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It is killing me.

You know, I would write every day, if I just knew what to write about.

Thinking of effective, shareable content can really be hard.  So, what ways are you using to create better content?

Here is an article talking about “10 Addictive Types of Content”

Here are a few that really stood out to me as content that could be very effective for a church:

Mega Lists
Everyone loves lists.  Your church could feature lists on a number of different topics.  “Our Top 10 Favorite Bible Stories for Kids,” just being one example.

Expert Interviews
This would be a great opportunity to use video content.  People want to learn things, this would give them a great opportunity to do so.

Infographics
You can make almost any information into a attention grabbing infographic.  People love infographics!  And, it’s more visual content that can connect the dots between what you are saying and what it means for your church.

Here are some ideas for what I think could be very addictive, traffic-driving, content:
-Feature member testimonies on your blog
-Introduce new members on Twitter or in your blog (creates a greater sense of community)
-Ask visitors to write up an explanation of their first time experience in your church.  It could surprise  you.

I encourage you to check out the article for yourself and determine which of these you could utilize in your church blog or twitter.  Also, what kinds of addictive content have you found that is not on this list?  I would love to know!

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If you do not already get emails from The Barna Group, I would highly suggest it.  About once a month they publish research relevant to the Christian community.  This week they posted on “The Rise of the @Pastor.”  You can find the complete article here.

This article talks about the rise of religious content on social media, and also the rise of churches and pastors on social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook.  In the article, they state that “the Christian community’s voice has become a substantial one in the social, digital space.”  I find that Christian influencers are becoming more and more accessible to people through the use of social media.

Twitter is gradually becoming the dominant social media.  Church leaders included are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.  I found this statistic very interesting:  In the last 24 months, the number of “church-based” users on Twitter has increased by 77%.  Wow.

Check out this infographic from Barna to see the rise in social media.

Social media helps pastors and churches to interact with people where they are.  This used to be in the coffee shops and out in the town, but now it is on the computer.  Churches and pastors need to be where the people are and where the important conversations are happening.  A majority of these conversations are now happening over social media.

If your church does not have a presence on social media, what are you waiting for?

I have been talking a lot about social media in the church and its importance, but we also need to remember that social media is never a substitute for authentic Christian community.

With all the social media sites that you can connect with people these days (some pictured to the left), you have to be very intentional about not letting that be your only form of communication.  I recently read a blog post on this subject and I wanted to share some of the things that I took away from it.  If you would like to read the blog post, you can find it here.

The authors, Eric Geiger, Matt Chandler, and Josh Patterson start of the post by saying that our faith cannot be private.  They stated that while our faith and relationship with Christ is very personal, that does not make it private.  They go on to say that we have been “individually saved by Christ, but you are not the only individual saved.”  We were made to be in community with other Christians, to support each other, to share our highs and lows.  Geiger, Chandler, and Patterson say that “connectivity does not equate to community,” which is something we must always keep as our focused.  Just because we are connected with someone on social media does not necessarily mean that we are in community with them or have a relationship.

One of my best friends, Lauren, also writes a blog.  I can read her blog posts as soon as she publishes them, but it is not the same as hearing it from her.  It is very hard to have a strong relationship completely across the computer.  If the only communication that my husband and I had was across Twitter or Facebook, we would not have the same relationship that we have face to face.

We need to remember to be intentional in creating community with other believers.  We need to seek them out and set aside time to engage with them, face to face.  Christianity is not a journey that anyone can easily take alone.  Our communications as churches to our congregations cannot all be over social media.

The blog post closes with this thought:  “So although we are more connected then we have ever been, we also feel more alone and unknown then at any other time in human history.”  And I completely agree with this.  Communities are so much stronger when they are face to face, intentional and mutually investing in each other.

Don’t forget about creating relationships and community because Christianity is all about relationships, not just connectivity.

Here are my 8 Tips for the Social Church.  I hope that you find them helpful.

1.  Have a Voice
Even if there is a team of people putting out your social media content, you need to have a unified voice or else it will seem that your church does not know what it wants to be.  In your next social media strategy meeting, and yes, you should be having those, discuss your voice if you have not done so already.

2. Be Authentic
People can tell when you are putting on a show.  You have to be real with your followers.  One way to do this is by sharing things you and your church are passionate about.

