Social Networking Overview
If you remember the Faberge Organics shampoo commercial featuring “I told two friends, and they told two friends,” you are not a digital native. “I’m not a what?” you may ask. A “digital native” is someone born in the Internet age, which officially began when the World Wide Web went public in 1989. Those born before that year—who have migrated online—are “digital immigrants."
In the aforementioned ad, the television screen suddenly divided into a hundred mini-screens of Heather Locklear’s talking heads in stereo. In the “good old days,” we took advantage of word of mouth. However, “word of mouse” is becoming more pervasive in today’s 21st century digital age. Through social networking in cyberspace, inviting two friends means connecting with their friends, and the cycle repeats itself. In this first of two articles on using social networking to make connections in cyberspace, we will provide background information and help you to set up your online profile.
Jesus and John Wesley networked.
Some will argue that Jesus was the first to use social networking effectively. He definitely understood the power of word of mouth, and he valued the viral—or infectious—nature of friends and family sharing the good news and bringing others to a life-transforming faith in God. If you remember Luke 10, Jesus even sent people out in pairs to spread the gospel. They told two friends, and so on … and so on. You get the picture.
John Wesley also used the power of social networks to build the Methodist movement in America through organizing small bands of followers into class meetings and using circuit riders to spread God’s word. Today, we can carry on these traditions in our own culture and context through opportunities in cyberspace with social networking sites.
What is social networking?
Begun as a part of the Web 2.0 revolution, social networking sites took the Internet by storm just a few years ago when MySpace and Facebook perfected the concept of early pioneers like Classmates and SixDegrees. Those early sites were developed to help students reconnect with classmates and friends who had lost touch with each other over the years. The primary purpose of social networking sites is to build online communities and make connections between people who share common interests. With more than 200 million people in the United States using social networking sites, it is easy to understand “the Internet has become the campfire around which people gather to tell their stories, meet people and form relationships.”
More than a blog.
The main difference between social networking sites and blogs is the organic connections that spread like wildfire when you add a friend or become a friend or a member of a social networker’s profile or group. While you can subscribe to others’ blogs, that doesn’t get you much more than a one-to-one relationship. However, like a blog, you can post messages, upload photos and videos, and share links on your social networking profile as well as make comments on others’ profiles and groups. In this way, you can quickly multiply your reach and easily follow your networks with a many-to-many web of connections.
A word of caution.
 Web 2.0 refers to the transition from information-driven Web sites created by experts to user-generated online experiences that anyone can create through Web-based applications that require little more than basic e-mail and word-processing skills.
 Campbell, Heidi. Exploring Religious Community Online. Peter Lang Publishing, 2005.
How to give your church’s Facebook page a facelift
Discover new ideas to freshen up your church's Facebook page and increase engagement. Read More
Webinar: 7 ways to promote your church event on Facebook
Pictures and posts are good, but Facebook can do more for your church. View this webinar to learn about promotion ideas, best practices, and livestreaming — all through Facebook. View
11 apps easily turn boring images into works of art
We can’t all be brilliant photographers, so here are several hacks to elevate the mundane to masterpiece. Read More
10 best practices for hashtags
Hashtags are so popular, they've transcended social media and made their way into casual conversation. But what exactly is a hashtag and how do we use them? Read More
How much time should be spent on social media?
The amount of time that any congregation spends using social media to promote its ministries will depend much on the size of the congregation and staff. Learn how to engage... Read More
How the top social media sites use hashtags
Hashtags lead people to your church's social media posts. Learn how each site uses them to get the most benefit. Read More
The secret to finding and sharing online content that matters
With Feedly and Buffer, church leaders can easily find and share what their friends and followers care most deeply about. Use these tools to go from sinking in an ocean... Read More
Should your church be LinkedIn?
You've probably received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, but does your church need to be there? Do you really need yet another social media platform? Here's what you need... Read More
Is your Facebook page reaching fewer people?
Does your church have a Facebook page? If so, you might notice a decrease in reach due to some recent changes to the site’s EdgeRank algorithm. Learn what happened... Read More