The pandemic has accelerated our use of media. We are using it more than ever to communicate, and we must learn to use it effectively. Maybe you’ve been struggling with just how to use social media or create webinars to tell your story or present your work effectively. Futurists told us pre-pandemic that leaders would have to learn to lead from a distance in the future to be effective. Well, the future is here.
Don’t let fear hold you back from the message God has put in your heart. I encourage you to check out the webinar on social media I did recently, but in the meantime, here are a few basic updated tips to dispel your fear, motivate you, and get you in the game:
Where do you share?
When it comes to social media, we’re all learning and updating ourselves on the evolving platforms. Choose the top 2-3 platforms that best suits your message and audience. For me, I am on Facebook, (mainly to cover followers both in the U.S. and internationally) Twitter (because it’s where most of my business audience is) and Instagram (because it’s the most popular visual platform and most creatives are on it). I’m not active on Pinterest (a creative arts site) or overly active on LinkedIn (business and job site), but I do have accounts on them. TikTok is the latest exploding social media platform. It is used mainly by teens and young adults who create short creative one-minute videos (soon to be increased to 3 minutes) and disappear in a short time.
The bottom line is you need to research which platform is best for the message you want to communicate and for reaching your audience. There are only so many hours in the day, and giving time to all of them is not only a distraction but redundant.
What to post?
Stop sharing cat pictures, food, or your wardrobe. People want to know what it’s like to be you. What do you worry about, hope for, get challenged by, or what are you passionate about? Remember, it’s “social” media, so you should be social. Respond when others comment on your posts and know that the conversation needs to be going both ways. No one wants to hang out with someone who’s stuck on themselves or who always talks about how great they are. Be interested in others and have fun. Ask questions, tell a short story, share what you’re learning, and find ways to communicate the joy and message of God’s love, peace and the “hope that lies within you.” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Use #Hashtags and Memes.
These tools aggregate topics and generate more #eyeballs and #attention. Learn about them. Find out which #hashtags are #popular or #trending, how many to use to generate more eyeballs, and where to place them within your post.
Memes are like online billboards. When you scroll down your stream of posts, memes stand out, and you can even make them move to capture more attention. There are many apps to help you design them. My favorite is Canva. The bottom line is that hashtags and memes are effective so it’s in your best interest to learn how to use them.
Use visuals and limit your words.
Finally, always, always, always post a picture. Few people stop for words. They stop on visuals. Ever wonder why we can’t not look when passing an accident on the freeway? Likewise, on the social media freeway, we stop when we see a compelling picture. So, find them or make them yourself, with a word of caution to stay away from cheesy poses and photographs. They can make your work look cheap or fake. One of my favorite free picture sites is UnSplash.
When you do find that perfect pic, make your text compelling. Ask a question or find the keyword that draws people’s attention. Remember that most Americans read at a 3rd-grade level, so your attempt at winsome cognitive dialogue gyrates and thwarts engagers (did you get that?).
YouTube and ZOOM tips.
Create a YouTube channel. Put all your speaking gigs and videos there, and I would encourage you to keep them short and sweet. Four to seven minutes are best unless you have something compelling to share. I did a video series when my book, “Hope4Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture,” was initially released called 4HopeMoments. These are two minutes or less and designed to be fun and encourage viewers to get back to reading their Bibles. Most people won’t watch long Facebook or Instagram videos so keep them short. Instagram and Facebook interviews are very effective and trending today. These are designed for you to do spontaneous interviews with other experts and leaders. Again, keep in mind that audiences have short attention spans, so keep them quick and straightforward.
Pay attention to your lighting. Natural light is best but make sure it’s in front of you. Backlight will turn you into a silhouette. Try different angles on your smartphone or tablet and see what it looks like before you begin. Stay away from yellow light tones, so you may need to change a few light bulbs in the space you’re shooting in. There are some inexpensive LED devices you can get that can help, so do a little research.
Sound and WIFI connection are essential. Do a sound check test by recording something and playing it back. Inexpensive mics can be purchased that plug right into your mobile device or computer. Listen for any echoes. Earbuds will help with this. Check your internet connection and turn off any programs you are using on your computer that could slow it down.
Keep the screen/camera lens at eye level. Raise your device or computer up a bit, so you aren’t looking down. Positioning it at a slightly higher angle than your eye level keeps you from having a double chin and makes you sit up. Raise the camera if necessary to achieve your best look.
Stay focused on the camera lens. It’s a tiny dot, so if needed, put something colorful there to remind you to look at that spot and not at your face on the screen. I like to try and imagine the face of a person trying to peer back at me. So, to see them and for them to see me, I must be intentional and not just look at the small hole, but through the tiny lens hole. It allows the viewer to be drawn to you.
Also, try not to rock or move in and out from the screen when you talk. Those excess movements make viewers feel you are nervous or unsure of yourself. Avoid large hand movements or gestures as well. Those can distract the audience and make you look aggressive rather than portraying your authority.
Pay attention to your background. Keep it uncluttered or have something suggestive of your expertise or topic to give you credibility. If you are in Los Angeles, don’t have a picture of the Grand Canyon behind you. If you are award-winning in your field or business, have an award in the background. If you are talking about a book or other product, have a poster or a picture of the object off to the side. Remember, a blank wall with a light switch behind you, a plant that looks like it is growing out of your head, or an unmade bed in the background is distracting and looks unprofessional. Keep the audience focused on you. Keep your hair and clothing simple. Big earrings and jewelry can be distracting and cause your viewers to focus on them and stop listening to you.
Keep your presentations shorter rather than longer. We live in a distracted culture so keep it moving. Research shows we size people up and decide if we want to listen to them within 8 seconds of meeting someone. It takes only 2 seconds online. So be unique, creative, compelling and get to the point fast. Write out a script and practice it.
When God called Moses to set His people free, He came to Moses three times in a burning bush. Moses’ final argument was that he didn’t know how to communicate effectively. So, God sent Aaron to assist and be his mouthpiece or, as I say, to be the first public relations and social media specialist of his day. God’s given you a unique message, and we have the technology to get it out there, so use it. We may be ‘social distancing’ for a long time, so remember it’s about building relationships and connections that matter. Let the viewer know that you see them, their struggles and challenges – and most of all, help viewers believe you believe in them. Empower them to change their world.