Social Media

Social Media is the New Town Square (Is GBF in?)

Throughout history, people of all generations have gathered in town squares—public spaces where the local community gathers for social and commercial purposes. In the old days, it used to be a literal "town square," and it still is in some places. Until social media came around, town squares were shopping malls and other social areas. Social media is the 21st century town square.

Social media is the 21st century town square.

 

The Apostle Paul preached in open squares where the people gathered. In Acts 13 it was to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidian. In Acts 17, it was to the literal town square of conversation—Mars Hill.

 

People today aren’t sitting around in debate clubs. They aren’t going to the town squares in the middle of cities. Instead, they’re having discussions on social media. It’s where people are gathering, debating, discussing ideas and connecting with others. Why wouldn’t you want to be there?

 

If churches truly want to see the Gospel impact and influence a community, they should go to the place where the most significant conversation is actually taking place right now. Today, that’s on social media.

GBF Website

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Strategically Utilize Your Social Media Demographic                                                                       Read More

Facebook is still the King

It is still the King of all social media. Having nearly 700 million users worldwide will do that. Lots of Churches have a Facebook page. Most of them stink. In the movie Field of Dreams, the main character, Ray Kinsella is told, “If you build it, they will come.” It was in reference to a baseball field. Unfortunately, people will not come to a Facebook page simply because it’s built. Here are several ways to use a Facebook page effectively:                                         Read More

Instagram a real     Connection

The old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If I were to contemporize that, I would change it to “An Instagram post is worth a thousand Facebook updates.”

 

Why because it is: 1. Visual, 2. It's Instant, 3. It's Sharable, It's Personal. We will elaborate on the these points...  Read More

Twitter still most don't get IT

Despite Twitter’s growth, there are many people who still do not “get it” when it comes to this technology. It’s no longer about “what you are doing” but so much more. Twitter can be an even more effective tool than Facebook in that it can influence those outside of the church community.

 

 

                                                                                         Read More

YouTube/Vimeo 
that is the ?

Video is becoming an integral part of the church experience both for broadcasting messages, sermon series previews, and also for church marketing. Used effectively, it could provide great value for your Church. But the question is... which one to use?                                                                            

                                                                                          Read More

 

SOCIAL MEDIA DEMOGRAPHICS

 

Let's take a look at some stats from Pew Research for three major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which are going to be the most important for your church to engage.

“All Things to All People”

 

Social media is no longer a fad. It is established in our culture. And churches should do everything they can to engage the public in this forum. As of January 2014, 74% of all adults who have some sort of presence online use social media—your church needs to be accessible there.

 

With some strategic thought, churches can reach those who are regularly using social media. The Apostle Paul provides some insight for churches that are still on the fence:

 

“I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits” (1 Corinthians 9:22b-23, emphasis added).

FACEBOOK

1. Improve how it looks – I’ve seen Churches that don’t even bother to use an image on the main page. The default “info” or “wall” page is boring, especially for a new visitor. If you have somebody on staff that knows code (or a volunteer), using HTML, Javascript and CSS, a custom welcome page can be built. Lifechurch.tv offers an excellent example of this. If you don’t have access to somebody who can do that work, use a service such as Pagemodo. They offer easily customized templates. They have plans that allow free pages and low cost monthly prices to have more than one page and remove any Pagemodo branding.

 

2. Updates, updates, updates – This cannot be stressed enough. Believe it or not, most people do not pay attention to what is in a Church bulletin, particularly those who are online. People in your Church utilize Facebook. Seeing updates about upcoming events, news, seeing photographs, and seeing video will keep them engaged. It allows people to share these experiences with family members or friends.

 

3. Use a Facebook page, not a personal account – I’ve seen a number of Churches do this, and it is a mistake. People don’t want to send a “friend request” to a Church account. In order to engage on a Facebook page, all somebody needs to do is “like” that page. Speaking of engaging….

 

4. Allow people to post to the Facebook page wall – Monitor it so that inappropriate posts can be dealt with. But don’t make the Wall page nothing but a bulletin board. Allow people the ability to express a thought or ask a question if they want to.

 

MORE on FACEBOOK

 

What about age groups? How does each generation use Facebook? The stats are unsurprising, but for the first time ever, more than half of online adults over the age of 65 are using Facebook. Here's the breakdown:

  • 87% of all online 18-29 year olds use Facebook

  • 73% of all online 30-49 year olds use Facebook

  • 63% of all online 50-64 year olds use Facebook

  • 56% of all online 65+ year olds use Facebook

It's fair to say that your church needs to have a presence on Facebook. The vast majority of online adults are there, so you should be.

