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7 Ways to Improve Your Church's Twitter Presence

Scanning the Twitter feeds of nonprofit and religious leaders, it’s pretty easy to see most have little or no knowledge of how to connect online. From boring tweets like, “I’m at Starbucks having a latte,” to subtly patting yourself on the back (“Praise God, we had 6,000 cars in the lot this Sunday!”), you’re driving people away when you should be sharing your story and connecting it with others. So here are a few tips to get your social media life back on track:

1) Stop over-promoting your organization. A good rule is 10 to 1: One tweet to promote you or your organization to 10 about something else. Over-promotion is the quickest path to drive people away.

2) Be personal. People follow you to find out what it’s like to be you. Give them an up close and personal view of your life—your struggles, your failures and your victories. Show them what they’d never find out otherwise. Give them a glimpse of the inside world of your calling or career.

3) Remember your followers are global. I schedule some of my tweets so my followers in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia can be part of the conversation. Don’t just think locally or even nationally. When it comes to social media, you’re everywhere.

4) Stay in your lane of expertise. People don’t follow me to hear about recipes, sports or knitting. They follow me because they’ve read my books, heard me speak or met me. They want that conversation to continue, so I stick with my area of expertise, and it extends my brand. What do people think of when they think of you? Stick to that subject.

5) It’s a conversation, and the same etiquette applies. Social media is “social”—it’s not a one-way street. Respond to people who respond to you. Pay attention to feedback. Your followers will be thrilled you care.

6) Watch for critics. No matter what you do, you’ll get someone who doesn’t like it. But social media allows you to deal with problems quickly. Respond either directly or, better yet, give them an email or phone number where you can take the critic offline and deal with it privately. If dealt with well, you’ll end up turning a critic into a fan.

7) Your personal feed will always be more attractive than your institutional feed. It’s fine to have “official” social media feeds coming from your church or nonprofit, but people prefer by far a personal relationship. Keep in mind that people relate far better to a person than an organization, media program or building. That’s also a good reason to have others on your leadership team tweeting about your organization’s work.

Do you have any other suggestions that would help nonprofit and church leaders connect better through Twitter?  

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Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles (CookeMediaGroup.com) where his team helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively through media. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."