The sacred trust and responsibility of an online platform, and 5 ways to honor it

By September 13, 2018Church, Leadership

I’ve been online since 1996. I wrote a daily devotional for over a decade; long before blogs were “popular”. Those were dial-up days. I’ve learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes.  If you want to find typos — you’ve come to the right place.

Along the way, through consistency and patience, I’ve developed a small platform. Weekly, actually almost daily, I hear from people wanting my opinion, because they somehow think I have something to offer. It’s so easy to clean up your game and appear to actually know something online.

Seriously, I’m honored people would care what I think. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. I’m still learning new things everyday. But, for whatever reason, people’s boredom probably, my blog has seen millions of page views since I started.

It’s not huge. I have friends with far more. But, it’s huge for me. And, it’s humbling. Thank you if you’re one of those.

But, reflecting on that fact always reminds me of something sobering. It’s true for bloggers, and Tweeters, and those who popularize Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. (And any other social medium.)

There is a sacred trust and responsibility with a platform.

Whether online or because of your position – you have a platform. People look to you for insight. It’s true for my ministry friends – regardless of their church size.

And, it’s a platform we must honor. And protect. And use wisely.

Here are 5 ways to honor your online platform:

Think before posting.

You already know you should — otherwise you wouldn’t have the platform you do now, but sometimes it’s hard isn’t it? Like everyone else, you have an opinion. You have immediate thoughts. Things happen about which you don’t agree. I get it. It happens to all of us. And, you just happen to have a platform to share them. You can move people’s opinions faster.

But, it’s a dangerous combination if misused. People are listening to you. They respect you. Take time to reflect before you react. You can cause a lot of damage quickly. Beware!

Don’t post when angry. Record the thought — then wait — go back when your emotions have calmed and see if you still feel the same way. I can’t count the number of times I’ve typed out a post only to delete it after thinking about it further. (I often type my posts in another app and stare at it a while there, before I put it in an app where I’m can share it with the world wide web.)

Also, consider how your core audience will feel when they read what you post. Make sure you’re not just another negative influence in their world. There’s enough of that elsewhere.

Use your platform for the good of others.

That’s what the world really needs. We need more positive influences. We need more platforms making the world a better place to live. We need more who are simply trying to be helpful.

Above everything, use the platform with which you’ve been entrusted to make a positive difference. That’s how you honor it and show appreciation to those who have given you the platform. And, remember, you wouldn’t have a platform if people hadn’t honored you with it.

If you have a platform you are a leader. You have influence, so use it wisely.

Don’t support every cause.

You may legitimately care about every issue, but if you do, you’ll water down the impact you can have on the issues you care about most.

Do you remember the story about the little boy who cried wolf? And, then no one took him serious. Yea, that. It’s not quite the same thing, but the reaction will be similar.

The more you can streamline your platform the stronger that platform will be.

Speak about what you know – and not as much what you don’t.

Find your niche. And don’t say it’s everything. I consistently have people wanting to guest post on my blog about things I know nothing about or have never addressed. I simply don’t accept them.

People are looking to you, because you have a platform and they come to you for wisdom and advice. It’s unfair, therefore, for you to build a platform, lead people to trust you, and then address issues about which you know very little. It misuses the privilege of your platform. Leave the subjects about which you know little to the people with platforms who are knowledgeable about the areas you are not.

And, when you do feel led to speak about something of which you’re not an expert tell people up front that you’re not an expert. And, better yet, point to some people who you consider experts.

Limit self-promotion.

This is hard, because if you’re going to put time into something you want it to be successful. But, the surest way to (eventually) lose your platform is to abuse it. You abuse it when you are only online for your own personal benefit. It may work for a while. Really well, in fact, but eventually it comes back to burn you. (Pride goes before destruction – Proverbs 16:18.)

Several years ago I stopped trying to keep up with other bloggers. I probably haven’t looked at stats in well over a year and only once a year prior to that. And, it’s not because I don’t believe in measurements or in growth. I certainly do in my paid job, but I have felt this is more of a ministry and less about building my own name or platform. (And, to be clear, I do subjectively monitor engagement. If I ever completely quit hearing from readers I may question whether this is still an effective ministry.)

And, I’m certainly not against those who do closely monitor their numbers. Some have their own motives for doing so and they are pure in them. They want to be successful helping people online. I get that and appreciate it.

Here’s the thing, when you only promote yourself, or when you’re posting just to get more page views — you are building a platform on shaky ground. In my opinion. And, since I try to speak on things I have experience in – I feel comfortable saying don’t allow pride to get in your heart. It’s like a plague when the pride bug attacks you. A little pride goes a long way.

Build your platform for the good of others — first. If rewards come from that consider it grace.

Those are a few of my thoughts. And, in full transparency, it’s a good reminder for me as well. Thank you for being one more page view. I’m honored. Seriously.

What tips do you have for protecting a platform?

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Ron Edmondson

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