Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
Proverbs 12:11, NIV
As I read this verse in my morning devotionals, I thought about my current ministry strategy in social media, especially in Facebook and Twitter. I've tried to be more consistent in these communication methods because I finally have a motivation for it that makes sense to me, here's how that came about:
In many ways I am a very private person and the public sharing about daily activities done by many in these communication channels, especially on Twitter (Facebook is more social and chatty, fine for personal family and friend interaction, that's understandable), did not appeal to me. I do not really care when a person that I follow for his or her ministry advice gets an ice cream cone or has problems with air travel. We all eat and move from place to place--not exactly news flash events. In addition, having to wade through them to find useful information is, it seems to me, a waste of time.
Facebook is more social and chatty, fine for personal family and friend interaction, that's understandable. On Facebook also, you can separate personal, family updates from ministry or professional ones.
I prefer Twitter and Facebook when I can read them as more of a news feed--a running commentary of useful updates and information coming from a person, business, or ministry rather than as an online diary.
What changed how I now use social media
The above opinions were floating unfocused in my head until I read a little book, Social Boom by Jeffery Gitomer. It is not a Christian book, but a book on sales and marketing, but it totally changed and inspired me for how I use social media.
His bottom line advice in the book could be summed up by saying, "Let people know what you do, what you are about. Be clear, be consistent. If what you do is useful and appealing to people they will find you."
That book completely revolutionized my approach to social media. I no longer worried that I was just a grumpy old lady who didn't want to talk about her boring days. I realized I didn't need to. I could share about what really mattered to me--helping church communicators communicate more effectively, encouraging and updating them in different ways that would be useful.
I created a Facebook page for my ministry and started tweeting more. After doing this for some time I've realized that these are ways I can update, help, and encourage a variety of communicators. Different people prefer different ways to take in ministry and news updates.
I now really like Facebook because I can add little tidbits, updates and all sorts of things when I want without waiting to do an email newsletter and, according to statistics and feedback I get, lots of people find the updates and other materials useful. Twitter seems to be doing the same for others.
How the Proverb about working your land fits in
Consistency (next to having useful content, without which there is no reason to communicate through any channel) is probably the most important ingredient in effective social media.
The Proverb tells us that if we work our land, we'll get the results we want. If a farmer only checks on his crops every month or so and doesn't do the regular planting, watering, cultivating, and weeding necessary on a regular basis, he probably won't get much of a crop. But regular, careful attention will produce an abundant harvest.
Bottom line of advice for your church communications and social media
Don't even get started with Twitter or Facebook for your church if you aren't going to keep them updated and filled with useful content.
Sadly lots of churches have a website because they have been told that all churches need a website. They do, but a website is useless if it is not continuously updated with useful content.
Currently, many churches have been told they need to have a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. These again, can be useful, but only if they are constantly updated and give useful content.
If you can't commit to "working your fields" in social media--don't promote them until either you or someone on your church communication team can do them. Otherwise the results will look like an abandoned lot--full of weeds and good intentions, but no crops.
See how I'm attempting to practice what I preach, no ice cream updates, but news, tips, encouragements and resources about church communications:
Like my Facebook Ministry page at: http://www.facebook.com/EffectiveChurchCommunications
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/yvonprehn