The tweet/no tweet balance

by vernsanders on February 11, 2011

I’m in the middle of a series of updates about social media and ministry…

The backstory is this…

In April, 2009, my friend Doug Lawrence convinced me–not a social butterfly–to join Facebook. From time to time I’ve updated my progress (here, here, here, and here, for instance), and this month I’m looking at social media and ministry again…

Social media (SM), since I started using it two years ago, has gone from an interesting thing that some people did, to a fact of life (and, no, I haven’t seen the facebook movie yet). Along the way an etiquette has developed, and I’ve had to make some etiquitorial decisions about how best to use social media in my business, which is ministry. In what follows, I am assuming that you know how to post to twitter and/or facebook, and that you know how to make your tweets show up on your facebook status. If you don’t, go here for that information.

If you use this feature (and I suggest you do), you will have to make a decision about how much is too much. Remember that I’m talking about using SM for business/ministry purposes here, so if you are only interested in tweeting/posting about how good Aunt Martha’s pie tasted at the family reunion, you can move along now…(or set up a different twitter account, as my friend DJ Chuang has done with his djchuang24/7 account).

If you post too often, people will “block” your posts from what they want to see. If you post too infrequently, people with large numbers of friends/followers won’t see your stuff because it will get lost in their stream. This presumes, however, that you have (or accumulate, or can point to) enough interesting information so that you are not repeating the same post every two hours for days.

There is no “perfect” solution, but after listening and observing a lot of people’s ideas, I tend to alternate between two systems.

The “flood” strategy is to send 3-7 posts in a short period of time (say spaced two minutes apart, max) no more than three times per day. In this system, no more than 2 of those posts should reference your own content. The rest should point to other interesting things and/or people. The principle here is that if you always talk about yourself, you tend to be a boor. Everybody (and especially in SM) loves to hear about something interesting that they don’t know, so the flood strategy means you have to spend enough time exploring on the internet to find this stuff (Caution: internet surfing can become addictive…but at least you have the excuse that it serves your system).

The other strategy is the “trickle” strategy. In this case you post anywhere from 3-11 posts over the course of the day, perhaps one every hour or so. In the trickle system it is more acceptable to post your own content more often, but you have to be careful. All about you all the time is not what most people are looking for (which is why DJ’s 24/7 account has a different set of followers than his “regular” account).

With the flood strategy, you always want your “most important” content (i.e. your own) posted last, because it is going to stay on your facebook status longer…perhaps even 24 hours (or more over the weekend if you don’t post then…and I do suggest that, for ministry purposes you exercise a “sabbatical” from posting on a regular basis). With the trickle strategy you always want important content, so trickling involves less reliance on “filler” content.

Next up: Tweeting at “odd” hours

Got a story of how social media helped or burnt your ministry? Please leave a comment below.

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