Our social worlds are made in between two faces of the communication process: coordinating actions and managing meaning. Every conversation has an afterlife no matter what our intention is. “Looking backward in time, we can see that what was said or done in specific moments prefigured the realities in which we live today” (Pearce, 2007). Consider for a moment how Facebook and Timehop deliver posts that are from the past to remind ourselves of what we said or did one to five years ago. These conversations can now be re-shared with our community with a click of a button. Many of these conversations were not created to be recycled, but advanced algorithms have changed how we view information on the Internet and how it is consumed.
“Critical moments occur whenever people make meaning and coordinate actions with each other” (Pearson, 2007). The CMM theory instructs one to take advantage of every opportunity and strive to understand the context in which one communicates. This process of relationship building comes from meaningful communication and making the most of each conversation. By asking the relevant questions such as “What are we offering together?”, “How are we supporting it?”, and “How can we make what you currently provide better?” we help to shape our social world with crucial conversations. If we take the dialog approach, it helps to “resist the temptation to force “their” answers into “our” preconceived templates, and we are better able to hear them” (Pearce, 2007).
In the beginning, social media was more about self-promotion with likes and fans to strength a specific brand. Now social media is more of a place to share information. It should be our goal to create messages that inspire, persuade, or entertain. (Nelson, 2004, pg 58). This will help us to create a message that our target audience will relate to in some way rather than posting spam invites, which is what is prevalent in social media posts from churches. “CMM envisions persons as engaging in proactive and reactive actions intended to call into being conjoint performances of patterns of communication that they want and precluding the performance of that which they dislike or fear”(Pearce and Pearce, 2000). This concept can be very difficult to embrace as we all bring hidden agendas and personal bias to interpersonal communication rather than connecting with our audience and creating relationships or community on social media.
“Head matters are rarely enough to ignite our hearts. “Receivers of our messages want to know if we believe what we are sharing on social media” (Nelson, 2004, p. 90). Passion drives trust of those who read our messages. Social media is a place for churches to show that they are doing what they say they are doing and sharing real life examples to an audience who is looking for the real and not the superficial.
I think it is interesting to consider the idea of a relationship as it pertains to how we view our audience. Buber looked at relationships in two ways—I-It versus I-Thou. “In I-It relationships we treat the other person as a thing to be used, an object to be manipulated. Without dialog and exchange, an I-It relationship lacks mutuality” (Griffin, 2012, p. 241). The goal is always to connect with those whom we are reaching with social media. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 Paul talks about changing how we prefer to communicate, so he reaches his audience. This is critical to consider when creating social media messages. You need to be writing messages that are intentionally designed to resonate with your target audience.
Griffin, E. (2012) A first look at communication theory. (8th ed.). New York:
NY.McGraw Hill Publishing.
Nelson, A. E. (2004). Creating messages that connect: 10 secrets of effective
communicators. Loveland, CO: Group Pub.
Pearce, W. Barnett and Pearce, Kimberly A. (2004) Taking a communication perspective
on dialog, Dialog: theorizing differences in communication studies,
California: Sage Publications, Inc.