Social media is constantly changing. It seems like every month there’s a new platform trending along with new standards and, of course, new memes.
The purpose of this post is to empower you to navigate the trends and to make informed decisions about how to engage on social media, no matter what platform you choose.
Rather than telling you exactly what to say or not say on social media, these 11 principles will help you create your own strategy that will allow the unique gifts of your local community to shine and attract loyal members.
Principle #1: Start with Why
People aren’t interested in what we do so much as why we do it.
As O.T.O. initiates and leaders, so much of our attention is focused on producing great Gnostic Masses, initiations, social events, and classes. But we do all these things for a higher purpose: the positive life change that occurs when people attend those Gnostic Masses, undergo those initiations, make positive connections at those events, and learn at those classes.
It’s what all that great content allows them to go on to do and to be in their own lives that makes people loyal to us. That’s the glue that holds this organization together, and it’s the power that attracts new people to us.
So in everything we say, and in everything we do, we need to consider why we’re doing it. That’s as true of social media as it is of holding a fundraiser, affiliating with a local charity, or even celebrating a Gnostic Mass.
Principle #2: Use social media to get people’s attention
The particular kind of positive life change O.T.O. brings to people depends in part upon our ability to get people to attend our events. In order to do that, we need to get their attention. The whole reason we’re on social media in the first place is because that’s where people’s attention is.
Of course you could stand on a street corner and hand out copies of Liber Oz, but that’s not going to be anywhere near as effective as being on social media, simply because the attention of more people is on social media than on any street corner. Social media also offers tools to target attention in certain ways.
The main difficulty we run into getting people’s attention on social media is that we’re competing with other groups and organizations to get their attention. When any of us goes on social media, we spend a lot of time scrolling past content. So an important component of any social media strategy is creating content that will stop a person from scrolling in order to give you their attention.
Principle #3: Repeat = Defeat
I don’t know about you, but I can be lazy when generating social media content. I find a format I like (a certain combination of images and words), and I “stamp off” a few variations on it.
This is okay to a certain point, but when your content becomes repetitive, people tend to ignore it. How many of your own local body’s social media posts do you immediately recognize and ignore?
Mix up your style. If your local body has a logo, do not use it on everything. That goes against received wisdom regarding brand recognition. Recognition can also mean something is familiar and safely ignored.
One common way people break the pattern is to screencap something from one platform (like Twitter) and post it on another platform like Instagram or Facebook. When you see that Twitter format in a FB or IG feed, your brain immediately feels like something is off, so you stop and look.
Another really easy way to stop the scroll is to post pictures of people’s faces. Humans are social creatures. We have neurons in our brains dedicated to facial recognition. Pictures of people’s faces—especially smiling or interacting or expressing an emotion—are more likely to grab a person’s attention than a picture of an object. (USGL policy states you must get the express permission of any individual if you are going to post any recognizable image of them, not in the public domain, on any local body websites or social media pages.)
Principle #4: The 1 in 5 Rule
The main mistake O.T.O. local bodies make on social media is that they tend to use social media primarily for in-person event promotion. They’re trying to use it as a billboard.
The problem is that social media is not a billboard. Billboards are one-way communication. Social media is meant to be used for two-way or multiple-way communication.
No more than 1 out of every 5 of your posts should be advertisements for in-person events. 4 out of every 5 posts should be content made specifically for social media.
What we do in person is important and necessary. But think back to principle #1. As important and necessary as our in-person events are, they’re not the ultimate reason we exist. The ultimate reason we exist is to bring a certain kind of positive life change to people. We do that through the gift of the Law.
In a normal year, we can bring that gift to people on a Sunday evening at Gnostic Mass. But come Monday morning, it’s not as though they stop needing or wanting that gift.
Thelema isn’t just for Sundays. Thelema is for working through family conflict. Thelema is for important business decisions. Thelema is for tackling life’s frequent frustrations.
Thelema is a total life path.
The whole reason we do Resh is to remind ourselves four times a day of the Great Work. The whole reason we say Will at every meal is to remind ourselves of the Great Work.
We need to use social media to bring that spiritual message to people, not just because it’s our duty as O.T.O. to promulgate, but because that spiritual message is one of the most compelling things about us.
Principle #5: Start Meaningful Conversations
There are many ways to do this.
One approach I used at my local body was to post a question twice a week. Some questions I asked were:
- What’s a favorite memory you have from your childhood or adolescence of doing magick?
- What’s your favorite video game of all time?
- What are your favorite burger toppings?
- What’s a familiar passage from our Holy Books you return to in times when you need inspiration?
I would usually put the question on a photo and post it to the Facebook page with the question also in the photo’s caption so those who are visually impaired could also easily access it.
These questions would often provoke dialogue not only among our community members but also between our community members and individuals who had been lurking at the edge. It was a fun way to bring people out of the woodwork.
As you can see from the examples, not all of the questions have an explicit spiritual focus.
