I am far from a Social Media expert, but I have been leading my church’s social media now for over two years, and am enjoying exploring so many different social media innovations and platforms that arise, from a business and a personal perspective. I like to think of myself as a fun seeking social space explorer. Kind of like the Star Fleet, going boldly where no man has gone before.
Truly, I felt that way when Pinterest began, and I needed to explain to my buddies what in the world I was doing in “that space.” Funny enough that conversation grew into us discussing the creation of a site for guys, called Manterest, but then laughingly discovered someone created Dudepins. LOL.
I only share all of this to say, that I have been toying around with social media in several different places and employing different strategies for engagement from a corporate/church standpoint as well as from a personal enjoyment view.
Today I want to share with you what began as a conversation in a Facebook Group I started called, “Social Media For Churches.” Join up, if you are involved in your church’s social media and would like a community to urge you onward with tips and advice. After leaving my response to a question there, I realized there were some more thoughts that I would like to share with people in more detail. The question I am essentially tackling is “What should our social media strategy be?”
I think in answering this question, I discover that this should not only be a church’s strategy but should be the strategy of believers individually as they approach their own personal social media platforms. After all, WE ARE the church. Each one of us separately should live out the calling that the church has corporately. God is a God who seeks obedient action, but first and foremost wants an obedient heart. He doesn’t just want us to act like Jesus, but to be like Jesus. As I see that God wants us more focused on WHO we are becoming than what we are doing, I think our social media strategy should do the same. Therefore here is my Social Media “Be” list, aka “The Top Ten Ways to Rock at Social Media.
1. Be Present.
There are so many social media networks available these days. From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, and Pinterest. The idea of being present doesn’t mean that you must be involved in every platform. It means that you must be present in what ever platforms you chose to engage. The best way to look at social media networks is to imagine that they are locations for online conversations, using a variety of media to enhance the experience. If that is true, then your presence means a social awareness of those in the space with you, and an effort to engage in the space. From an organizational viewpoint, being present first means examining which spaces hold the most potential for quality interaction leading to business improvement (i.e.:customer conversion). This basically comes down to engaging in the networks that either/and best suit your brand or that have the largest interested market. Let’s get real everyone needs to be on Facebook, a close second is Twitter. I have heard from some about their love of Google +, but every time I am personally there, I don’t see much to engage with. However, I think they definitely nailed it with their community groups. They are structured much better than Facebook groups, to enhance the conversations, but the lack of people on G+ makes this null and void.
I will do a full length review/expose on each of the networks of interest in a later post. Subscribe to the blog to receive an email when it is posted.
An important note I need to make in this point is that our online selves should not over-ride our in-person selves. I think wives just jumped for joy around the globe. I have too many times failed at the inverse concept of being present, as I am too focused on being present socially online, and not present in the live moment that maybe I am trying to capture in a post. It is a struggle sometimes, walking the line of capturing life or experiencing life. I don’t think that it is a black and white issue, but for me a tension I must manage. I want to be fully present, but at the same time share my experiences with my online network.
Let us just be reminded that we were made living and breathing, before we became digital. Let us not neglect the former for the latter.
2. Be Social.
Let us continue with the concept that social media is a conversation. You must be present, but in order for any conversation to work, you must be social. I first heard this obvious truth spoken by DJ Chuang of Social Media Church Podcast in an interview with Nils Smith, Online Pastor ofCommunity Bible Church, as they were discussing Social Media.
