Connect Locally Using These Twitter Tools for Ministry6 min read

The current population of Michigan is 9.91 million. If I were to look up the stats, I’m sure I’d find that our statewide church membership doesn’t hit even the 9 million mark (being facetious). We have a lot of ground to make up. With limited budgets, limited staffing, and limited time, we are constantly faced with the challenge –how do we continue to reach new people and introduce them to Lutheran communities of faith?

Maybe you’re in the same boat. You work for a church or school and you are looking for low-cost ways to raise awareness in the community God has placed you. Most church guests visit your website before they step foot in your door. Take a step back from the door, though: do people in your community even know there IS a door?

How do we get people to learn about us? Not only that, how do we get people to CARE that we exist?

Using Twitter to Build Awareness

Twitter and the software tools built to support it make it easy to find people in your area and discover what they care about.

The tools below help you discover the conversations real people are having, right now. Will everything be earth-shatteringly monumental? Probably not; you might even discover that people like to talk about the peanut butter sandwich they just had and how they #needmilk at this point.

But not everything is trivial, and I hope you see that. For each tool below, I’ll also show a potential use for your ministry.

Twitter Tools for Local Search

Advanced Twitter Search

Advanced Search on Twitter


  • Option 1 – See everything happening near you
    • Scroll down to PLACES and enter your city and state and click “Search”
    • Find locals
  • Option 2 – Search for Exact Phrases
    • Just as a test, try searching “Pray for” in your area. Here’s what comes up for “pray for” near Lincoln, NE.
    • Test it out for your area, and you may be surprised by the results.

Optimize Your Twitter Bio

Do more with your Twitter bio. You have 140 characters and every single space counts. Spending time on your Twitter bio will help people find you.

The authors of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users offer up this advice:

  • “Optimize for Five Seconds”
    • Most people will spend 5 seconds or less on your profile before deciding whether or not to connect.
  • Spend time researching local news agencies and organizations. Try to discover any local hashtags you could include in your bio. Have a church in Ann Arbor, Michigan? Be sure to put #AnnArbor in your bio section.
  • As part of your advanced Twitter search above, you’ll see lists and lists of people you can follow. Study what makes a Twitter bio stand out to you. Study length of bio, linking, statements, and hashtags. The ones that stand out to you should teach you about crafting a great bio.


Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that provides you a 30,000 foot view of your social media profiles. Hootsuite has a free account, which allows you to manage up to 3 social profiles. Sign up for a free account and connect your Twitter profile to start utilizing this tool.

Utilizing Hootsuite for Local Search

  • You can start by adding “Streams” to your dashboard.
  • You can add your lists as streams to your dashboard to quickly view the tweets from locals
  • You can add searches with locations by heading to the top right corner and clicking the search button, typing in your keyword, and hitting the location arrow.
Setting up a local search for key phrase “pray for”


  • In the example below, I did a simple search for “pizza” in our area. You can make searches for anything though (e.g. Bible, Jesus, faith, pray for, etc)
hootsuite 3
I searched for any mentions of “pizza” in the area
  • Hootsuite also allows you to “schedule” content throughout the day, which will keep you from sending out 10 tweets in rapid fire. Sending out a lot of tweets within a small timeframe is considered “spammy” and will more than likely lead to people unfollowing your account. Not good!

Other Tools

Tools to explore that might be of interest to you

Nearby Tweets – doesn’t function the best, but interesting to see what people are saying.

One Million Tweet Map – this map allows you to zoom into certain areas of the world map to see what topics are popular at the time.


Twitter Ad Campaign

Twitter ads are not a free option, but relatively inexpensive. If you have a Twitter account, you already have access to Twitter ads.

  • Head to
  • Campaigns > Report by Objective > Create New Campaign
    • You can tailor an advertising campaign to Twitter users located within certain postal codes and a number of other identifiers (e.g. gender, languages, devices, behaviors, interests, etc.).

Action Steps

At this point, you can do several things

  1. Add Twitter users to a private list called “Locals I’d like to Connect With” – once you’ve made the list, you can check in on that group at any time and see if there are conversations you can join.
  2. Follow them. This will send that Twitter user a notification letting them know that they have a new follower. If they want to, they can check out your profile to learn more about you at this point. If your profile is complete with a short bio description and a link to your site, you’ll give them an opportunity to connect a little further, should they desire.
  3. Reply & Favorite. You don’t even have to follow people to let them know you exist. Favoriting a tweet on Twitter is similar to a “Like” on Facebook. It says, “I like this update/link/picture or ‘great point.'” The Twitter user will also get another update and they’ll see your profile picture again (if they view the list of people who “favorited” their tweets).
    • An important note: 99.3% of tweets get no response at all. (I’m making that stat up, but the percentage is high). A response on social media is the digital equivalent of a handwritten letter. You’re telling someone, “I saw what you read, and it moved me enough to make a comment to more fully engage with you.”
    • Give yourself some time in your schedule to connect with replies.
  4. Carve 10-15 minutes for Twitter into your day
    • 5 minutes – find great content to share with others
    • 5 minutes – go through your lists and saved search streams and Favorite and Reply to the tweets that resonate
    • 5 minutes – once you’ve sent an update out and scheduled your future content, spend 5 minutes finding 10 new people to follow and add to a list.
    • This simple routine will keep your tweets timely and relevant and will slowly but surely grow your exposure locally.

Summary of 4 Steps to Take

How about you?

Are there any methods you utilize to start finding and connecting locally with Twitter? What action steps can people take today to start being more effective in their Twitter outreach efforts?

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