We all have that one friend on social media. You know the guy I’m talking about; deep down he is probably a wonderful person, but when he is online he makes you cringe. We all have at least one. (Caution: If you can’t think of one…. It might be you). We find ourselves making excuses for them, hiding them or if they are really bad, unfriending them.
Social media is a way of life now. There is no going back. Someday Facebook may fade, or twitter no longer chirp, but it is highly unlikely that online, mobile friendly, relational software will ever go away. For better or worse it is here to stay. And that is the point; for better or worse is determined by us. We can use our social media to connect, engage, and give life, or we can use it to flirt, bully and destroy life.
Social media affords us a unique ability to connect with people that we may never have a chance to see in person. As people of faith, our social persona not only reflects on us, but all Christians and even more significantly, on Christ.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Phillipains 1:27
I have heard lots of people say that everything that they have belongs to God, but do we live that out with our social media? Effective use of social media builds relationships and trust, but there are some common social media personalities you want to avoid if you plan on using your persona for good:
Social media enables people to say things they would not ever say at a dinner party. This is never more evident than with the political animal. There is nothing wrong with deeply help political convictions. If you are using those convictions to imply that anyone that disagrees with you has the intelligence of a rusty hammer, perhaps it is time to evaluate your motives for posting. People don’t change their political ideology because of the mildly insulting post you put on your Facebook page, but this doesn’t stop the political animal. Don’t be that guy.
We all want to put our best foot forward, but life is messy. Our social persona should be transparent enough to show the realities of our lives not only the ideal Martha Stewart moments. Not only does this create a false reality, it can be discouraging to the rest of us that live in the craziness of life. Your social media shouldn’t look like Bing Crosby in White Christmas when in reality it’s Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Most of us interact with a much more diverse group of people on social media than we do in person. That is why some of the most heated and angry theological debates take place on someone’s blog or Facebook wall. Similar to the political animal, the bullhorn preacher has deeply held convictions. This is a good thing. Next time you are wanting to engage in theological debate online, ask yourself if this conversation is going to draw people to Christ or simply draw a fight.
This person keeps Snopes in business. Break out your tin foil hats people, the world is crashing around us. The world can be a scary place. It is fallen and we are living in the reality of a broken failing system. We do not need to add to the fear hype just because we came across some sensational tidbit of information on the interwebs. Here is a secret, promise not to tell anyone? Not everything on the Internet is true. Don’t undermine your credibility by constantly telling us the sky is falling.
Not everyone needs to know everything. If you are having an argument with a particular individual, how about not posting publically about it. When you post something you are inviting others to engage with the topic. If you don’t want people to ask you about it then it may not be social media appropriate. Cryptic posts beg for clarification. If you post that you are having the worst day ever, people are not being rude or prying by asking what is going on. It can feel needy and like attention seeking behavior if you are sharing your drama on social media. If you feel your drama coming on try this.
Candy Crush, Farmville and the other games you play sound really wonderful. Thanks for inviting me, but inviting every other day is annoying. If you are having an event, fundraiser, or party and you live on the other side of the country, inviting me only makes me feel like you don’t actually know me. The constant invites makes me want to hide you. A genuine and personal invite on social media is wonderful, but don’t send non-targeted invites.
Here are a few principles that can help guide you to use your social media presence for the Kingdom. While there are few absolute do’s and Don’ts to effective social media, there are many guidelines that can help make your social presences more effective.
If you want to connect with people, your social media posts should be tailored to them. Post stories that your audience would be interested in or help them.
This is pretty self-explanatory, take a chance to be creative with your posts and don just repost what everyone else is saying. . Who wants to blend in?
Be a Friend to Get a Friend
One easy way to build trust on social media is through connecting with others. Follow them, comment and engage with them. People want to be known so get to know them.
Be you. People want authenticity in social media. If you have an agenda or are not your self, people will sniff it out. Be real, vulnerable and honest in your posts.
Brief is better. Keep your posts tight and brief. There is a lot of noise out there and people have limited bandwidth.