Twitter Fail: Tweeting Tips for Leaders, by Phil Cooke, PhD

Why your Tweets may be driving people away when you could be sharing your story and connecting it with others

by Phil Cooke, PhD, president of Cooke Pictures

Scanning the Twitter feeds of nonprofit and religious leaders, it’s pretty easy to see that most have little or no knowledge of how to connect online. From boring Tweets like “I’m at Starbucks having a latte,” to subtly patting yourself on the back (“Praise God, we had 6,000 cars in the lot this Sunday!”)  you’re driving people away when you should be sharing your story and connecting it with others. So here’s a few tips to get your social media life back on track:

1) Stop over-promoting your organization.  A good rule is 10 to 1: One Tweet to promote you or your organization to ten about something else. Over promotion is the quickest path to drive people away.

2) Be personal.  People follow you to find out what it’s like to be you. Give them an up close and personal view of your life – your struggles, your failures, and your victories. Show them what they’d never find out otherwise.  Give them a glimpse of the inside world of your calling or career.

3) Remember that your followers are global.  I schedule some of my tweets so my followers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia can be part of the conversation. Don’t just think locally or even nationally. When it comes to social media, you’re everywhere.

4) Stay in your lane of expertise.  People don’t follow me to hear about recipes, sports, or knitting. They follow me because they’ve read my books, heard me speak, or met me. They want that conversation to continue, so I stick with my area of expertise, and it extends my brand.  What do people think of when they think of you?  Stick to that subject.

5) It’s a conversation, and the same etiquette applies.  Social media is “social” – it’s not a one-way street. Respond to people who respond to you. Pay attention to feedback. Your followers will be thrilled that you care.

6) Watch for critics.  No matter what you do, you’ll get someone who doesn’t like it.  But social media allows you to deal with problems quickly.  Respond either directly, or better yet, give them an email or phone number where you can take the critic offline and deal with it privately. If dealt with well, you’ll end up turning a critic into a fan.

7) Your personal feed will always be more attractive than your institutional feed.  It’s fine to have “official” social media feeds coming from your church or nonprofit, but people prefer by far a personal relationship. Keep in mind that people relate far better to a person than an organization, media program, or building.  That’s also a good reason to have others on your leadership team tweeting about your organization’s work.

Do you have any other suggestions that would help nonprofit and church leaders connect better through Twitter?

Read more of Phil’s Insights on his Blog.

4 Replies to “Twitter Fail: Tweeting Tips for Leaders, by Phil Cooke, PhD”

  1. I agree with your article–these are some seriously great social media rules-to-live-by–but I am struggling a bit to understand how #4 applies to your political tweets? Regardless of my political persuasion, I have found a Christian media expert tweeting his political views during this election year more than slightly off-putting.

    1. Isn’t that the truth. I hate to use Twitter simply to “broadcast,” but keeping everything personal can be overwhelming. You do the best job of anyone faith leader I know… including Phil! So… keep up the great work. You’re a model to us all!

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