At the high school where we do Young Life, we have watched a major migration take place over the past year, a move from Facebook to Twitter. I believe the main reason high schoolers are making the move is because of the stat from Wednesday’s post that read “92% of parents are friends with their kids on facebook.”
Kids seem to be way more honest on Twitter, probably because their parents don’t see what they are tweeting. Kids also use it for the Direct Message feature, as it is essentially free text messaging. Many parents keep tabs on their kids’ by reading the text messages on their phone, but few dig deep enough to get into the DM conversations on Twitter, thus making it a safe way to avoid the parentals.
This year we created a Twitter account for our club and have been intentional about using it to connect with kids, not to just share event information. I believe it has been a highly influential factor in almost doubling our club size this year. More kids know what’s going on with YL, but more importantly, we as leaders know what’s going on with more kids.
A Few Pointers We Have Learned In Our First Year Twitter Journey
Tweet At The Right Times
Figure out when is the best time for you to actually send out tweets. We have found it best to tweet before school, right before lunch, right before the end of school bell rings, and around 10pm, before kids go to bed. You can also use sites like www.whentotweet.com (cost $5) or www.tweriod.com (free) to find out when your Twitter followers are on Twitter. We use HootSuite.com to schedule tweets so we don’t always have to be on Twitter.
Tweet The Right Stuff
Below are a few examples of good things to tweet about. It’s important to use humor, because kids are more likely to Retweet funny messages.
@SmithYL Congrats to Johnny Doe for winning “Student of The Day” at Smith High. Guess it pays off when your girlfriend in on student council.
@SmithYL Happy Birthday @JennyDeal34. Hope your 11th year is the best yet.
@Smith YL Good luck to the Smith Storks tonight in the big game against South! Your YL leaders are possibly going to shave “Go Storks” into our back hair.
@SmithYL Who’s going to the game tonight? Want to go to Chick-fil-a afterwards?
@Smith YL First Club is this upcoming Monday night. It’s Mustache Club. If you’re a freshman, we’ll bring stick-ons for ya. RSVP to the event on facebook: www.linktoeventonfacebook.com
@SmithYL Late start day tomorrow. A few YL leaders are cooking pancakes @JayBiggie ‘s house at 7:30am. Pancakes cost .25 cent. Syrup is free. Holla.
@SmithYL Yo. Young Lifers, check out this new music video from @DrewHolcomb. It’s rad. www.linktoraddrewholcombmusicvideo.com
@SmithYL Redneck Club Monday 7:27pm. If you retweet this you’ll be put in a drawing for a free YL t-shirt at club on Monday.@SmithYL What songs do y’all want to sing at club this week?@SmithYL Who do you think is getting voted off the Bachelor tonight?@SmithYL Did anyone just see @BigRick make that interception? Somebody’s gonna be playing on Sundays in a few years!@SmithYL I’m eating something spicy in a paisley covered booth with @SpeedyPaul, @LilJimmy88, and @Beibsfanfolife. Guess where we are and you get a YL nalgene.
Share The Tweeting
Have multiple leaders on your team share your club’s Twitter account so you can get a gender balanced tweet mojo goin’ on. Be careful who you give access to, as one accidentally damaging tweet is permanent in the digital world.
ReTweet Kids/Follow Kids/Area Youth Pastors
Few things make high schoolers happier than getting a retweet. It’s like the ultimate shoutout. They know by heart how many followers they have. When they get another one, as long as it’s not their mom, they get fired up! Also follow area youth pastors, good musicians, etc… Kids will look at who you follow and follow them.
Don’t publicize your Twitter account until you are committed to tweeting consistently. Kids will expect it once you start doing it.
Read The Tweets
Reading Twitter is like reading a captivating book on youth ministry and adolescent culture. You can gain great insight into kids and the battles they are facing just by spending 10 minutes a day reading what they write. It’s a huge privilege, almost like reading a kid’s journal, edited down to 140 characters. Who’s gonna pass that up?
How To Start Tweeting
Ask your high school friends to help you get set up on your phone and computer. Buy them a Coke Zero in exchange. It’s quick and not that complicated.
What else have you learned from using Twitter as a ministry tool? Please comment below.Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in having a more detailed Social Media Strategy Seminar presented to your area or region.