I started a Twitter account for my church, @StTimsEpiscopal, just a few weeks ago, so this topic is fresh in my mind. Here are the steps I recommend for starting a twitter account for your church.
1. Do Some Research and Practice
If you do not already have a personal twitter account, start your own account first. You may also have someone in your congregation who is already active on twitter. That person would make a great admin for your church twitter account, or a great expert to ask any questions you may have.
It takes some time to learn the conventions of twitter hashtags, replies, retweets, and abbreviations. I think it is best to practice on your own account before starting an account for your organization. Here are some good beginner resources for personal and professional use of twitter:
- How to Use Twitter Infographic by Cheryl Lawson, @PartyAficionado via Shea Bennett, @Sheamus at Media Bistro’s All Twitter, @alltwtr
- Twitter 101: Getting started with Twitter from Twitter @support
- Twitter for Business with Twitter Success Stories from Nonprofits and Education
- Top Twitter Abbreviations You Need to Know from Social Media Today, @socialmedia2day
- Follow @TweetSmarter on Twitter and get lots of great tips throughout the day
There is also a weekly church social media (#ChSocM) tweetchat on Tuesday nights at 9pm ET. You can follow along with the live chat, or read the summary on the #ChSocM blog. You can also follow the group on Twitter, @ChSocM, and the group founder, author Meredith Gould, @MeredithGould.
2. Create a Twitter Account for your Church
Here are some details to keep in mind as you go through the process of singing up for an account:
- Choose a Twitter Handle (your “address” on Twitter, @______) that is short and unique.
- Choose your User Name which can be longer than your Twitter handle.
- Create an Avatar that is a clear and easily recognizable; the advice of @FalkHarrison for great corporate avatars applies to churches too.
- Write a Bio for your church. You are limited to 160 characters, so you must be concise. I included key programs and worship times for @StTimsEpsicopal. A mission statement would also work for a bio.
- Select a Header Photo for your profile. Make sure the photo does not interfere with reading the text of your bio.
- Add your website address and location.
3. Decide Whom to Follow and Follow-Back
You may want to be selective about who you follow and avoid business spam or scam twitter accounts. Twitter also has limits on the number of accounts you can follow. I like to follow people and organizations that will have news and information that I can retweet or reply to. Here is the list of the type of organizations and people I follow:
- National Church Organizations, Clergy, News, Humor, Authors, and Prayer Resources
- National and International Nonprofit Organizations
- Local Churches and Clergy
- Local News Organizations
- Local Nonprofit Organizations
- Local Businesses
- Local Educational Institutions
- Members of my Church
This post by @AskAaronLee is a good guideline on following-back almost everyone and I think is good advice to follow if your church is trying to welcome as many people as possible.
4. Join the Conversation and Start Tweeting!
I send about 4 tweets a day that are either “live” tweets or scheduled tweets from Hootsuite. Tweetdeck by Twitter is another popular option for scheduling tweets. Here is what I tweet:
- General Prayers follow the same prayer guidelines I use for facebook
- Worship Service Announcements
- Event Reminders
- Re-tweets of Prayers, Articles, or Sermons from other priests and authors
- Pictures taken with my Twitter or Instagram apps on my iPhone
- Highlights and Excerpts of sermons or speeches at events
- Include a Hashtag for your events or organizations
Ideally, you should take a few minutes several times a day to check Twitter activity. At the minimum, I recommend you check it at least once a day and/or set up email notifications for activity on your account.