Twitter’s Changing and Here’s What You Should Do

Twitter’s changing! Twitter’s changing!  That’s the kind of reaction you get when the one of the chief officers of Twitter announces that they will begin to filter Twitter feeds.  What do they mean by “filter”?  Well there’s hasn’t been an official announcement, but we can safely assume that “filter” will look something like your Facebook newsfeed.  For example, you may have 500 friends on Facebook however, you don’t see all their status updates.  You only see the statuses from friends that you interact with or the ones that have been liked or commented on numerous amount of times.

Of course, this means that Twitter will no longer be a raw feed (by “raw feed” I mean you see everything that your friends publish in the order they published it).   It also means that just because you put your church’s content on Twitter it’s no longer a guarantee that everyone will see it.   Instead like I explained above, Twitter will become a filtered stream.  So what do you do?   Run for the hills?  Write your congressman? No, you don’t do any of that, but are some things that should do.

Don’t Panic

You’ll probably see posts from sites with headlines like “Is Twitter Over?” or “Should You Start Paying for Twitter?”. Well like most things in life, you shouldn’t panic. Whatever changes are coming they’ll probably be rolled out slowly and not a wholesale change and when those changes come there will be plenty of well thought strategies on how to deal with the change.  Panic though, is not a way to deal with the change.

Remember It’s About the Content

No matter what changes Twitter might bring to their network, content will still be key.  Great content will still be shared and seen by others.  However, this does mean that you can’t treat Twitter like a raw feed just throwing everything at it.  Just like Facebook you’re going to have be more conscientious of what you share and when you share it.

You’ll also need to to make sure that you’re crafting content that fits Twitter.  A lot of people treat all channels the same, which means they create content once and then publish it to all their channels.   While this may work in some cases, it won’t work for you in the long run.

Yes, You Might Have to Pay

No one wants to pay to have their content promoted (I hate paying for social media promotion).  We all secretly hope that our content is good enough to stand on its own and not need any additional promotion.  However, with a filtered Twitter stream you might have to pay to get that content into your target audiences stream.

More Changes Will Come

This isn’t the end of the changes that will come to Twitter.  The truth is they have to make money (especially since they are now a publicly traded stock) and this change will be one many changes that will take place in order to add to the bottom line.  That’s why when you can you should own as many of your channels as you can (i.e. your website, blog and use services like Pressgram).   Remember, tools like Twitter and Facebook are free for a reason.  You’re the product, not the customer.  For these sites to remain in business they need to be able to sell your information or get you to pay to promote your content.

So yes, Twitter is changing and it will continue to change.  This is why I love social media and working with churches.  We have a medium (social media) that’s ever-changing and story (the gospel) that’s never changed.

I Could Have Done That

“I could have done that.”

I hear that sometimes when people are evaluating design. I often want to reply, “Really? You could have done that? Then why didn’t you?”.

I don’t fault people who make that statement. I really don’t. However, I have come to realize that some of the best design out there goes unnoticed. Don’t believe me? Just watch the documentary Helvetica.  Need more examples? Look at the work of legendary designers Massimo Vignelli and Paul Rand.

Really good design can be so effective that average person doesn’t really appreciate what they are viewing. Does that make people ignorant? No. It just means that designers have a lot of educating to do.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

We’ve all been there.  We’ve watched the church down the street have huge social media numbers and a website that could power NASA.  It’s easy to feel small in comparison of the number of large churches that are out there.  If you’re not careful you can start question if you’re making any impact at all.

The problem with comparing yourself with the church down the street is that it sets unrealistic expectations on you and your church. Sure, the church next door has 5,000 Facebook likes, but there are lot factors that probably helped them get there. They might have full time person dedicated to social media or they might have spent money to buy “likes” (yes, you can do that and no it’s not recommended). In short, there are lot of factors to how a church might succeed using social media.

Instead of focusing on the what the church down the street is doing, take time to do an honest assessment of your church and it’s strengths.   Yes, the church down the street may have “a lot going on”, but that can also be a disadvantage as well.   Churches with large programs tend to push out a lot promotion for all of their programs.   You however can be laser focused on a few things and promote them well.

You can also take the time to make sure that your social media channels are not only pushing the right content out, but there also listening as well.  Listening is the key to great social media. Listening is the “social” part of social media.   Focus on listening well and the size of Twitter follower count won’t really matter.

Trying to keep up with the church next door is a fool’s errand.  God put you where you’re at for a purpose.  Embrace that purpose and focus on what matters.  Do that and then everything else will fall in it’s place.