Social Media Strategy in the Christian Community

Written by Edna Davidsen ∴ Friday, September 22, 2017

1. What is a Social Media Strategy?

The social media strategy in the Christian Community, I subscribe to has a counter-intuitive goal. The goal is to get me away from social media while still enabling Christians on social media platforms to share the content I serve them with. The topics covered in this blog post are: Social media strategy. The implications of how social media platforms brand themselves. The ratio between onsite-activities and social media activities. Social media principles. Nofollow links. Social media performance measurement. Follower focus. Social media addiction. Christian testimonies on social media. Our role as Christian Affiliate Marketers is to write for Christians who dream about going into online business so we can train them to be the new Christian Affiliate Marketing top dogs. Here's this group's problem: Social media, Facebook, Google+ Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, are professional brands. Newcomers in Christian Affiliate Marketing believe it's a must to work around the clock on these platforms. I am on social media, but here's the trick of the trade:

Social Media Strategy Rule Number One: Christian Affiliate Marketers can build an online business with 0% social media presence.

Edna Davidsen, Christian Affiliate Marketer.

Emily P. Freeman (emilypfreeman.com, TW: @emilypfreeman), a Christian blogger and entrepreneur for more than nine years writes: "Call me a romantic, but I still think writing on a blog is one of the most important things I do as a writer.I still think it’s the greatest medium for communicating, for story-telling, for writing through what you think about things. I still think it’s one of the most lovely outlets for an extraverted introvert like me who loves people but needs a little time to think before I say words to them." Take it from Emily! Writing blog post provides clarity and helps us think better. Emily's website and her striking blog posts add value to the Christian community. Newcomers in Christian Affiliate Marketing are better off spending time building their website than trying keeping head above water on social media. We remember our first reason for going into online business. It was a hunger for living a purpose-driven life while helping Christians online. Nevertheless, we also had a second reason: We wanted out of the financial rat race. A less stressful life, with financial-, location-, and time-freedom was a secondary goal. Once we began propelling towards achieving these goals many of us dug ourselves into a social media hole, where we devoted too much time and effort to social media activities. We did it because we thought it was right to do, but it ended being time wasted that we could have spent much better doing onsite activities. Therefore, it's better to avoid this dead duck. The point: We've been much more active on social media than we're now. It's OK for us to say, "We'll build our online business without giving social media a significant role." We resign from the choir singing the we-need-to-be-active-on-social-media song. We've seen, it's sufficient to be two places to grow our business and thus help other Christians: 1. Doing onsite activities. 2. Being active and supportive commentators on other Christian blogs. It's the road we recommend newcomers in Christian Affiliate Marketing. The problem with an active approach to social media, if we work alone, is, it's unrealistic to believe we can do a good job on the website, on social media, and on other Christian blogs at the same time. We need to let some activities go; our choice is easy; we show the red card to the active social media approach. We take a minimalistic avenue with our social media platforms. On OurChristianBook.com, 20% is about sharing the blog posts on social media and 80% about supporting other Christian bloggers via social media. Supporting others is the best way to build genuine relations with like-minded Christians. Tamela Hancock Murray's (Tamelahancockmurray.com, TW:@Tamela_Murray) blog post Would You Say That in Real Life? A Key to Social Media Success? Posted on Stevelaube.com where she works, outlines six navigational social media principles: 1. Avoid hot topics. 2. Don’t challenge the debate team. 3. You won’t change anyone’s mind. 4. Resist jumping into someone else’s argument. 5. Don’t hold anyone responsible for statements made by others on their social media. 6. Remember you are not anonymous. Tamela Hancock has commented on each of the six rules in her own blog post. The blog post is a good read. Being the author of more than twenty books, Tamela Murray has accumulated a substantial writing experience. Tamela Murray's blogging style is on the ball and valuable to the Christian blogging community. Christian Affiliate Marketers are creators; not consumers. It's our duty to serve the audience with share-worthy content via our blogs.We create more content by being less active on social media. When we've taken a passive approach it's because of our role in the Christian community. We're among those creating content to be shared on social media, and we're thankful when people share it.

Social Media Strategy Rule Number Two: Christian Affiliate Marketers are creators instead of consumers, also on social media.

Edna Davidsen, Christian Affiliate Marketer.

