As part of the Biola Digital Ministry Conference this week, I gave a seminar entitled "Becoming Social Media Savvy Without Losing Your Soul," in which I discussed the etiquette of social media and some of the potentials and pitfalls in how we can use it as Christians. What does it mean to represent Christ in the social media space? To get at this question, my presentation included 12 "dos" of social media and 12 "don't." Here they are below, starting with the "don'ts."
- Don't tweet mostly about yourself. What you are doing, speaking engagements, travel, how cool you are.
- Don't think about an experience mostly in terms of how you might share it on social media. (i.e. when you're at a beautiful beach on vacation, don't think about how you can share a picture of it on Instagram)
- Don't retweet only things that say good things about you or your book, your product or your brand. Promote others’ content more than your own.
- Don't include “Please RT!” in your tweets, use bad English, too many WORDS IN ALL CAPS, or too many !!!!
- Don't crowd your social feeds with “check-ins” from all the glamorous places you’ve been. #Humblebrag
- Don't tweet or post something in a highly emotional state or without taking time to consider whether it should be shared or not.
- Don't post important life news on social media before communicating to your closest friends/family in person.
- Don't spend more time on social media than you spend communicating to people face to face.
- Don't flaunt your relationships by having public interactions on social media. Talk to people privately. Email, chat, direct message will do just fine.
- Don't have awkward fights or edgy back-and-forths in public.
- Don't revert to a junior high name-calling voice or pick fights.
- Don't tweet something with big implications without running it by a few people. (e.g. "Farewell Rob Bell.")
- Promote the good, interesting, useful work of others; direct people to helpful resources that aren’t produced by you.
- Share things that you know your audience will find valuable. Think of their interests before your own. (e.g. If you are a food critic, tweet about the best new restaurant you’ve found. You’re audience is following you for your expertise in stuff like this).
- Respond to people’s questions when they ask them; ask your audience questions. Interact.
- Say thanks to people who say something nice to you or about you on social media.
- Be positive, affirming, uplifting, earnest (rather than negative, cynical, critical, ironic).
- When you do post about yourself, don’t be overly mechanic or self-aware. Be natural, real, authentic.
- If you lead a church/ministry, be especially careful how you communicate on social media. You are representing your church/ministry, whether you want to or not. And for any Christian: you are representing Christ.
- Let others talk up your books, articles, or products on social media. On occasion, feel free to retweet the praise-giving tweets of others (but only rarely).
- Use social media to bless others: share Bible verses, affirmative quotes... things that can brighten another’s day and/or spread the gospel. Those types of messages resonate.
- Use social media to enhance communities but not replace them.
- Quickly communicate important and timely information (e.g. if you are a church: service times, last minute venue changes, etc).
- If you are a leader or respected figure, respond to local or world events with a comforting, wise voice of authority.