Social media is a fantastic tool for reaching new audiences and building influence. However, it can also be a liability. Just as social media has the power to strengthen a reputation, it also has the ability to tear one down. Social media giveth, and social media taketh away.
As a church leader, you should be using social media to help amplify your message. But you should use it with caution so that this double-edged sword doesn’t work against you. Prepare yourself before diving into the daunting social media landscape.
Think Before You Post
Think twice before posting anything. Read over that tweet or blog post a second time to make sure it’s something you want to post. Use common sense and good judgement.
It may sound silly, but ask yourself “What would Jesus post?” In other words, are my words extending my ministry? Or are they just fulfilling a self-serving purpose?
If you have any doubts about something you’re about to post, give yourself some time to think it over. Wait an hour, or a day, or a week. Revisit the post later and consider if it’s still a good idea. The immediacy of the Internet causes some to rush into rash decisions. Only fools rush in.
Proverbs 21: 23 says, “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” We can now extend that metaphor to our thumbs.
Keep Your Permanent Record Clean
Nothing goes away on the Internet. So don’t create any ghosts that will haunt you. Don’t create any needless regrets. Google has replaced the permanent record that followed you around in school. Except that Google is accessible to the public.
Don’t sink to online shouting matches. Don’t upload compromising photos. Avoid using unnecessary profanity. Set some guidelines for yourself to keep you on the right path.
That’s not to say that any momentary Internet indiscretion will ruin your life forever. But it certainly can complicate things. And all for what? One clever tweet? Or an angry Facebook rant? Ask yourself if those things are worth the implications.
Protect Your Brand
Just like your church has a brand, church leaders have a personal brand. Some are more well known that others. But a brand is something that social media can help you to grow and expand.
Your personal brand is how people perceive you. For better or worse, it’s your reputation. Just like an offline reputation, this brand can take years to build, but only seconds to ruin. Think of your brand like trust; it’s a limited and valuable commodity.
Part of protecting your brand is monitoring your online reputation. Set up a Google alert for your name. Keep an eye out for any fake accounts that are created using your name. If that becomes a serious issue, you can also request to verify your social accounts to give you credibility.
Represent the Church
If you create a negative brand on social media, it’s not that your name that gets dragged through the mud. Remember that you don’t just represent yourself online. As a leader, your brand is integrally connected with many others.
You are an ambassador of the Church and your community. Behave in a way that would honor them. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Even if you’re not protecting your reputation for your own sake, do so on behalf of your church, your family and your community.
What are you doing to maintain your reputation online?