Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to post short updates to your friends, family, and anyone else that you would like to know “what’s going on” with you. It is growing at a massive rate, and chances are – you or one of your ministry members is using Twitter.
Twitter allots a grand total of 140 characters for a message, due mainly to the reason it was created – updates via cellular phone. This service can have a great impact on your women’s ministry, and can allow you to reach all of your members quicker than you could do with phone or email.
Let us first look at one of the things you will decide when creating your account, and its effect on your ministry.
Protected verses public
When you first sign up for Twitter you will be given the option of having a protected account or a public account. If you are using this for purely personal or ministry reasons, protected definitely seems like the way to go, but it will force members to have to be approved by you before seeing your tweets. While that may sound like a good idea, your ministry will not benefit from the community advantages that Twitter can provide. Your tweets will only be seen by those that you allow to see them however, even when you choose protected, your tweets can be re-tweeted, meaning that the followers of your Twitter account are then able to send the message that you sent out to all of their friends. If it is information that should be kept in your ministry circle, do not post it on Twitter.
Benefit #1: Quick Text Blasts
If nothing else, you should be using Twitter to connect to the large group of people in your ministry that have and frequently use cellular phones. Twitter is an excellent way to blast simple messages to all of your members via text message. For example, many ministries in the cold and snowy Midwest have to close down during storms. Instead of having to go online, or wait for a phone call, the person in charge of notifications would be able to simply update the church’s Twitter, and those connected to Twitter would be instantly notified via text message or their choice of Twitter software. Of course, not everyone uses Twitter, but for those that do, the information disseminates faster, and people know information sooner – meaning less people out on the street due to not receiving the message.
The other reason that text blasts work so well is the increase in cellular phone usage – especially in women. In a 2002 survey “of tech-savvy consumers, women emerged as a driving force behind the growing popularity of two-way wireless short-text messaging service. Eighty-seven percent of 30-40 year-old women surveyed in a study commissioned by Verizon Wireless said that text messaging would help them improve their personal and business communications” (“Survey finds women like mobile text messaging”). That was 2002. Years later it is pretty safe to assume that many, many women are using cellular phones and short-text messaging services. How much more would it help you reach the members in your ministry and the visitors of your ministry?
Benefit #2: Syncs with FaceBook
If you are using Facebook for women’s ministry, you have numerous ways to sync your Twitter posts to Facebook, and visa-versa. This means that anytime you post to Facebook, your Twitter account will be automatically updated. So, for the people that are using Facebook (currently more than Twitter), you will notify them through the service they use the most. Facebook is absolutely essential and incredibly easy to use, setup, and maintain – for much more than notices. But using it in conjunction with Twitter will mean that your members will always be up to date on what is going on with your ministry and feel connected.
Let us look at some statistics (Smith):
- Facebook reporting nearly 45.3 million active US users in the last 30 days
- Facebook growing in every age/gender demographic. Fastest growing segment: Women over 55, up 175.3% in the last 120 days.
- Facebook growing faster with women than men in almost every age group. Women comprise 56.2% of Facebook’s audience, up from 54.3% late last year.
- 45% of Facebook’s US audience is now 26 years old or older.
If nothing else, poll your ministry members. Are they using Facebook? Are they using Twitter? Are they using a cell phone on a regular basis? If they are, you probably should be too.
Benefit #3: Builds relationship
Quite possibly the number one reason why you should use Twitter is the fact that it helps to build relationship with your members beyond what can normally be achieved. Members get to know each other as humans, rather than people who are untouchable.
In addition to current group members, the relationship with new members is further accelerated. Since new members are unlikely to run up to you and introduce themselves after service, unless they come with someone that will introduce them. However, if they gain access to view your ministry’s Twitter account, they will see that there are people like themselves behind the scenes, that these people are approachable, and that these people care not only about their ministry – but about those that visit. Not only that, but the community that is built around sites such as Twitter and Facebook creates an atmosphere of approachability, develops friendships, and encourages attendance. That type of commitment, love, and thought speaks volumes.
Benefit #4: Women are social
Do your women’s ministry events usually end at the designated time? Many women have the great gift of gab – which allows us to talk for hours on end about seemingly nothing. Most women want to share, help, and converse on whatever it is that comes along. Twitter allows you to do just this, but in short, succinct messages. This forces you to make an exact statement, and get it out with brevity. If all of the women in your ministry are following you and each of them each other, this builds a network that is reachable within seconds. Have a prayer request? What about a praise report? These types of things can be sent out and all of a sudden you have hundreds of people praying, praising, reading, and @replying.
Benefit #5: Capture events in real time
Since Twitter can be updated so quickly by means of text message, you and your members can easily upload photos or simply tweet while at an event. This is highly useful for people that cannot make it, but want to know or see what they are missing. This also allows you to share with others and perhaps get them interested in the next event. This is particularly useful if you use a hashtag (using the pound/hash symbol #), with a keyword. For example, if Google had an event this year, the hashtag could be #google10. People can then search for this tag and get results from tweets that are using this tag, making it easy to find the exact information regarding this event.
Benefit #6: Outreach
Another benefit of using Twitter is outreach. If your tweets are public, your tweet has the possibility of being re-tweeted to your follower’s followers, and from theirs to their followers. In essence, your one tweet could reach hundreds of thousands of people in mere seconds. Of course, this relies on the hope that your tweet is re-tweeted, and if it is something of use to others – chances are that it will be. If nothing else, your tweet being re-tweeted to even one or two new people could mean spiritual or ministerial growth. In seconds, someone across the city could learn of your ministry conference or bible study, in a way that would not have reached them before.
Furthermore, you could send out a link to your website that shares the gospel – that link could be re-tweeted, and someone, somewhere may just get the message that their soul has been longing to hear – all from a little birdie.
Incorporating technology is not the end all, be all. Women’s ministry can thrive with or without technology. However, as a supplement these items can make ministry both more effective, and more approachable than anything women’s ministry has had in the past.
Smith, Justin. “Fastest Growing Demographic on Facebook: Women Over 55.” Inside Facebook – Tracking Facebook and the Facebook Platform for Developers and Marketers. 02 Feb. 2009. Web. 07 Jan. 2010. «http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/02/02/fastest-growing-demographic-on-facebook-women-over-55/».
“Survey finds women like mobile text messaging.” M-Travel.com and Travel Distribution News. 05 Aug. 2002. Web. 07 Jan. 2010. «http://www.m-travel.com/news/2002/08/survey_finds_wo.html».