Christmas + Community: Ideas on Holiday Social Media

by | Dec 9, 2015 | Featured, Vibrant Faith

I lost all faith in humanity last week, and it had nothing to do with politics.

I’m sure that most of you have noticed that video content dominates these days on social media, especially Facebook. If you haven’t noticed this, well, trust me, or just take a glance through your Facebook feed counting how much video content versus other content is present.

I was on my smartphone scrolling down my newsfeed when the start of a blurry video caught my eye. I let it play, and quickly realized the video was of an awful fight on Black Friday. I’m a little embarrassed to say the entertainment value got to me and I let myself follow the rabbit trail of these videos, and frame by frame lost faith in humanity. Toys ripped from children’s hands, grown adults with fists flying, and a stark vocabulary reduction from the gratefulness of the day before to a few four letter words.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61: 1-3

This season is an opportunity to break hearts or to bind them, to join Jesus in living out the Isaiah 61 prophecy, as it comes to pass in Christ’s arrival and each day since. All collectively this is true too – we’ve got an opportunity to break community or bind it.

This season is an opportunity to break community or bind it. http://ctt.ec/5deWc+ Click To Tweet

So with that in mind, what could we do in our social media spaces to bind community? Here are a few ideas:

“Wrap” your Advent and Christmas events in social conversation

See what I did there? There’s a bit of a double meaning here. First, its ok to dress them up a bit: pay attention to the graphics that are used and the design of the postcards, bulletins, etc. Especially during this contemplative time, people internalize the fullness of the experience they are having, not just the words that are said or printed. Find someone who can help with this kind of thing in your community.

Second, “wrap” those events with posts on social media before, during, and after. We’ve talked about this before, but this is a key way to integrate digital and physical community together. Get people talking before the event in online social spaces with questions, hopes, or maybe go so far as to ask them to post ideas or content that would help make the event better. We call it “crowdsourcing” content. During the event, post videos of part of the event, or use a new toy like Periscope, to give people a chance to experience the event even if they can’t be there. Follow up asking folks to post pictures, reflections, or even a video of their family applying something they learned at an event/class/study.

Use your very own hashtag

Let’s say your church is named St. Paul’s. Try #christmasatstp. Make it a special holiday-specific hashtag for any posts from your community. Encourage people to use it across platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) anytime they are posting something they’d like to share with the community. The other option may be to play off of a theme or sermon series if you’ve got that going on, and use a hashtag anytime to post something that shows that theme being lived out. Make sure you pay attention to the hashtag on these platforms to see what people are talking about, and so you can join in. Also make sure to check your hashtag before publicizing it. Try searching it to see if and how it is already getting used.

For example

incourage.me #incouragechristmas – This is a graphic campaign held together by a hashtag and theme. (in)courage is using “The Promise of…” as the underlying theme and changing a single word and verse. They are using Facebook and Instagram for this campaign, as well as tweeting out the links back to the graphics.

@occupyadvent #occupyadvent #eveningprayer – There is plenty going on in the Occupy Advent social media space, one of my favorites this year is a simple evening prayer, posted on Twitter, with incredibly real life relevance to the simple words. This is a great reminder that content creation doesn’t have to take hours.

So I got over the Black Friday brawl videos, and rested in the truth that our faith doesn’t rest in humanity, but in the One who knows our brokenness and loves us anyway. Have you got other ideas to share on using social media well in ministry during the holidays? Share an example with links if you’ve got them!

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