I’m posting this pre-formatting so that the guys from the Adelaide Men’s Convention can have the info today (like I said they could!)  I’ll pretty it up later 🙂

Social Media has changed how we communicate; and it’s certainly a double edged sword. How do Christians utilise this fast-changing tool in a way that honours God, represents the Gospel well, and edifies the Church? Here we’ll look at some simple strategies to help use Social Media effectively, and avoid some of the traps that can be unhelpful.

Social Media Usage in Australia

According to Social Media News, 14 million Australians are now using Facebook (1.44 Billion active users worldwide!), and almost the same number use YouTube each month (YouTube is now the 2nd biggest search engine in the world behind Google). The big mover recently has been Instagram, which has just edged over 5 million Australian users (almost double Australia’s Twitter membership).

When you consider that 4 billion hours of YouTube is watched every month, and 96% of 18-30 year olds are on Facebook, you see the importance of clear communication of the Gospel on these platforms.

What can a Church use social media for?

for INTERNAL DISCIPLESHIP

– facilitate community in-between church gatherings

– this is the new ‘they met daily/day by day’ in Acts 2 & Acts 5

– extending pastoral care

– Home Group discussion/organisation/prayer/etc

for ORGANISATION

– organising events

– organising groups

– mobilising your members

– help people connect with ministries

for EXTERNAL ENGAGEMENT

– your website is the new church sign (some say it’s the new front door.. but I only think that’s true if you’re doing discipleship wrong)

– we get a LOT of people through CityLight due to our SEO and Social Media.

– there’s plenty of Biblical precedent for ‘going to where the people are’ (preaching in the synagogue – the centre of town/hall of Tyrannous/Mars Hill/etc)

– social media is the new town hall, but it’s no longer limited geographically (5 million Aussies on Insta)

for PROMOTION

– events

– ideas

– information

– what’s happening in the church

for PROCLAMATION

– scripture

– Gospel stories

– engaging current events/culture with the Gospel

 

 

How to use social media?

Become a Content Curator

– and demonstrate a biblical worldview

 

Show your love for each other in a public space (Matt 5:14-16 & John 13:34-35)

 

Don’t be platform dependant

– Have a strategy that takes advantage of, but doesn’t rely on, a single platform

– Choose where you’ll invest most energy based on demographic

 

Post quality content

– accurate

– looks good

– engaging/connects with them

– leads to something else – have a call to action!

 

Be consistent!

– not just for your ‘audience’, but for the algorithms! (to enhance reach)

– post often

– Know your ‘voice’

– what are you about? (media companies are RUTHLESS with this!)

– don’t be the single guy who’s always posting about how to have a good marriage!

 

Be Authentic

– basically, don’t lie… don’t be ‘evangelastic’, don’t exaggerate, don’t pretend to be something you’re not

– don’t untag bad photos of yourself

– your content should always be constructive, helpful, accurate, trustworthy..

your Gospel witness will ONLY be as strong as your authenticity

                        – as soon as someone witnesses hypocrisy on your account, your witness is hindered.

– know that other Christians will be looking at your social media.. and maybe going back YEARS!!

– know that NON-Christians will be looking at your social media.. and maybe going back years!

– remember that when you view or like a piece of content on Facebook, it can and probably appear in at least one of your friend’s newsfeeds – it’s social media, and nothing you do is unaccounted for.

– Eventually, you’ll definitely be misunderstood on social media.. so being a consistently authentic contributor will show people that they should take your unclear post in the best possible light.

 

Build up – be a grace giver

– Eph 5:29 ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.’

if you’ve ever seen my Facebook page, you’ll know it’s very easy to become entangled in an altogether unhelpful discussion/argument/debate that might last hundreds of comments.. but what is the Gospel outcome?

– let’s be the ones on Social Media who are known for our Love, Truth, Gracious ’speech’, and winsome responses.

– never use social media to personally attack someone

– don’t get emotionally caught up in an online debate!

 

Be wise

– I heard on the Andy Stanley podcast last month he asked Bill Hybells how he makes good decisions, to which Bill replied ‘I ask myself, what would a wise person do?’ let’s do the same.

 

Get creative

– Try stuff

– Be remarkable!

 

Use hashtags

– on Facebook they have limited effect, but studies have shown there is NO LIMIT (right up to the maximum of 30 hashtags) on Insta for Hashtag effectiveness (when it comes to likes)

– also, asking for shares may sound tacky.. but if you can swallow your pride, it will statistically reward you with 4 times as many shares if you ask for them!

 

Honour other’s IP

– Make your own content, and don’t worry about it, but curation means acknowledging authorship!

 

Create content that connects

– with people’s emotions/expresses their feelings for them/speaks to their plight

– that’s the most sharable content!

 

Whenever you can, post a video or picture with your copy

– Don’t just tell people what’s happening, SHOW them what God is doing in your church & community

– Jesus used word pictures all the time.. we can actually use pictures!

 

Build audience, create reach, then use it sparingly for your promotion… don’t just hammer promotion!!

– a better use of Social Media than promotion, is to build AUTHORITY… that way people will TRUST what you say, and seek you out to say it.

– remember that social media is SOCIAL! It’s important to speak, but also important to listen

– we just did a survey that directly impacted our next teaching series.

– in listening, let anonymous comments bounce off you like pingpong balls (or delete them)

– i’ve got no time for cowards.. having said that, if someone is happy to put their name to it, i’ll VERY RARELY delete any comments – even the ones with language or offensive content.

 

Have an engaging headline to posts

– avoid ‘christianese’

 

Assume your audience will be viewing content on a mobile device

(even google now severely punishes websites with no responsive design in search results)

 

Pray that your social media strategy will be fruitful

– and remember that NOTHING can replace face to face community

– social media is supplementary – really for engagement.

 

 

Some ideas to implement this week

– take quotes from your Sunday Sermon, and post them the next day

– take questions you get from home groups/sermons and post a Q&A video midweek

– become great at curating content

– download an app like ‘wordswag’, and make your own encouraging scripture memes.

– create a social media team, and get people in their teens & 20’s to run it (just have a mature person oversee all content before publishing)

 

Give it a go this week!

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