Danger! Danger! Danger!
Today, we’re going to discuss the dangers of social media in the church. Just like with any other activity out there, churches have to be careful about not putting all of their eggs in the ‘social media’ basket. While it’s great to have an online social media presence, social media ministries must also be mindful of what their expectations are for the information released on behalf of the church. The dangers we will cover today will not be all of them, since new social media applications are built every day; but the six presented will be a great starting point for your social media strategy.
Bruce Reyes Chow, who wrote The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church listed some great dangers and I agree with all of them:
#1: Thinking Social Media is the Savior of the Church
Misconception: If we just increase the use of technology, young people will come to our church and we will live again”.
Many churches, especially new ones to social media, have a tendency to think their online presence alone will bring in the youth. So they create a page or multiple pages with the sole purpose of attracting youth, but they lose themselves and what they represent in the process. It’s important to remember that your online presence will mean nothing to a reader or guest if your church’s mission and values aren’t represented. Creating an alter-ego online for the sake of keeping up with the technology will only hurt you in the end when your guest arrives and experiences a different version.
#2: Using Social Media as a Distraction from Ministry
Pastors and ministry leaders who are fired up about their new social media presence run the risk of forgetting the members and community residents not online. Churches must remember to put their ministries and members first; and social media is mainly an aide to further the work already in place by the church and its ministries.
#3: Using Every Social Media Application Available
I actually see this a lot when I travel the conference circuit. Churches often want to jump head first into the world of social media and they end up using every hip and available application on the market. Unfortunately, this only hurts their message. If you’re just entering the world of social media, your church should take the care and time to present your best look. Additionally, master one application before moving on to the next one. The key is quality over speed, and consistency. The care and attention you put into your churches online identity will tell people a great deal about how you’ll care for them, in person.
#4: Overestimating the Influence of Social Media
Misconception: Thinking that if the church puts something out on Twitter, Facebook, etc., people will somehow know it is there or dig to find it.
The first lesson many churches learn early on is that their information doesn’t seem to have much or any reach. When you factor in algorithms, the time of the day, people’s feelings, the state of the world, and much more…your message will often get missed or buried under hundreds of posts fighting for the same attention. Which means, please have a strategy when posting content online. Don’t waste valuable time and effort on posting content without purpose or a designated audience.
#5 Using social media to replace face-to-face interaction
Repeating an earlier statement, churches must remember that social media is an aide. An aide to further the work already in place by your church and its ministries. Which leads me to one of the most important aspects of worship – fellowship! Your page or website is just the front door or window to the church. Your face-to-face interaction should always be the end goal when you post content online.
On the flip side, don’t forget to interact with your readers online as well. Individuals often use social media to connect with someone or a group of individuals who share their beliefs. If you forget to respond to their question, comment or post, then they’ll feel isolated and seek attention elsewhere. Again, your social media page is the window to your church – so if you see someone peeking in, reach out a hand and connect with them. That’s how you get more bodies into your church! Interaction!
That’s it! Did any of these stand out to you?
If I haven’t said it enough, the endgame is…strategy!
A well developed strategy or plan, will always help you stay on track when this new journey throws a curve your way. Check back next week for “The Effective Use of Social Media”.