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Local Church Uses Social Media To Its Full Advantage

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are some big-time players on Facebook and Twitter based right here in the Twin Cities.

Some of them have very serious social media strategies, and if you’re not a pro-athlete or celebrity, followers on Twitter and “Likes” on Facebook do not come easy. One Twin Cities man as a huge online following.

Have you ever heard of John Piper? He’s preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for more than 30 years. He has more than 430,000 Twitter followers.  Piper’s status comes from his growing online ministry: DesiringGod.org. There’s a team of five at the helm.

“Whether it’s events, whether it’s John’s travel to speak, even the books we produce all feed through the web. That’s the center of our daily activity,” said David Mathis, the executive editor of Desiring God.

Between Twitter, Facebook, video and blogs, Mathis estimates they post information at least twice per day. And with five podcasts, the team carefully crafts each message.

“Headlines are huge. We usually spend half as much time on a blog post trying to craft the headline making sure that it’s accessible, that it’s quick and it’s easy to remember, to spread,” said Jonathan Parnell, the content strategist for Designing God. “Headlines that have numbers in them, 12 ways, 10 things, are usually helpful.  Headlines that have ‘how,’ the word ‘how’ is huge.”

A single post from Desiring God can fetch more than 100,000 views.

“There’s a lot of power in a huge audience like that,” says Shayla Thiel-Stern, a professor of new media and culture at the University of Minnesota. She says investing in social media resources is a smart strategy.

“That way you can develop a stronger relationship with them and that relationship might translate into further donations. It might translate into getting your message across in a more effective kind of a way,” she said.

There really is power in numbers.

“Yes it is a powerful thing and it’s something we want to steward very wisely and it’s not something we take for granted,” Mathis said.

Officials with Desiring God said they choose specific times to post certain messages. Tuesdays are huge traffic days, so they’ll post a big article then. Their blog post first goes out at 12 a.m. to catch the late-night followers on the west coast and the early risers in the east.

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