Twitter is a short messaging service (SMS) that allows users to send short text messages to a large group of readers. Readers may view their messages on their cell phone or on the internet, and may reply to messages. Posts are “tagged” with relevant keywords; tags are formed by using the # symbol directly preceding the keyword. For example, #uu can be used to denote a post about Unitarian Universalism.
Congregational leaders may use a Twitter feed to highlight congregational news, share weekly meditations, promote upcoming events, or otherwise provide content that serves newcomers and keeps members engaged in the life of the congregation.
The UUA started using Twitter in October 2008. Since then, we’ve seen our follower base grow, to over 700 followers today. We use the UUA Twitter feed to share links to UUA news stories, meditations, and other resources that are relevant to Unitarian Universalists and seekers.
Congregations may be concerned about the amount of time required to manage a Twitter feed. A Twitter feed should be updated on a regular basis and questions from followers should be answered in a timely manner. But while fulfilling these responsibilities requires consistency and attention, it need not require vast amounts of time.
However, Twitter can be more time consuming if it used to post original content (rather than links to existing content), to provide multiple updates in a single day, or to engage in deeper conversations with followers. Congregational leaders and religious professionals can discern if the potentially more significant benefits of extended engagement with Twitter make it worthwhile to invest more time.
Here are some more examples of how the UUA and Unitarian Universalist congregations are using Twitter:
For General Assembly (GA) 2009, the UUA set up an event-specific Twitter feed and encouraged the use of #uuga2009 by anyone Twittering about GA.
In addition, Beacon Press, Standing on the Side of Love, and UU World have their own successful Twitter feeds.
And congregations and ministers are using Twitter too! Examples include the Twitter feed for Rev. Naomi King of the River of Grass UU Congregation in Plantation, Florida; the Twitter feed for Kitsap UU Fellowship of Bremerton, Washington; or the Twitter feed for UU Fellowship of Elkhart, Indiana.