Social media is a great tool, but it can also be a detrimental tool.
Just about anyone today can use and access social media. There are a lot of people who like to voice their opinions and make comments on what we post.
Our goal is to show God’s love and share the gospel through social media, without causing harm in the process.
With that as our goal in this comment-heavy environment, what do we need to be aware of when posting on social media?
These six things, when done well, can help your social media posts to flourish.
1. Be aware of who your audience is
Different social media platforms attract different audiences.
Instagram users tend to be high school and college students. The Facebook age range includes a much older audience. So some things will be more appropriate for Instagram rather than Facebook, and vice versa.
If your audience is older, then posting something more serious or heartfelt would make more sense.
Know your audience’s language, and what they are seeking — whether it’s encouragement, to understand what it means to have faith, or answers about who God is.
Here is a caption that we did for Facebook and Instagram. The Instagram caption (right) is much shorter and shows emojis, whereas Facebook’s caption (left) is longer and more heartfelt.
So how can you be even more aware of who your audience is?
2. Evaluate your followers’ engagement
Research is a good start to finding out about your audience, but it will only take you part of the way. From there you’ll have to travel by trial and success.
Find out what is relevant to your audience by keeping track of your followers’ engagement. Which posts do they “like”? Which posts don’t receive many likes? Do they leave comments? If so, are they positive or negative?
And never forget that while you are evaluating your followers’ engagement, they are simultaneously evaluating you. Your followers want to know if they can trust you.
3. Keep trust in the front of your mind
Trust is super important when it comes to your audience. Your followers — consciously or subconsciously — will evaluate what you are posting to see if it is trustworthy and inoffensive.
So keep trust in mind every single time you post. Once trust is broken, it’s hard to rebuild. But trust gained is a powerful bond between you and your followers.
One way to lose trust is to not post — or not post quickly enough — about important current events.
4. Stay up to date with important events
People on social media like to see current events recognized through bigger organizations.
Knowing which current events to post about can be difficult. But we have a responsibility to represent Christ as we speak to things happening around the world.
Speed is also key here. If certain current events aren’t responded to quickly enough it can seem like you don’t, or your organization doesn’t, care.
We have to pay attention to what is going on in the world, the community or the school around us. If you don’t, it can potentially damage the relationship you’ve created with your audience.
Another way to damage the relationship is by letting frustration show.
5. Keep your frustration out of it
When responding to events, comments or criticism on your account, remember what organization you represent. More importantly, remember who you represent — Jesus.
Be gracious and kind even when other people are not. Social media isn’t the place to get into an argument. It’s important to realize that you can’t change someone’s mind — only God can.
You can love people that feel like your online enemies through the way you respond. A good rule of thumb is to pray for them before you engage with them.
Praying for them reminds you of what is most important — the gospel.
6. Keep the gospel in mind
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34, NIV).
We are called to speak the truth in love and to love one another. Sometimes that is hard to do, especially when others are — or if feels like they are — attacking you.
However, keeping the gospel in mind enables us to put everything in perspective. This gospel perspective combined with power we receive from the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to truly love and care for one another.