Since we now know what a social network is and why it's important, we need to know how to properly build our online social network for our organization.
And, in fact, building your online social network is much the same as building your offline social network. But it's sometimes hard to see how that is since the medium can appear to be so different. And if we're not careful, the powerful and otherwise helpful technology can actually get in the way or become a distraction.
One of the biggest traps people fall into is building their social networks based upon secondary indicators. Here I'm talking about "friend" counts, followers, money raised, website hits, visitors, fans, likes, klout, comments, shares, etc.
These indicators are just that: indicators. They are not the ultimate end. They are not the goal. But they can easily become the feel-good markers that we chase to make it seem like we've accomplished something. But that's not always the case. Like with anything, indicators are helpful when true and often harmful when false.
So, yes, understand these kinds of social media measurements and indicators. They can be very helpful. But they should not be your primary goal and focus.
So what should be your primary focus? People, of course. It all comes back to people. And once you allow a person to be depersonalized into just a number that pads your feel-good statistics, you've missed the entire point.
If you pursue quantity at the expense of quality, you'll end up with neither. This is true with many things in life, Social Networks included.
A Social Network might be impressive if you have a lot of numbers. It might make you feel like your investment into it was worth it. But in reality, if it's not built upon meaningful relationships, then it's really pretty worthless.
That's the key: Meaningful relationships. Build your online social network just like you build your offline social network - upon meaningful relationships. Relationships that have substance with people you genuinely care about and who care about you. People who you've helped or done something for. People who have and will help you or your organization when you need it most.
That's one reason Social Networks are so vital to churches. They extend our ability to help others and build important, loving relationships like never before. And, in return, they present the opportunities for others to join and help our cause. Ultimately, it makes real, human connections that help bring about the communion we each so deeply desire.
"As with every other fruit of human ingenuity, the new communications technologies must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity. If used wisely, they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being." - Pope Benedict XVI
Next, we'll begin looking at some more practical ways to accomplish all of this.