Five Tips to Improve Your Social Media Presence

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on January 10, 2011

in social media, Uncategorized

The use of social media is growing exponentially. For those who are new to this form of communication—it might seem like a free-for-all or a waste of time with little art or purpose. However, social media is having its impact on society and if we want to influence the world (or at least our niche in the world); we need to be using social media. The best way to start is to begin using one or more of the most popular forms of social media: a blog, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. And of course, once you start using social media, keep your posts current.

You are reading my blog right now. “A blog (a contraction of the term ‘web log’) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.” (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog). If you have a passion about a topic and can write short articles about it on a regular basis—start a blog and encourage comments from your readers.

Facebook is a social networking site (with over 500 million registered users). You can use it to stay connected with friends and family. You can also set up pages for specific ministry projects, topics, groups, or resources.

Twitter is what they call a “micro-blog,” where your entries must be 140 characters or less. It is social media in real time.

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. To have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a plus for your career and your ministry. It is an easy way to connect with your peers and colleagues.

Here are 5 ways to enhance your presence on these and other social media sites.

  1. Be personable. Upload your photo (a current one!). If you want to be socially networked, please let us see you face. I am surprised to find many people in ministry on social networking sites who have not uploaded their photos.
  2. Be polite. Courtesy is always appreciated. Rude, critical, or thoughtless comments can hurt your image and your organization, and can limit the good you want to do.
  3. Be yourself. Authenticity is critical to success. People can figure out soon enough if you are being honest about who you are and what matters to you. No one likes a phony.
  4. Be a good listener. Social media is an opportunity to interact with others. The person who listens (reads) and responds thoughtfully makes the best connections. Ask questions in your posts and respond to the answers.
  5. Be a good resource. If you are using social media as part of your ministry, be sure to offer your followers and contacts useful information, helpful links, and timely resources regularly. They’ll tell their friends about you and “share” your information on their own social networks. Your influence and your ministry will grow!

These are my thoughts. Please share your comments and suggestions below. Thank you.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sister Meribeth January 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

Glad to see your comments and I agree. There’s a good article in this month’s TODAY’S PARISH magazine on this very same topic. ….hope that now more more parishes will use this form of communication.

Jonathan Sullivan January 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

Great list, sister!

I’d only add one other (which I originally read in The Cluetrain Manifesto): Speak with a human voice. Don’t be afraid to joke around, don’t slip into “corporate speak,” and let your passion show in your writing. This is something that organizations struggle with when it comes to social networking — it’s much easier to speak humanly as an individual than as a committee. But it’s how conversations actually take place — both in the real world and online.

Dave Pipitone January 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

Excellent pointers on how to be authentic in social media! One thing I’ve learned about using social media is that people can learn more about the core of who you are.

Sr.Maureen January 10, 2011 at 10:32 am

These are excellent points. Reading this gives me more confidence in participating in one of these social media.

Greg January 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

You hit it on the head with “enhancing”. Back in the day it used to be so hard to find your target audience, now they’ll find you, but you have to get out there and publish yourself and congregation info but doing so in a polite and respectful manner is all the more important. Your social media sites should be an extension of your website and attract readers to find out more about you and even better, support the work of your ministry through vocations, etc. Harnessing the power of social media will be the way of 2011. Great Article Susan.

Greg
Christian Brothers Services

Don McCrabb January 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

Very helpful insights. Do you have statistics on the impact of blogs? I tried it and I just could not get into the discipline. I have found a couple of blogs helpful but many just are not the “open conversation” they promise to be. Also, I would appreciate more on Twitter – I just “don’t get it.” Also, I heard on NPR this morning that “My Space” – the competitor of Facebook – is cutting its staff in half. Looks like Facebook is on top of the mountain – for now. Finally, is anyone using Google Groups or is that now obsolete?

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND January 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. They are always appreciated.

Thank you, Sister Meribeth and Jonathan, for your additional references.

Don, you asked several questions in your post–each of which will take more than the comment section to answer. I do plan to write some posts on blogs and Twitter in the near future and I will keep your questions in mind. Please hang in there, I will get to them.

The question about Google Groups–I do not know if they are obsolete. I only know that the challenge in forming any online group is to keep it alive with content and participation and that is very hard to do. And whatever group format you choose, be sure that your intended participants can be comfortable using it.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND January 12, 2011 at 9:07 am

Don –in regard to blogs–you may wish to read the post “Blogging Knowledge” by Sr. Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF, D. Min, posted earlier this week. Here is the link: http://acyberpilgrim.org/2011/01/09/blogging-knowledge/

Diane Vella February 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Many thanks for the very helpful articles and the comments! I’ve been reading them “religiously,” but am still having a hard time putting it all together. Can anyone recommend some good parish Facebook pages to look at so I can see all these good principles in action?? We’re just about to begin at our parish, and I want to see a parish that’s doing it well. Thanks!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND February 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Hi Diane,

Here is a link to three different parish Facebook pages. See what you like and what you don’t. Build your Facebook page accordingly.

http://www.delicious.com/srsusan/parishfacebook

Good luck! Let us know what you come up with, so we can share it with others.

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