The most recent statistics show the United States has the highest rate of social media usage throughout the world. With approximately 80 percent of Americans using some form of social media on a regular basis, totaling over 246 million users, it is a necessity for Catholic Christians to understand how to use social media to share Christ effectively with others. Now, more than ever, Christians need to rise up and reach out. If you are new to social media, or even a veteran tweeter, here are 5 steps to create an effective social media outreach:
1) Embrace It: Like it or not, social media is the creamer to a millennial’s coffee. Statistics show that less than half of Americans used social media in 2010 compared to approximately 80 percent daily logging on today. For the Christian, social media should not be about politics or the enemy. In fact, embracing social media will not only allow you to reach out to others and share the gospel of Christ but it will also allow you to make a significant impact to those you may never meet in person.
“Bad times, hard times – this is what people keep saying; but let us live well and times shall be good. We are the times. Such as we are, such are the times.” -St. Augustine of Hippo
2) Decide Your Theme: Although most social media users log on and focus on arguing politics, public agendas, daily news and protocols, Christians can easily infiltrate the worlds and lives of those who would not darken the doors of a church at the moment but a good tweet, properly created Facebook post, or a savvy Parler post could show up on the timeline and deliver the message he or she never knew they even needed at the moment. However, let’s face it, there are a lot of ways one could go with this. Theology, Church history, apologetics, catechesis, saints, etc. are all great ways to share the gospel. If you are seeking to create an effective social media outreach, however, focus on the theme you feel best to deliver. One could use social media platforms to pray for others, verbally encourage others with prayers, ask for prayers and share encouragement for those needing someone to pray for them. One could also choose to focus on your patron saint, sharing words and stories from that person’s life, or have a Marian theme by sharing Marian facts, prayers, and apparitions.
3) Guard Your Words: There are two things one must keep in mind when posting on social media. Those two things are: your words, your theme. Once you decide if you are going to focus on prayer, saints, encouraging others, church history, etc. then ask yourself before you hit “post” on any social media comment or post if what you are writing will coincide with what theme you want to promote. Also, ask yourself if what you are writing will point others to Jesus or push them away? If you are going to have a social media outreach then you must use social media as your audience and your words as your message that all points back to Christ. However, you must also use it as a way to connect one on one with others and pray for them, uplift them, encourage them, and point them toward a holier life.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer”- Psalm 19:14
Do not let your heart be burdened by the negativity on social media, rather, use your social media to cut through the darkness of hate and negativity with the love of Christ.
4) Use Photos: Photos can capture a person’s attention as they scroll through their social media feed. Carefully choose photos that will go along with the post you are writing. For example, if you want to share encouragement for others to enjoy nature you might want to post a picture of mountains or the ocean and then write a scripture or saint quote that goes along with the photo in your post. Let the picture get them to stop scrolling for just a second and then let your words point them back to Jesus.
5) Engage Multiple Platforms: You cannot…..and I repeat….you cannot have a successful social media outreach if you only stick to one social media platform. Each platform has its own unique demographics that it caters to and attracts. If you are using social media to encourage, motivate, and share Christ with others then you want to reach across all of those platforms. Those who are using Snapchat (teenagers and preteens) are less likely, according to statistics, to be on Facebook or Twitter. Those using Facebook and Twitter may or may not be on Parler or Snapchat. In order to reach the maximum amount of people then you have to go to a variety of different platforms.
Remember when you create any type of outreach, specifically social media, your intention should not be to make them agree with you or “like” your post. Your intention is to uplift others, encourage and motivate them, and be a source of hope and inspiration for them that will point them back to Jesus. Many times, however, we all get sucked into the negativity and politics of social media and share our own opinions and beliefs. Do not be negative. Always share the light of Christ and do not let the darkness of the world cloud the outreach you could have on these platforms.