Let's move on from this initial context to the strategy-part. The word Strategy comes from the Greek stratēgia. It was first used as a war-term according to the Wikipedia strategy article. The strategy described people's work in higher army positions such as troop leaders and generals. A strategy is a plan on how to achieve goals under uncertain conditions.

Google Dictionary shows that the word strategy has been in an uptrend the last 50 years.
Google Dictionary shows that the word strategy has been in an uptrend the last 50 years.

The Google Dictionary shows how much the word strategy has been used over time. Another strategy-characteristic is the goal-resource ratio. The resources used in a strategy for achieving the goals are always limited. Christian Affiliate Marketers, for example, who're working alone have limited social media time. The social media strategy applied on OurChristianBook.com's blog takes into account, the website is a one-person business.In this case, priority goes to producing blog post content, second to write blog post comments, third being active on other Christian blogs. Social media activities are the third priority. In blog post number 19, Marketing to Millennials with ConvertKit, published August 26th I wrote: "One view I would be happy to be associated with is the idea of being less scared. I encourage people to be more: • Relaxed (less afraid of missing an opportunity). • Self-reliant (and less concerned with other people's judgements). • Positive future-oriented (and less affected by the daily media scare stories). • Offline (and less addicted to consuming social media and news channels).These are core Christian Affiliate Marketing values. It's OK to step away from the crowd and say: "We'll take another path!" Wrapped up, a strategy is: A. Setting goals. B. Take action towards the goals. C. Accumulate resources to keep momentum. In other words, the social media strategy describes goals, how to reach them and which resources are needed. In Marketing to Millennials with ConvertKit, I also wrote about the FOMO (Fear of missing out), as one of the Millennium generation characteristics. The FOMO is minimised with a social media strategy presented in this blog post because the strategy reduces what we aim for through the social media platforms. Let's give some comments on the first point: Setting goals.

A. Setting Goals.

What are OurChristianBook.com's social media goals? Why do we include Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram as options to connect with OurChristianbook.com?

OurChristianBook.com is present on these social profiles, plus Pinterest and Tumblr.
OurChristianBook.com is present on these social profiles, plus Pinterest and Tumblr.

The audience, Christian millennials, have a desire to be co-creators. The social media accounts help them to connect with the company. It provides a chance to listen to the audience and let them be a part of the product, e.g. the OCB-blog. During a workweek, Christian Affiliate Marketers write many blog post comments on other Christian blogs even if we're pressed for time. That way we connect with other valuable Christian bloggers from social accounts linked to these different blogs, where we leave comments. We can mention: Jake Owensby - @jakeowensby  Lori Schumaker - @lori_schumaker  Gary Comer - @gcomerministry It's enjoyable reading bishop Jake Owensby's blog posts (Looking for God in Messy Places). Jake Owensby is the fourth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. He and his wife Joy live in Alexandria, Louisiana. Jake Owenby's is a front-runner in the online Christian community. We get inspired to create more visual blog posts by observing how Lori Schumaker has designed her website (Searching for Moments). On her blog, Lori's sharing worthwhile content about the One giving us hope and meaning in life. Whenever we read her blog posts, we feel more loved, encouraged and equipped.Gary Comer has written the book reviewed in blog post number 1, Could Gary Comer’s Soul Whisperer help Shane? On OurChristianBook.com's blog.When Gary Comer published his next book in January OurCristianBook.com will post a review, too. We appreciate Gary Comer's books. Read more about Gary Comer and his ministry at SoulWhisperer. Their mission training is much needed in today's world.

Linked social media accounts put forth a simple way for like-minded Christians to interact with OurChristianBook.com.Social media goal number one for www.OurChristianBook.com and similar faith-based blogs is to connect with people like Jake, Lori and Gary because they help us to be more valuable Christian Affiliate Marketers through their content. We're honoured and blessed to be able to lift these people in the Christian community. Making our website content available on social media so Christians on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram have access to helpful content is our second social media goal. We're grateful when we see the audience share the blog posts with their Christian friends. On social media, we're 'listening' more than we're 'speaking'. We're, for example, quite passive in terms of posting to news feeds, liking, re-tweeting etc. We do it, but if we compare our activity level to other social media users, we'll be behind. The private message function or public conversations (using usernames) are our preferred way of initiating social media connections. It's great when interactions from the social media accounts lead to sales, in the end, we're Christian Affiliate Marketers. Nevertheless, brand-awareness around the OurChristianBook.com blog and other Christian blogs and connecting with like-minded Christians are our social media priorities.  The social media business objective is to show our audience that: 1. The blogs exist (by creating awareness around www.OurChristianBook.com and similar Christianity-based blogs.) 2. We're listening and supporting our audience, (by sharing their content, commenting on their blog posts etc.) Let's move on to step two: Taking action towards the goals.

