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By Jonathan Howe

The beginning of a year is an ideal time to refresh and update your personal and church social media accounts. Sometimes it’s necessary to make either important updates or subtle adjustments. In any event, your online presence will benefit from an annual inventory of your accounts. Think of it as giving your Twitter account a tune-up or getting a facelift for your Facebook profile.

These seven tips can be used on either your personal accounts or your church’s accounts to get 2016 started on the right foot online.

  1. Consider Changing Your Passwords — This can be tedious, but is often helpful in the long run. Think about the number of computers or mobile devices you’ve logged into your social media accounts over the past year. It might not be a bad idea to reset passwords on all your accounts if for no other reason than peace of mind. I would also recommend using a password program to keep track of your accounts and to generate stronger passwords moving forward.
  2. Update Your Avatar — This update might be the most noticeable change you can make, but it is also one of the most simple. Churches should always use their standard logo unless they are promoting an upcoming sermon series or church-wide event. For personal accounts, use a current picture or personal logo. Few things are as awkward as meeting someone for the first time and not being able to recognize them because they look nothing like their online picture. One other note: just say no to using selfies taken in the bathroom mirror—you aren’t in middle school.
  3. Make Your Avatar Consistent — When someone sees your account on Facebook and then on Twitter or Instagram, it is helpful to model avatar consistency across platforms. Consistency sometimes gets lost throughout a year due to social media activism or the launch of new initiatives and products. So it helps to take a moment at the beginning of the year to ensure every platform is visually aligned.
  4. Close or Deactivate Any Accounts You Aren’t Using — Go ahead and close that MySpace account. On a serious note, though, sometimes accounts are started and later abandoned. If there is a possibility it may be useful in the future, you can typically deactivate the account instead of deleting it completely. If there’s no need for the account, go ahead and delete it.
  5. Update Your Bio — Like your avatar, it’s good to have an updated bio—especially if it includes a job, spouse, or location. We rarely read our own bio online, so it’s good to be intentional to take time to update it on occasion. Any major life events (e.g. getting a new job, moving cities, having kids, etc.) are good reasons to update your bio, but it’s so easy to get busy and forget to update things online.
  6. Review App and Privacy Settings — This is the most overlooked update and can be the most important one you can make. Because of the rise in social logins, there are likely several websites or apps that have access to your accounts. If an app or website you don’t recognize or use is listed as having access to your account, revoke that access. Also check your security settings. Terms of service and privacy policies are often updated several times throughout a year, and many of us never give a second thought about them until there is a security breach on our account. So take the time to double check your accounts’ security settings.
  7. Eliminate Clutter on Your Devices — Do you have 18 screens of apps and can never find the one you need? Consider consolidating them into folders or, better yet, delete the ones you do not use or need. It will free up space on your device and likely help speed up or improve performance. I would estimate we have more than twice as many apps on our devices than we even use. If you haven’t used an app in six to eight months, you can probably delete it and never miss it.

Those are my seven social media tips for the start of the year. What would you add to the list?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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