Tag Archive for how to build a twitter following

The church of the holy tweeters featuring @RevRichardColes

Rectors, priests and vicars are really recruiters in cassocks. Their job (among other things) is to spread a brand or a message, and engage with what is largely a passive population, and recruit them in some way in to the flock. I’m not a religious person, but then I’m also not unreligous .Probably best described as agnostic, I use my church when I need it for weddings (once), christenings and funerals. I don’t belong to any particular church. i don’t not believe, I just haven’t found any one religion to commit to fully. I’m a passive candidate.

I have found myself getting more interested in the conversations the church are having in the UK though because I’ve started following @RevRichardColes. I can’t see myself being born again or anything like that, but I have become aware of the conversation and I have even joined in a few times. I will do this on Twitter or Facebook, though I wouldn’t see myself going in to a church to have the conversation.

The Reverend Richard Coles came up on my radar  when he was appointed Vicar of Finedon Parish about eighteen months ago. Finedon is a reasonably sleepy Northamptonshire town. My wife’s family come from there. It’s very English with antique and book shops, a few pubs and a cricket team. They had the same, traditional Vicar for many years. When en Richard Coles was appointed I was quite surprised. In a former life he had been a pop star with the band The Communards and is openly gay. Someone, somewhere made a brave decision to appoint him and shake things up a bit.It takes brave decisions to do something different.

The Communards

Normally this wouldn’t  have been enough to attract more than my curious attention but the Rev had a twitter account and was engaging with a few people i know. I thought he was worth a follow to see what he was all about. a few months ago I decided to pay closer attention to what he was tweeting about because his following had grown to over 17,000 whilst following only 500, and 1,740 friends on Facebook. What i found was very interesting.

Breaking down his following (or virtual flock), they are a real mix from local parishioners,those who have religious leanings and then the biggest section, the curiously interested. When you analyze his content it is almost a text-book corporate account. His tweets are about 10% business, parish affairs, saint of the day etc, 10% local news about his parish, 10% personal views and comments like train journeys etc and most importantly, 70% @ replies. The Rev replies to messages, and this makes him accessible to the vaguely curious. I don’t know how many people attend his church each Sunday, but I’m guessing it is less than 10% of those he reaches with his tweets.

Source: BBC

Today the Rev has been very busy because the Church Of England have made statements relating to gay marriage. Theres been a lot of people joining the conversation because of his tweets. Yesterday he was very busy because his saint of the day  featured a saint who stamped on the head of a pigeon who was really the devil. It is a fun and informative account to follow. Interestingly, he doesn’t feel the need to print a disclaimer that his content represents his own views and not necessarily those of God, his ultimate employer.

I wanted to highlight what the rev is achieving because he has managed to reach a wide and diverse audience. Should I ever have need for any religious guidance he would be my go to man because we are connected. I feel a part of his extended virtual community. I think institutions, companies, groups, politicians etc can learn a lot from looking at personalities like this who are becoming the “go to guy” to such a wide audience and learn from it. If all he did was tweet links to sermons, there wouldn’t be much of a following! The lesson, if you want to reach people talk to them and be reachable in the places they go.

Hats off to the Rev, and keep up the good work. If I ever need your help, I’ll tweet you. Here endeth the lesson.


The Rev Richard Coles (Wikipedia)

A very modern Vicar

RevRichardColes on Twitter

What I’ve learnt from 50,000Tweets #TruLondon

I went over 50,000 tweets earlier this week. I joined twitter in May 2009. My first tweet was “is this working”, followed by “Can anyone see this?”. I had no idea in those days where twitter would take me, or really what I might get back. I was just curious about this channel that everyone was talking about,, where messages could not exceed 140 characters.
It seemed a kind of crazy place. I know that if I was measuring the R.O.I, I would have given up after a few months.
Without wishing to sound over evangelical, twitter has changed my life and my business beyond recognition, and in ways I would never have anticipated. I can honestly say that if I was measuring R.O.I. and looking at what I was getting back, I would have stopped at 250 tweets. There is very little business I can trace back to one tweet or another. I have not sold many tickets to events or won consulting business from a link i have tweeted, but what I do know is that virtually all the business I do is because of the network of people I first connected with on twitter, and that is what I see Twitter as, the introduction channel.
I tend to follow new people most days. I don’t automatically follow people back because they have followed me. I don’t even rush off and check a bio to see if they are “worth” following, because my view is that anyone who has tweeted something that got my attention in a busy stream, is worth following. I don’t expect people to follow me back, only 40% do. I don’t count follower numbers, because the only matrix that is really important to me is shares, retweets or @ messages. That tells me if people are choosing to interact with me or not.
I’m not concerned about people who unfollow me, that is they’re  choice and prerogative. I don’t hold by the practice of mass unfollows, If someone was worth following once, their worth following unless they spam me with porn, free i-phones or really irritate me. I have learnt that as my network has grown, both in terms of follows and followers, some people interact with me every 6 months or so because of something I’ve tweeted, or they might ask for my help with something because they perceive me as having some level of knowledge of something, or they may respond to my request for help. What I do know from these occasional interactions is that even when we are not talking, they are watching. Thats what most normal (I don’t consider myself in that category) do. I’m more interested in the people I don’t know than the people I do, that’s why I try to follow new people every day. I spend most of my time on twitter either following #’s, taking part in chats or responding to @ messages, or asking my own questions.
According to the “experts” I should have no followers because I tweet a lot, retweet often and take part in chats that can flood the stream. It doesn’t seem to have done me any harm, and I will not be changing that approach any time soon.
I have learnt so much from all the content that has come to me via twitter, and although I connect in all social channels, most of the relationships, business or otherwise, originated from a tweet, and as twitter has no geographical boundaries,they are global relationships. Without twitter, these would not have happened.
I don’t think about brand, authenticity or transparency or any of that stuff when I’m tweeting, I just tweet what comes naturally and it seems to work.
This year I will be hosting 29 #tru events in 5 continents. All the track leaders, attendees and sponsors involved can be traced back one way or another to a network that originated on twitter. I can’t measure that via click-throughs, links or visits, but I know that it’s a fact.
Your approach to twitter should be just do it, tweet, spread your net wide and see what happens.
Thanks twitter for everything!