Knowing that they were barely getting their website started I asked, “Are you active on Twitter and Facebook?”
“No, not really,” was the answer. It turns out they did have a Facebook page, but it hadn’t been updated or interacted with for over 2 months. They did not have a Twitter account, nor did they know of anyone in the church that had a Twitter account.
It happens again and again: faith-community folks who are not digital-natives, but are trying to learn this new media, hear again and again that they “need social media”. And they want to “do this right”.
Here’s the crucial thing to understand: social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are communications channels. When you create Facebook and Twitter accounts, and when you put those logos on your website, what you are saying is: “Here is a way to communicate with us.” And when you have put this channel out there, then WHETHER you use this channel or not – and HOW you use it – communicate something about you, whether you want it to or not.
If you say “here is a channel to communicate with us”, and then ignore the channel by not using it (or worse, only using it to “broadcast” or sell your own events, but never to listen), what you communicate is at best that you are clueless about social media. It’s like inviting someone to call you, but never answering their calls or voicemails. Or only using phone calls to talk AT people. At the worst, you send the message that you know people are having conversations all on these channels, but you don’t care enough to join those conversations.
All churches and faith-communities have some limit on the resources – mostly people-resources, but sometimes financial – that they can devote to social media. Be honest about your assessment of your resources and what channels you might be able to sustain conversations in.
For instance, your church may have members who are already active on Facebook, comfortable in using it, and people who are willing to invest in conversations via that channel. In that case, promote and strive to communicate well with Facebook. Your organization may not have members already on Twitter, or people willing to invest in communicating there – in that case, don’t create or promote a Twitter channel. Definitely don’t just slap a Twitter icon on your site because all the “cool kids” are doing it.