Twitter Advice for Churches from a Panel of the Northern Va. Tech Community

Photo by WiselyWoven (Flickr)
Photo by WiselyWoven (Flickr)

At the last Northern Va. Search & Social Media Meetup, I facilitated a discussion of how businesses can use Twitter. After working my mojo on the summary to churcify it, here are the key points translated for church marketers.

How Can Churches Use Twitter for Business?

Determine your Twitter type:
(Based on Jeremiah Owyang’s 4 Twitter Types)

  1. Pure Corporate
  2. Mostly Corporate with Some Personality
  3. Mostly Personal with Some Corporate Ties
  4. Pure Personal

The consensus of the group was that #2 was the most effective.

What are purposes of a church Twitter account?

  • Attract new members
  • @missionpie tweets which types of pies will be made that day based on freshness of available produce
  • Customer service
    • Network Solutions – respond to customer frustrations and problems
  • Crisis communications
    • Southwest responds to damaged plane
  • Overall branding
  • Fundraising
  • How can a church get noticed on Twitter?

    • Look at your competitors’ followers and start following them; retain those where some interaction is taking place
    • Google alerts of your brands, products, competitors to see the conversations taking place
    • Follow and use relevant hashtags
    • Retweet to gain attention and participate in the community
    • Get listed in Twitter directories
    • SEO tactics

    When is the best time to tweet?

    • Tuesdays are popular (Mondays are too busy)
    • Depends on your market and audience
    • Try different options to see what works for you

    Who should own/run a church’s Twitter account?

    • Consensus was that marketing/communications should in the way that it’s another channel
    • If the account is purely for customer service, it may make sense for that dept. to control it.

    Remember, though, that every customer service interaction is still a marketing/branding event.

    For churches, it makes sense to have someone involved in the communications ministry to be involved, whether that’s a staff person or volunteer. If the account is the church’s official account then it must be registered with an email address belonging to the church to keep control of it.

    How do you handle escalations or hand-offs on Twitter?

    • For customer service, provide an email or phone number to move the interaction out of the Twitter stream
    • Refer parishioners/guests to a blog or site with more information

    How can a church monitor what’s being said on Twitter?

    How can a church track the effectiveness of tweets?

    • Run specific contests/promotions/coupon codes only through Twitter.
      • Mervis Diamonds runs Twitter-only promotions that are different from their Facebook-only ones.
    • Use a URL shortener with analytics, such as bit.ly
    • Include campaign tracking code in your shortened URLs

    What are good mobile Twitter clients?

    • UberTwitter
    • TwitterBerry
    • TinyTwitter
    • TweetDeck mobile app
    • m.twitter.com (mobile version of Twitter)

    How does a church track the “@names” of their customers/prospects?

    • Doesn’t seem to be built into attendees’ customer relationship management (CRM) systems yet, but expected to be another common field soon

    Where can I find a Twitter strategy template for my church?

    • This is a good start even though it was originally designed for UK government offices:

    Follow @NoVaSSM on Twitter for ongoiong tips. And my @churchmojo account for Twitter and church marketing tips.


    At the end of the evening, we also turned to SEO and Facebook.

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    What are some helpful SEO resources?

    3 Pillars of SEO

    1. Good content
    2. Links from other sites
    3. Your site’s architecture

    Anyone using Bing as their primary search engine? No.

    Facebook

    Should I create a Facebook Page for my business?

    What’s the difference between Facebook Pages and Groups?

    If you had been there, what would you add to the discussion? What challenges do churches face in social media that are different than those of small business?

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    4 thoughts on “Twitter Advice for Churches from a Panel of the Northern Va. Tech Community

    1. […] Twitter Advice for Churches from a Panel of the Northern Va. Tech Community « Church Mojo churchmojo.com/2009/08/23/twitter-for-churches – view page – cached #Church Mojo RSS Feed Church Mojo » Twitter Advice for Churches from a Panel of the Northern Va. Tech Community Comments Feed Church Mojo Catholic House Blessings–Don’t Forget the Dorms, Apartments and Condos Best Sources for Church Communications Technology Ideas? — From the page […]

    2. This is a terrible post. Social network and related tools like Twitter are NOT about marketing to your audience. They’re about participating in a narrative and are as much about listening as about transmitting. Churches and any other business that use Twitter as a one-way PR channel will not get much utility out of the service and are doing a disservice to their customers. Of all “businesses”, churches should be the most concerned about participating in a two-way narrative and listening to their “customers” instead of “branding” and “fundraising”.

    3. Thanks for commenting. It sounds like you might be in the camp of “#2. Mostly Corporate with Some Personality” or “#3. Mostly Personal with Some Corporate Ties” as your preferred approach to Twitter?

      Rereading my post, I now see that I should have reworded “What are purposes of a church Twitter account?” as “Here are some different ways you might use a church Twitter account” to make it clear that these are different options to consider rather than a prescriptive list. Some churches will move to a more mature model of two-way conversations, which is essential for the first two items in that list: attracting new members and customer service. Others might get stuck at the branding or fundraising level without taking it to the next stop.

      I think these are flexible tools that churches can use in a variety of different ways. The debate over how churches should use social media reminds me of Chris Brogan’s post, You’re Doing It Wrong.
      http://www.chrisbrogan.com/youre-doing-it-wrong/

      If you’ve seen some churches doing an especially good job with this type of outreach, please let us know so we can learn from their example.

      Thanks.

    4. Thanks for the feedback. OK, I probably shouldn’t have said “terrible post”! 🙂 The post came across to me as marketing-focused and my gut reaction was “Oh no! this isn’t what churches need to be doing” and I reacted a little strongly. My church doesn’t have a marketer and if they ever hire one, I’m going somewhere else! I definitely think the “pure corporate” Twitter type doesn’t “get it” and will not find much of a receptive audience on Twitter. I do think that churches could really benefit from tools like Twitter and smart use use of social media can help churches with their core mission which is hopefully reaching a lost & hurting world with the love of Christ. Keep up the good work on Church Mojo!
      Cheers,
      Rhet

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