If Social Media is NOT social, it is not doing what it is foremost designed to do. It is like a radio without speakers: pointless. If you want to rock at social media, you’ve got be in conversation. You need to be looking for ways to interact with people. I think the problem that some people have with this concept is that they prefer online, because they struggle with face to face interaction. However, coming to social media as a way to escape interaction is not how to rock it. It is just another venue that will highlight a person’s inability to hold a conversation. I would say that online is a great place to develop that skill. It is a much safer and low-risk way to speak up about what is on your mind. Yes, rejection that keeps people quiet is still real online, but it feels more protective because they are not staring at you at the moment. 🙂
Being social also means that you should ask questions. Getting people talking is a great way for businesses to rock at social media. Getting people in conversations around your brand, or at least in your space, is a great on ramp for customer conversion. Most importantly, one of the best ways to nail socialization online is to LISTEN. Too many organizations USE social media as a way to blast promotional materials. There is nothing that makes fans/followers “unlike” faster than feeling used, or socially abused. Spamming and slamming their feed with self promotional stuff is not cool. In the end people want to be heard, and feel significant. I have countless times made this mistake and spent so much time talking online, that I miss what is really going on. I miss that my network is screaming out about struggles they have. I miss that they are all celebrating a triumph. I miss the forest for the trees. Keep your eyes open your ears to the ground, and most of all keep the conversation going.
3. Be Generous.
One awesome way to rock at social media is by being generous. I find this to be a great principle for all networks, but I see it especially successful for tweeters. In the Twitterverse, resources rule. If you can position yourself as resourceful in that space, you can quickly grow your follower base and keep them. One of my favorite people to follow is Mark Driscoll/@PastorMark. He tweets scripture, quotes, and free resources. Every Friday I look for his tweet marked or hashtagged #FreeFriday. It is not just free stuff, but usually some pretty cool free stuff.
The concept here is that, if we want to rock in any social space, we should enter with the thought that we will add value to our followers, friends, connections. So if you are a brand that produces content, maybe give some away on a weekly basis. If you are just trying to gain friends/followers online, why not just go into each week thinking, “How can I add value to them? How can I make people value my connection?”
4. Be Real
One really important part of rocking at ANYTHING is that you be YOU. The same goes for social media. One thing that turns people off quickly, is when what you post smells a lot like lies. You would be surprised at how quickly people can recognize bologna. People want to connect with people online. They don’t want to simply be inundated by posts of self flattery and boasting. They don’t want to feel like the repeated victim of pathological liars, who desire praise constantly. When social media is done right, it becomes an enhancement of who we are. Rather than a platform for creating an alter ego, it should become a platform that exposes your true self. I love that about it. If we decide to be real, then we have the opportunity to truly gain something from being connected to others. What value is a connection based on lies?
The difficulty of this one is that many of us have problems with vulnerability in face to face interactions. We so often desire to put on our best self for the world around us. If our identity is based on lies, then who are we really? I had years lost in my past as I roamed the world as a chameleon, afraid to expose myself as the hurting, insecure man. View my post on this topic of identity and purpose to hear more of my story.
In the way we interact on social media, rather than being a different version of ourselves online, just be you. Here’s the rub: if you don’t like the real you….change! When it’s all said and done, you can’t rock at social media without being YOU!
5. Be Fun.
When I say fun, I mean just that. Simply put: FUN ROCKS! As I look through news feeds on Facebook and Twitter streams, and posts of all sorts on different networks, it seems like people’s funny bones are broken. Some people are even just missing that bone all together. Don’t get me wrong; I truly value significant content. I am a person who knows the need for serious subjects like our faith, our pain, our goals, etc. However, I also value just down right FUN. In some circles, I am labeled the Minister of Fun. I love that title. Why? …because it blends two things together that are important to me: ministering to people, helping them through struggles, and having fun. Did you know that that is a ministry too? Smiling adds value like some other things never can. A gentle, genuine smile on a hard day can soften the hardest of hearts. What if we added that value to our social media strategy? Imagine how we not only could impact the people in our networks, but we ourselves can’t help but be filled with greater joy as we choose to embrace a spirit of happiness. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional. Let’s choose fun.
As I wrap-up the top 5 ways to rock at social media, I recognize that this cannot cover the whole spectrum of things that make us all stars in the online social world, but then again that is why I have 5 more to round this list out.
There are really so many things to love about Social Media. There is such value that we can gain as well as offer through our online local and global connections. Keep thinking about how these ways to “Be” can impact the way you interact online. As we continue to pour ourselves into interacting on our networks, we are sure to find greater enjoyment, value, and opportunity for impact online.
I’d love to hear about ways that you are:
Leave a comment below.