The advent of social media has brought a whole new form of communicating in a digital world. More than ever before, people can communicate with others around the clock and around the world just by the click of a mouse. By sharing the gospel online, missionary work now has the potential of being more effective.
In "Sharing the Gospel Through Social Media" by Erin Ann McBride (Cedar Fort, $7.99), missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ward mission leaders, public affairs directors, social media specialists, bishops and many more are given a how-to guide for effectively posting gospel-centered messages on an array of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
McBride shares how all effective communication, no matter the message, consists of the same three basic steps: create awareness, educate your audience and call to action.
Three basic steps: This can be as simple as posting a picture (create awareness), sharing the location and details of the picture (educate your audience) and sharing a link to a related website (call to action). Have a goal in mind when posting — and understand the intended audience. Otherwise, it will result in wasted time and frustration, McBride writes.
The power of hashtags: The pound sign “#” is now more widely known as a “hashtag,” thanks to social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags are synonymous with subtitles or bolded words to categorize online posts. They help organize content, making keyword searches and tracking specific topics of discussion easier. Some popular LDS hashtags include: #LDS, #Mormon, #ldsconf and #twitterstake
140 characters: Twitter users have a maximum of 140 characters to effectively “tweet” their message. This limitation should make every post visual, simple and have an emotional tie-in. It only takes two to three seconds for a social media user to decide whether or not the message is worth their time, McBride shares.
Blogs: Bloggers shouldn't be afraid to share their testimony and beliefs on occasion. McBride encourages bloggers to use their blog as a missionary tool without the fear of it becoming a missionary ad. She also suggests joining a blogging community to engage with bloggers of other faiths — a great and simple way to spark interesting conversation.
Be realistic: Social media communication takes time, so be realistic with expectations, responses and engagement with users, and with time spent planning and posting gospel-focused content, McBride adds.