Guidelines for Whether to Share Trending Social Media Posts

March 12, 2019 Stacy Yates

Trending Social Media Posts-Blog

In my last blog post, I walked through how to decide what to post on your church’s Facebook page. This time, we’re going to dig deeper and talk about when an event or crisis is going on nationwide or in your community. The question always comes up: to share or not to share?

When something is trending on social media, many times the initial reaction is to share. Obviously, people are interested in it if it is trending, right? This may be the case on a personal account, but on a church account, there are a few things to consider. Over the years, I have found this set of parameters to be a helpful guide for deciding whether something should be shared on a church page.

Does It Impact the Community?

Community is defined as a unified body of individuals with a common interest, or a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.

Your church’s community includes the church body, the community around the building, and the other organizations your church is heavily involved with. So your community may not be your entire town but a section of the town. The parameters of your church’s community are something you will have to determine.

In Edmond, Oklahoma, where I live, there are three large high schools. Each has a lot going on, and each has roughly 2,500 students. Our church has members at each of the schools, and we even have members who attend some of the private schools in the area and schools outside of Edmond. So our community could be considered very large.

One year, there was a car accident that involved a high schooler who attended one of the Edmond high schools. Additionally, the accident happened less than a half mile from our church. The family did not attend our church, but after talking with our youth director, we realized several of our church’s young people knew the student. At that point, we decided to post about the incident.

Does It Impact the Region?

A region is defined as a broad geographic area distinguished by similar features.

With the ever-changing news cycle and the ability to instantly know what is going on nationwide and worldwide, we are presented with the unique situation of sifting through all the information and deciding what is “worthy” of being shared with our followers. Sometimes this is a very daunting task! But it must be done.

I always think about it this way: if we share every national news story, our page will become a news page rather than a church page designed to encourage and bring the Gospel message to the world. But it is also important to not bury our heads in the sand and look like our churches are unaware of the world around us. It’s not that we don’t care; we just can’t share everything.

Because of this, I stick to our region (with exceptions I will discuss in a bit) when considering whether something should be shared on my church’s Facebook page.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, we posted quite a bit of information about the storm and shared prayers and ways to support people affected. When a tornado tore through a city in our state that was a little over an hour away from our church, we posted ways to help and shared information on what our local LCMS district was doing to help with the clean-up process.

Is It Something Other Organizations Are Talking About?

It is also important to look at national groups your church is associated with and see what they are sharing. If the topic is something those groups are talking about, maybe consider sharing their posts.

In 2018, one of the oldest LCMS churches in the US caught fire. The synod shared several things about this, so we decided to share too.

National organizations are also a great place to find posts to share when you’re not sure what to say about a topic. That is one of the wonderful things about social media: you can share other people’s content rather than reinvent the wheel.

Is Your Audience Looking to Your Church for Information about It?

Think about when you “liked” a Facebook page. Why did you like it? Was it because you were passionate about the organization? Was it because one of your friends recommended the page? Was it because the page posted something that caught your eye? Whatever the reason was, you took action and followed the page.

Now, have you ever followed a page and then after a few months realized it was not what you originally thought it was? What did you do? You probably unfollowed it, right?

We don’t want this to happen for our church pages! And we don’t want our churches to lose credibility with our established followers. When sharing something or posting about a national topic, it is important to stop and ask, “Will this post provide value to our followers, and is it something they are interested in knowing about or knowing our opinion about?”

I say this lightly, because nowadays there are so many trending topics and so many things churches could take a vocal stance on. But not every topic is something your church needs to talk about on social media. There are some topics that could start a firestorm of comments on your page. Is there someone there to monitor those comments?

Although deciding whether to share something on social media can be tricky, I have found that these practices have assisted me in making that decision while keeping in line with an organization’s goals. Each scenario has to be evaluated and maybe even discussed among leaders at your church. A trending topic may meet all four of these guidelines and you still decide not to share, or a topic might meet only one but the leadership feels it is important to share anyway. Whatever the case may be, remember to take a moment and think before hitting the “share” button.

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