5 Social Media Dos and Don'ts

Author and content marketing guru Andrew Davis travels the globe sharing his insight, experience, stories and optimism about marketing and communicating with target audiences. A veteran of iconic media properties such as “The Today Show” and The Muppets, Andrew also co-founded Tippingpoing Labs, where he changed the way publishers think and how brands market their products. His book “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships,” offers tools to exploit the social media world to share targeted messages.

An unfailingly generous and enthusiastic consultant, Andrew is known for offering advice to content marketers. In this issue of Content Evangelist, Andrew’s proffers five social media “Dos” and “Don’ts” to help dioceses and other Catholic organizations strategize and use social media more effectively.  

1. Use Twitter to engage with people, not to make routine announcements.

“Don’t use Twitter as a news feed or a bulletin board. Twitter is a unique platform because it allows individuals to connect with people they might otherwise never meet or talk to. That’s what makes it so cool. A typical Catholic isn’t likely to cross paths with his bishop from day to day, but they can connect on Twitter, creating a sense of friendship that can be instrumental in evangelizing that person. And don’t be shy about replying to people who tweet at you, or reaching out to your followers. Receiving a twitter reply from a bishop would be a very big deal to most people – it’s something they would remember and tell people about. This is a fantastic tool to make the church more human and relatable.”

Do use Twitter the way Raleigh’s Bishop Burbidge did at the ballpark. People connect with the bishop when they can identify with real-life experiences.

"Here at Durham Bulls Park celebrating families and the gift they are to the Church and our diocese. Let's go Bulls!" - Bishop Burbidge

2. Designate one day a week as Spanish language day on Facebook and make Facebook posts reader friendly.

“Don’t forget that a huge portion of your Catholic audience is Spanish-speaking. A diocese that is working to reach Spanish speakers might designate a specific day of the week for Spanish language posts. Over time, their Spanish-speaking members would develop the habit of checking in with that Facebook account one day a week. This would create a sense of connection and inclusion, simply by reaching out through language.”

The Diocese of Knoxville’s web allows readers to translate it into other languages with one click. It’s especially important for most dioceses to be able to reach Spanish speakers, so a translation function is great. A diocese could apply this same great strategy to their Facebook page by designating one day a week for posting to Facebook in Spanish. 

3. Use Facebook to keep people aware of how they can be involved, and invite them to take action.

“Don’t just engage Facebook followers for the sake of engagement. Getting a high number of likes for a post isn’t the point if the content doesn’t move people toward a goal. Keep in mind that every post on Facebook must have a purpose and lead your audience to an actionable response. Liking something isn’t the same as taking action, so don’t fall into the trap of believing your posts are effective just because they get likes.”

The Diocese of Sacramento not only invited followers to a concert event, but also included a video of Bishop Jaime Soto. Using video is a great way to promote upcoming events and add engaging content to social media sites that includes a call to action. 

4. Use social media to create regular interactions with your audience.

“If you institute a regular feature such as an interactive weekly rosary that is offered via a live feed on Facebook, you can reserve what is known as a micro day-part – a small part of a particular day that your audience saves for you. Suppose your live-feed rosary happens every Friday morning at 8 a.m., and five minutes before it begins, you post a reminder on all of your social media platforms. Eventually, your audience will develop the habit of seeking out that encounter, and this is what fosters a relationship.”

The Diocese of St. Louis effectively used live streaming to involve followers in a week long rosary for peace. This same technology could be used for a regular interaction that would result in a long-term relationship in which followers reserve a micro day-part especially for the diocese’s scheduled prayer time.

5. Make sure you are using the right platform for your content.

“Don’t use the wrong platform for the content you are offering. For example, if your bishop wants to post a daily reflection from a saint or religious author, use Instagram or Pintrest because those platforms lend themselves to inspirational messaging. Encourage the bishop to use Twitter to engage people on a more personal level, and use Facebook for interactive messaging.”

People want passive content, such as inspirational memes, but they look for it on specific platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Be sure to include beautiful images that your audience will want to share with their friends and followers, too.