Social Media And Leaders: Why (1 of 3)

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Photo credit by Flicker User “talkindie”

Leaders should take advantage of Social Media to connect with others and engage the culture. Tomorrow I’ll talk about WHO really matters in the public eye in relation to your organization. And finally I’ll discuss HOW to utilize social media. But today, I’ll tell you WHY:

Because most people are using social media to connect socially. Maybe not exclusively, but it is what it is. The idea of connecting on a real and personal level with others online may have started on AOL in the 90’s, but really became the norm since social media replaced these forgotten things like “privacy” and “human contact” we learned about on some blog.

Because most people use computers and mobile devices to find out about things. Here is where I tell you that your website is barely more valuable than an old fashioned phone book… at least to some people. This will come as a shock to some of you, but there is a large part of the population that won’t take you seriously if you aren’t on Twitter. Or Facebook. In fact, there are a significant number of people who won’t know you exist at all. More and more organizations have what are essentially static websites, and use social media to distribute content and connect with the rest of us. What that means for you is that people are not repeatedly going to the “official” website anymore but instead are checking out your Facebook page for the latest information.

Because you can communicate what you want, when you want. Gone are the days where printed flyers, newspaper advertisements, and bulk mailings were your top method of advertising. None of these are bad things, but they tend to get expensive and require a lot of advance planning and coordination. This is where social media flexes some muscle. As your organization builds a consistent following online, your audience grows. Every time your content is “liked,” “shared,” “pinned,” and “retweeted,” you gain a voice with an entirely new social circle. Every social media account that interacts with your organization does so in public, for all their online connections to see. The other term we use for this is “free advertising.” And the best part about it is that it happens in real time. You communicate exactly what you want, when you want.

Because nobody reads the church bulletin and you probably already talk too long during announcements. Well, sometimes we read the church bulletin. Like, when we’re in church. So already your audience is limited to whoever is present and sitting in rows on a Sunday morning. We read the bulletin when we’re bored, possibly during announcement time. We read it when we’re looking for something specific. But rarely does anyone read the entire bulletin, every week. It has too much stuff in it anyways and most people feel weird reading it during the music or the message. Announcements from the stage tend to be so loaded with stuff that people check out entirely. And nobody who isn’t at your church is reading your bulletin.

Because organizations that don’t contextualize their message and methods to the current culture fade away. Here is where I stop talking about social media and start talking about embracing new ideas and change to always improve and reach out to an ever changing culture. Kodak film used to be in everyone’s camera. And they had their name on a theater. Packard was once an impressive automobile. Atari was once the king of video gaming. TWA was a huge airline. You once went to Blockbuster to rent video tapes. And DVD’s. All of these organizations used to reach a lot of people. Then they missed on something, somehow, and failed to turn a profit. In response, they dug  in deep, silenced those who had doubts, rallied around what got them there to begin with, and did “what we do best” only to miss out again and lose more business. Still they stuck to their guns, embraced their infallible business model, distrusting new ideas and embraced their fond memories. Eventually, each of these organizations died, and are now remembered less for their accomplishments and more for their stubborn path to irrelevance. And by irrelevance, I don’t mean they lacked being “hip.” I mean they lacked existing for any purpose other than self-preservation, regardless of what they advertised… or told themselves.

And that church? It used to reach a lot of people. A lot of younger people. Then it missed a generation. And in reply, the church dug in, did “what we do best” and then missed another generation. Excuses were made, explanations were given, and the blame game began. The “core” group got older. And older. Eventually the “culture” itself was blamed, and the church tanked. It wasn’t about not being “cool” or “hip” even though the church did their best to use any method possible to amplify their coolness factor and attract more people… even though they would never admit that was what they were trying to do. Self-preservation after all sounds so “desperate.” New approaches and ideas were considered, but those disloyal voices were silenced, and the pureness of their infallible ministry methodology was rescued from compromise. Rather than embrace change, shift course, or otherwise abandon their perceived God given vision for ministry, they simply held hands, sat in rows, and sang songs to drown out the changing culture that ended their comfortable run.

Oh who am I kidding; that would NEVER happen!

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