Saturday, April 20 2024

In December 2012, the image of Benedict XVI holding an iPad while sending out his first tweet went viral. The heirachy of the Church was demonstrating their understanding of the importance of keeping up with the times.

To continue the dialogue with their faithful throughout the world, it was necessary to comprehend well the phenomonon and reach of social networks, and use them for the good.

This is precisely the goal: know how to use social networks the right way, in order to spread values, ideas, hopes and emotions, directed toward the good.

10 Ways to use Social Networks Correctly

Benedict XVI’s tweet gave Eduardo Arriagada, professor of journalism and digital convergence at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, food for thought.

How is it possible to use social media to its best capacity- to create and diffuse values, to generate dialogue and communicate ideas and projects, to share hopes and joys? A decalogue was born: 10 rules that we recommend all to read, in order to understand how properly using the Internet and social networks can help generate values for the community.

1. Social networks are a space of conversation and sharing. The big difference between new and traditional media lies in the interactivity. TV, radio, and the press are essentially rooted in messages sent from a transmitter to a receiving public, with scarce, if any, possibility of interaction. New media, on the contrary, is founded upon interactivity between source and recipient, with a continual exchange and inversion of roles. The user is no longer a consumer, but a “prosumer”., as the already worn-out term states. The fruit of this relationship is conversation, dialogue. Typical examples of this in social networks is the exchange of posts, shares, likes, and comments. It is the greatest aspect of globalization, as long as mutual respect among persons is guarded and inequalities aren’t created.

2. People want to converse among each other on social networks, not with institutions. People like to encounter other people on the web. Technology suffers when it lacks the warmth of humanization. This is why users like to re-tweet or share a message of the Pope. It is a way of approving and embracing – through technology- the thought of another person considered special. There wouldn’t be the same effect if that message was sent from an intitution or company. It would be perceived as produced by an official, from an empty box without a name or heart.

3. The flux of conversation favors immediacy. The immediacy of the message and relative time of response is everything on social networks. It is even more important when you seek to spread a positive message that cultivates an open and productive debate.

4. A conversation only works if we are capable of listening. A direct consequence of the conversational character of social networks is the fact that we are obliged to listen to our interlocutor and follow feedback with a tweet, post or comment. If you think about it, listening to your neighbor is truly the essence of social networks.

5. The main goal of social networks is to involve the community. In contrast with traditional media, social networks have the primary objectives to generate participation, exchange ideas, stir emotions, and transform followers or friends from passive users to committed and active ones. One positive is example is Pope Francis’ Twitter account. Every one of his tweets generates an average of 10 thousand reactions, versus the one thousand generated by President Obama’s tweets.

6. The success of a community depends on the content published. The best way to gain followers on social networks is to always offer updated and valuable content. It can be practical and useful information, advice or suggestions, and even exhortations and ideas. The fundamental questions of man, such as peace, love, justice, and freedom, must always be diffused and difended boldy. Social networks can be the perfect channel.

7. It is essential to delineate and define the topic of conversation. The key to sucessful use of social networks is to find the right topic to generate conversation. But the theme must be specific and never generic; otherwise, it only produces confusion. The topic of discussion must be treated with the utmost coherency, transparency and openness, just as in real life.

8. Simplicity is crucial. Simplicity always pays off in social networks, as in life. The use of complex, obscure terms and abstract concepts never bears good fruits. The idea and its expression must always remain simple.

9. Speaking naturally, not articifically, always works in social networks. Being natural draws others in and favors comprehension. Pope Francis, for example, always communicates his tweets with a naturalness and humility.

10. Social networks are a place to show oneself. But out of respect for those listening, this space demands that we be authentic, transparent, and true in our feelings and emotions.


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