes, I saw lots of great tweets sent by pastors and other leaders that took almost all of the 140 characters allowed in a tweet. I could not retweet them. Get in the habit of sending 115 character tweets so your followers can RT them.
These are my ideas, but I’m sure some of you have some better tips than I do. Feel free to share…