TWITTER

1. Update strategically and regularly – As this is a Church account, it cannot be handled like a personal account where one word, “Sigh” tweets are normal. A Church account is likely to be followed by people that do not attend that church so tweets need to be a mixture of relevant info for Church members/attendees and general information. Updating regularly is key to keeping people following. Weeks (even days) between updates will cause people to unfollow for what they perceive to be a lack of interest on the part of the Church.

 

2. Follow, retweet, and no auto DM’s – Don’t make the account a soapbox. Follow first and then seek to be followed. Don’t try anything sneaky. People have followed many to gain higher numbers only to turn around and unfollow in an effort to make them appear to be more influential. It won’t work. Take an interest in what others are saying and re-tweet them. You’ll find that engaging in that way will bring about people who are truly interested in what you tweet. Do not use a service to set up and automated direct message if somebody follows you. The overwhelming majority of people do not like it. If you want to send a DM, go right ahead. But make it personal.

 

3. Engage with those who follow you – Remember, you are tweeting from a “corporate” account. People will ask questions. Answer them as timely as possible. If you see a compliment, do not re-tweet it. Reply and thank them.

 

4. Don’t rely on the Web interface – One of the advantages of using an application such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite is that it will allow you to update several different accounts at the same time. Tweetdeck, for instance, allows you to update your Twitter account and your Facebook account as well as any Facebook page you have set up.

 

More on Twitter

Twitter users tend to be racially diverse, but they amidst their racial diversity, it does seem that many Twitter users are young, college-educated, wealthy, and living in urban areas. Suffice to say, Twitter is a good place for your church to be no matter what, but especially if you're in an upper-middle class city or university setting. Set up and account and connect with your community.

 

Instagram

Instagram is almost as racially diverse as Twitter, but it is actually more popular among African Americans and Latinos than it is among White people. According to Pew's statistics, the most common Instagram user is likely an African American woman between ages 18-29 who's had some college education and lives in an urban area.

 

Instagram is a crucial social media platform for your youth or young adult ministries. This social media platform is growing rapidly, and Instagram is great for sharing pictures and videos of what's going on in your ministries.

 

WHY USE INSTAGRAM?

 

1. IT’S VISUAL

People love images. They tell a story—your story—through the emotions they convey. A smiling child at summer camp. An exploding confetti cannon at Easter. A joyful new believer, post baptism. Photos have the ability to record the spirit of a moment better than words ever can.

 

2. IT’S INSTANT

Online content’s shelf life is measured in seconds (and continues to dwindle by the day as people grow more “connected”), so posting pictures of events the day after they occur may already be considered outdated. Instagram allows you to engage people in real time, as you experience it. It only takes a few seconds to snap a photo with your phone, apply a filter, and share with your followers.

 

3. IT’S SHARABLE

The app lets you pair social media accounts to your feed so you can automatically display your Instagram photos via your Facebook and Twitter accounts. People can then easily and quickly share it with their friends through these avenues. Using hashtags (like #goodfriday or #summercamp) also allow for trending and findability in various feeds.

 

4. IT’S PERSONAL

Most mobile photos are candid and authentic-feeling. They bring an aura of intimacy not usually communicated through other photos. You can take advantage of this by giving people an inside look into your special events, making them feel like they have a deeper level of participation. A photo from an event speaker looking out into the audience may garner more impact than a generic picture of the speaker from an audience member.

 

WAYS WE CAN USE INSTAGRAM Show photos that depict the following:

1. Share your music, 2. Promote an upcoming sermon series, 3. Celebrate a milestone, 4. Share a quotable quote, 5. Go behind the scenes, 6. Promote special seasonal events, 7. Share a worship moment, 8. Promote serving.

 

More on Instagram

 

INSTAGRAM AND VISITORS

Attending a new church for the first time can be intimidating. And the intimidation factor is amplified the less you know about the church. What can I expect? How big is this church? What about my kids? What are their services like?

 

Having an active Instagram account is a good way to familiarize potential visitors with your church. They’ll see pictures of your services and kids programs. They’ll see images of your latest message series and student ministry. And before new visitors ever step foot in your church building, they’ll already feel like they know you.

 
 

YouTube & Vimeo

Video is becoming an integral part of the church experience both for broadcasting messages, sermon series previews, and also for church marketing. Used effectively, it could provide great value for your Church. But the question is... which one to use?

 

1. Utilize Vimeo (Plus or Pro) for embedded clips – Vimeo Plus (or Pro) provides benefits that YouTube does not. Vimeo Plus is a minimal investment of $60 a year and removes Vimeo branding and ads from the videos. If you want more information about Vimeo Pro, which costs $199 a year, take a look at the great post from Chuch Mag.

