The Argument Against Social Media

April 8, 2009 by

Our own Brad Abare frequently muses on constant connectivity and social media over on his personal blog (e.g. Conundrums of Connectivity). And recently, Matt Haughey extrapolated some of these same lessons from his experience shopping for playgrounds. Here’s the crux of what he said:

So maybe instead of getting your company on twitter, paying marketers to mention you are on twitter, and paying people to blog about your company, forget all that and just make awesome stuff that gets people excited about your products, hire people that represent the company well, and when your stuff is so awesome that friends share it with other friends, you may not even need “social media marketing” after all.

Zappos isn’t great because they’re on Twitter. They’re great because they provide wonderful service, and Twitter is a part of that.

Your church will never be great because you figure out how to use Facebook and Evites. Your church will be great because you commit yourself to living the gospel in a radical way, and you can use social media as a balanced part of that gospel-centered diet.

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Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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11 Responses to “The Argument Against Social Media”

  • Geoff in CT
    April 8, 2009

    Biggest problem with social networking now is that it’s only part of a longer continuum. A decade ago, people were either online or not. Now there are a handful who still don’t have e-mail (and likely never will), many who are now comfortable with e-mail and think the www is the latest and greatest, many who are getting into MySpace and Facebook, and those of on the edge who are messing with Twitter. Fact is, social networking is a huge time-eater, and concentrating on it steals time from all those still elsewhere on the continuum.

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  • Warren
    April 8, 2009

    Churches are getting into social media for all the wrong reasons. They’re doing it because it’s the latest thing, or “all the kids are doing it,” or things like that. They don’t know how to do it right, and social media can seriously backfire if it isn’t done right. As C. C. Chapman says, it really is out of control PR, and churches don’t understand how to deal with that.
    If a church is doing everything else right, social media would be a great addition to the mix. But if a church is trying to draw new people without fixing whatever is wrong already, social media won’t help – and can actually hurt but highlighting what they’re doing wrong.

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  • This really isn’t “The Argument Against Social Media”, it is really just a discussion about the rightful place of social media. Social media is only a tool. It is not a solution. The solution is representing Jesus with excellence and helping people connect with God. Social media only helps you do this if you are doing it “well” already.

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  • Phillip Gibb
    April 8, 2009

    the word is leverage.
    if we are to leverage the social media tools then we need to doing it to hold something good up like ‘living the gospel in a radical way’ otherwise we would be just leverages things like twitter to show (effectively) how fake we are.

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  • Kevin Ring
    April 9, 2009

    I agree that the word is leverage. But it’s also about institutionalizing change. We need to change the fact that most people think marketing when they think social media. The goal of our effort is changed lives. Marketing is part of that, but what social media represents is a shift in how people are living their lives.
    Over 60 percent of all internet users use social media (more than those who use email). Facebook’s 200 million users would make it larger than Brazil if it were a country. Twitter grew 76 percent last month. I don’t think you can say to a church, “Hold off on social media until you’ve got that gospel-living down.”
    The power of Christianity is not getting it “right” but rather recognizing that only Jesus got it right and as a result we are redeemed. What we need is a Christ-centered, gospel-centered, community-centered approach to social media. It’s the responsibility of those who love Christ’s church to help figure out what that looks like.

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  • Ron Amundson
    April 10, 2009

    I think all of the above are correct, the big issue, whether it be Zappos, or church, is that social media should not be viewed as a short cut workaround. Its ok to crash and burn if its a prudent (ie non fake) effort. In some ways, failure recovery can show more metal than seemingly getting everything right.
    If we look at Biblical history, major crash and burns were pretty common, folks couldnt really hide them, such as commonly done today. Perhaps thats part of the “radical way” we are missing, ie the vulnerability that soc media can present? not sure, but its something to consider.

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  • Richard Allan Marti Jr
    April 10, 2009

    Social media is only a tool like the telephone. We each decide whether to use it or not. As far as the church goes, Jesus spoke to his people in a manner that they would understand using the tools available. I am sure that he would use any tool at his disposal to reach his followers.
    TO be able to reach people, to connect with them where they are is equally important in business. If we integrate these tools into our activities in a way that increases the value we provide to others then we are “leveraging” and that is a good thing. In business.
    On the personal side, if I can meet other people who share my epistemology, Then I am a happy man.

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  • Mark Andrew Pope
    April 12, 2009

    Isn’t the end goal of any marketing that a church does to get face to face with someone? I mean, there may be “right ways” or “wrong ways” to that goal – but I would imagine that the endgame of marketing, per se, isn’t salvation. Your marketing plan may be a part of your strategy for creating an environment for an encounter with Christ, but certainly these new forms of communication that we have at our disposal don’t, in and of themselves constitute the whole of a relationship, do they?
    I’m going to say that it is true that the church must use the tools that it has at its disposal to reach the lost, or even members of the body. Social media is, as Mr. Marti stated above, like a telephone. One can use the telephone to call and connect – but is the telephone, in and of itself, the best way to grow and deepen a relationship? If used wisely, it certainly can help – but, as I and many of you know from trying to keep a “long distance romance going” – the phone is lacking in the relationship building department. And, therefore, I think most social media falls into the same category…
    It is so interesting to find this blog post – I just discussed this with my friend, Aron, on our podcast… take a listen and let me know what you think…

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  • Josh
    May 7, 2009

    Our church had its first online salvation a few weeks ago after implementing a social media tool on our website. Facebook led the individual to connect with a church member, who led them to our church’s facebook site, which pointed them to our website, containing our sermon player. They listened to a sermon and asked Christ in to their lives. Without social media that wouldn’t have happened. Churches need to remember why they use these tools and make sure it complements Gods design for them.

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    April 20, 2010

    Sorry for the question, but I am very interested in how CMS operates a blog?

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