Salt and Like

Salt and Like

You may have noticed a series of social media buttons on the side of each blog post and resource on the Desiring God website. This post is a little attempt to explain why those buttons, and the statistics they reflect, matter to us.

But I’ll begin with two reasons that do not explain why those buttons exist.

Like to Share

First, the social media numbers are not our attempt to win a popularity contest. We are not blog street performers hoping for a click-and-a-retweet dime. The same is true with Facebook. Of course, we do want you to "Like" our content, which sounds especially self-serving. “Like” is not our preferred term.

Partly this is due to the evolution of the technology we use. Facebook developers originally distinguished between two buttons: "Like" and "Share." The "Share" button certainly sounds more strategically-minded, and it is certainly more accurate for what we are trying to do here. But over time the "Like" button has become so popular, it has largely replaced the "Share" button in function. Facebook developers have now essentially loaded the function of the “Share” button into the more popular “Like” button. So now, when you “Like” a post on the DG blog, the story headline, blurb, and thumbnail are posted to your profile wall where you can add a personal comment to it. The point is that “Like” is more than an end, it is a strategic means. More on that in a moment.

Second, the social media numbers are not designed to help us gauge our most popular themes so that we can narrow our blogging efforts to what we know will be most popular with readers. With some level of certainty, we can predict which posts will generate a lot of traffic (like Pastor John’s take on current events). But in many cases, our core ministry priorities will actually rank consistently low in social media spread (like disabilities). And that's okay, because our goal is not generating the biggest numbers. Our core priorities are not shaped by statistics.

So why do we have the social media buttons and stats built into each blog post?

To Help Others Enjoy God

"Likes" and retweets are significant to us because they represent spread, and we exist to spread. We write posts about rejoicing in God so joy in God will spread. We write blog posts so they will spread as far as possible — so that after you have been blessed, you will pass along content to other readers.

And whenever you "like" or retweet a blog post, that's what you are doing, you are spreading that content to your community.

“Salt and light” is the biblical category for this (Matthew 5:13–16). We are not isolated readers online, but we read everything as Christians tapped into a broader community. And knowing that we can easily share content with others brings an added opportunity to everything we read online. We have a calling, and that calling is rooted in our place in the Body of Christ. And we have a divine obligation to our neighbors, to our friends, and to our followers to point them to Christ. And every day we are given new opportunities to share, new opportunities to be salt and light online.

A Spreading Partnership

As a ministry we believe it is part of our calling not only to create content, but to extend the scope of God-honoring content. Together we share in a partnership of spreading. This is true of us here at Desiring God, it’s true at The Gospel Coalition, and it’s true of countless Christian blogs and websites.

So when you read blog posts, think about your neighbor. It’s not just about “liking” content, it’s about serving others. As you read, think about whether the content can serve your online community. Be discerning and selective with content to avoid overwhelming others, but be proactive and thoughtful.

In this work we partner together to reach the lost, and to connect with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need of God’s grace today. So thank you for “liking” our posts. Thank you for retweeting our posts. Thank you for playing a critical role in helping us “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”

Tony Reinke (@tonyreinke) is a content strategist at Desiring God, blogger, the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015), and hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Karalee, and their three children.