Every few days I receive an Instagram message or email asking me “How do I grow a social media platform?”
As a blogger, my social media presence is part of my work. There are many speakers and blogging teachers who talk about growing a platform, increasing your following, and boosting those numbers on your Facebook or Instagram. But is growing a social media following a godly pursuit? Not always.
Because blogging is my living, social media is a part of my work. And for you, it’s probably a part of life in general. Social media has accomplished many good things, and it’s not “wrong” in and of itself. But our heart’s motives can be! One of my policies as a writer is to never put the platform ABOVE the message God has called to me to give. So I do not pursue a following on social media. I tell the truth, I write the truth and I let God bring the people who need to hear it.
That said, educating yourself about social media is part of smart marketing if you’re a writer. It’s a delicate balance to strike. If you’re wondering whether it’s right to work on growing a social media following, keep the following four truths in mind before you do.
1. Determine your motive. Check your heart! Why do you want to grow your following? For more likes, affirmation and attention? Sometimes we tell ourselves we don’t care about these things, yet we get that addictive little leap in our hearts every time we see a new follower. I get it. I’ve been there. I constantly have to question my motives, asking: Is this pride? Is this selfishness? Am I glorifying God or exalting myself?
2. Consider your mental state. Next, consider the state of your mind. Social media can be addictive because we all crave attention and affirmation. These things are meant to happen in healthy, real-life relationships, but many young people replace real community with strangers in their feeds. You need both in this day and age! Before pursuing a social media following, consider your mental state. Are you discouraged or depressed when you lose a few followers? Does your entire mood change when you get some attention on Instagram? This is a sign of unhealthy dependence. It would be better to take a break from social media until you can use it with balance and discernment.
3. Understand the purpose of a platform. Because of the Internet, we can now speak a message that can be heard by thousands of people within an hour. This platform is something our predecessors could never have imagined! It’s an amazing privilege, and it’s also a responsibility. Our platforms aren’t meant to be bragging rights or something to wave in people’s faces. The purpose of a platform is to draw attention to the goodness and glory of God’s work in our lives. Don’t forget why platform exists, and use it for that purpose.
4. Speak truth—no matter who is listening. As our platform expands, we tend to alter what we’re saying to appeal to our audience. The more palatable your message, the more followers you’ll have. But whose opinion matters most—man’s or God’s? Don’t speak a message just because you know people will follow if you do. Speak truth. The people who need truth and respond to it will engage with you, and you will be at peace in the purpose of God.
Social media is not bad. It’s not wrong to use it and learn how to maximize it for the gospel. But don’t let your priority be the platform. Let your heart be set on Christ and the message of hope He gives.