Engaging well with social media

The Centre for Theology & Community l

CTC is running the London Witness programme for the Diocese of London – equipping lay Christians to engage with the media in ways that are confident and constructive. Each week, a participant will be blogging on their experience. Here Frankie Webster writes about week two – which saw the group looking at the finer details of social media; how to utilise each platform to their best advantage, the art of creating a tone through each, and what it looks like to engage well with social media as a Christian.

The session started, as always, with a “rounds” where each participant shared their favourite social media account that they followed. Particularly striking was that at the core of many of the accounts mentioned was an ability to tell a unique story, to establish a clear tone and therefore create a conversation with those following.

We looked at the increasing use of social media that has become fundamental to working life at for many in the media and other sectors. Many of us were surprised to hear that the main feeds of many platforms – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – are no longer chronological, but instead curated according to algorithms designed by each company. Take Twitter for example – you are constantly being suggested friends, and the order and content being displayed on your feed is engineered and influenced according to the tweets and tweeters you interact with most, among other factors.

Next, we looked at utilising each platform to their best advantage. We noted that it was important to tailor your content to each platform. It may be simpler to re-post the same scenic view posted on Instagram to all your other platforms, but each platform was designed for a particular use, and you don’t have to post everything on every platform. Worthy of note is that currently if you post a video to Facebook, it will shoot to the top of your followers’ timelines – however, if you post it twice it will disappear. The “Page Insights” section of Facebook was also a useful discovery, as it can give you a better insight into the demographic of your audience through statistics around those engaging with your page.

We also learned that if you establish a trending topic on Twitter you haven’t, in fact, made it on an international scale. Trends, like the rest of Twitter, are determined by an algorithm and tailored for you based on who you follow, your interests and your location.  Across all platforms, the importance of having partnerships was highlighted – knowing who your key allies are who will share your content with their followers.

Aside from all the technicalities of each social media platform, we heard the importance of what your engagement with social media says about you, and how you want to present yourself. By using social media, we are entering a conversation with others and therefore have a responsibility to do so with consideration and respect. So often what we post is used to get an intense emotional reaction out of users, or to make ourselves look good. Three important questions were highlighted on this particular subject matter:

1.How do you make other people feel with the content you’re posting?

2.If someone else was to share your post, what would it say about them?

3.What does success look like for you, in relation to your contribution to social media?

We ended the session by diving into an individual task, thinking about how we could best use social media to post and share content about something interesting that was happening in our church. Hopefully we’re all now much better equipped to do just that!

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