30 June 2012
How To Use Twitter to Engage Your New Ministry Context in Five Easy Steps
Twitter is a great way to learn more about and build relationships within your local ministry context. I am using it to get to know my new neighborhood - Ambler, Pennsylvania - a month before I even physically move there. Here's how I'm doing it - in five pretty easy steps:
1. Update Your Profile
Make sure it is clear in your Twitter profile that you are associated with the church. Include the church's twitter handle, if they have one. And be sure to update your location. You'd like for local people to follow you back on Twitter. Make sure it is obvious who you are and why you are following them - because you are also part of the local community.
2. Simply Ask the Question
Put out a tweet saying you are new to the area and looking for local tweeps to follow. Remember to use hashtags, just in case people are following them. In this instance, I hashtagged the town #ambler and the local neighborhood #upperdublin. And, hey, I got a ping back from the local playhouse:
Twitter Search is a powerful yet underutilized tool for finding out what's happening in the world - or just your corner of it. For this process, use the Advanced Twitter Search. Here you can search for the town name (I used "Ambler PA") within Tweets, within individual profiles (I found this to be the most fruitful), and within places - where you can find Tweets that originated from within a certain radius of the location.
4. Who Follows Whom?
Between asking and searching, you are bound to have come across some people in your new neighborhood. Follow them and then do some digging. Look at their profiles and see who they are following and if any of those tweeps are local people too. See also whether they curate lists of local people. Follow the connections and follow the local folks you find.
5. Build a Twitter List
Finally, once you have followed these local tweeps, keep track of them by creating a Twitter list. Twitter lists are a great way to keep track of groups of people. In your profile, under your picture, select "Lists" and then on the right, click the button "Create List". Name the list after your location - I just called mine "Ambler" - and add your new local tweeps to the list. (Find detailed instructions on creating lists from Twitter here.) This list will allow me to keep up with what's happening in the Ambler Twittersphere, learn about the town, and begin to make some connections, even before I actually move there in person.
Once my list looks pretty respectable, I'll send out another tweet sharing my list with others (people can follow one another's public lists) and ask who else should be on it.
Here's a Twitter Widget with the latest tweets from my Ambler Tweeps list:
That's it! Have you used social media to help enter into your new ministry context? What tips can you share? If you try this method, let me know how it goes. Good luck!