Why Twitter Is Excellent For Building Relationships

There’s been talk about how social media tools are not good for building authentic, real, and lasting relationships. I’ve been on that bandwagon. Actually, I still am on that bandwagon, with one exception: Twitter.

I’ve been a Twitter user since 2008, not too long after it was launched. I admit, I was slow to understand the power of Twitter. I posted a tweet every once and awhile. When I was at a workshop I liked, I tweeted live quotes. When I was watching American Idol, I tweeted live. (Did I just admit on my site that I watch Idol?!?!)

But then more and more people started to get on Twitter. In fact, my friends and colleagues were there. I started following them. It was great! I was able to keep up with people I cared about. In my busy life, I don’t get to see all my friends and family as often as I like. But with Twitter, I am able to keep up and know what’s going on in their lives.

Is following people on Twitter better than being with them in person? Absolutely not! But when I do get to see them in person, I’m already caught up on their lives.

Here are some practical strategies I follow in  my use of Twitter:

  • Don’t follow everyone. I only follow people I know well, people I care about, and people that are leaders in certain industries in which I can learn from. I know not everyone agrees with me here, but if I follow too many people, it gets too noisy and I miss things from people I really want to hear from.
  • Re-tweet other people who post good content or quotes. It’s powerful when you share other people’s wisdom. My colleagues and friends really appreciate it. However, I only re-tweet content if it’s good and something I want to share with my followers.
  • Reply to those that you follow. You can have a decent conversation on Twitter. It’s fun when you get engaged in a topic that you are passionate about and other people start to join the conversation. It’s like having a lively conversation in the middle of Times Square and having a hundreds, maybe even thousands of people listen in and join the conversation.
  • Post pictures. I don’t do this that well, but posting pictures using a Twitter app or Instagram brings the experience alive for those that follow you. I love looking at my friends’ pictures.
  • Connect with other ministry leaders. I have met new people on Twitter in ministry that have taught me a lot. Some, I have not even met in person. Others, I met via Twitter and have built a professional relationship with. Keep up with thought leaders in ministry. It exposes you to wisdom and trends.

On the flip side of the social media coin, there is Facebook. I’m on Facebook. I like it. However, I don’t find that it has the same power of relationship building that Twitter does. I simply find it too burdensome and noisy. It seems like I friend everyone I’ve ever met in my life, even if I only met them once. There’s nothing wrong with that, but maybe the way I run my Facebook profile is not effective.

I simply find Twitter easier to connect with others.

Question: Do you agree that Twitter is an effective relational ministry tool? Why or why not?


  1. Interesting. I take the exact opposite approach: I’m a pretty prolific Twitter follower. (I currently follow 1,781 accounts). I use Twitter’s list function to create more manageable streams around specific topics (catechesis, educational technology, local news, etc.) so I’m not trying to drink the whole fire hose at once.

    I agree with all your other points — some of my best professional connections started as Twitter relationships. As I’ve gone to various conferences and workshops some have even turned into face-to-face relationships!

    • John Rinaldo John Rinaldo says:

      Thanks, Jonathan! I haven’t really tapped into the list function on Twitter. I might have to take a look at that. There are certainly folks that follow a lot more people than I. I’m just not sure I can keep up!

      Hopefully you and I will get a chance to meet in person some day, and not just on Twitter and Skype!

  2. John Rinaldo John Rinaldo says:

    If you want to learn more about how to use Twitter and other social media tools on ministry, join this free webinar on August 6: Using New Media for Professional Catechetical Development. https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/423170146.

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