I’d like to delineate how I use social media.
Why should you care? Well, you shouldn’t necessarily, but I am quite active on social media, and I have a hunch that how I’m using it is fairly representative of some large groups of people; well, Millenials, to be exact. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I’m right on the edge of the Millenial timeline. So what I share certainly needs to be understood through that lens. I’d also like to explore some trends that I’m seeing across the social media landscape.
To begin, please note that social media has been making a steady evolution from curated to authentic. On one end of the spectrum, for example, is Facebook and Instagram, which is highly curated. On the other end is Snapchat. Let’s now jump in to explore the various outlets.
I dislike Facebook. Just had to get that off my chest. The problem with Facebook is that, in a sense, it has become the internet. It’s large. Everyone is on it. And they’re trying to be everything to everyone. Pictures? Check. Live video to compete with Meerkat and Periscope? Check. Messaging to compete with WhatsApp and others? Check. Moving into the virtual reality space? Check. And just recently they bought the Masquerade (MSQRD) app to compete with Snapchat.
The problem with getting off it, particularly for someone who works with young adults on the campus of Andrews University, is that its tools have become fairly necessary for doing life. Event pages are helpful to get info out. Facebook groups help students collaborate and study together. It’s hard to untangle oneself from the web that Facebook has become. It’s not impossible, but it’s quite hard as many have come to depend on some of their tools.
Most young adults use it, but not very many enjoy it. It’s a necessary burden.
So what do I post on Facebook?
First, I find myself posting less and less on Facebook. Since Facebook has changed their algorithms, there is a disconnected sense that you don’t know who will actually see what you post. I perhaps post something once a week. Period. And I find that it’s more public-service-announcement-type information. They are things that I wouldn’t mind being completely “out there,” because that’s what Facebook has come to feel like; an entirely public space where you no longer really know anyone.
Twitter I like, though. Twitter is a tool for information. I follow who I want to hear from and I scroll through and scan every post. Twitter is saying they will begin to use algorithms as well, which I don’t think is good news for hardcore users, but, alas, what can you do?
I find that I post most often on Twitter. I share links and resources, but I also share opinions. I rarely share opinions on Facebook, because it seems too public and burdensome for people to read, because of how things appear on someone’s page. In other words, on Twitter, in 10 minutes, I can scroll through dozens of different posts. On Facebook, I would not event see half of that in the same amount of time.
Who do I follow on Twitter?
I mostly follow leaders and organizations. Again, Twitter is a learning tool for me, so I take it pretty seriously. If I could just hang on to one social network, it would be this one.
I used to post everyday life events on Instagram, but not anymore. Instagram for me has become about art and beautiful images. I follow different outdoor and camping accounts, and some friends. Basically, it’s all about relaxing with some interesting images. I’m not interested in seeing everyday moments on Instagram. So, I’ve come to post the same way. I only post on Instagram when I see an interesting image.
By the way, here is one of the best articles I’ve read concerning Snapchat. It’s called The Snap Generation: A Guide to Snapchat’s History. Check it out.
Ok, so have I told you my Snapchat story?
I joined about two years ago, but couldn’t figure it out. It didn’t seem intuitive, and I gave up. Then, one day I was speaking with an Andrews student, and I asked her, “Hey, so did you see the announcement we put up on our church Facebook page?” What she said really surprised me: “Sorry, I didn’t see it, no. But if you would have posted the announcement on Snapchat, I would have seen it for sure.”
I instantly became curious.
So I began asking a lot of students about social media in general and whether they used Snapchat. Sure enough, just about every single one was on Snapchat. Quite a few were not on Facebook at all anymore. Logically, I asked a student to teach me to use Snapchat. 🙂
Once I got on Snapchat, I asked a few students what they were interested in hearing me post about. Here’s what one student said, “Talks! Would love to hear your insight, object lessons, etc. There’s actually a few ‘famous’ snapchatters that few following because they would tell stories, give motivational speeches, etc.”
Here’s the bottom line with Snapchat: it’s essentially a funny, slightly irreverent messaging app, which has recently added the ability for you to post “stories.” A “story” is a series of pictures or clips that are strung together to form a little video. Yes, it disappears within 24 hrs.
It’s taken me a few months, but I find that I’m starting to post on Snapchat more than on other networks. And not just any random thing; I try to post an actual story. For example, I may share a devotional thought, or an encouraging word, or recently, a recipe on how to cook black beans. Full disclosure: I just took a “snap” of this screen!
Is Snapchat necessary? Absolutely not. It’s less of a tool and more of just an entertaining and fun messaging app. That being said, I am enjoying it.
1. You must be involved in social media.
Especially if you’re a pastor, if you’re not on social media, it’s like you don’t actually exist. There’s no way for people to connect with you. And this isn’t just a “cool way to connect with kids,” but a missiological imperative. What most people don’t understand is that social media IS the place where the majority of young people actually live. You must be a missionary in this space as well.
2. You don’t have to be on every network, but choose at least one or two to engage in.
Keep in mind that what network you engage in will determine the age you’re connecting with. If you work with young adults and especially high schoolers, you need to be on Snapchat. That’s where they are. At the very least be on Facebook.
3. Don’t begin following young people.
This makes it awkward and weird for them. Let them know you’re on it, and let them decide whether or not they want to follow you. If they follow you, then they are saying they want to connect with you, and you can then follow them back. If not, allow them their privacy. If you follow them out of the blue they’ll feel pressured to accept you. Not cool.
Ok, that’s the current lay of the land on social media. There are some other burgeoning apps and networks out there, but because they’re so small still, it’s not worth wasting words on them.
So what about you? What thoughts do you have about social media? What networks is your favorite and why? To leave a comment click here.