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In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI said this to a group of young people: “I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world … employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God’s infinite love for all people, will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!”
Michael Hyatt’s new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, can help the Church do exactly that. In this book, Hyatt, the former CEO and current chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, sets forth a step-by-step plan for using online tools and social media to win people’s attention, gain a following, and exercise influence.
Hyatt has the experience and expertise to speak as an authority. As his biography states: “He writes one of the top 800 blogs in the world (300,000+ unique visitors each month) and has more than 100,00 followers on Twitter and 11,000 friends on Facebook. His large and growing platform serves as the foundation for his successful writing, speaking, and consulting practice.”
The five major points of the book are: (1) start with “wow” (2) prepare to launch (3) build your home base (4) expand your reach and (5) engage your tribe. Although the book was primarily written to business people and entrepreneurs, the principles are easily transferable to the promotion and advancement of the Gospel.
1. Start with “Wow.” In this chapter, Hyatt discusses the “product” and how to make it compelling. He argues that the experience of the user should exceed expectation. Obviously, there is nothing more compelling than the Gospel; therefore, it is not our job to “make” it compelling, but to show that it is compelling. To that end, this chapter provides helpful insights and practical tips that could be used as we attempt to clearly present the message and teachings of the Church.
2. Prepare to Launch. Basically, the message of this chapter is: “To succeed, you need a plan.” While it is great to acknowledge God’s providence and trust him, that doesn’t excuse aimlessness or disorganization. There is nothing worldly and unspiritual about developing a good strategy. Hyatt provides action steps that any Catholic person, ministry, or organization could follow that would improve their efforts to gain attention and exercise influence.
3. Build Your Home Base. In this chapter, Hyatt shows his readers how to draw and build an online audience through blogs. To get noticed, he says, you have to consistently produce content. Whether it originates from Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, encyclicals, or wherever, the Catholic Church produces a lot of great, life-changing content. Hyatt shows us how to achieve consistency in spreading that content through blogs, and how to do it effectively, so that it reaches the maximum number of people possible.
4. Expand Your Reach. Simply put, this chapter gives the ins and outs of using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These tools are absolutely necessary for connecting with others and engaging in conversations that can lead to conversions. Hyatt’s chapter is simple enough for social media novices, but thorough and advanced enough to satisfy veteran users of social media.
5. Engage Your Tribe. Along with all the other experts, Hyatt recognizes that communication on the social web is not meant to be a monologue. It is a conversation. And it involves listening. In the last chapter of his book, he provides helpful information and insights for interacting with those who leave comments on your blog. In addition, he shows how to follow-up with blog readers and website visitors, and how to develop ongoing relationships. These insights can no doubt be applied to building relationships that advance the New Evangelization and bring glory to Jesus Christ.
The things people want to say on the web are as diverse and varied as the people on the web. There are sites dedicated to everything from Lay’s potato chips to Lady Gaga. And bloggers blog about everything from chivalry and cinema to politics and pot roasts. Some topics are incredibly relevant while others are profoundly trivial; yet each person thinks his favorite topic, her pet issue, is the most important thing in the world.
But the Church knows it is dedicated to what is truly the most important thing in the world: The gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Father urged Catholics to bear witness to our faith in the digital world. Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform, offers a way to employ new technologies to make the Gospel known.