28 February 2011
The Top 10 Things I've Learned about Social Media and Ministry
I started using social media five years ago when I published my first blog post - my 2006 Easter Sunday sermon - on Blogger.
Since then I’ve experimented with just about every type of social media in our ministry at Redeemer.
Here are the top 10 things I’ve learned about using social media in ministry over the last five years.
1. You’ve Got To Be Real. Period.
When I share things on both Redeemer’s Facebook page and my personal profile I always get a far greater response on my profile. The things that get the greatest reaction are my personal passions: running, family, social media, Woburn connections, and ministry best practices.
Share your passions beyond the church and show us how they connect to your passion for the church. Give people a window into this institution which eludes, confuses, and frustrates them. Let them see it through your eyes. Being real is the best way.
I am convinced that while church pages and Twitter feeds are essential, the biggest impact will happen through our personal social media presence. People want to connect with people, not institutions.· That’s really the whole point of social media.
2. Promote Others Like Crazy
Give lots of shout outs by linking, tagging, checking in, mentioning and retweeting. Do it for your colleagues and do it for your members. We all feel good when we are recognized. It builds connections. It builds up the church. I don’t promote others to get anything back, but I have gotten lots in return - friendships, some cool opportunities and a little swag.
3. Share and Share Alike
The churches that do best in social media are the ones that share their work generously. They post pictures, sermons, blog posts, and events. In doing so, they benefit everyone else in the church by sharing ideas and encouraging creativity. Share your work and ideas - and not just your good ideas, but your great ideas. We’ll all be the better for it.
4. At Some Point, Someone Will Abuse Your Trust
It only happened to me once, but it stung. A very disgruntled former member lashed out at me, scraping together everything he could find, which wasn’t much, including a couple of benign Facebook posts. I wasn’t even friends with him. It was someone else. I defriended that person right way.
5. Broaden Your Circle Anyway
However, this was the only time in five years. And instead of hunkering down, I’m expanding my circle. I’ve had the same core of friends in social media for a long time, but now I’m starting to open it up and it has been well worth. I get to share my work and ideas and find out what others are up to. Be willing to open up your circle of friends. You’ll be enriched.
6. Affirm the Ordinary
Friends and followers can congratulate and commiserate Ministers can do that too. We can also "affirm the ordinary." We can point to God’s presence in joys and heartache, in the mundane and the sublime. And you don’t need to say “prayers, blessings, God and Jesus” to do this. Just your presence will do it. Commenting and liking posts and sharing others’ work are ways of affirming their vocation - the sanctity of their daily lives.
7. Choose the Platform that Works for You
A “platform” is the combination of all the social media/websites that comprise your online presence. Pick the ones that work best for you - one that you can manage both technically and in terms of time, but, most of all, pick the one(s) that really lets your voice come through. You don’t have to do it all, just do what works for you whether its Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, blogging, or a simple website.
8. Don’t be Lazy! Learn the Technology
Okay, this is my pet peeve. You must take the time to learn about the technology you are using - not in painstaking detail - but you’ve got to know how it works. I promise that this will make you vastly more effective. When you really get the technology, it gives your voice much more power and immediacy. Its the difference between reading the Bible in the original Greek and Hebrew or a translation. When you read it in the original languages, you really get it. Every social media has its own language. Learn it.
9. Blogging is Harder Than It Looks, But Worth It
I blogged. And then I didn’t. And now I do. Blogging requires time and discipline. However, it has great rewards. You get to engage people around our ideas, get real time feedback, figure out what you think, learn to write for the web, and it gives you a platform that you can build over time. Set a manageable goal for posting. I started out trying for twice a week. That was too much. Now I commit to one post per week. Two is a bonus. There are lots of reasons to blog. Most of all, do it for yourself.
10. A Good Social Media Client is a Must
A social media client like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite (my favorite) allow you to bring all your social media feeds together in one place. You can schedule posts, manage multiple accounts, and get statistics about how your posts are being shared. Find one you like and use it. It will save you a ton of time.
What have you learned using social media in ministry? What’s on your list?