Over the past 20 years my wife and I have been part of a number of small groups.

In hindsight they were quite eclectic.

Young families, youth leaders, 40 years separating the oldest and youngest. We’ve done book studies, bible studies, free for all discussions, and more.

Despite the craziness there are several things that each group somehow embodied. These make or break items often made the difference between groups that lasted and ones we killed (sometimes long after we should have).

1) Common Goals

At the core of all our groups was the desire to connect people.

The groups that worked the best long term, included people with similar goals, interests and life stages.

This connection made it easy to find common conversation points and share needs with the group. As conversation grew we were able to encourage growth amongst each other and even address life issues that came up.

2) Relationships Take Time

You don’t build a community overnight. It takes conscience investment on everyone’s part to see it grow.

Group members who spent the time to connect always got more out of the experience.

3) Attendance Isn’t Optional

Some weeks are just plain hard. Work, school, family, health issues, all conspire against us. Yet, we found that the times we least wanted to show up, we most needed to be present.

Somehow God used our brokenness to weave us together with others at a deeper level.

4) It Takes An Investment

Our groups always worked best around food.

Lunch, dinner, snacks, anything. It’s amazing how many bags of chips and plates of cookies a group of youth leaders can polish off in a couple hours.

When we tried to “save” a little and do without the extras it somehow made a difference in the meeting. Conversations didn’t happen the same way and connections seemed shallower.

While I don’t believe food is a necessity, for us, the investment showed the group how much we valued their attendance and wanted them to be a part. When we short changed it they somehow knew and the dynamic changed.

So what on earth does all this have to do with social media?

A lot actually.

Social media takes more than just showing up and producing content. It takes viewing the experience like a small group.

Here’s what I mean.

Each social media channel has it’s own vibe. A way to tell stories and share that is unique to that channel.

Facebook is about building relationships and developing friendship. Effective posts tell stories.

Twitter is about sharing bite size pieces of news and information. Effective posts listen and respond.

Instagram is about sharing the visual beauty of life and art. Effective posts show life and hashtag poignant items related to it.

Pinterest is about online collections and inspirations for life. Effective posts connect virtual wish lists with the life we are living today.

Each of these channels has established the Common Goals that unite users. They come with an expectation of what they will find  when they get there.

It’s our responsibility then, as content producers, to recognize Relationships Take Time and begin to build them. It takes to time gain trust and loyalty and it won’t happen overnight.

The people following us need to know we are human and real life happens. This plays out in the consistency of our posts. You will get further with mediocre content produced consistently than with great content produced sporadically. Why? Because interactions are the key to building relationships and they only happen when Attendance Isn’t Optional.

I heard a pastor say once that we fund what we believe in. Essentially, It Takes An Investment to do the things we value with excellence. If you truly value the relationships your are building and the people you are connecting with that pay the price necessary.

Take the time, speak the language and connect people to the Gospel. It’s worth every minute because eternity is at stake.

How have you seen your social media work like a small group? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.