Jamie Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
The proper care and feeding of followers.
Global social media usage is on the rise, and this year, 33% of the world’s population will be on social media (TrackMaven). Depending on how we respond to this reality, social media presents either a huge opportunity or a huge challenge for the gospel.
Social media is a valuable tool for listening to the needs of your audience and building relationships. Simply having a social media presence is not enough anymore. Your audience expects a response when they engage with you online—often within a few hours. Your goal in using social media for ministry should be to ultimately understand and fulfill a need, making a tangible impact in the real world. This means listening and taking action on a daily basis.
How your online followers perceive your ministry influences their perception of not only the Adventist Church corporately, but God. Your digital voice may be the only opportunity your followers have to see Christ’s love demonstrated in their life.
Strong digital brands create connection and take a comprehensive approach to the member experience. Treat your members online as if you’re talking with them face-to-face. Their online interactions with you should make them want to experience your faith/mission in person. Then, when they to come for that onsite experience, it should be a continuation of the positive relationship you’ve built with them online.
There should not be a disconnect between how a person is nurtured in the pews and how they are treated online, or vice-versa.
Every opportunity to connect is an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. Do not waste your digital influence. Social media provides a unique opportunity for long-term member care that can enhance and strengthen the relationships you cultivate with the members, as well as the community, your ministry serves.
People search online for answers to their problems–what better place for the church to engage them?
Your content may answer some of their needs or questions, but not all. Be the voice that answers back and engages with them in a meaningful way.
According to the Q2 2016 Sprout Social Index, 90 percent of surveyed consumers have used social media in some way to communicate with a brand. What’s more, over a third (34.5 percent) said they preferred social media to traditional channels like phone and email.
Member care includes addressing the negative. By being actively engaged online, you have the opportunity to turn negatives into positives by addressing issues and resolving problems promptly. This is especially relevant to younger generations who naturally turn to social media first to share their thoughts and feelings. Through a culture of online customer service and digital discipleship, you can build a reputation as an organization that truly cares about its members and the community it serves.
Nearly half (46 percent) of people have used social media to “call out” or complain about a business. That number jumps even higher when you slice the data by generation. Unsurprisingly, millennials are quick to take their frustration to the keyboard—56 percent of them have complained or called out brands on social media. That means that millennials are 43 percent more likely to call out a brand on social media than other generations (sproutsocial).
Do not underestimate the power of engagement. There’s no ROI (return on investment) without it!
Invest the time; build a committee of digital disciples who are available to respond to comments and messages online promptly, while being human. That means engaging with a personal tone that conveys Christlike care. It will pay dividends for your mission. By living out our mission online and exemplifying the character of Christ, we can create social media ambassadors for the gospel, who eagerly share your content and messages.
Social media interactions should be treated like a real-life conversation. Respond to your audience, share their content, and like their comments. Follow the conversation and actively participate. Seek to understand their needs, and respond in a meaningful way. Building relationships can impact brand awareness, trust, financial support, and more. Your goal should be to break down the perceived barrier between the individual and your corporate brand. Strive to be authentic and as transparent as possible. This is how you build trust.
I believe that the next great awakening will be a digital one. We have the ability to preach and live-out the gospel in view of millions of people, so let’s do it. We need every single one of us to commit to being a digital disciple, using social media as a vehicle to reach out and care for God’s children.
Some tips to get you started: