Regrettably, I am still using Facebook. Although my teens are not. Falling Facebook users among teens has been well documented, and one day, their antipathy for the social network will render it obsolete. In the meantime, it’s not hurting for users.

I’ve done my best to cajole, bribe (want a muffin?) and convince people to switch to other networks, mainly Google+. No luck there. Most older digital users (20 and up) are surprisingly stubborn about change in the social media world. Of course, there’s the reality that Facebook is where their peers are.. currently.

I still use it too – mainly to drive traffic through here, but also simply to be available in a corner of modern society. I also appreciate the power of leverage and influence that Facebook has created. I could not have self-published a book this past year without Facebook. It’s the only venue where I’m able to keep up with some people.

On to some Facebook posts:

7 Ways Social Media Makes Pastoring More Difficult

Mike Leake (who currently uses the same WordPress blog theme as I do) nails some strange realities of seeing what your church members post on Facebook. Here are my top three of his seven:

  1. Faux problems. “People vent about really silly things on Facebook.” Totally agree. I’ve seen comment threads of 30 deep for the most innocuous posts. Also been horrified to see people wade into debates with unsubstantial logic about topics of huge significance and thus present a terrible witness for Christ. (see the next one)
  2. Public error. “So what should a pastor do? If he confronts all of these cute little pictures with terrible theology, then he’s going to look like a self-righteous jerk. If he lets them go, is he protecting the flock?” I feel his pain.
  3. Pictures. “Pastor’s should know their flock. But there are some ways that pastors should definitely not know their flock. Like what they look like in a bikini.” Yup. This is another reason I’m ranting these days on Twitter about Facebook’s new iOS update (version 6.8) that autoplays the videos that people post on Facebook. It’s intrusive, offensive at times, and really asinine. But then again, that’s Facebook.
  • Which of Leake’s other points do you most identify with?

w1280Does your Facebook rant “honor everyone?”

Trevin Wax urges thinking before posting about topics you’re passionate about. Even if you’re right.

Sometimes, evangelical Christians do more harm than good on Facebook. Under the veil of “taking a stand” for our values, I fear we are letting loose all kinds of dishonoring, uncharitable speech. We need to stop.

He points out that in 1 Peter 2.11-17, the apostle commands us to “Honor everyone.” In our culture, the views of the person seeking to follow Christ and obey His teachings is becoming increasingly foreign and contrary to the drift of our society. There are times, it seems, when the tide goes out, and Christians are left standing on an isolated isthmus. How should we conduct ourselves, talk and post?

We will soon be known for beliefs that are out of step with contemporary society. So be it. The Church has been in this situation many times before. The question before us is this: Will we be known for honor?

  • What points of his entry are most challenging to you? What would you offer as guidelines and strategy for communicating significant truths in a digital world?

What’s the best time to post on Facebook?

One constant frustration among everyone – personal users to companies on Facebook – is that without post “engagement,” the post you post is lost in the mulch as soon as you post it. With those who have 500+ “friends” on Facebook, it’s impossible to keep up. So if you post when no one is on, then your fantastic tidbit of insight – or the fact that you’re making a salad with spinach – will get buried in everyone’s feeds, and no one in their right mind will wade through the timeline to find your post.

This article offers a “A scientific guide to posting Tweets, Facebook posts, Emails and Blog posts at the best time.”

It’s an interesting read. For those on Twitter, I’d also encourage you to try to discover your own best times – based on your actual followers. My stats told me that the top three times my followers use Twitter are during these hours:

  1. 4:00-5:00 p.m.
  2. 8:00-9:00 p.m.
  3. 9:00-10:00 a.m.

If I want people to notice and interact, I should be posting during those times. The article above also claims that people will interact with links I post the most on the weekends.

What other resources are you aware of or do you use to be more strategic about when you post? Or do you care?

Preaching the Social Media Gospel

Product7818_Photo1To wrap up this post, it’s not a matter of throwing in the towel about social media, of giving up. Some of you have (in pride) refused to engage digitally to begin with. Don’t be proud – especially if you’re in ministry. You’re abdicating opportunities for relationships and influence. It’s the 21st century method of burying your talent in the ground.

Meredith Gould has written Preaching the Social Media Gospel in which she says:

Christ has no online presence but yours,
No blog, no Facebook page but yours,
Yours are the tweets through which love touches this world,
Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared,
Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed.
Christ has no online presence but yours,
No blog, no Facebook page but yours.

The book  offers “a step-by-step guide to what social media can and cannot do, including a ‘best practices’ chapter and appendices that offer checklists for planning social media, creating a social media policy, and doing a communications audit… Most important, this book offers a ringing endorsement for what she calls ‘the radical power of communication’ to unite and inspire.” (Source)

It’s not about giving up. It’s about going deeper. It’s akin to driving past a parking lot that you observe to be full of people, day in and day out, and never stopping to see what’s going on. If you care about people, you’ll get involved. Social media are those full parking lots of humanity, and we have the opportunity to influence, build relationships and engage them – for free.

By the way, if you see a parking lot with, like, 16 people milling around confusedly, that’s the Google+ lot. And they need your attention too.

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