It won't be news to anybody that the way we communicate has changed. In the new on-line medium shaped by social media our stories get heard based on the relationships we have formed. Communications that are based on the blunt force of a public relations machine are no longer going to be as effective as they once were. This is especially true for faith-based organizations. We can no longer assume people will listen to our message just because it comes from the church.
It's not about technology, it's about relationships. In the world of social media, this is how communication happens. And relationships are organic - they happen between humans, not machines. If we want people to pay attention to our message and share it with others, we have to build relationships with them. This is what "going viral" is all about.
But as everyone knows, relationships take work. We must connect with our audience on a regular basis and in authentic ways. We should give our audiences information and tools that can make their work and ministries richer. To be heard in a world shaped by social media, we need to become a part of our audience's daily life.
A common criticism about social media is that it's overly concerned about trivial minutia people don't need to know. People criticize it as being about "what you had for breakfast." However, part of building relationships with others is actually helped by letting them know what you do on a daily basis, including, perhaps, what you had for breakfast. Connecting with others through social media means letting them know how you're feeling, where you're going, and what you are thinking about. Just like in "real life."
And like any relationship, these connections must be established bit by bit, day by day. Remember, there is a human on the other side of your message, and humans build relationships through presence, accompaniment, sharing, and caring. Social media may be a new way of communicating, but this kind of relationship building is nothing new for the Christian community.
Aaron McCarroll Gallegos is executive producer for WonderCafe.ca | Emerging Spirit