The use of social media is growing exponentially. For those who are new to this form of communication—it might seem like a free-for-all or a waste of time with little art or purpose. However, social media is having its impact on society and if we want to influence the world (or at least our niche in the world); we need to be using social media. The best way to start is to begin using one or more of the most popular forms of social media: a blog, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. And of course, once you start using social media, keep your posts current.
You are reading my blog right now. “A blog (a contraction of the term ‘web log’) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.” (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog). If you have a passion about a topic and can write short articles about it on a regular basis—start a blog and encourage comments from your readers.
Facebook is a social networking site (with over 500 million registered users). You can use it to stay connected with friends and family. You can also set up pages for specific ministry projects, topics, groups, or resources.
Twitter is what they call a “micro-blog,” where your entries must be 140 characters or less. It is social media in real time.
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. To have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a plus for your career and your ministry. It is an easy way to connect with your peers and colleagues.
Here are 5 ways to enhance your presence on these and other social media sites.
1. Be personable. Upload your photo (a current one!). If you want to be socially networked, please let us see you face. I am surprised to find many people in ministry on social networking sites who have not uploaded their photos.
2. Be polite. Courtesy is always appreciated. Rude, critical, or thoughtless comments can hurt your image and your organization, and can limit the good you want to do.
3. Be yourself. Authenticity is critical to success. People can figure out soon enough if you are being honest about who you are and what matters to you. No one likes a phony.
4. Be a good listener. Social media is an opportunity to interact with others. The person who listens (reads) and responds thoughtfully makes the best connections. Ask questions in your posts and respond to the answers.
5. Be a good resource. If you are using social media as part of your ministry, be sure to offer your followers and contacts useful information, helpful links, and timely resources regularly. They’ll tell their friends about you and “share” your information on their own social networks. Your influence and your ministry will grow!
Sr. Susan Wolf is an Internet and Social Media strategist. See her Catholic Web Solutions here.