28 March 2014
The Church of England announced earlier this month that 52 different members of the Church would be using a new Twitter account @OurCofE to give a snap shot of their lives, a week at a time over a year. The idea will see everyone from vicars to volunteers tweeting about their day-to-day experiences working within the Church community.
It's an interesting initiative and one that goes against the grain of developing a single, strong voice for an organisation's Twitter feed. Opening up the channel to more than 50 different personalities, with their own interests, their own work, in their own parts of the country and giving each only a week to make themselves heard is a brave choice. But what it does is capitalise on some of the best aspects of Twitter. It's direct and very personal, a window onto the Church's work through its people - a level playing field for everyone from Bishops to youth workers - to paint a picture of what they do, the people they meet, and what matters to them. For an institution that does not always enjoy positive headlines it's an opportunity to reveal the humanity and humour of its people, things that can get easily get lost in more formal communications. It's a conversation starter, building followers and giving them the chance to engage easily with individuals who are obviously real people, doing real work they care about, not just writing or responding from a script. By it's very nature it's varied - with Twitter a great channel to get across a multitude of content drawing on experiences in many walks of life, brought to life in words, pictures and sound.
There's an inherent risk that each new voice will fail to live up to the last, struggle to hit the open, approachable tone that works and offer nuggets of information with warmth and wit that will give the initiative its human touch. But with nearly 2000 followers and growing in the first two or three weeks, and plenty of engagement, it seems to be a risk paying off so far.