This is important. Do we sit around only talking about magick and spirituality when we’re at O.T.O. events? Of course not. We talk about all kinds of stuff that’s important to us.
When I first started coming around to O.T.O. events, that people shared interests in common with me that had nothing at all to do with magick was a huge factor in my decision to initiate and to become a permanent member of the community.
The purpose of these questions is to stimulate dialogue that brings that human dimension to the foreground. You’re showing off one of the most compelling parts of your community. That’s not possible to do if the discussion is focused purely on spirituality (to say nothing if you’re only using social as a billboard).
Principle #6: Promote Spiritual Practice
Don’t just invite people to a Saturday evening ritual. Get them to do magick right where they are.
How much time do we waste scrolling endlessly through social media? How cool would it be to get someone to stop in the middle of that to have a meaningful experience, no matter how small? How beneficial would that be for them, and how much would it strengthen their positive feelings toward you?
There are a lot of different ways to do this.
- Right now, for the next minute, do a small, silent ritual to connect with your Holy Guardian Angel.
- Spend the next 60 seconds reflecting on this passage from the Book of the Law: [insert passage here]
- Make a calendar and cross off every day you remember to say Will at every meal.
- Start a 30 day LBRP/Star Ruby/Resh/Will/etc challenge.
There are all sorts of things you can do. Use your imagination.
Principle #7: Tell your local body’s story
Again, our people are our strength. People don’t join O.T.O. so much as they join a local body, a local community of practitioners.
Bring your people and your story to the forefront.
Instead of posting pictures of an altar from a ritual you did, post behind-the-scenes photos of setting up the ritual, of putting on the makeup, of setting up the lights, etc. Have the person who wrote the ritual do a short write-up on what inspired them to do it.
Instead of posting a picture of your Mass team posing together after the ritual, again, post pictures of people setting up, interacting, laughing, looking at one another (not the camera) and having a good time.
If you had a successful fundraiser, don’t just post how much money you made. Talk about the work that went into it. Talk about the process that led you to want to do the fundraiser in the first place.
Celebrate your successes, but celebrate the human dimension of those successes. Show the passion. Show the dedication. That’s powerfully attractive to people, and it makes our spirituality look more compelling.
Principle #8: Go deep, then go wide
Do not try to be active on every social media platform. There’s just no way to keep up, and you’re going to just end up copying content from one platform to another without any sensitivity for the strengths and weaknesses of individual platforms.
Pick one platform, and dedicate yourself to it for at least a year. Craft your strategy. Get a rhythm. Become comfortable with it.
If after a year you think it would benefit your local body—again, per principle #1, be sure to stop and have the conversation about why you’re doing what you do—then branch out into one additional platform.
Around 7 in 10 American adults are on Facebook, so Facebook is an obvious place to start.
Different platforms attract different demographics. There seem to be a lot more young people on Instagram or TikTok. Depending upon who exactly you’re trying to attract, that could also influence your decisions.
Principle #9: Go from public to private
If you are in local body leadership and have a meaningful interaction with a person on a public post, consider reaching out to that person privately to make a connection, either via direct message or by friending them.
Relationships are the foundation of what we do. It doesn’t matter how good your rituals or classes are. People aren’t going to want to remain part of a community if they can’t build meaningful relationships.
If a member of your extended community says something in a public post to indicate they’re going through a hard time, consider reaching out to them. Don’t just wait until someone is initiated and paying local dues before you show concern for them. Put your magnanimity up front.
(Guys, you need to do this with other men, too. Not just women. Otherwise it gets weird.)
Principle #10: Document every win
We’re not doing this for lust of result. We’re doing this to bring attention to our innate gifts as Thelemic communities: to let who we are shine.
That being said, if a conversation on social media leads to a person attending a first event, document it.
If your question about what topping people prefer on pizza leads to a fun Friday night movie and pizza party, write it down. (In fact tell the story on social media on Monday.)
If your 30 day LBRP challenge leads to someone taking baptism next month, document it.
I attended my first O.T.O. event the very same week they published their Gnostic Mass video. Vimeo isn’t really social media, but that was, generally speaking, a success stemming from a compelling online presence.
Keep track of these things. Double down on what works.
Principle #11: Experiment
Make these principles the driving force of your social media activity for the next year.
Forget about “likes”. Keep your focus on positive life change. Find ways to document that instead. That’s the real reason we’re here.
O.T.O. local bodies tend to be very small (fewer than 50 people). That can be a huge advantage. It’s much easier to push off in a completely new direction when you’re a small group. It makes it possible to experiment more.
Use that to your advantage.
As we continue to navigate the greatest communications shift in 500 years, one factor must remain constant: our dedication to our highest purpose.
The positive life transformation we bring to individuals through our events and through the friendships we form is our most powerful gift.
My hope is that these principles empower you to use social media in a way which amplifies that gift for a broader audience and helps to sustain strong morale among current members.
Click here or the image below to download a digest version of these principles.