Social Media Strategy Rule Number Three: Christian Affiliate Marketers represent more than a business with their social presence.

Edna Davidsen, Christian Affiliate Marketer.

We work three to four hours on per week on social media.
We work three to four hours on per week on social media.

B. Taking Action Towards the Goals.

The taking action part boils down to answering the following two questions:How do we create brand-awareness? How do we listen to and support those who choose to connect with OurChristianBook.com and similar websites? Blog post comments play a huge role regarding how we create brand-awareness and listen to and encourage our audience. Blog post comments help us get a foot in the door in the Christian blogging community. We let blog owners know when we share their blog post by including their usernames. That gives them a notification when we share the post. Some will like, share, or re-tweet, the post. The purpose is to let them know we've found their content to be share-worthy. Before we share a blog post which we've commented on, we'll create a picture for it in Canva. Next, we schedule it in HootSuite. It's better for us to use a scheduling-tool because we write so many blog post comments that it would clutter the social media newsfeed if we posted them in real time. Blog post number 20, How To Create The Perfect Picture? Contains more information about the picture process.Blog post commenting mixed with social media sharing is a powerful mixture for three reasons: First off, it's a signal to the Christian blog owners that we find their content share-worthy. Second, it also adds value to our social media accounts because the feeds accumulate references to other people's blog posts, which we may return to later.Third, some of the Christian blog owners will visit OurChristianBook.com's blog and similar sites; perhaps use their services, buy products and so forth. It's a soft approach to brand-awareness. For example, we'll avoid leaving links in our blog comments. It looks spammy and is against Luke 6:31, which we cherish: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." We're commenting to build relations and to lift others - getting backlinks is secondary. Christian writer Sarah Koontz (Sarahkoontz.com, TW: @sarahekoontz)  said it best: "Leaving a comment on someone’s blog is a great way to start a conversation, who knows where it will lead….." Sarah blogs with flying colours. She educates and helps her audience to work within God's framework. By reading her blog posts, Christians learn to live a more balanced life with God. When new blog posts are published on the OCB-blog, they're shared to the social media accounts listed on the website. The goal is relaxed unpushing social media post pitches. If the posts create brand-awareness among the audience, they serve their purpose. What follows after that is a bonus and 'outside strategy'. Following Christian bloggers and Christian Affiliate Marketers is another method we use for supporting them. In our first blogging phase we followed people without considerations. Sarah Koontz writes: "Most of the people I follow are Christian writers or bloggers." Today, we're more aware of what's expected of us as Christian Affiliate Marketers, and it has led us to following path similar to Sarah's. We follow people we'll work with on a professional level or newcomers that are on the way into Christian online business. Interactions between bloggers take place on different levels. The highest level is a followed link from a blog. The first blog posts on OurChristianBook.com used no-follow links. It was a better-safe-than-sorry approach. With more experience in the Christian community, it became OK to give followed links. For newcomers to followed versus Nofollowed links, Google's Video below with Matt Cutts is a good place to begin, together with this Google Support link:

We're thankful whenever we can mention other Christian bloggers, we appreciate, so blog readers from OurChristianBook.com's blog and other faith-based blogs can get awareness about these bloggers. Instead of allocating a certain amount of minutes or hours per week to social media we stay true to our priorities in terms of doing onsite activities and supporting other Christian bloggers through blog post commenting. Performance measurement is absent in our social media strategy. The best explanation is, social media is a secondary activity, next to the onsite activities and the blog post commenting. After subordinating social media to onsite activities and blog post commenting it'll be straightforward to take action towards our goals. Scott Slayton, a pastor since 2004, (Founders.org, TW: @scottslayton) writes: "Don’t trumpet every act of service your church performs. We need to take Jesus’ instruction to not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing seriously. If every act gets a social media post or a hashtag, you’re doing it wrong." Scott Slayton's approach is right because it also takes off, some the pressure of being active, visible and all over the place. Christian Affiliate Marketers get access to plenty of information that should be kept private. Proverbs 13:3 "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction."

