Social media will be a strange new experience for LDS missionaries worldwide who are used to old-fashioned door-to-door and street contacting. But The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a whole has been growing increasingly omnipresent on the internet thanks to influential bloggers, the “I am a Mormon” campaign and a heavy emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
The LDS Church uses updated websites, involved social media and the newest technology to lead most faiths in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), crowding out derogatory search results. The LDS Church nears the top in almost every Google search category among Christian faiths.
“I was so surprised that they have done a marvelous job of doing great SEO,” said Avinash Kaushik, co-founder of the Market Motive program that teaches SEO. “We could learn from the SEO work that the LDS Church has done.”
The Church also owes its opportune internet positioning to its very web-active members who use social media for atypical purposes.
“I try to use the media as an outlet to share who I am, versus sharing about so & so dating so & so,” said Alexis Valle, a BYU nursing student. “The world is online. Everyone has an iPhone or access to the Internet.”
Valle found that just being herself allows her to support the Church presence online, and she isn’t alone. The Mormon.org Facebook page has just shy of two million ‘likes’ from active social media users.
Mormon bloggers have also taken the web by storm, adding to the Church’s online presence in ways both subtle and influential.
K, the anonymous blogger of the Tumblr page ‘Just Say Amen Already,’ began her blog as a hobby as it related humorous, candid stories about her experiences within the Church. K has more than 550,000 views after starting her blog only a little more than a year ago.
“It makes people laugh, it’s short. … This is something that I didn’t figure God would care much about … then it exploded,” K told The Universe when asked why her blog had struck a chord with so many people.
K and hundreds of other Mormon bloggers may not proselyte or teach church lessons online, but as they open up about who they are, millions of readers see the Church’s influence in their lives.
The Church also owns Deseret News, a print and online newspaper that promotes objectivity while at the same time covering issues of faith to which many other publications give sparse coverage.
Although Deseret News is owned by the Church, the publication covers real stories as objectively and accurately as most newspapers, according to Joseph Walker, a religion reporter there. Deseret News’ reporters do not bear their testimonies in articles or push Church agendas but rather host the discussion on faith — a discussion that is frequently tabooed in secular newspapers.
“Deseret News is well aware that many Latter-day Saints and non-LDS people interested in the Church will read our news … and when (we) get comments from people in the Philippines or Switzerland you know that it is stimulating interest around the world,” Walker said.