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Introduction to Twitter for Unitarian Universalist Leaders

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a website that allows users to distribute short messages to large groups of other Twitter users. To receive updates from a given Twitter feed, readers sign-up to be "followers" of that feed. Twitter users may view received messages on their cell phone or by logging in to their Twitter account through Twitter's website, and may reply to messages. Each Twitter post, or "Tweet," must be no longer than 140 characters.

Mashable.com's Twitter Guide Book has more information about how Twitter works.

What kinds of content can be shared on Twitter?

Congregational leaders might use a Twitter feed to highlight congregational news, share weekly meditations, promote upcoming events, or otherwise provide content that serves newcomers and keeps members engaged in the life of the congregation.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) started using Twitter in October 2008. The UUA Twitter feed shares links to UUA news stories, meditations, and other resources that are relevant to Unitarian Universalists and seekers, and "re-tweets" posts about Unitarian Universalism from other Twitter users.

How much time does it take to manage a Twitter feed?

Congregations may be concerned about the amount of time required to manage a Twitter feed. A Twitter feed should be updated on a regular basis and questions from followers should be answered in a timely manner. But while fulfilling these responsibilities requires consistency and attention, it need not require vast amounts of time.

However, Twitter can be more time consuming if it used to post original content (rather than links to existing content), to provide multiple updates in a single day, or to engage in deeper conversations with followers. Congregational leaders and religious professionals can discern if the potentially more significant benefits of extended engagement with Twitter make it worthwhile to invest more time.

How do we find other Unitarian Universalists on Twitter?

Unitarian Universalists using Twitter can be found by browsing the following lists:

How do we promote our congregation's Twitter feed?

  1. Start Twittering! Generate content that is relevant and spiritually-nourishing to attract and serve followers.
     
  2. Publicize the Twitter feed to members of the congregation: email the feed's URL to congregants, include an announcement in the congregation's newsletter or order of service, and talk to other members about why the congregation is using Twitter.
     
  3. Tag your Tweets with relevant keywords. Tags are formed by adding the # symbol directly preceding a keyword in the Tweet. For example, #unitarian can be used to denote a post about Unitarian Universalism. Here's a sample post, including the #unitarian tag, from the UUA's Twitter feed:

    New 40-day campaign for Earth Day 2011, from the UUA & UU Ministry for Earth: http://bit.ly/icp4iz What action will you take? #unitarian
     
  4. Follow other Twitterers that write about Unitarian Universalism or are connected to your congregation.
     
  5. Reply (using the @ symbol) to Twitterers commenting on your Tweets or on related subjects.
     
  6. Send a reply or a direct message thanking Twitterers who follow your congregation's feed. It's best not to send automated direct messages. Instead, use this opportunity to get to know your new followers and send them personalized welcome messages.
     
  7. Send an email to pw_specialist @ uua.org or a Tweet to @uua asking to have your congregation's feed added to the UUA Twitter feed's list of Unitarian Universalist congregations.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, July 25, 2011.

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