C. Accumulate Resources to Continue Taking Action.

Gathering resources to keep taking action is a lot more easy with a strategy. In 2011 Kristen Welch (Wearethatfamily.com, TW: @WeareTHATfamily) wrote a little beautiful blog post titled Why We Don’t Need More Followers. Here's her beginning: "I never had a follower until I had a blog. And when I got a blog, suddenly I wanted followers." It's a familiar feeling Kristen Welch describes. She ends the blog post by writing: "We don’t need more followers (or friends or fame), we need more of Him." We support Kristen Welch's idea about moving focus from getting followers to following Jesus the Savior; to be more like Him. This perspective change enables Christian bloggers and Christian Affiliate Marketers to be freer to engage in Christian community activities. The way we're accumulating resources to continue taking action on social media is by: 1. Sharing blog posts, we comment on. (It helps us to always to have valuable content to share once a day.) 2. Remember it's OK to do less without expecting more. 3. Using a tool like HootSuite to orchestra the social media effort, so it's consistent. If we can be voices in the Christian community that'll help others to feel OK with being offline, jumping of the social media hype and; turning off the computer and be with friends and family instead, then we can say "job well done!"

Social Media Strategy Rule Number Four: Christian Affiliate Marketers should listen more than they pitch.

Edna Davidsen, Christian Affiliate Marketer.

2. How Much Time Should we allocate to Social Media management?

How much time should we allocate to social media management before we call it a day? In her post My Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media Samantha Nieves (TW: @SamanthaMLoucks) points out: "Our Twitter and Instagram and Facebook accounts all reflect who we are—and we’re called to reflect Christ. So here’s a better question: Does your social media reflect the love and grace and purity of Christ?" Samantha's comment about the social media purpose for Christians together with a strategy will lead us towards a proper suggestion in terms of weekly social media time. Use around three to four hours per week, including the picture production for the shared blog posts. The weekly time divided into percentage looks like this: Writing blog post content 75%. Writing blog post comments 18%. Social media activities represent 5%. Unforeseen activities represent 2%. This is under the assumption, Christian Affiliate Marketer have a 40 hour workweek.

Christian Affiliate Marketer can educate others about the danger of social media addiction.
Christian Affiliate Marketer can educate others about the danger of social media addiction.

3. What about Social Media Addiction?

At this point, we'll move forward to another social media aspect: Social media addiction. In today's culture, social media addiction is an obvious problem. Perhaps it's time to pull the plug and rethink the whole idea about social media? A journalist and professor in digital innovation, Leslie Walker, at the University of Maryland j-school (Merrill.umd.edu, TW:@leswalker) has written What Is Social Networking Addiction? Here's Leslie Walker's introduction to the social media addiction problem: "Social networking addiction is a phrase sometimes used to refer to someone spending too much time using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media -- so much so that it interferes with other aspects of daily life. There's no official medical recognition of social networking addiction as a disease or disorder. Still, the cluster of behaviours associated with heavy or excessive use of social media has become the subject of much discussion and research." Social network addiction can lead to school- or work-related problems according to Leslie Walker. To better understand the size of the problem, she says: "Researchers at Chicago University concluded that social media addiction can be stronger than addiction to cigarettes and booze following an experiment in which they recorded the cravings of several hundred people for several weeks. Media cravings ranked ahead of cravings for cigarettes and alcohol." Leslie Walker continues: "Plenty of clinicians have observed symptoms of anxiety, depression and some psychological disorders in people who spend to much time online, but little hard evidence has been found proving that social media or Internet use caused the symptoms. There's a similar lack of data about social networking addiction."

Social media companies have an interest in end-users spending maximum time on their platforms, but is it also in our interest?
Social media companies have an interest in end-users spending maximum time on their platforms, but is it also in our interest?

