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How to Build Online Relationships Like Jesus (Part 3)

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Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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facebook twitter listsIn How to Build Online Relationships Like Jesus (Part 2) we examined Jesus’ life and found that he had several tiers of relationships – large crowds, dozens of followers, 12 disciples, and 3 close friends. And we also observed that Jesus flipped the pyramid and intentionally invested a disproportionate amount of time with those he was closest to.

So, how can we apply what we’ve learned about Jesus’ relationships to our online relationships?

Social Media Relationships

With Facebook and Twitter, we have the potential to connect with thousands of people. Therefore, it’s important to have tiers of relationships just like Jesus did. That way you can give priority to those who are closest to you, yet still be able to connect with crowds and be available to be used by the Holy Spirit in one time encounter that could change the course of a person’s life.

This may seem impossible because the default view in both Facebook and Twitter shows updates from all of the people you follow/friend. As you connect with more people in “the crowd,” updates from the people who are closest to you can get lost in the shuffle. Some people get frustrated by this and decide they’re just going to limit their social media connections to 100-200 people and exclude the crowd. Others get totally fed up and jump to the conclusion that social media is incapable of fostering anything more that shallow acquaintances.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Twitter Lists

Twitter enables you to create lists. You can create as many lists as you want for any purpose you like – family, friends, people in your church, people in your local community, people in your vocational field, people who inspire you. After you add people to a list, you can check that list to see updates just from those people on that list.

Viewing lists on the Twitter website is rather cumbersome and time consuming. You’re better off using a Twitter application like HootSuite (what I use) or TweetDeck. These apps allow you to view multiple columns of Tweets at the same time, including columns for direct messages (DMs), mentions (aka @replies), and lists. I set up HootSuite with DMs in the column to the far left, mentions to the right of that, and then lists in descending importance to the right of that, with my least important list to the far right.

hootsuite twitter lists

Not all the columns are visible at one time.  I have to scroll to the right to see the lower priority lists. That leads to a natural prioritization of relationships.

Facebook Lists

Facebook allows you to create lists of “friends” in a way that is very similar to Twitter, however, as far as I know there aren’t any 3rd party apps that allow you to view lists of friends in parallel columns like Twitter does. (If someone does know a way to do this, please let me know because it would be a total game-changer!) To see updates from a list of friends, go to the top of your News Feed, click “Most Recent,” then click the down arrow to the right of most recent, and select the list you want to view.

facebook lists

To prioritize your relationships, check the lists of friends you’re closest tomore often than those you’re less close to and more often than the entire news feed which is the whole crowd.

Facebook Pages

Another option for public and even a semi-public figure is to create a Facebook Page where you can engage the crowds. This is a good option for authors, musicians, TV and radio hosts, athletes, celebs, and even bloggers. You can limit your Facebook profile friends to a couple hundred family and friends, and then engage other people through your Facebook page.

That covers the set-up and systems necessary to create tiers of prioritized relationships. But once we’re set-up…

How do we actually engaged people like Jesus through social media on a day-to-day basis?

We’ll tackle that one next in How to Build Online Relationships Like Jesus (Part 4).


What’s your strategy for prioritizing relationships in social media? Do you use Twitter and Facebook lists? Do you have another way of doing it that works for you?

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


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