Monday, August 6, 2012

Church Social Media Strategy: Use Twitter to be a "Brand Ambassador"

Read any of my stuff about social media and you know I'm a big fan of Twitter. Still, I currently find myself counseling local churches to let their Twitter accounts go dark. (What I think dioceses, synods, or conferences ought to be doing on Twitter is fodder for another post.)

I'm not saying churches should shut down their Twitter accounts entirely. I simply want leadership to stop tweeting from institutional accounts until they can clearly articulate why they want to be on Twitter, who they want to reach, and what message(s) they want to deliver.

No time to engage in this strategy exercise? Then let me do (some of) it for you.

Here's a true fact: third party endorsements are always more credible and valuable than self-promotion, which is why I'm urging church communication ministers to cultivate and support "brand ambassadors."

More powerful than hey-look-at-us tweets from your church's accounts, are ones from happy, grateful, enthusiastic congregants. Tweets about your church and its activities by visitors or observers are equally or perhaps even more powerful.

As grace would have it, I was describing the brand ambassador strategy to Penny Nash (@penelopepiscopl) via DM, when this tweet from Elizabeth Drescher (@edrescherphd)* showed up in my Twitter stream last Friday:

I couldn't have prayed for a better example.

In her tweet, Elizabeth lets us know she thinks highly of Saint Benedict Episcopal Church in Lacey, Washington. She appreciates how they've reinvented the rummage sale.

I noticed her shout-out and clicked on the link she provided. As a result, I have more information about this church. I'm now more inclined to recommend it to someone searching for a church home in that area of Washington state. It's also on my list of churches to visit when I'm traveling.

Indeed, I have a list of Episcopal, ELCA, UMC, UCC, and Presbyterian churches I'd love to visit because people I follow have posted tweets about their church's community -- the quality of worship and the commitment to serving others. These people are brand ambassadors, although in churchy-church speak, we'd probably call them evangelists.

Make sense?

* Author of Tweet if you [Heart] Jesus and co-author with Keith Anderson of Click2Save


Allan Buckingham said...

I thought after tweeting that I wasn't sure I agreed with everything in the post, the polite thing to do was to formally comment.

So I'm curious if you think there's a place on twitter for institutional information sharing. I recognize that having others talk about why your church is great is more powerful then self promotion, but I feel that twitter is also a good platform to let people know about and remind them of events and the like.

I also think that getting people in the habit of tweeting with easy content is a good way to get them involved with the platform. It's hard to get people immediately engaged sometimes.

Meredith Gould said...

Yes, I would say Twitter works well when used for event reminders and also great for emergency/crisis situations (e.g., "we've closed because of snow).

Agree that tweeting easy content like news is a great way to get people started. The challenge and potential problem lies in having the institutional account become an endless stream of ho-hum boring tweets. Links to pictures could alleviate that.