The above is enough for us to be cautious about how to use social media as professional Christian Affiliate Marketers. It seems reasonable to consider if social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram lead some people to addiction? How many do we know that work against the clock to keep up with their social media newsfeeds? If we ask how much time they've spent on social media, they'll have a hard time giving us an accurate answer. Social media companies have an interest in end-users spending maximum time on their platforms, but is it also in our interest? Social media addiction is related with FOMO (fear of missing out). Christian Affiliate Marketers have a responsibility to help others avoid going belly up on social media. We're also leading by taking a passive social media avenue. How can we lead in the Christian community if the FOMO controls us?

Social Media Strategy Rule Number Five: Christian Affiliate Marketers should represent a FOMO-free social media approach.

Edna Davidsen, Christian Affiliate Marketer.

5. Should our Social Media Strategy include a Christian Testimony?

The Google Dictionary defines a testimony as: 1. A formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. 2. Evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something. 3. A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. We're eager to share our experiences with God as Christian Affiliate Marketers; we want to set a good example. We walk with Jesus in our hearts and find it natural to share the joy and happiness that comes with a faith-based life. As green Christian Affiliate Marketers we ask ourselves: Should our social media strategy include a Christian testimony? Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 says there's: "a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace." Hold this Bible passage dear to the heart because it's expressing the essence of timing. Giving the Christian testimony is also about knowing the hour of need. The introduction to this blog post included an Emily P. Freeman quote. She said: "I still think it’s one of the most lovely outlets for an extraverted introvert like me who loves people but needs a little time to think before I say words to them." Christian bloggers are often people who need a little time before they speak. Regular OurChristianBook.com's blog readers know the blog is based on Christian values. In the first blog post, Could Gary Comer’s Soul Whisperer help Shane? The readers could learn about Shane, a man who got into trouble because of his eager to give his Christian testimony everywhere. Sometimes it's better to give a Christian testimony of acts rather than words.

We think it's OK to be offline and to do less without expecting more.
We think it's OK to be offline and to do less without expecting more.

What we're questioning is, if social media is the right place for us to share the core belief of Christianity that God's Son became human and went into death for our sins? We're questioning if Twitter and Instagram are the places where God wants us to tell the story about how Jesus came back from the dead so we could have eternal life? We find examples of Christians who share the message of the Resurrection on social media in shape relevant to the millennials. For example, professor Jonathan Morrow (Jonathanmorrow.org, TW: @Jonathan_Morrow). The Resurrection and other faith-based topics are complicated communication matters. What we're considering is if social media is the best communication channel? To see what people are sharing and talking about on social media Christian Affiliate marketers use some tools. These tools show which platforms people prefer for different kinds of content. Buzzsumo is one of these instruments. If we search for Christian testimony in Buzzsumo, we see, Facebook is by far the most used social platform for this search term.

Why are we on social media?
Why are we on social media?

In this blog post we've dived into the following to help us get the ball rolling towards a true social media approach: First, a social media strategy with a counter-intuitive goal; to get away from social media, after enabling Christians to share OurChristianBook.com's and other similar site's blog posts. Second, the idea that social media platforms in themselves are professional brands and this leads to an irrational fear of missing out for newcomers in Christian Affiliate Marketing. Third, why newcomers in Christian Affiliate Marketing are better off, spending time building their blog than being active on social media. Fourth, Tamela Honcock six navigational social media principles. Fifth, the fact that Christian Affiliate Marketers are creators; not consumersSixt, the strategy concept and how we understand the Christian Affiliate Marketers role in a social media strategy perspective. Seventh, Matt Cutts, on how to use Nofollow links. Eight, the absence of performance measurement in this social media strategy since we see social media as a secondary activity. Ninth, Kirsten Welch's idea of moving focus from getting followers to following Jesus. Towards the end, we went over the concept of social media addiction based on professor Leslie Walker's research. Last, I gave my thoughts on the relationship between a Christian testimony and social media with reference to my first blog post Could Gary Comer’s Soul Whisperer help Shane?

Is it time for a change on social media?
Is it time for a change on social media?

Do you have some top dog strategy ideas on how to use social media in the Christian community? What are the exciting social media strategy ideas informing your social media approach? And how are you implementing them? Let the OurChristianBook.com's audience know in the comments.Edna Davidsen, Christian Affiliate Marketer.

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