In our last post I mentioned four changes that can make to make a difference on social media. You can read those HERE.
In this post I want to continue that conversation by mentioning a creative tactic you can use to make a difference on your social media feed. This is by no means a whole social media campaign to promote what is important to you, instead it is one tactic you can use to make a difference without engaging in the typical hateful debate common on social media.
Here’s why it will make a difference:
It will be different.
Remember to make a difference you will have to do something different. What I’m about to show you will look and feel very different than the current divisiveness common to social media.
It will capture hearts.
Arguments are about issues, stories are about real people. You are going to tell a story. When an argument influences someone at a heart level it is usually because they’ve become offended or angry. Your story will engage the heart at a deeper level.
It will be positive.
I know, there’s so much information on social media that you’re just itching to correct, but remember, that just adds to the pile of negative waste. Again, lets do something different.
Enough of the preliminaries, lets dive in. Here are three steps to help you make a difference on social media.
Step 1 – Get personally involved.
The greatest difference you will ever make won’t be what you post online. It will be what you actually do with your time, your talents and your treasure.
If you sense God has placed a cause on your heart find a way to get involved.
Find a reputable organization in your city that is already working to make a difference in the arena you care about. Contact them and offer to volunteer. Most organizations would love to have someone give an hour during a week helping them do things their busy staff has no time to do.
One of my most treasured experiences was volunteering as a caseworker for an organization called Meet the Need. Their simple mission is to help the working poor keep working and to help them survive the gap between income and expenses. I served about two hours a week connecting working families with desperately needed resources. And over the two years I volunteered I was part of a process that helped hundreds of families keep working. The experience changed how I view the issue of poverty in our smaller towns.
I know, it already sounds exhausting and we haven’t even talked about how this makes a difference on social media. We’re about to get to that, but first here’s what this kind of involvement does for you:
You’ll get first-hand experience.
Getting involved in the issue will give you a hands-on perspective that simply isn’t available from a distance. You’ll see the issue with greater clarity. You may even find out you were wrong about some of your initial assumptions.
You’ll get in touch with individuals.
The issues we discuss online are often no more than cold, detached opinions. However, once you meet a person who has been affected by the issue, it’s suddenly much more than a topic for discussion, it’s someone’s life. Individuals turn an issue into something intimate.
You’ll gain credibility.
What most of us lack when we post about an issue is the credibility of having skin in the game. When you volunteer, when you give something your direct involvement over time you are making an investment. With consistency you are on your way to becoming a person who has the credibility of personal experience.
Step 2 – take it public.
You’ll take it public by posting to your social media a picture and a simple statement about your involvement with the organization.
I’ll give two examples using Meet the Need as an illustration.
Example #1 - A picture of or selfie with the staff and volunteers.
Post it with a simple statement. Something like this:
“Today I got to work alongside these great servants who work tirelessly to connect working parents with the resources they need to care for their families.”
Example #2 – Get a picture with someone who has been helped by the organization.
Then you can say something like:
“What an inspiration meeting Anna today. As a working single mom, Meet the Need helped her through a rough patch last year with such love and grace that she now serves as a volunteer helping hundreds of other families in our area.”
An important note about posting pictures: Always make sure you have someone’s permission before you post their picture or name online.
Notice a couple of things about the above posts:
- They are short. One to three short sentences is enough.
- They are positive. You are focusing on what is being done to help.
- They aren’t about you. This is about the issue God has placed on your heart, not about getting likes or compliments.
- They tell a story. As you create similar posts over time you are beginning to craft a story about the plight of the working poor (or other issues) in your city. You are also showing the positive work people are doing to make a difference. It is no longer an issue, it’s about individuals facing difficulty and the good ways people are coming alongside them to the glory of God.
- They are attractive. By this I mean that people will look at a post like this and at least pause long enough to think, “Wow, that’s great.” They may even find something tugging at their heart saying, “You could be doing something like that.” If so, hearts have been engaged.
Ok, you’re well on the way to making a real difference through social media, but there is one more step to take.
Step 3 – Get other people involved.
Because what you are doing is different, positive, heartwarming, and attractive, people will comment on your posts. Most of the comments will be positive, but believe it or not, some will be negative. Either way that’s OK, because you’re not going to engage the content of their posts personally, and because getting likes or comments isn’t your end goal. You will, however, seize the moment if they do.
Whether they comment positively or negatively your goal is to graciously connect them with the organization you’ve been volunteering with for more information. And you will encourage them to volunteer. When it comes to making a difference, a social media post that helps a few people engage with the issue by volunteering their time talent and treasure is worth way more than a snarky rant even if it generates hundreds of likes.
What does that look like? Let’s say a friend comments, “I absolutely love this! Thanks for making a difference.” You would respond something like this, “Thanks, I’ve been so blessed by the people at Meet the Need, and I just can’t keep it to myself. I would love for you to experience what God is doing through them. You should go with me next week?”
But what if someone posts a negative comment? Let’s say @grumpyguyontheporch posts something like, “Help, really? Looks like a hand-out more than a hand up.”
No worries. You won’t comment on the content of his remark, you simply reply. “I’m sure the director of Meet the Need would love to show you around, answer questions and share their policies with you. They’re wonderful people but be warned they’ll probably get you involved.”
There you have it. Even if grumpy guy posts something else negative, you leave it at that. Do not be pulled into further negative conversations. It won’t end well.
Of course, Meet the Need may not be on your radar, and you may not feel particularly connected to issues of poverty in smaller towns. But this can be adjusted to most of our pressing issues.
Racial harmony, Plight of single parents, Health and support of police, Poverty/Homelessness,
Foster care and adoption, Underserved communities, Youth poverty, Voter Registration, Public Education Reform, International missions.
The list could go on and on.
This is just one example of how we can make a difference by elevating the conversation on social media. With discipline and creativity, there are hundreds of ways social media can bring glory to God and do good in our city.