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LDS members prepare for conference, social media explosion

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 3:36 a.m. MDT

LDS Media Talk is one of many Latter-day Saint websites promoting this weekend's LDS General Conference. (LDSmediatalk.com) LDS Media Talk is one of many Latter-day Saint websites promoting this weekend's LDS General Conference. (LDSmediatalk.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — After the Savior appeared to the Nephites, the Book of Mormon records, “And it was noised abroad among the people immediately, before it was yet dark, that the multitude had seen Jesus, and that he had administered unto them, and that he would also show himself on the morrow. … Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus ...” (3 Nephi 19:2-3).

Apparently, the Nephites understood the social network concept.

Countless LDS members and others will also be “noising abroad” their thoughts, impressions and comments through various social media tools this weekend during the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through its website, the church is encouraging members to use Facebook, blogging, Google+, Twitter, and other social networks to promote the conference and invite others to listen to living prophets.

Members of the LDS Church are using social media tools to promote this weekend's general conference. (Twitter.com) Members of the LDS Church are using social media tools to promote this weekend's general conference. (Twitter.com)

“With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said in April 2011. “Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for his children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world.”

At various times during general conference last October, the hashtag #LDSconf was trending on Twitter. (A hashtag is a tag or keyword prefixed by a hash symbol that accompanies a Twitter post or tweet. The posts containing a relevant hashtag can be searched and indexed efficiently.) At one point, #LDSconf accounted for .11 percent (approximately 220,000) of the total tweets on Twitter (more than 200 million per day), according to trendistic.com. In April 2011, .14 percent (approximately 98,000) of the total tweets on Twitter (then about 70 million tweets a day) carried the hashtag #LDSConf.

Kathryn Skaggs tweets from the media room in the Conference Center last October during a session of general conference. Skaggs, aka @LDSNana, is a member of the LDS Church who enjoys tweeting her thoughts and feelings about messages shared by speakers at general conference. She encourages other church members to participate in social media conversations during conference. (Kathryn Skaggs) Kathryn Skaggs tweets from the media room in the Conference Center last October during a session of general conference. Skaggs, aka @LDSNana, is a member of the LDS Church who enjoys tweeting her thoughts and feelings about messages shared by speakers at general conference. She encourages other church members to participate in social media conversations during conference. (Kathryn Skaggs)

Among those tweeting during general conference this weekend will be Kathryn Skaggs, a 52-year-old grandmother of 10 from Murrieta, Calif. It's an activity she has delighted in for more than three years, and she is one of the original members of #Twitterstake who helped promote #LDSConf. She also maintains the site wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com.

Kathryn Skaggs will be tweeting messages about LDS General Conference from the Conference Center media room this weekend. (Twitter.com) Kathryn Skaggs will be tweeting messages about LDS General Conference from the Conference Center media room this weekend. (Twitter.com)

Skaggs isn’t completely sure where her passion for tweeting about the LDS faith came from, but she considers it a gift.

“I’m an interesting demographic. I’m not a mommy blogger or an academic scholar/historian. I’m definitely in a unique category,” she said. “But I have a testimony that this is the Lord’s technology and we are using it for his work. We are still in the baby stages of understanding the exponential effect it can have. Each year we get a greater glimpse of what this is actually doing.”

Last October, church officials invited Skaggs, aka @LDSNana, to tweet messages from the media room at the Conference Center. Things intensified when the lights dimmed and reporters around her began typing furiously, but then Skaggs was overcome with a feeling that she was part of something bigger than she could comprehend.

“What I had taken part in was the Lord’s work,” she said. “Being able to listen to living prophets and broadcast out that message in a way that extended beyond anything I think we have ever imagined was overwhelming.”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being encouraged to invite others to listen to living prophets through social media tools. (LDS.org) Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being encouraged to invite others to listen to living prophets through social media tools. (LDS.org)

Skaggs will be tweeting in the media room again this weekend.

According to a recent survey by the LDS Church’s Research Information Division, 7 percent of church members use Twitter.

The church has several official Twitter accounts that broadcast information about church events, news updates, products and websites. Official Twitter channels include:

LDS Church — http://twitter.com/LDSChurch

Mormon.org — https://twitter.com/mormonorg

LDS Newsroom — http://twitter.com/LDSNewsroom

Mormon Channel — http://twitter.com/mormonchannel

Mormon Messages — http://twitter.com/mormonmessages

FamilySearch News — http://twitter.com/familysearch

Friend Magazine — http://twitter.com/friendlds

LDS Tech — http://twitter.com/ldstech

On her blog, Skaggs suggested 10 tips for tweeting during general conference. Among others, Skaggs advises against excessive idle chatter and tweets "every six seconds." She endorses sharing the gospel, sharing personal feelings and having fun.

Church members can also post thoughts and feelings about conference on the LDS Facebook page.

This unofficial LDS General Conference Facebook page boasts more than 188,000 "likes."

A newer social media tool, called “Pinterest,” is where users curate images by "pinning" them with links and commentary to themed boards.

“Pinterest is a great way to promote the church online through photos and videos,” Skaggs said.

For more information on general conference and its availability, visit LDS.org.

"Social media is becoming an important part of general conference," Skaggs said. "It's important that we extend our reach by broadcasting more and continuing to send those messages to utilize these social media tools."

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