Christian leaders outdoing celebs in Twitter interaction

Published 05 June 2012
Christian leaders and their ministries are some of the most popular Twitter users – not in terms of followers, but in how many times their messages are forwarded to others. Tweets from influential voices like Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and TD Jakes do better even with less followers than celebrities like Justin Bieber.

The average number of reactions to ministers' often positive messages is staggering, especially when compared to entertainers like Lady Gaga. Joyce Meyer topped the list, with 170 reactions for every 50,000 followers. Joel Osteen came in a close second with 147 mentions, followed by Max Lucado. On average, their tweets got 30 times as much attention, according to The New York Times.

The discovery came about when Twitter sent a senior executive, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, to investigate exactly why Christian leaders' followers were so engaged with the microblogging site, and to recruit more pastors and their ministries to join.

"Pastors tell me Twitter is just made for the Bible," Ms Diaz-Ortiz told The New York Times.

The length of many King James Version verses of the Bible – about 100 characters long – lends for easy tweeting, as well as a few words of personal commentary if necessary. For Rick Warren, whom Forbes magazine named one of the world's most influential Twitter users, tweeting isn't as important as what is being tweeted, however.

"[Technology] is never an end in itself and the message still trumps the medium," he previously told The Christian Post. For him, the idea is to use Twitter to build real relationships.

"Hopefully, these new channels help begin conversations that will lead to deeper, face-to-face community, through our small groups and one-on-one friendships."

While huge ministries like that of TD Jakes and Andy Stanley have hundreds of thousands of followers, Twitter can also be used to connect pastors with smaller congregations as well. To that end, they would already have several hundred or several thousand followers engaged in their tweets.

With the power and influence Christian leaders have in the social networking arena comes the need for responsible tweeting. American Christian leaders met with US government officials earlier this year to discuss their role in advocacy, especially for those who could be harmed by diplomatically sensitive governments in some countries.

"Everyone has good intentions, but let's just make sure our intentions are the most strategic and effective," one Christian leader, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak about the meeting, told CP previously. "The power of social networking is a new, tremendous resource for communication, but in using it we have to become more understanding of the potential impact for good or bad."

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