3. Be Intentional
You need to have a plan or a strategy or else you are not going anywhere.  You need to have realistic, attainable, measurable goals for yourselves in order to see where you have been and to better focus on where you want to be going.

4. Use Visuals
We are visual people.  Photos catch our attention more than words.  And oftentimes photos communicate and touch us more than words ever could.  We respond to photos.  Photos evoke emotion, which leads to number 5.

5. Be Emotional
In the book Contagious, Jonah Berger says, “When you care, you share.”  Make your followers feel something and they will be more likely to share that post than one that did not make them feel anything.

6. Find your Magic Number
Many churches are trying to find their magic number for how many times they should be posting each week or even each day.  You do not want to post too often because then you will oversaturate your social media and people will start to tune you out.  On the other hand you cannot post too little because your followers will forget about you.  The number of times you should be posting is magic because it will differ for every church and every audience.  You need to practice and see how your audience responds.  Find what is best for you.

7. Engage
Answer questions.  Comment on and share other people’s posts.  Respond to comments.  Build a strong community and create a relationship.  Relationships are power for any company, but for churches in particular.

8. Do Not Delete
If someone says something negative about you, respond to it and try to fix it.  Never just delete it.  People want to be a part of the conversation.  They want to be heard.  If you delete a negative post without addressing it, you have lost an opportunity to reach out to that person and fix the problem.  If you make a mistake in social media, do not delete it.  Apologize, correct it and make it right.  And remember, if you delete, it’s never really gone.  Someone will find it, and covering something up usually makes it worse.

 

What would you add to this list of tips?

Twitter is getting huge!  Twitter currently has 554,750,000 active, registered users (more stats here).  With the popularity of Twitter rising, there has been more buzz about whether or not churches should encourage using Twitter during church.

Some churches will post tweets about their church in the lobby, some will have hashtags encouraging conversations on the sermon topic for the day.  I have recently read a few articles on the subject and I wanted to share some of their thoughts with you.

In this article, the author, Scott Williams, says, “Tweet and Tweet Often!”  These are his top 5 reasons that you should use Twitter during church:

  1. You can share the Pastor’s message on God’s word in real-time
  2. If the pastor says something that has an impact on you, causes you to think, or moves you in some other way, it is likely that one of your Twitter followers will be moved by it as well
  3. The great commission says go into all the world, this can be applied to the Twitter world as well.  You can be tweeting the Gospel!
  4. You will have a storehouse of thought-provoking thoughts
  5. Tweeting great thoughts from the sermon can help cut down on “Sermon Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD)”

Williams closes the article with this thought: “remember God’s Omnipresence applies to Twitter as well.  Get Your Tweet On!”

Another article on the subject, written by Purva Patel, has some other ideas and examples.

Most pastors find that Tweeting during services can make church more interactive and can appeal to the younger demographic.  It can make them feel like they are a part of the message.

One way that the Woodland Church is using Twitter in church is the church staff reviews tweets coming in during the sermon and will post them on a board behind the pastor.  The pastor ignores the tweets during the sermon, but afterwards he will answer questions that came in through Twitter (I think that this is the coolest idea!).

Some people have found that tweeting during services can be distracting.  Craig Hayes, pastor in Fresno, says, “If two people are talking at the same time, somebody’s not listening…You cannot do two things at once and expect you’re not going to miss something.”

There are many pros and cons to using Twitter in church.  I am definitely pro-Twitter in churches.  It can help the congregation feel like an even more important part in the community and the conversation.  I think the idea of having the Pastor answer questions coming in on Twitter is a great idea because it can really help get deeper into the sermon topic.

What do you think of churches utilizing Twitter during services?
Have you seen any examples of churches using Twitter really well?

Hey everyone!

Check out my guest blog post on Christian Web Trends!  I’m so psyched they published it!

http://blog.ourchurch.com/2013/02/28/church-websitefirst-impression-rose/

I recently read a book titled “Pinfluence:  the complete guide to marketing your business with Pinterest” written by Beth Hayden.  For the past few weeks I had been playing with ideas in my head about whether or not I thought Pinterest would be a good tool for churches to use to enhance their content marketing strategies.  When I saw this book I thought it would help me figure it out.

