Social Media

Social media vortex
(iStock photo)

God invented social media, so church, you ought to use it! Nonprofits who hope to change the world? You too! I've written plenty about the theory and philosophy behind using social media.

In fact, I wrote a whole book about using social media to spread the gospel and I wrote it to lay a foundation.

Today, I'm shooting from the hip and offering some practical, do-able tips for using social media on the ground. These are based on my observations of what I've seen work, what I've seen done poorly, and what I believe is on the horizon.

1. Keep the gospel central. Never before in history has the opportunity been so wide open to take it further and faster to the ends of the earth—at least the 3 billion who use the Internet.

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2. Define the why. Don't just engage because it's cool. Engage because it matters. For eternity.

3. Define the who. Who are your audiences (and you will have more than one)?

4. Determine your strategy. Don't try to do everything, but definitely don't do nothing (I know...).

5. Value communications and creativity. It's not a little thing on the side. Everything you do is communications.

6. Start. Sign up for Twitter and stop making fun of it.

7. Download my slightly dated (2011) e-book Twitter for Ministry for free.

8. Follow people you want to learn from.

9. Follow people you want to connect with.

10. Tweet links and pithy quotes, not angry rants.

11. Respond. Mention others. Engage in conversations.

12. Don't follow the non-people you can't learn from or connect with—it's a spammy world out there.

13. Have a good website.

14. Make your good website more findable.

15. Start blogging. Don't worry about getting it all right, just start writing Use WordPress or Tumblr.

16. Improve your blogging. After you've started, start improving it.

17. Read. A lot. Use Feedly to subscribe to good blogs by others. And make notes.

18. When something works, do more of it. When something falls flat, do less of that.

19. Be way more personal and slightly less professional, without doing anything stupid that would jeopardize your brand.

20. Use Facebook events. It's extremely powerful because friends invite other friends.

21. Use Facebook ads, and learn to target well. You can target by age, relationship status, location, interests and connections.

22. Stop inviting me to play games about solving crimes, building farms, and crushing candy.

23. Make videos. Too self-conscious? Get over yourself and do it anyway. Social video is the future.

24. Use Instagram. Teens use Facebook, but they really use Instagram. It's also the future.

25. Think mobile. Never design a website or produce content that can't be easily viewed and shared from someone's palm.

26. Like, Favorite, Re-pin, Re-blog, and pass along good stuff from others to others. Generosity is core!

27. Use #hashtags but don't over-do it. And have a hashtag for your organization, like #ghills.

28. Empower the people—give your members and constituents things they'll gladly share, like pretty graphics.

29. Use Facebook groups for small groups, volunteer teams, interest-based groups, etc. Groups are powerful.

30. Do good. Change the world.

Come on—add something below. What's your best short tip? What's working for you? What did you do that blew up and blew your mind with its results?

Brandon Cox has been a pastor for 15 years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as editor of and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders. He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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