My pastor says that some of the best education he received wasn’t from his seminary professors, but were from seasoned pastors who walked beside and counseled him when he was young. There are moments on social media when I wish I had those type of people around me.
However, social media is still fairly new and more people are joining each and every day. This, of course, is exciting to me and hopefully to you as well. With each new day, we’re learning more and more about what works and what doesn’t with social media.
If there are three lessons I could share with you about social media, they would be the ones listed below. These are the lessons that I wished I had known when starting out. Some have caused me some heartaches, others have caused me to laugh at myself (and I’m still laughing). My goal here is for you to learn from my mistakes and help you avoid them as well.
1. Some Twitter Users Take Unfollowing Very Seriously
I used to have a lot more Twitter followers. I got those followers by aggressively following people who had a high chance of following me back. It seemed like a good strategy, I wanted to test it out and see if it worked and it did.
However, the side effect of following all those users was that my Twitter feed was flooded with people that I didn’t know who weren’t adding value to my social media experience. I also noticed that while my followers count had grown, my influence amongst those followers didn’t grow as expected.
So I pulled the plug and unfollowed a lot of people. I knew that I was going to be hit and lose followers, but what I didn’t anticipate was how angry some people were with me. I had few of my foreign followers say things to me in languages I didn’t understand (however they used exclamation points and all caps, so I’ll take that as a sign of being angry, and my English speaking people accuse me of trying to pump up my followers’ count.
In the end, I realized that for some Twitter users they take the follower relationship very seriously. However, for me I’ve come to learn that there are more important things to focus on when it comes to social media. Tomorrow, I could lose most of my followers, however, if the only people following me are passionate about the same things I’m passionate about, then I think I’m going to be okay.
2. Everyone Loses in an Argument on Social Media
I love a good argument. By “argument”, I mean the exchange of ideas between two civil people who might not see eye to eye, but in the end, respect each other’s opinion. However, arguments on social media rarely fit that definition.
Instead, most arguments on social media are more or less dissolve into attacks on people’s characters. It might start out as a sarcastic tweet or a cynical reply to new Facebook post, but it can quickly get out of hand.
No one wins in an argument on social media for three reasons. First, you can’t read emotion or intent online when you are just dealing with text. Second, it’s a public argument, which means even if you think you’ve won, you’ve just had a fight in front of millions of people, You don’t walk away clean. Third, it will reflect poorly on your church. If the fight gets out of hand, you can end up in the pastor’s office.
I, myself have had my share of arguments on social media. There isn’t a single one that I’m proud of. In all instances, I would take back what I wrote and instead reflect on what Christ would have me do in those situations.
3. Automating Your Social Media Can Be Disastrous
Recently, I wrote on how automating your social media can kill your church’s online reputation and it’s a lesson I learned firsthand. A few years ago, I scheduled out some tweets before I started the day’s work. One of the tweets was a joke about firing a piece of software like an employee because the software was horrible (trust me, it was funny at the time).
However, what I didn’t know was that that day my company was going to lay off people. So during the layoffs, my Twitter account sent out a scheduled tweet of a joke about firing people. Not exactly my best moment on Twitter (you can read a more in-depth account over here).
Automating can serve different purposes at different times, however, those times are increasingly becoming fewer and far between. As the new cycle spins faster and topics trend every hour, it’s easy to send out tweet that seems inappropriate based on what is going on at that moment. My suggestion? Turn off automation and stick to being in the moment with your content as much as you can.
What lessons have you learned about social media? Click here to share below.