I read an article this week about how the leaders of churches and other houses of worship are using social media to reach out to more people (You can read it here.) Now you all know that I counsel avoiding strong opinions about politics and religion, and that is not the purpose of this post. Rather, what intrigues me is what happened when I shared the post, and the debate it sparked about whether or not houses of worship SHOULD be using social media.
Those of you who have heard me speak have probably heard me talk about the various ways that social media has enhanced relationships in my life. When we adopted our children, I had the sincere pleasure of participating in an online community that was hosted by our adoption agency. There, we could talk to other parents who were waiting for their children, sharing support and advice. The relationships we built was very real, and to this day I stay in contact with many of those folks. We enhance that initial bond with face to face meetings when we can, and those families are THERE for each other in a very powerful way.
I also sometimes share the story about how when my family joined a new church, we didn’t have the opportunity to get to know people all that well in the 10 minutes of coffee hour after the service. But then a couple of the members friend-ed me on Facebook. We began to learn a bit more about their day to day lives. And we found common ground that helped us feel more connected to the congregation as a whole. On Sundays, we had people to talk to. We got more involved. And we’re still there today.
Whether it’s your house of worship or your direct selling organization, part of your success lies within your ability to connect with people and form relationships. Without relationships, the entire infrastructure crumbles. And what I love about social media is that the daily-ness of it, the mundane, helps us to get to know people. It’s not just about your compelling message. It’s the ability to connect with people, and understand where they’re coming from.
Are social media relationships real relationships? I certainly think so. And when combined with face-to-face relationships, I think social media can strengthen the bonds between people in powerful ways. People don’t care what your message is if you haven’t built a level of trust. People HAVE to know, like, and trust you in order to go any further. And whether that’s religion or business, why wouldn’t you use every tool at your disposal to strengthen relationships?
As I said before, I’m not trying to spark a religious debate. I don’t think you should be preaching the Bible, the Qur’an, or the Torah as your status updates (or your latest sales and promotions, for that matter.) Instead, the focus is on connecting with people over the daily stuff that helps us connect. If that leads to a face to face encounter, that’s even better. Until the relationship is established, nothing else matters.
So are social media relationships “real” relationships? I think so. And their ability to help us understand people through what they do daily can’t be discounted. Whether your end goal is religion or business, if you don’t focus on WHO people are first, you’ll never reach them. But once you do, you can enhance relationships in ways that bring real value to both of you.
Image Credit: Editor B