Through six decades of connecting ministry and media, Ambassador has continued to evolve its service with the proliferation of communication platforms. While radio remains our first and foremost means of undergirding communicators in the sharing of God’s Word, we also realize the growing role of social media in effectively reaching radio broadcast audiences.
Often in life, we find ourselves at a loss for words. For various reasons, good or bad, knowing what’s right or wrong to say is not easy. This couldn’t ring more true for social media messaging than it does today. As we keep hearing, we’re living in unprecedented times in many ways and that’s certainly the case for social media.
When U.S. consumers started spending more time at home during the pandemic, they also started using social media more, providing an unexpected boost to engagement on these platforms. In the face of crisis, social media usage has surged. A study of 25,000 consumers across 3 markets showed engagement increasing 61% over normal usage rates. Messaging across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has increased 50% in countries hardest hit by the virus. Twitter is seeing 23% more daily users than a year ago.
“When it matters most, people (even #DeleteFacebookdiehards) are turning to social media for updates and connection.” Ryan Holmes, Is COVID-19 Social Media’s Levelling Up Moment?”
It’s always been important for brands to practice awareness when sharing their message and to say the right things.
It’s also more important than ever for brands, (including radio stations and broadcast ministries), to use their social media platforms to benefit a world that feels unsure, anxious and alone right now.
After all, being light in this world is our God given mandate! And, as our world navigates the course of the coronavirus and racial unrest (and whatever else is ahead), unless our social message reflects these unfolding events, we run the risk of being irrelevant.
As social media usage increases in response to the stream of crises we’re experiencing, it’s important that social media use its voice and impact for the greater good. But in a time when so much is changing and in such global proportions, how do you determine the role of your social media strategy?
Last fall, at the Rutgers’s Social Media Marketing Mini-MBA program, Mark Schaefer, author and social media marketing expert, shared this:
to really win, you have to have something more than a social media audience . . . you have to find reason to engage [and certainly we as believers do!] and meet. Everything changes when you bring people together – that’s the epitome of human marketing.
Of course, last fall, we would have never anticipated the life realities we’re facing today, but the clarion call to “bring people together” with social media couldn’t ring more true today!
Here are three easy tips on how to utilize your social media channels to not only be a positive voice, but to more importantly, share His message of hope in an unsure time while also deepening audience engagement:
- Build community. While sheltering at home, social posts have ranged from videos of family game time to pets excited about having their owners with them at home 24/7. There have also been posts of encouraging quotes and stories of overcoming challenges. The key is to keep it real. So much has changed in our world these past few months and we’ve experienced it together. Use social media to build community that continues to emerge from the trenches of significant life experiences together. (Certainly that’s a Biblical calling as well!) As Lori Lewis, President, Lori Lewis Media, notes in What COVID-19 Fatigue & Future Means to Social Media Messaging, “we don’t know what the next normal will be. How are we leveraging social media to ensure our message is relatable?”
- Lend a helping hand. COVID-19 has moved many people into challenging situations – some have lost jobs, working parents are losing childcare, the elderly are in need of extra support these days. People are using social media to offer support in any way they can. Caring individuals and groups are coordinating grocery pick up for those unable to leave home, sharing information on how to support local businesses struggling to pay their employees and some are rallying their communities in setting up social fundraisers for families in their neighborhoods. There are powerful scriptures reminding us that one crucial way to demonstrate your love for God is to take action and help others. Bringing the Lord’s love into your community is a powerful act – use social media to help accomplish that. The old adage, “See a need, fill a need” rings so true and we’re seeing people of all ages and demographics putting the principle into practice — from sharing on social media about making masks in response to COVID to becoming more educated on racial injustice in response to the cultural upheaval.
- Say something nice. On social media you have the power to connect with people from all over the world, so use this opportunity to represent the positive outlook of the believer. While social media has made it easier than ever to spread hate, it’s just as easy to spread joy. More than ever, your audience needs positivity in the form of joy and hope which comes from Christ. So, spread the word about local churches that are being the hands and feet of Christ in a world of desperate need. Share about the broadcast ministries you carry on your radio station – there are many ways these national ministries, and their speakers, are meeting your listeners right where they are – free resources, on-line help, Facebook Live events and so many other ways. On the local level, consider sharing a story about a local business that’s connecting to the community either to help shoulder COVID impact or address the racial unrest.
In the face of the health and cultural pandemics of today, social media can be a lot of things – good, bad and ugly. We’ve seen people and businesses use their social media platforms to exhibit the full spectrum from criticism to compassion, division to solidarity. It’s a good time to ask ourselves the question, “What is our social media messaging saying during these unprecedented days?” As we prayerfully strive to exemplify 2 Corinthians 5:20 in our day-to-day, what an unprecedented time it is right now to be ambassadors for Christ, keeping our focus on serving the greater good . . . on the radio airwaves and on social media!