Both Twitter And Threads: On Fishing in Multiple Streams

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Yes, Anglican Compass has started a new Threads account. Check it out here! But we are not getting rid of our Twitter account. You can find it here!

We use multiple platforms because we are fishers of men, and we want to catch fish in multiple streams.

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A Day on Twitter and Threads

To illustrate why we are using both Twitter and Threads, consider how the ministry played out in a single day last week across the two platforms.

That day we shared a recent article: Powered by Church Planting: Analyzing Growth in the ACNA. On Twitter, the article struck a chord; it was retweeted fourteen times, and our post was ultimately seen more than 5000 times. And we gained about ten new followers that day. On Threads, the article attracted a few likes and some limited conversation but did not strike a chord.

On the other hand, that same day on Threads, we had 50 new followers. Yes, part of that was the excitement of a new platform, but we also saw significant interest in some other content we shared. This included Midday Prayer: A Rookie Anglican Guide, Behind the Hymn: And Can It Be, and The Sign of the Cross: What It Is and Why It Matters.

The Personalities of Platforms

Why did some content appeal on one platform and some content on another? Yes, it does have something to do with the mysterious algorithms governing the distribution of Social Media content.

The deeper point reflected in those algorithms is that each social media platform has its own personality. We might even use the examples of the articles above to consider the personalities of Twitter and Threads (and Facebook).

Twitter: Journalistic and Argumentative

Twitter became especially prominent over the years for highlighting journalism, not only in promoting external journalists but also giving a platform to journalists who would break news on Twitter itself. It was the place for trending news and commentary on that news. And so it makes sense that our article analyzing growth in the ACNA did especially well on Twitter—it has a journalistic feel based upon recent congregational reports and advances an argument to explain the data.

In general, however, much of our informational content receives a limited reception on Twitter. This is probably because our focus is not on topics of church controversy.

Threads: Creative and Conversational

The personality of Threads is still taking shape, but what we’ve seen so far is a community focused on creativity and conversation around that creativity. This is probably related to its organic connection to Instagram, a platform that highlights visual creativity.

As a result, it’s unsurprising that some of our most successful content has been on prayer, hymns, and the sign of the cross, all part of our creative response to God.

Facebook: Personal and Informational

Facebook is also a platform for news, but typically of a personal kind, shared with friends. This is where users announce significant events from their lives or share cool resources that they have found.

To demonstrate the difference in personalities again, our most successful article on Facebook last week was not any of those referenced above, but The Liturgy Will Pray For You: A Journey Through Grief With the Book of Common Prayer. This was shared 16 times and reached more than 2500 people on Facebook. It feels personal, informational, and helpful—a fit for the Facebook personality.

Fishing in Multiple Streams

Jesus came to Peter and Andrew on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They were fishing. But Jesus said to them:

“Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Applying the fishing analogy to social media platforms, we can think of these platforms as multiple streams. Each has a feed of content, like running water, populated by people like fish. And each has its own character, its own personality.

Now a fisherman must choose where to fish. He cannot fish in every stream. Nor, however, is it wise to fish only in one. If he spends most of his time fishing in one, his technique reflects too much the character of that single stream. It may even become difficult to fish in a separate stream.

Similarly, Christians should not be overly shaped by any one social media platform. This is not only because it is strategically valuable to reach multiple platforms. It is also because we want to be shaped more by Jesus Christ than by any platform.

What Would Jesus Post?

If Jesus had social media, which platform would he have used?

  • There were times when Jesus was breaking news and when he was argumentative, as with Peter at Caesarea Philippi or with the Pharisees. Jesus would have done well on Twitter.
  • And there were times when Jesus showed forth his creativity and entered into compassionate conversation instead of controversy, such as with the woman at the well. Jesus would have done well on Threads.
  • And then, there were times when Jesus was personal when he had something informational to share, such as teaching his family of disciples how to pray. Jesus would have done well on Facebook.

But there were also times when Jesus did not want to post, so to speak. Sometimes he wanted to retreat from the public ministry and simply rest in the love of his Father in Heaven. Indeed, it was these times, these moments of reconnection with his fundamental identity, that gave energy and motivation to all the rest.

Likewise, no Christian should make social media, or any other ministry context, the core of his identity.

It is a privilege to use these platforms, to proclaim the gospel and share the hope of Christ. This is good and important and joyful work.

But our chief joy is in Christ himself, in the loving embrace of the Father through the sacrifice of the Son, and in the peace that we have in his Spirit.

Cover image by Tumsasedgars for Getty Images, courtesy of Canva.

Author

Peter Johnston

The Ven. Dr. Peter Johnston is the Ministry President of Anglican Compass. He is a priest and archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of All Nations and the rector of Trinity Lafayette. He lives with his wife, Carla, and their seven children near Lafayette, Louisiana.

View more from Peter Johnston

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