InterConnections, a UUA publication for lay leaders, has a new article exploring how “Congregations Utilize Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Podcasting.” The piece provides a newcomer-oriented overview of the major tools in use by congregations and is based on interviews with growth consultant for the Ballou Channing District growth consultant Peter Bowden and me.
If you’re asking “So our congregation is on Twitter, now what?”, the nine tips below may help you plan the next steps for enhancing your Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation’s Twitter presence.
- Keep Twittering! Generate content that is relevant, unique, and spiritually-nourishing, in order to attract and serve followers.
- As you Twitter, stay focused on your congregation’s mission and values. Let those guide you in making decisions about what content to post and how to interact with followers.
- Publicize the Twitter feed to members of the congregation and encourage them to follow it : email your Twitter URL to congregants, include an announcement in the congregation’s newsletter or order of service, and talk to other members about why the congregation is using Twitter.
- Tag your Tweets with relevant keywords. Tags are formed by adding the # symbol directly preceding a keyword in the Tweet. For example, #uu can be used to denote a post about Unitarian Universalism. Here’s a sample post, including the #uu tag, from the UUA’s Twitter feed: Nov. 09 congregational bulletin with news and resources for #uu congregational leaders is now online: http://tinyurl.com/Nov09CongBulletin (One or more tags may be placed anywhere in the Tweet).
- Follow other Twitterers that are connected to your congregation, or write about topics that are relevant to your congregation (such as Unitarian Universalism, your local neighborhood, or a social justice issue that is important to the congregation). A Twitter list of UU congregations on Twitter can be found at: http://twitter.com/uua/uu-congregations You may also want to follow most or all of the Twitterers who follow you.
- Retweet posts that are relevant to your congregation or reflect the congregation’s mission and values.
- Reply to Twitterers commenting on your Tweets or on related subjects.
- Send a reply or a direct message thanking Twitterers who follow your congregation’s feed and/or who Re-Tweet your congregation’s Tweets.
- Evaluate your experience with Twitter at regular intervals, with an openness to incorporating feedback from followers and changing course as needed to further your congregation’s larger mission and values.
For those readers who are on Twitter: What other suggestions do you have for Unitarian Universalist congregations on Twitter?
And for those readers who are not using Twitter but would like to learn more, Twitter has a nice Frequently Asked Questions section that explains terms like “reply”, “retweet”, “direct message”, “follower”, and other Twitter terminology.
Today Twitter made its new list feature widely available. This feature allows individual users to create lists of their favorite Twitter feeds related to particular topics. Lists are identified by both the user name of the Twitterer that created the list and the subject to which the list relates. (For example, @uua/uu-congregations is a list of Unitarian Universalist congregations, created by the UUA).
I was delighted to see when I logged into the @uua Twitter account this afternoon that twelve lists had already been created that include the @uua feed (thanks, fellow Unitarian Universalist Twitterers!) The Twitter lists that include @uua have subjects like “unitarian-universalists,” “uu-orgs,” “spiritual-inspirational,” and “news-sources,” which gives you a sense of the different topics around which lists can be constructed and through which Twitters can come across Unitarian Universalist feeds.
The @uua account is now host to several lists as well, which are intended to serve as a quick reference for Twitterers searching for certain types of Unitarian Universalist feeds. The @uua lists are@uua/uu-congregations, @uua/uua-programs-and-offices, and @uua/uua-related-organizations
I’m hopeful that Unitarian Universalist lists (and lists on related topics) will provide opportunities for seekers on Twitter to discover our faith and for Unitarian Universalists on Twitter to continue to connect with one another.