Do you want to maximize the use of your social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter in terms of a bigger purpose as evangelization? You signed up to connect with your friends, and now that you are part of a virtual reunion, you want to do more than just the usual hi-and-hellos.
Here are some tips that comes from my own experience in social media. This is highly recommended especially for those who have a ‘religious’ intent — but even if you don’t — you will find it profitable.
Remember CAPAS: a pneumonic device to easily remember the five points. I use these points to reflect on my ‘life’ as a Jesuit, but I believe we can apply them to social networking.
Community: What can you contribute to the community? When you think about a ‘community’ think of your Twitter followers or Facebook friends. They are the people God has given you to shepherd. The following questions might help:
1. What can you give to your followers? Are you interested in music, dance, the Liturgy, math and science, interior design, socio-eco-political issues? What are you good at? St. Ignatius of Loyola said that the gifts that the Lord has bestowed on us are also the best tools to use in the spread of the Gospel. So, know your talents, and share them online.
2. Know your numbers: Do you want to hold on to a small group of followers or friends, or do you want a large number to network with? Do you want to share your insights privately or publicly? Do you want to broadcast to how many people? A ‘small’ group of friends would mean a more focused concern; many followers may mean tackling a general issue. Just change the settings according to your preference.
3. Edit. Do not share anything, but share something. Do not share whatever comes across, filter what comes across. Tweet helpful information or information you think can benefit others.
Apostolate: What service to others do you do? What advocacy do you support? When you post pictures of yourself volunteering at a feeding program or building houses, you concretely witness to the Gospel. There is a difference between someone who shares only insights and someone who shares both insights and personal experiences of living them out. Remember Jesus always walks the talk.
Psycho-emotional life: Social networks are about communication in relationships. Facebook and Twitter are supposed to help us deepen our friendships, and not destroy them. Somehow we open ourselves to those within our networks. Thus, it is important to choose whose friend requests are to be accepted.
1. What should we share in a public forum? There is appropriately share-able information, while some should rightfully be for the consumption of an intimate friend. A psycho-emotional status can involve a feeling about a legitimate concern. For example, “Disappointed. I was not able to answer well the Science exam today. I will do better next time.” This status gives the reader a sense of hope, with the resolution at the last sentence.
It is different from a rant, wherein, you shout at length in anger or in an impassioned way like a spoiled brat. We, your followers, are not your shock absorbers or your yayas. Unfortunately, many use the status message as a medium to rant incessantly. A question to ask: If you were a follower of such tweets or status messages, will you be pleased by these tantrums? Be charitable: don’t waste other people’s time.
2. A good rule is this: What can best benefit my ‘community’? Sometimes to let our human side appear is better than an image of icy rigidity that often characterize many, sorry to say this, religious. They are so stuck to what people will say to the point of paralysis. That to me is a tragedy: they’re dead before they lived.
3. And since it is a relationship, learn how to receive negative or positive feedback. At best, learn to respond to messages posted on the wall, or answer personal messages that needs a reciprocity. You don’t need to write a novel but a simple acknowledgement like a “thank you” suffices.
Academic: We should discern on what we put online. We have to feed our community with content like an idea, an insight, a quote, a practical tip, an inspiring message, a joke, a Biblical passage, a work of art, or a moving video. We do not want to insult their intelligence.
1. Try a new term: A learned ministry. Meaning, whatever service you offer to your community, they undergo some mental process and discernment, including intelligent sharing. On Twitter: what are the prime tweet hours where there are more people to converse and to attract heavy traffic into our site? On Facebook: Do not synch your tweets with your Facebook status. You don’t want to see, “Yes, I agree” on your wall!
2. In any case, you can tweet or update your status from anywhere with your phone or where there’s wifi, but when you tweet, always be mindful of others. Let people feel that you are always thinking about them, so you give them healthy food for their life and not junk.
3. There are issues around us that need to be discussed; or at least, given some attention. Not all newscasts cover the whole truth. If you have something worthwhile to say, hop in on the conversation. Twitter is supposedly a dialogue; Facebook invites you to join in the loop of things, so never hesitate to comment — unless you have nothing to say.
Spirituality. There are many people who share about the news, about the latest gadgets, about the trivial likes and dislikes of celebrities. Share what you do not often see online. Discover this niche: Spiritual ‘goodies’ are still not on the virtual shelf. The more we share about our reflections and experiences of God as snippets from our lives, the better.
If you think the internet is flooded with useless information, then we should storm cyberspace with inspiring ones.