Have you ever been on a mission trip? As Christians, we are called to make God known in all corners of the world. No country is too far, no climate too cold or too hot. We go because we want the world to know Jesus. If you ever went on a mission trip, you most likely made a plan of where you will go, and how you would get there, and you most likely packed a bag with everything you need.
I also envision social media as a place I go to, a place that needs to be reached. Social media is an entrance into someone’s life. No matter where people are, you can reach them through social media: They wake up with you, take you to the bathroom, into the train, and still are with you as they lay in bed again. Is it healthy that people spend so many hours on their phones? No. Is everything good about social media? Surely not. Is it a possibility to spread the gospel and reach people? Yes. Does Jesus call us to go where the people are? Again yes. This world hungers for truth. We have the truth. We have Jesus. Let’s bring Jesus into Social Media.
We must know our motivation when we use social media for our ministries and locations. As your motivation is clear, you can start thinking about the ways to use it:
- Know your audience: Whom do you want to reach? Of course, we want to reach all people, but whom do you want to reach especially? Is it youth? Is it young adults? Is it families? Your communication will be more effective if you define your audience as detailed as possible. What is their age? What is their life situation? Think about their interests and struggles.
- Know your platform: Choose your platform depending on the audience you want to reach. On which social media platform is your audience the most active? Is it TikTok, Instagram, Youtube or Facebook, or others? Do not waste your time and energy on a platform your audience is not active on. For example, if the youth is your audience, Facebook would not be an appropriate choice but Youtube or TikTok would be much more successful.
- Know your message: What is it you want to communicate to your audience exactly? Your message is going to most likely differ depending on if you target non-believers or encourage believers in their faith. Did you ever write down what your main message on Social Media is? I encourage you to do so.
- Show who you are: Who are you? What are your values and how can you display them? I always encourage our „Discipleship Training Schools“ (DTS) to show the whole variety of DTS and not just the classroom: Small groups, work duties, hangouts, and fun moments in between. Give people a taste of who you are.
- Make a plan: Do not just post randomly without a concept. Make a plan instead. What topic do you want to communicate when? When is a good time to post? With whom could you collaborate? What are your guidelines for posts? What is your tone of voice?
- Only promote: Social media is about building community and facilitating interaction. It is not a one-way street. If we just drop our promotion for our courses on people, they are not going to feel seen and most likely unfollow you eventually. Promotion should not be more than 20% of your content.
- Know all the answers: Rather than knowing everything, we want to be with people on a journey together. Be real. Do not only show successes but talk as well about challenges and questions and help people find answers themselves.
- Be a slave to the algorithm: We do not ignore the algorithm because we need to feed it to reach people. But we should not do everything exactly according to the algorithm. There will be topics God is challenging you to share about which will not be as successful in their reach. Always keep asking God for inspiration as you plan your content.
- Share the same content on all platforms: Each platform is different, which means that we can not copy and paste our content and post it on all available platforms. Be strategic and creative. Focus on fewer platforms and do it well rather than trying to be present on all platforms and not reaching your intended audience. Of course, you can reuse your content. We have turned podcast episodes into articles and used parts of articles for Instagram posts. It is important that you make it work for the platform you are using.
There is so much more to say about using social media. This article covered mainly the basics. I hope it was an inspiration to see the potential social media can have to spread Jesus. We have a relevant message as Christians. Let us also be current and be with the people where they are. Let us be light in the darkness.
Key Quotes article Social Media_Winkler
Social media is an entrance into someone’s life. No matter where people are; you can reach them through social media.
Who are you? What are your values and how can you display them (on social media)?
Social media is about building community and facilitating interaction. It is not a one-way street.
Always keep asking God for inspiration as you plan your content.
We have a relevant message as Christians. Let us also be current and be with the people where they are. Let us be light in the darkness.
Maritta Winkler, originally from the South of Germany, has been part of YWAM Heidebeek since 2017. She enjoys good coffee with meaningful conversations and loves to communicate in creative ways about God. She is part of the Creative Media Team at the base, runs the Espresso Machine, and staffs the training program at the base for new staff.