It is very easy to get lost in all the social media tools out there. We here about Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube and every other social tool out there and want to use them all. That’s good. Go play. But don’t forget your purpose.
The purpose of all these activities is to call them into a relationship with you. While part of the conversation can take place directly on the social media sites, it is also important to have your community get to know you.
In dating, a relationship may start by meeting at some “3rd place” (not work and not home). You go out to dinner, maybe see a movie or do some other activity outside the home. You may pick someone up at their door, but it is a change in the relationship when you are invited inside to meet the “family” and see life behind the “door.” It is a new level of intimacy and you can get a true sense of the person.
For churches, conversations at the social media sites are like those first dates. You talk, you share, but it is still a little at arms length. As you interact, you want them to feel comfortable enough to visit your home, meet the family and see what you are all about. You need to invite them “home” so they can get a better sense of who you are and see how it may be a good fit to further explore the relationship.
Think about your home vs. outpost strategy…
It is important to think about the series of steps in the relationship to go from an initial meeting to a deeper relationship with those you are trying to reach. This means that you are going to need to put in some hard work to get your website in shape (the home or hub), focus on getting links in and out of your site (connectors or spokes) and get other sites that you or someone else manage to post about you and link back to the site (outposts or rubber on the wheel & the tread).
Here are some things to ask yourself:
1. Do I understand my audience? If not, get busy learning about my community.
2. What outposts are most relevant with people I can trying to reach? Different people use different social media tools. Focus your energy on who you are trying to reach.
3. What content is relevant to them? Content is king. We have all met people who looked like they had it all together until they opened their mouth. The same is true here. Content is your voice to connect with others. Fill it with self-centered praise, manipulation to “come home baby” or seeking only what is best for you will lead to an #EPICFAIL! Just like any relationship, spend time to know others and offer things of value.
4. Have you “mapped” the way home? Always contain links for more information leading back to your digital home. it provides a clear call to action and Google will index your site higher.
5. Is my house in order? What does your digital house look like especially from people visiting it for the first time. What’s the “curb appeal” or graphic design? Is it easy to know where the “front door” or entry point for first time visitors is? What about the “doorbell” or how to contact someone? Is it easy to take a tour of the house and get to know the family?
6. How do you take the next step? Someone comes to your home, now how do you invite them over for dinner. You need to have a clear way for people to respond after they have gotten to know you better.
Is your digital house in order? If so, what are you doing to invite people to your home?