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Social media: Your battlefield or your mission field?

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social-media:-your-battlefield-or-your-mission-field?

USA (MNN) — Does it seem like your social media newsfeed is full of division and anger right now? You’re not alone. Between an election year in the United States, a global pandemic, social justice tensions, and holiday stress, there’s a lot of kindling for keyboard warriors.

But what if Christians viewed social media not as a cultural battlefield but as their mission field?

Doug Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says, “If you’re like me, it might take all of the self-control you have to not express your own frustrations about what’s going on in the world. But why be another loud and argumentative voice? Why not be the one that chooses to be the peacemaker? When was the last time you got into an argument on social media and actually convinced somebody of your viewpoint? It’s more our heart to want to be right than to want peace.

“Like any other medium, it’s not that social media is good or bad, but rather how we choose to use it.”

(Photo courtesy of Nordwood Themes via Unsplash)

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries recently hosted a conversation on Facebook Live with Native American young people through their On Eagles’ Wings outreach. They talked about loneliness, suicide, the pandemic, and what it all means in the context of faith.

Hutchcraft says, “It was amazing – even though it’s an online thing and you’re not in the same room – how much God used that.”

When we set aside our personal agendas on social media, it opens the door for Gospel-focused interactions like this.

So what does it look like to engage social media day-after-day with the mindset of an ambassador for Christ?

If a friend or family member seems like they are struggling on social media, reach out to them! You can send a note of encouragement, ask how you can pray for them, or even invite them to join a virtual Bible study with you.

Also, when we feel attacked or offended by something on social media, Hutchcraft says we need to replace our own agendas and pride with the Gospel.

“In 1 Corinthians 9:12… the Apostle Paul who was being thrown in jail, who has been almost murdered a couple of times, he says, ‘I will put up with anything rather than get in the way of what the Gospel is trying to communicate.’”

(Photo courtesy of Chad Madden via Unsplash)

Hutchcraft says, “My rule as a communicator has to be, ‘Could this encumber the Gospel? Could this give people a reason to continue to reject Jesus?’ They already have those reasons perhaps because of other Christians they’ve met. But when they’re through reading what you’re writing, maybe you could be the one that is a magnet for who Jesus is.”

Finally, pray. When you see a post from someone on social media and the Holy Spirit stirs your heart, pray for them. And if you’re getting ready to write a post, type a comment, or share something, stop and pray about it first.

Prayer sounds so simple, but it’s easy to forget.

“How about even how many of us actually pray right before we go on Facebook?” Hutchcraft asks. “How many of us actually pray right before we go post something on Instagram?

“People need every day for someone to be the salt and the light and to know what a merciful God looks like.”

Click here for more resources from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries on being an ambassador for Jesus.

Header photo courtesy of Prateek Katyal via Unsplash.

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

Looking to give your social profiles a visual refresh for the new year?

This could help – the team from Giraffe Social Media recently put together an overview of the whys and hows of building your brand via your social profile visuals.

There are some good notes here – a key consideration is consistency, which ensures that you’re building your brand with every post and update.

Check out the full infographic below.

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Publicis Performance Marketing Unit Acquires Influencer Platform Perlu 01/30/2023

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Publicis Performance Marketing Unit Acquires Influencer Platform Perlu 01/30/2023

Publicis Groupe-owned performance marketing agency CJ, which specializes in affiliate marketing, has acquired Perlu, a Syracuse, New York-based influencer networking and technology platform.
Perlu’s platform enables companies to activate, network, and collaborate with a community of influencers.   

Perlu will initially retain its name and organization as it is
integrated …



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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

While Facebook is no longer the cool app, especially among younger audiences, it remains a key platform for many users, and its capacity to keep people updated on important updates from friends and family is likely to ensure that many continue to return to the app every day for some time yet.

But more than that, Facebook usage is actually increasing, according to internal insights viewed by The Wall Street Journal, which also include some interesting notes on overall Facebook and Instagram usage trends.

As per WSJ:

Data gathered in the middle of the fourth quarter showed that time spent on [Facebook] was up worldwide, including in developed markets, over the course of a year.”

Which seems unusual, given the subsequent rise of TikTok, and short form video more generally. But actually, Facebook has been able to successfully use the short-form video trend to drive more usage – despite much criticism of the platform’s copycat Reels feature.

Indeed, Reels consumption is up 20%, and has become a key element in Meta’s resurgence.  

How is it finding success? Increased investment in AI, which has driven big improvements in the relevance models that fuel both Reels and its ads, which are also now driving better response.

On Reels, Meta’s systems are getting much better at showing users the Reels content that they’re most likely to be interested in. You’ve likely noticed this yourself – what was initially a mess of random clips inserted into your Facebook feed has now become more focused, and you’re probably finding yourself expanding a Reels clip every now and then, just to see what it’s about.

Reels has actually been too successful:

“Because ads in Reels videos don’t currently sell for as much as those sold against regular posts and stories, Reels’ growing share of content consumption was denting ad revenue. To protect the company’s earnings, the company cut back on promoting Reels, which lowered watch time by 12%.

So again, while Meta has been criticized for stealing TikTok’s format, it’s once again shown, just as it did with Stories, that this is a viable and beneficial pathway to keeping users engaged in its apps.

You might not like it, but replication works in this respect.

But for marketers, it’s likely the development of Meta’s AI targeting tools for ads that’s of most interest.

Over time, many performance advertisers have been increasingly recommending that marketers trust Meta’s AI targeting, with newer offerings like Advantage+ driving strong results, with far less manual targeting effort.

Advantage+ puts almost total trust in Meta’s AI targeting systems. You can choose a couple of targeting options for your campaigns, but for the most part, the process is designed to limit manual impact, in order to let Meta’s systems determine the right audience for your ads.

Which may feel like you’re ceding too much control, but according to Meta, its continued AI investment is now driving better results.

Heavy investment in artificial intelligence tools has enabled the company to improve ad-targeting systems to make better predictions based on less data, according to the interviews and documents […] That, along with shifting to forms of advertising less dependent on harvesting user data from off its platforms, are key to the company’s plans to overcome an Apple privacy change that restricted Meta’s capacity to gather information about what its users do outside its platforms’ walls, the documents show.”

That’s likely worth considering in your process, putting more trust in Meta’s targeting systems to drive better results. At the least, it may be worth experimenting with Meta’s evolving AI for ad targeting. 

It’s not all good news. Meta also notes that while time spent in its apps is on the rise, creation and engagement is declining, with fewer people posting to both Facebook and Instagram than they have in the past.

That’s particularly true among younger audiences, while notably, usage of Instagram Stories is also in decline, down 10% on previous levels.

So while Meta is driving more engagement from Reels, which draws on content from across the app, as opposed to the people and Pages you follow, that’s also led to a decline in user posting.

Is that a bad thing? I mean, logically, engagement is important in keeping people interested in the app, and Meta also relies on those signals to help refine its ad targeting. So it does need users to be sharing their own content too, but if it can get more people spending more time in its apps, that will help it maintain advertiser interest.

In essence, despite all of the reports of Facebook’s demise, it remains a key connective platform, in various ways, while Meta’s improving ad targeting systems are also helping to drive better results, which will keep it as a staple for brands moving forward.

If you were thinking of diversifying your social media marketing spend this year, maybe don’t reduce Facebook investment just yet.

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