These interesting statistics about Pinterest were in the Introduction of the book:

  • Pinterest reached its 10 million user mark faster than any other social media site in history
  • In January 2012 Pinterest drove more traffic to websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined

Now, if your church is trying to reach people, it seems just from these statistics that this would be the way to do it.  In Pinfluence, Hayden writes, “Done authentically and well, Pinterest marketing can be a powerful source of traffic to your website and can help you build an incredible community of followers and superfans who loyally support everything you do.”  I know that for me personally I follow several blogs now that I would have never heard of in the first place if not for Pinterest.

Pinterest is another way to get people interested and talking about your church.  Many companies will post contact from their blogs to Pinterest to funnel people back to their websites or blogs.  Another thing companies will do is pin things that they believe their target market will be interested in.

I can see Pinterest working for a church if

1-they have a specific target audience they are trying to reach
2-the church has a certain personality they want affiliated with them
3-the church publishes a lot of their own original content

Otherwise, I am still torn on the applicable ways a church can use Pinterest.
What do you think?  Would Pinterest be a good marketing tool for churches?

You may be wondering why it has been almost 4 months since I have written anything.

And it’s because I am just plain worn out.

In the last four months I have

1-started and ended a job and started a new one.  You are now looking at Milligan College’s newest Financial Aid Counselor
2-I have become the youth leader at my church and have been busy with Sunday school, youth group, lock-ins, and now the children’s Christmas program coming up in December.
3-My husband has started seminary, so that has been a shift with him being in school and I’m not.
4-I have been reading a lot of fiction and not a lot of church books.

Frankly, I just have not known what to write about.

Now that I am at a smaller church, I am seeing what church marketing works, and does not work, on a smaller population.  My father has also just become the Church Administrator at a church in Lexington, Kentucky and he also has to find out what marketing works for their church in particular.

I think that it is important to remember that Church Marketing is not a formula which can be stuck to for every single church.  What works at the church I am attending, of 60 or so people is not going to work for the church my Dad is serving at, with attendance of around eight or nine hundred.

For example, at my church during our announcement time, which yes, I do consider as part of marketing, (you’re getting your event out there right?) we read all the upcoming events and even have time for the people in the pews to shout out any other announcements.  Now for us, that works.  But if they tried to do that at my Dad’s church, that would be chaotic and would probably take a half hour just to get through the announcements.

Church marketing efforts need to be tailored to the people that you are trying to serve.  If a congregation communicates largely with text messages, Twitter, and Facebook, I’m not going to print off flyers to hand out or even mail to them.  It’s about reaching people where they are and making the message best fit how they want to receive it.

What we once thought was just for us, now is for everyone.  Thirteen year olds all the way to grandparents are now on and using Facebook.  Facebook has become more than just a place for friends to meet, it has become a place for all kinds of social connections.  People can talk to their favorite companies, and companies can respond back to their customers.  The one way street is now a mult-lane interchange.  Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds because it fulfills two basic needs of humans: to belong and to connect.  So, should the church embrace this change or stay away from it completely?  Can it be helpful or serve any purpose for our churches?

Facebook has become a part of everyday life.  Many people get on Facebook more than three times a day.  According to the website’s online press room, “People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.”  Can you believe that?  700 billion minutes per month!  Currently there are 792,306,980 people on Facebook.  That means that on average every person on Facebook uses Facebook for 883 minutes per month.  That is a total of almost 15 hours a month.  So my question is, with something so big, with a reach to so many people, how can the church not afford to utilize it?

“The Lookout” recently had an article about churches using Facebook.  They suggest that churches need to have a few principles before they start using Facebook.  First, a church needs to figure out why they are using Facebook in the first place.  Secondly, a church needs to realize that even if you are on Facebook you should remember the golden rule.  And ultimately you must remember that “Facebook connections may help cultivate friendships and community, but they are no substitute for live interaction with living, breathing people.”

Finally, I would like to leave you with a list of questions to consider about your use of Facebook:

  1. What is the main goal for my Facebook interactions?
  2. How many of my Facebook friends are Christians?
  3. Will I find ways to share my faith offline with my unbelieving Facebook friends?
  4. What role will Scripture and prayer play in my profile and interactions?
  5. What will I do when one of my friends is struggling with a faith-related issue?
  6. What will I do when one of my friends posts a viewpoint that goes against Scripture?
  7. How will I express my personal joys and struggles to my Facebook friends?

I hope this helps you determine or reevaluate how you use Facebook.