Social media doesn't have to be so scary. As a 22-year-old working in a mostly 40-and-over world, I am quite familiar with the fear that many middle-aged adults exhibit about social media. My attempts to demystify social media are often met with questions like, "Won't that compromise our privacy?" "How can we possibly make time for that?" "Isn't that only for younger target markets?" and "How do we know it will work?". Though I understand these concerns, I often sense the underlying problem is the belief that social media is not for everyone.
But if we are truly evangelistically minded, then we will be willing to use the tools God has given us to reach people currently beyond our scope of influence. Today, I want to help demystify the use of social media by addressing the four most common concerns and offering some practical tools to help along the way:
1. Won't that compromise our privacy?
The beauty of social media is that you choose what you post. Social media does not necessarily compromise privacy, but it magnifies influence by sending your information directly to the people instead of requiring them to find it. Even so, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have basic privacy controls in place to help control spam and modify which audiences see your posts. Though it's important to establish a policy that informs your staff on what types of content are appropriate for social media, it's also a great space to exercise your creativity and capture the attention of people you probably wouldn't otherwise reach.
2. How can we possibly make time for that?
In this rapidly changing culture, you don't have time not to use social media. Though it is a time commitment, tools like Buffer and HootSuite help simplify and integrate social media into your daily life. Once you get started and gain momentum, using social media becomes a habit and a skill that takes progressively less time to practice. Even though I manage several personal and business social media accounts, social media use takes 20 minutes or less of my time each day.
3. Isn't that only for younger target markets?
I digress that younger generations are typically quicker to adopt social media due to our upbringing. However, the demographics are changing as quickly as social media is growing. People of all ages are using social media so it is becoming increasingly important that churches engage them there.
The wisdom of older generations must unite with the enthusiasm of younger generations to make social media a truly well-rounded medium that can reach more people than ever before. Please don't let your fear of social media rob its users of your much-needed voice.
4. How do we know it will work?
Unlike most marketing tools, social media results are generally measurable. Tools like Google Analytics and Klout are easy to use and they provide real-time, comprehensive data about which posts are reaching furthest, who is seeing and engaging with your information, and how your content is spreading across the web. This helps you learn to repeat what works and scrap what doesn't work. Consequently, social media becomes a science and an art.
Just as Jesus met the people where they already were -- at the well, in the synagogue, by the seashore -- we as the church must meet them there, too. Social media is simply the bridge we use to reach the masses, and consequently, the individual. Ultimately, social media is for everyone, especially the church.
Amy Lamb is a writer, speaker, co-author, and non-profit manager at the University of Mobile Center for Leadership. An avid traveler, she has conducted evangelistic humanitarian efforts in more than 25 countries across the globe. Amy's hobbies include playing classical piano, tweeting, and writing about herself in the third person. For more from Amy, visit amyrlamb.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @amyrlamb.