How Can Christian Leaders Get Started with Social Media?

Last April, I spoke at the Christian Leadership Alliance’s Annual Conference in San Diego, California. I spoke to the CEOs in attendance on the topic of “Social Media and Your Ministry.”

However, just prior to that, W. Scott Brown, the editor of Outcomes magazine, interviewed me on the topic of “How Can Christian Leaders Get Started with Social Media?” It was a 10-minute preview of what I covered with the CEOs.

Scott asked me seven questions:

  1. You have 75,000 followers on Twitter. What did you tweet about this morning?
  2. Is social media really that important? Do ministry leaders really need to be involved?
  3. Ministry leaders are busy. How much time does it really take?
  4. If a ministry leader has not gotten started with social media, is it too late? If not, what should he or she do first?
  5. If you already have a Twitter account or Facebook page, what’s next? How do you capitalize on social media? How do you keep it from being another form of spam?
  6. Why have you invested so much energy into blogging and should other leaders consider it?
  7. Where will ministries be in ten years if they engage with social media? if they don’t?
Question: How would you answer some of these questions?
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  • http://historyofnobody.wordpress.com Morgan Harper

    Very informative! As a preacher's kid, I'm constantly aiming to get my parents aboard the social media train but until then, I've been blogging and blogging and hoping it will make a difference. http://morganharper.wordpress.com

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    Thanks for the video, Michael. You've given me something to think about, especially about "spamming." I have found when I tweet about my blog, my readership significantly increases through clicks from twitter. So, part of my plan for the summer is to get shortened urls for each post and send four or five tweets (usually trending topics) three times a day. Would that be considered spamming? I know my facebook friends might get tired of the tweets, but the messages are producing more visitors to my blog. Also, since I am a teacher, I have been discouraged from sharing any personal information, so my tweets are strictly about God's absolute love.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Personally, I think that is too much. I write about this in The 20-to-1 Rule.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

        Thanks, Michael. Your video is timely because I haven't gotten so far in that I've caused damage to my brand. I will be careful on how much I tweet about my blog and will think about how I can be relational without being too personal.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I suppose Christian leaders can get started with social media like anyone else. After all, priests have been using microphones in churches for a long time, and the principle is the same. If someone wants to get a message out—Christian, Muslim, atheist, whatever—more people will hear it when social media are involved. Besides, one can easily justify their use by putting forth that God gave us social media to spread the Word.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/erinjhollister Erin Joy

    Thank you for this well-timed post. I recently started in a position that has significant influence on the social media for my company, and this has given me a great place to start.

    Who would you consider to be the key figures in a company to encourage to become a part of the social media scene?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Honesty, anyone and everyone who is willing. The more the merrier. Some likely candidates would be anyone in corporate communications or marketing. It is also great if you can get the CEO involved, though this is not the case if they feel they have to control everything.

  • http://www.marcmillan.com Marc Millan

    Michael, thank you so much for all you do and thanks for sharing your thoughts on how often to Twitter and attach promoting things etc, I recently was convinced to start blogging froma few of my friends who are big bloggers and being excited I wanted to get the word out so you have saved me some grief. hanks bro.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    My wife and I met with a church leader this evening to discuss leadership opportunities. Social media forums such as twitter, FB, and blogging will play a part in our goal to keep our volunteer force connected. This will be an exciting time for everyone involved. Thanks for your awesome posts.

  • http://bigisthenewsmall.com Scott Williams

    It's so nice when high-level leaders get this… Thanks you so much for getting it!

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    The one thing that I've learned about social media (and this might be an answer to #5) is figuring out a way to make it work for you. In my opinion, social media works best as a complement or augmentation to an existing media/marketing strategy. That is, while it's great for entertainment, if you're trying to leverage it as a business leader or influencer, you want to do so intentionally, not just willy nilly. Managing accounts on linkedin, facebook, twitter, and friendfeed can feel overwhelming for the newbie (and the not-so-newbies). Figuring out which medium is most appropriate for what you have to say and using tools to make your engagement easier is essential. There are great tools that can help with this, and when utilized properly (not for the purposes of spamming or feigned engagement) can help you save a great deal of time. Personally, I love using twitterfeed to export my blog RSS feed to my Twitter and Facebook, so that I don't have to worry about doing that everyday. In addition, I utilize Hootsuite to schedule future posts in order to limit the amount of time I spend on Twitter and Facebook. This allows me to check social media sites a handful of times per day (instead of every hour), space out what I have to say over the duration of a week, and still feel like I'm engaged in the ongoing conversation without it taking up a bunch of time.

  • http://bondchristian.com/ bondChristian

    Really enjoyed this as a quick intro for those who might not fully "get" social media (vs. more of a static website/no conversation approach).

