Social Media Evangelism: Part I

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Ten Commandments of Social Media  

How to make social media work best for you 

I have recently taken on the role of Social Media Evangelist at my church as a part of the effort to get the word out to the community about all of the wonderful goings-on there. I have been promoting the use of social media among all of our members, inviting people to tweet, update their Facebook status, and check in on Foursquare. The pastors have even gotten in on the action! Just today, Pastor Vernice preached from her new iPad, and created a hash tag for the sermon. So cool!

As the self-identified Social Media Evangelist for Broadway United Methodist Church, I have been approached by members of the congregation to teach them how to “do social media”. So, I am preparing to schedule a class for the early fall. Meanwhile, I’m having lots of conversations with folks and dispensing advice on the fly.* I thought I would write down a few rules of thumb here as part of my brain storming and preparation. Here I have assembled my own Ten Commandments (this was not an original thought – there are many “Ten Commandments” lists already out there from other social media evangelists, but these are my own.)

  1. Thou shalt be social: Social media is social! Social media is less about technology and more about relationships. It is more important to understand the culture and etiquette. Social media is a conversation, and like the dynamic in any relationship, there’s give and take. It won’t give anything to you if you don’t give anything to it. But like many relationships (hopefully), you can easily pick up where you leave off.
  2. Thou shalt not worship false idols: You are smarter than your computer or “smart” phone.  Technology itself is useless and dumb until humans interface with it. It is people and how they interact with technology that makes it so amazing.
  3. Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s smart phone: Social media isn’t for everyone. You should use social media to the degree that it is useful and natural to you.
  4. Thou shalt choose appropriate technology: Choose the tools that are right for you. There are many applications out there, and if you’re just diving into to social media for the first time, you don’t have to use them all. Start with one or two tools that most of your friends are using, because you want to be where your friends are, anyway.
  5. Thou shalt have fun. If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth the bother.
  6. Thou shall not disrupt your face-to-face interactions. By now, we’re all used to people being focused on their smart phones in meetings, on the bus, and in random social situations. Be mindful of the people around you.
  7. Thou shalt be patient with people who are not engaged with social media. Many people who don’t participate in social media will  judge it without understanding it. As you get into it, you may find that people assume that Twitter is stupid and Foursquare is a waste of time (and we all know what it means to assume anything). Don’t be deterred by the nay-sayers, and persevere with your own interests and engagement.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Before you share anything, be sure to check your sources and confirm whether or not the information you want to disclose is true, and your sources reliable. Don’t contribute to the stream of misinformation.
  9. Thou shalt practice social media etiquette. Be nice, and don’t take the bait from trolls. Positivity begets positivity. Be a good citizen and keep the discourse civil. When others are not civil, disengage from the conversation. Cite your sources, don’t use obscene language, and don’t forget to say thank you!
  10. Thou shalt focus on quality over quantity. Success in social media isn’t when you’ve accumulated the most friends or followers. Rather, it is about the quality of your interactions. If quality is your focus, your community will grow organically with relationships that are meaningful to you.
The “Part I” of this post suggests that I will follow up with sequential “Parts” that will cover different aspects of social media. I expect to continue developing the class for my church here. I hope you enjoy it! Feedback is gratefully welcome.

*Please note that I do not identify as a social media expert, guru, master, or supreme authority. I’m more of a dilettante, dabbler, amateur, or tinkerer.

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