Twitter on Betamax

Not quite technology

Do you remember Beta-max videos?  The answer is that you probably don’t. If you still use videos at all they will be VHS and not their older, clunkier cousin. Sometimes in Christian organisations we introduce new technology in such a way that it smacks of a person proudly unveiling their new beta-max home entertainment system when others are watching blu-ray.

Yesterday I was at a wonderful Christian gathering in Central London. There were people from many nations gathered under one roof, and many stories to be told of the wonderful, life-enhancing things going on in some of London’s churches. The organisation who were hosting the day are looking ahead too.  They have a clean new logo and a forward-thinking strategy which embraces the future far more than it clings to the past.

However, when somebody brandished an i-phone at the front, asked ‘do you have one of these’ and then said ‘we are on Facebook and Twitter’, I decided to have a look at the Twitter account. Sadly, it was a bit of a beta-max moment. The account name has fourteen characters, four of which are LAST year’s date. In fourteen months there have been a little over 400 tweets, 90% of which are retweets. There is no engagement, no conversation and little immediacy. Of course, social media is nowhere near the top of their priority list. Quite rightly, they have more important things to do in supporting churches and congregations in the work they do. If we are going to have a social media presence, though, it has to count.

Social media is meant to be social, and cannot be used simply as a pin-badge of contemporary technological awareness. Does anyone else recognise the problem, and if so, how can we encourage best practice?

3 thoughts on “Twitter on Betamax

  1. Ha – I remember Betamax because when we bought our first video player the betamax/VHS debate was in full flow – just for once we picked the winning side!

    I’m all for social media engagement, but I really think either you do it because it comes very naturally to you, or don’t bother – particularly if you are trying to use it for ‘marketing’ in the broadest sense of raising awareness of your ‘product’.

    I followed a link to an article on ‘4 things to remember if your church is on social media’ and they were such basic things I really wondered why anyone would open a Facebook or Twitter account if they had so little idea about how Facebook and Twitter work.

    My personal bugbear is being told someone is an active Christian presence on Twitter when in reality they are using Twitter to broadcast fairly anodyne statements about Christianity. There is no evidence of dialogue, and therefore they are doing social media without being social – what a strange idea! I’m afraid it taps into some of our beliefs about evangelism too – that it is about broadcasting our own ideas to the widest possible audience. That can be a good starting point, but the end point has surely got to be relational or in what way are we following the command to ‘make disciples’?

    If we’re just on Twitter to say we’re on Twitter then that is pure PR, and one thing I am sure about with social media is that our PR claims will find us out. All anyone has to do is click on your account and your actual level of engagement is there for anyone to see.

    • Great comments Pam. As you say “broadcasting” whether it is marketing or worthy Bible quotes = missing the point of social media

  2. One of the reasons I love Twitter is the genuine engagement it offers. After posting this somebody tweeted to me that my OWN Twitter name was 13 characters long! Hoist by my own petard, it would seem!

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