The LDS Church on the social media front

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Social media has exploded across the world and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is taking an active role to stay at the front.

Fernando V. Camilo has been presenting a series of addresses during Education Week, which deal generally with social media and the LDS Church’s role in it. Camilo related this by sharing a quote from Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“At all times of the day across the world, the LDS Church and its teachings are being discussed on the Internet, on blogs and social networks, by people who have never written for a newspaper or magazine,” Camilo said.

The issue facing social media, as is facing the rest of the world, is the degradation of moral standards and virtue. Camilo shared a quote from Sis. Elaine S. Dalton, former Young Women’s general president, which related morality to how we present ourselves on the web.

“Being a guardian of virtue means you will always be modest not only in your dress but also in your speech, your actions and your use of social media.”

Another interesting thing about the increase of social media usage is that of the 1.3 billion unique users on Facebook, the quickest demographic to adopt are those ages 50 and older, the core audience at Camilo’s address.

Because of this, Camilo directed most of his later discussion towards what each unique medium on the internet does for the LDS Church.

The LDS Church has more than a dozen official Facebook pages, which people can subscribe to such as the LDS Church’s official page, the Mormon.org page and more. But even wards and stakes can make their own pages.

“An area can create their own Facebook page for the Church,” Camilo said.

The Church is reaching out through social media by also creating crowd-sourcing campaigns. This year’s Especially for Youth slogan, “Stand ye in holy places,” has turned into a very successful Facebook campaign. Social media representatives used this slogan to encourage Church youth to take pictures of themselves.

“We’ve received quite a few pictures of youth standing in holy places,” Camilo said.

Camilo showed a Studio C skit entitled “Facebook Friends Song,” to not only provide a little humor, but to really bring the message home that everyone has many friends that may be ready to receive the gospel.

Recently, General Authorities got their own Facebook and Google+ accounts. Camilo said this was a great missionary tool, but the first priority for the LDS Church was to help alleviate confusion. Many fake accounts were created using the names of General Authorities, and some weren’t tasteful.

“I’m sure President Monson wouldn’t approve of some of the things ‘he said,'” Camilo said.

With authorized accounts managed by the LDS Church, it’s much easier to discern real messages and false accounts.

Twitter is a unique emerging form of social media the LDS Church is actively involved with. There are more than 500 million twitter users and more than 7,000 tweets per second. Tweeting about inspirational messages or involving the gospel in social media helps to spread the word.

In April, the Church backed “#ldsconf” during general conference. During each session, #ldsconf trended nationally.

Twitter wasn’t well understood by the general audience, but Camilo made a good case for his participants to start tweeting.

The Church doesn’t have an authorized Pinterest account, but that doesn’t mean gospel messages don’t reach this medium.

“Pinterest is the Utah of social media,” Camilo said. A bulk of messages on Pinterest involve scriptures and often pictures of temples to spread the gospel.

In the near future, Camilo hopes the LDS Church has an official Pinterest to fill boards with more than garlic cheese bread recipes.

Mormons are well known for their blogging prowess. Though there aren’t any blogs officially authorized by the LDS Church, Camilo showed many blogs such as sugardoodle.net to demonstrate what the web can do for missionary work.”

“The reason why I want to show you these blogs is it shows you these kinds of people who are sharing the gospel,” Camilo said.

Missionaries can now proselyte on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones who should share the gospel via social media. With Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more, the message of the gospel is easier to spread than it ever was.

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