Mashable has a great article by Jolie O'Dell about the twitter habits of celeb Kim Kardashian. The article is about how Kardashian isn't the most followed celebrity twitter user, but her stream and approach to Twitter greatly differs from other celebrities that use Twitter. While I definitely am not a fan of the Kardashians (their moral aptitude made me question even making this post), whatever approach she has to twitter can teach Pastors a lesson. The article can quickly be summed up in these quotes.
In other words, if you have a whole boatload of Twitter followers, does that necessarily mean you have a whole boatload of power on the social web?....
Kardashian’s stats prove that popularity and influence — quantity and quality — are two different things. And we think the ability to direct web traffic is a pretty big part of influence.
The socialite tweets personable, relatable clickbait. Fans are alerted about pictures of her European outfits, a contest to attend her birthday party, a breast cancer awareness drive — the kind of content her fans clearly want to see. The rest of her tweets are social; such a statement seems obvious until you scan other streams that reek of PR and marketing influence, begging followers to buy a product or consume content. Other celeb streams are almost entirely link-free and designed to facilitate interaction around that individual’s personality rather than create a desired action in the user.
Kardashian gets the same amount of Twitter referrals to her website as Google. Her use is very different from other "famous" users.
How does this apply to Church leaders? I think there are 3 major lessons.
1. Do you actively realize your influence?
If you are a pastor and have 300 actual Twitter users following you, that is an amazing amount of folks that are in front of you to hear your words and thoughts. Even if many of them are not under your pastoral charge, to them you represent a person handling the pastoral task in its various capacities.
This means that they have the ability to drive traffic to your church and it's various websites (and your blog if you are fishing for a book deal)...yes, but this is something much bigger than that. These are the people in the field waiting to hear from you. Twitter provides an amazing tool that puts real life, as much of it as shared, in front of anybody. Life that is lived intentionally and unintentionally. Life that speaks to how we spend our time, when we are with people or ourselves, and who we choose to interact with.
In times past, people fought over who brought the pastor or evangelist home for dinner. They did this because they wanted to be with them. Francis Asbury, was one of the first two bishops for the Methodist Church in America. He was a circuit rider, meaning he went from place to place on horseback. The stories of him interacting with people while staying briefly in their homes are part of the rise of American Methodism.
2. How you choose to interact with people.
We all follow twitter icons. Those people who might be in our field, but are out of our range. Because of twitter, and the power of RT's and @'s, we can sometimes get in their sphere of influence. But this can become a drug. We constantly @ and RT them..hoping to get a little shoutout.
Part of Kardashian's twitter influence is how she is constantly pointing people towards many things, and not mindlessly referring to herself. Yes-sometimes these referrals are to her own website, but many times others. She has chosen to interact with "normal" people in a different way.
How much of your twitter interaction is with those immediately around you, in your town and in your congregation? How do you sometimes use twitter to try to leverage influence in streams outside your locale? What does it say to someone who you pastor when all you really do on twitter is attempt to build cred with whatever sexy pastor is in vogue this week?
Use twitter to build those relationship that are closest to you. It is a strategy that WILL build a very healthy community.
3. Realize the Power of Twitter.
It isn't just a toy. Yes, twitter enables us to do many really fun things, but it is something we have at our finger tips to share the most important thing we have..the gospel of Jesus Christ dead and risen from the grave.
While I always advocate a highly relational approach to twitter, and don't inundate people with things...I know that the reason I use any of these tools is because of my love of the Triune God. Kardashian realized she could mobilize her fans, and it has worked. How can we use tools like these to encourage better and deeper love of God and love of neighbor.
In the various revivals of the 16th-19th century, many pastors took advantage of how cheap it was to publish things. They did....alot. They constantly put tools and resources into peoples hands to both lead them to God and to enrich the life they had with Him. The Church has always used...if not subverted technology the gospel, so using twitter is nothing new.
The Twittershere is not a realm outside of our pastoral vocation; it is yet another place for us to spread the gracious love of God.