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Rev. James Martin, S.J.

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10 Digital Commandments: Dos And Don'ts For Religion On The Web

Posted: 06/27/11 07:48 PM ET

Do Engage. Maintain an active presence in the digital world, including on Facebook and YouTube. It is easy to set up accounts on both. Facebook features "fan pages" for public organizations that anyone can join or "like." Think about new modes, too, like smartphone apps.

Do Update. Frequently. If you are in need of new content, link to news items that people might otherwise overlook. "Sticky" is the industry term for a site to which viewers (or "eyeballs" stick). Think sticky.

Do Tweet. It is easy to write 140-character tweets (on scripture, spirituality, prayer, books, church news) that will help the people of God.

Do Redesign. At least every few years upgrade your website.

Do Scout. Look at popular websites, blogs, Facebook "fan pages," YouTube videos and Twitter feeds. What are they posting that makes them successful?

Don't Foster Link Rot. Leaving up dead links, (aka "link rot") will frustrate visitors and give the impression your organization is inattentive or just clueless.

Don't Be a Hater. Don't respond to hateful comments with more hate, no matter how tempting it is to "get" the other person. Remember, as Pope John XXIII liked to say: "In all things charity."

Don't Despair. If you question the need for this kind of evangelization, remember the growing power of social and digital media to reach the young and the not-so-young.

Don't Be Gullible. Be very discerning when you stumble upon outright attacks on other believers, or for that matter anyone. Before you jump to conclusions, find out what is actually going on.

Don't Be Proud. No medium is beneath us when it comes to spreading the Gospel. Remember Jesus used any and all means to reach people.

Read Rev. Martin's America Magazine essay on the Catholic Church's use of digital media.