Book Review: The Social Media Gospel

Social Media GospelAre you one of the few who still doesn’t “get” social media? Meredith Gould’s book, The Social Media Gospel will help you understand why it’s important, and gives you some tips to get started for your Church.

Meredith is a professional communicator, predominantly advising Churches and clergy on digital communications – including social media. She’s very open with her begrudging start to social media, and this is definitely a strength for The Social Media Gospel. The fact that she’s not a digital native does show all through the book. I don’t think it’s intentional. For me it’s off-putting but it will appeal to her target audience.

What’s the Social Media Gospel about? It’s a book to help you be a better digital communicator for your church. Meredith describes all the arguments churches present against using social media as a comms tool, and counters them, fairly and well-researched. She will help you understand the behaviors behind the choices, and I especially love the chapter on different learning styles and which social media platforms relate to each. Meredith doesn’t really touch on the how of social media, but is thorough on the why – sometimes when she’s trying to explain the how. It’s a good starter, to then get you looking more at the specific techniques for each platform.

There are two changes I would make to this book. One is a major one, the other a personal irritation. The major one is that the Social Media Gospel doesn’t explain that communications is all about your audience. Meridith is right with saying that you should pick and choose which social media platforms according to your time and resources; not take it all on. What she missed though is getting the reader to examine where their audience is playing. The communicator may feel more comfortable on Pinterest, but if their audience isn’t there, it’s wasted time. The second is the cheesy inclusion of scripture and praise messages. It feels a little over-the-top and unnecessary. But then again, maybe I should have expected it from a social media book with gospel in the title. Exodus 20:3-4 comes to mind. Is this book really a gospel?

Who is The Social Media Gospel for?

Clergy who are uncomfortable with social media and digital communication techniques. There are terms that make the book appear older than its 2013 publication date: web 1.0 (and subsequent generations), and age-based demographics, as well as the term digital native. It works well for the audience. Meredith originally shunned computers for anything more than word processing, and the readers who’ll get the most of out The Social Media Gospel likely did the same.

Thanks to Kerry Allman of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia for the loan of the Social Media Gospel.

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