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This is a guest post by Steven Smith.
Have you ever heard of a phone tree? Contrary to what the name suggests it isn’t a tree that will grow an iPhone, bummer. A phone tree is an archaic network of church members used to get information out about important events.
Let’s say there is a big event planned at the church tonight, but the speaker’s flight was canceled and he won’t arrive till tomorrow. How do you get word out to your members? In the past our church would use the phone tree. I had my list of ten members, who I would call and tell. They had their list of ten members who they in turn would call and tell. It’s Basically one big game of telephone, where the last people on the list could hear, “the speakers flight crashed into the church building and everything was canceled.”
Important Messages and Social Media
Maybe not, but the point is phone trees don’t work well in our technology based world. There is a way that you can effectively communicate pertinent information to all your members using social media. The answer, believe it or not, is Twitter. Let me explain.
I work as a Youth Minister. I often need to communicate important information to teens and parents about upcoming youth events. At first I tried using group text messaging. I quickly learned this just isn’t practical. Most phones and messaging plans limit group messages to 8 people or less. If you have a congregation or group of more than 8, group messages just won’t work.
However, there is a simple text message solution available through Twitter. You may or may not know that Twitter users can have specific tweets sent to their phone as a text message. If there is one Twitter account you never want to miss a tweet from, this is a good solution. This Twitter feature can also be used to reach everyone in your group.
Using Twitter to Get Out an Important Message
For my youth group (and parents) we have set up a specific Twitter account that is only used to tweet important church announcements (no tweets about what I ate for lunch on this account). I then ask everyone to follow the account and have those tweets sent to their phone as a Text message.
This is very easy to set up for people with AT&T as their carrier. All you have to do is text “follow Twitter-name” to the number 40404. (For example, if the Twitter name is @OurChurchDotCom you would text “Follow OurChurchDotCom” to 40404, but with no quote marks.)
For people with a carrier other than AT&T there are a few more steps that twitter outlines here. Either way the results are the same. Every Tweet I send with this account automatically gets sent to a follower’s phone as a text message. So in essence I could tweet “Church event canceled tonight because the speakers flight was canceled.” That’s all I have to do, and it will get sent out to all my group members as a text message.
I can even text it myself to phone number 40404 and it will go out as a tweet on my account. It is a very effective way to communicate important information to everyone in your group. Let me know how it works for you?