In the last podcast, episode 61, we talked about your goals of using Twitter, and I want to pick up on that discussion. Pastor John, what are some strategies for stewarding a Twitter platform well?
One strategy is to practice a fast. Pick a period of time (a week, for example). Or like I did two years ago, eight months with no Twitter and zero blogging, and see what happens to your soul. See if your soul has become addicted to being known, being followed, and being read. Don’t post on or read Facebook or Twitter for X amount of time. That is a Twitter fast or a blogging fast.
“Fast to see if you have become addicted to being known, followed, and read.”
And I would say pray over every tweet. Just say, “God, bless this,” even if you are posting Monday morning humor like Kevin DeYoung does on his blog. I do not doubt Kevin chooses very consciously why he does that. He thinks it through, prays over it, and I think that is what we all should do.
Do you check your mentions or comments from followers to hear what they say about things you’ve posted on Twitter?
Sometimes I do, and I don’t find it helpful because for every person who says, “Thank you. It was a great help,” somebody else has given me the F word. I don’t think I can look enough at comments to draw any valid conclusions. I would have to do some sophisticated analysis to say, “Ok, 72 percent of the people said they got help, and 30 percent thought it was hogwash. Surely the 70 percent are right.” Even then maybe that’s true or maybe not.
For me, it is more spiritually safe to go to the Lord and say, “Here is something I think would be helpful for me to say.” Then I think through how to say it best, and then I say it. I have you, David, Jonathan, Marshall, Josh, John, and Scott who I am going to believe if they come back to me and say it wasn’t helpful.
“Pray over every tweet you post.”
Josh did that recently. He sent me a nice paragraph saying that one of the tweets I sent out this week wasn’t worded in a helpful way. And I said, “You are right. You are right.” So I didn’t need to do any research. I have him and other guys around me to help me. Maybe not everybody has that, but frankly, I am so wired to love the praise of men that for me it is more spiritually unhelpful to read what is being said. I need to just keep speaking.
I view social media like this: I am basically a writer-preacher for a church, books, and conferences. I want my preaching ministry to be the main thing and my writing to be a wider ministry. Twitter and these other things are spill over. I am just scattering. I exist to spread a passion of the supremacy of God in all things. I want those to be used as well as they can, but the bread and butter is on the more substantial things that I am speaking and working on.
The Desiring God website displays a statistic for social media likes and shares, a simple gauge for the popularity of a post. How do you read those numbers?
In principle, I can say the following. I am glad our chief operating officer reminded me this morning about our goals as an organization for this year. Among those is a goal to increase the number of people visiting the website from non-English speaking countries by something like thirty percent. I forget the exact number. Well, that is a goal. We exist to spread. Our goal is not to have fewer and fewer people reading what we publish. Our goal is to spread. Therefore, the people that are charged to strategically reach the greatest number of people have to go and look at those statistics. Are we reaching our goals? If not, will there be strategies we can follow that would help us reach more people without altering the truth that we love.