    I'll take a stab at answering #6 for myself: Why have you invested so much energy into blogging and should other leaders consider it?

    This is difficult because it does take a lot of upfront, personal cost. Even learning basic Twitter etiquette and finding and following people who make it interesting takes effort. But once this is set up, the leverage is insane. In an hour, I can broadcast to tens of thousands or interact one on one with hundreds all over the world. That ability to influence is unheard of offline… and it's only going to grow online.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kaikunane ThatGuyKC

    Great video interview and thank you for sharing. Our church is pretty savvy with the whole social media channel, but still good advice to share with others.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/cbookstorenet Christian Bookstore .Net

    Social Media is rapidly growing in importance for everyone! I think social media can be beneficial to all sites that embrace them properly, including Christian sites and ministries, after all, is all about reaching your audience.

    We recently added social media to our site: http://www.christianbookstore.net and feel like it is truly a big improvement, the simple fact of having the Facebook, Twitter, Digg or any other social media icon on it makes your site look more up to date to current trends and visitors appreciate that!

    I would encourage everyone to adventure into the social media world but be careful and wise while doing it, it has many benefits but potential risks as well. It is never too late to start!

  • http://www.faithimagined.com alisa hope

    Great interview and insight. It would be interesting to see how your words/life are changing the course of history.

    I also love what you said about having every aspect of your life being involved as a leader (e.g. husband, father, boss, etc.).Many leaders don't talk about the fullness of their lives being incorporated into their leadership.

  • http://brokenbayinternship.blogspot.com Mark McDonald

    Thanks for the video. There were many thoughts in there that were gems. I appreciate the thought about building relationships rather than broadcasting.

    On a different note, I appreciated that you (Michael) talked to the audience in the interview. Sometimes these stage interviews take place without any reference to the audience sitting there. Your interview technique showed how good a communicator that you are.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/marcbuxton Marc Buxton

    Great post and video. Your social media philosophy has been a big guidance as we launch the new face of our non-profit. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/bhaag Brian Haag

    Thanks for the video Michael. My company is just starting our blog, and you have given me some good things to consider. Thanks.

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  • http://www.journalistsforchrist.org Lekan Otufodunrin

    Thanks for your insights on the revelance of social media to enhance ministry work. Even in our developing part of the world,it is becoming obvious that ministry leaders cannot ignore the tools that are changing how the world is oomminicating.
    One of the best quotes I read some years ago about technology and ministry by top Church leader whose name cant remember now is that the word of God is the same, yesterday, today and forevermore, but how we would communicate the gospel cannot remain the same.
    He said, we cannot reach today’s generation with yesterday’s technology.
    Thanks
    Lekan Otufodunrin
    Journalists for Christ
    Lagos, Nigeria

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  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Very interesting stuff in the video… I am not allowed to be involved the the "social media" like (facebook, twitter, ect.), but I do have a blog. My parents see the dangers of social media. I do realize that they are very good uses for social media, but it can open up a bad world. Do you find that there is a lot of junk out there in social media? Is there anyway to prevent it?

    ***This is the only reason my parents and I believe that the main social media sites are bad…

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/griffwigley Griff Wigley

    Michael, you're only the second person I know of who's drawn attention to this notion of using social media (Twitter and blogs) as tools for leveraging one's influence as a leader. Thank you!

    The other is Seth Godin, who you mentioned in your video interview as the person you retweeted that morning.

    Your comments have prompted me to write a new blog post about it:

    "Using blogs and Twitter to leverage your influence as a leader: rationale from Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt" http://wigleyandassociates.com/archives/1550/

    At some point, it might be helpful for you to blog about the complementarity between tweeting and blogging. For me, the most important element is that a leadership blog is best when it's used to tell little stories that reflect one's values, mission, goals, etc. It's difficult to tell these kind of stories within the 140-character limit of Twitter.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000490335662 Bill Goodyear

    This article is awesome. As a Christian Bookstore, we added a social media option with facebook and twitter to our website at http://www.deepershopping.com. We’ve been amazed at the comments and the recommendations we have collected in a very short period of time. We have noticed that social media shoppers behave differently to regular web shoppers and this is been a fascinating experience for us.  

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000312149157 Cathy Pullins

    I loved this..  You said, “Someone asked me how I felt about something and I said, ‘ I don’t know, I haven’t blogged about it yet.”  LOL   That was FUNNY.  I can see it coming already and I am just positioning to begin my blog.

    Thanks – I just laid the foundation for social media, for me and others.  It needs some tweaks and additions I was questioning its worthwhileness.  This video helped.  It’s ‘ministry’ value is coming in focus too.