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How to set up Twitter for your church

 
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Published on: 9/30/2013
Last modified on: 10/18/2013
by Kevin Duncan @kevinjduncan on Twitter

Does your church Tweet? Seven years ago, asking such a question would have resulted in funny looks and “do you have a speech impediment” inquiries. Today, it seems as though everyone and their grandmother is on Twitter. It’s changed the way information is relayed. No longer are news stories broken on the evening news or morning newspapers. They break on Twitter, in 140 characters or less.

Which brings us back to the question at hand: Is your church on Twitter?

If you answered “no” or “we do… but we don’t use it,” roll up your sleeves and read on.

But first, why churches should be on Twitter

There are two excellent reasons for your church to be on Twitter.

1. Twitter allows you to quickly relay information to the members of your church. Do you have a quick announcement? Post it on Twitter. Have you posted a new sermon podcast on your church’s website and want to let people know about it. Post in on Twitter.

Whereas your website, newsletter, weekly bulletin or even Facebook page allow you to share more detailed information with your congregation, Twitter is all about brevity. It’s short and to the point. And it’s why many choose to use it instead of Facebook or Google+.

2. Twitter (and other forms of social media) is how young people communicate. If your church wants grow going forward, it needs to embrace technology.

Getting started

Getting started with Twitter is easy. But, to make it as painless as possible, here is a guide to follow:

1. Go to http://twitter.com and click the “Sign up for Twitter” button.

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2. Fill out the sign-up form.

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For Full name, you can enter the name of your church. For example: “Lake Wildwood Baptist Church.” You could also enter the name of your pastor if he does not currently have a Twitter account, and if he will be the one managing it.

For Email address, enter the address of the individual who will be the primary manager of the account. This likely will be you (the person setting up the account).

For Password, pick a secure password.

Now for the fun part: Picking your username. Your username will be the name your “followers” will use when sending you replies, mentions, and direct messages. The username will also form the URL of your Twitter profile page. For example: Since my Twitter username is “kevinjduncan”, the URL for my Twitter account is twitter.com/kevinjduncan.

For Choose your username, you may have to be creative if your church name is a common one. You also (as of this writing) will have the restriction of choosing a username that’s less than 15 characters. So whereas the aforementioned example “lakewildwoodbaptist” would be a fine username, unfortunately it is greater than 15 characters. So, “LWBCmacon” — the acronym for the church along with the city where it’s located — was created.

The good news is you can change your username at any time.

Click the “Create my account” button once you’re finished.

3. Check the inbox of the email address you entered. Twitter will send you a confirmation.

4. Next, Twitter will ask you to choose 5 celebrities to follow. This is optional. Skip it. No matter how tempted you are to follow Justin Bieber, skip it.

Twitter Build Profile

5. Twitter will then ask you to follow people you already know. To do this, you grant Twitter access to your email contacts. This is also optional. You can always add people later (and without granting access to your email contacts).

6. You will then be asked to upload a profile picture and write a short bio.

Twitter Picture and Bio

For your photo, a PNG, JPG or GIF of your church will work great.

For your bio, describe your church in 160 characters or less. Or, write something simple like: “The Twitter account for [name of your church]!”

7. You’re finished! Well, mostly. Twitter say you are done and leaves you to the wonderful world of Tweeting. However, before you do you’ll want to customize your profile a bit more.

Click the Settings button in the top-right portion of your screen and choose Edit profile. Here you’ll be able to give your account profile more detail:

Photo: The image you selected earlier. You can change this at any time.

Header: This is the background image on your Twitter profile page. You’re fine to leave this alone.

Name: The username you chose earlier.

Location: Enter the city and state where your church resides.

Website: Enter the URL for your church’s website. If you do not have a church website, simply leave this blank.

Bio: The 160-character bio you entered earlier.

Save your changes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Tweeting

Your Twitter account is now set up and good to go. “Now what,” you ask? No worries. In a future blog post, I’ll discuss what to do with your new church Twitter account and how to get the most out of it.

And no, “follow Justin Bieber” will not be on the list.

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