I love that my faith has embraced social media as a means of sharing the goodness of who we are and how we live our beliefs. In August, David A. Bednar powerfully invited us to share goodness using social media to “sweep the earth” with positive messages of truth and light.
Most people interact in this online world. Instead of avoiding it as a flourishing place of darkness, noise, and confusion, we can change it with what we contribute. So how do we do it?
First — Read or watch his entire talk, noting what ideas come to you.
Second — Create a plan. Every organization and brand has a plan–a social media marketing plan. What about individuals? Couldn’t you use social media more effectively with your own personal social media plan? A plan defines in writing the purposeful way you will use social media. A basic one has three simple elements:
Voice + Time + Community = Your Social Media Plan
Voice is the unique expression of who you are and the type and tone of content you share. See if you can use nine words or less to define your voice on social media. Remember to not just describe the person you want to portray but who you really are—weaknesses, challenges and all.
“Flawed characters are okay. Our state of striving should be part of our reflections online.” Scott Swoford, BYU Broadcasting creative director, this week shared how to authentically represent ourselves and our faith without coming across as false. Take 30 minutes and watch his message. It’s powerful. He concluded, “You will go on with both feet forward, the best foot and the real foot to do mighty things.”
I’m pretty real and have real challenges. Several years ago, we had a big financial setback. This year, I was diagnosed with a rare stage three cancer. I’m honest, open and real. And I express how I’m choosing faith and gratitude to cope with these trials. This is my voice.
Don’t try to mimic someone else’s voice. Even if social media may sometimes feel like high school all over again, it’s not. You can be you. Develop your creativity and skills to express who you are.
Time is essential to a social media plan. How much time do you have and how much time do you want to devote to creating and sharing on social media? The draw to become distracted is always present. Define the amount of time you will spend on social media in your plan and set specific boundaries. Some of us need to spend more. Some less. And all of us, maybe need to spend our time online more purposefully. That’s why a written plan helps.
Community is created from the friends and followers on your social media channels, the groups and circles you belong to, friends of friends and anyone in the online world who sees your posts, video, or photos. Choose one or two channels to start and develop your voice there.
A woman I follow on Twitter said, “Social media is not a billboard; it is a lunchroom.”
Try to expand your “lunchrooms” beyond just your own circle of friends and members of your own faith. Sure, that’s who you know best, but you can also benefit from and add to broader communities by responding to and connecting with others.
To do that make your posts searchable with hashtags. Think of positive hashtags like gratitude, faith, joy, family, prayer, God, happiness, service, or use your city locations.
Join online campaigns like the current one from the Mormon Channel. Share a short video of what you are thankful for. Upload it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ThankfulFor and tag @Mormon Channel. Consider starting or participating in campaigns as a family or youth group. Find more ideas at social.lds.org
Build community by speaking like you are speaking with someone not at them. Ask questions of others. Start a discussion. If you are sharing a link, or video from someone else, use your own words to say how and why you like it. Real authenticity comes, as my husband says, when “we share without expecting anything from them in return.”
Finally – Use your social media plan to proactively share and interact, not just spend time reacting to what you see. If you’re already doing the basics and want to do and learn more, choose a new channel and develop a new avenue to express yourself.
With all that’s wrong about the Internet—and those challenges are real—I love the positive nature of this medium, too. Today’s communication gives each of us a connective and creative way to expand our influence.