 

2. Only upload your best videos – I know some Churches get anxious to get their sermons online. But if you’re working with a Flip phone and recording the audio directly to the camera, you should wait. If the audio can be recorded externally and then synced to the video, then go for it. Also, don’t upload videos that people made with their phone or their own Flip-style cameras. Save those kinds of videos for direct uploading to the Facebook page.

 

3. Upload to YouTube as well – While I don’t suggest YouTube for embedded videos, I still suggest uploading the videos to YouTube and using descriptions and tags. 700 billion YouTube videos were viewed in 2010.

Social Media - Engagement Tips

 

The Golden Rule: Timing is Everything!

When it comes to social media, the first rule you need to know is this: You’re only as good as your response time. Social media is a public forum where people don’t hesitate to voice their opinion… for better or worse. One of the best ways to show your audience that you’re listening is to be quick with your response. This one action alone speaks volumes about your company’s customer service.

 

Be Human

Your social media pages are one of the few areas where you can publicly engage in conversation with your customers. This is your chance to show the human face behind your brand. I try to keep this in mind with every post and online response that I give – a little tasteful humor and compassion can go a long way.

 

As the human face representing your company, it’s your responsibility to be honest with your customers too. Is something not working as well as it should? Did an item sell out faster than you expected? From my experience, I’ve found that honesty is the best policy. Owning up to issues and offering genuine answers can build your trust and credibility as a brand.

Personal tip: Face it, sometimes people can be really cruel behind their keyboard. Regardless of their rudeness, do your best to keep your cool and always reply in a kind and professional manner. Try smiling while typing, in my experience, it helps subconsciously add a cheerful tone to your writing :)

 

Know Your Demographic

Newsflash: social media’s not just for kids. In fact, over half of the people who are active on social media are over the age of 35. Most social media channels provide you with key analytics about who the biggest demographic on your page is – use this Intel to fine-tune your speech in a tone that not only stays true to your brand, but will also resonate best with your crowd.

 

Stay on Trend

Social media is all about joining in on the conversation. Like one big global hangout, platforms Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all about contributing your thoughts to the trending topics of the day. Big brands are no strangers to joining in on trending topics; after all, they’re great for generating fun content, increasing engagement and making sure that our collective internet addiction is well fed. Trending topics can change in an instant.

 

Never Stop Experimenting

Social media is a dynamic place, and because of that, the way that people engage with content is constantly changing. Keep up to date with online trends and never stop testing the waters with your channels. Whether it’s the kind of content you post, the length of your text or even the images you use – don’t be afraid to try different things out, you never know what just might work with your fans.

 

Measure Your Results

When it comes to your social media marketing, sometimes it can be hard to measure your successes. Unlike tangible outcomes like the number of sales you have in a given week, your success on social media largely depends on your own personal goals that you set for your biz. Whether you’re looking to use your social channels to drive more traffic to your website, or establish yourself as the authority in your industry on Instagram, it’s up to you to define your goals and monitor whether your objectives are being met.

Most major social media platforms come with their own versions of built-in analytics, but in my opinion they’re most effective when combined with an additional analytic tool. Not sure where to turn to? We jotted down some of our favorite tools to help measure your marketing success in a previous blog post.

 

 
 

Six Strategies for Getting Started with Internet Tools at Your Church

 

How can a busy, overworked church staff get started on an internet strategy?

 

Below are some strategies for improving your church's use of internet tools, which could include social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, but also blogging (or just sites built on a blog platform), podcasting and more.

 

Six strategies for incorporating internet tools into your church

 

1. Start small and grow

Podcasting, live video streams of services, blogs, Facebook…

You might be excited to try all of these. But my recommendation is to not try everything at once.

You donʼt construct a building by wielding every imaginable tool simultaneously. You use tools one at a time.

Consider using internet tools internally first and then when youʼve gained some confidence and expertise, apply them to outreach.

Another way of saying this is to learn to crawl before you walk and learn to walk before you run.

 

2. Know your capabilities

Know what your church is capable of and start accordingly.

For example, if know how to record, edit, produce and distribute a complex podcast and have the necessary resources, go for it. But if all you can do is to record a sermon and put audio on your web site, then start with that and work up to the rest later.

 

 

3. Donʼt think you have to do everything yourself

Youʼll be excited to try outreach via Facebook, to maintain your own web site, or to handle all aspects of a podcast once you see how easy it can be. Or you might just want to maintain complete ownership of the venture. Unless you have the luxury of lots of spare time, there will be conflicts between your other responsibilities and the time needed for your internet work. You might even be so overloaded now that you canʼt imagine taking on some new project. Donʼt feel you have to have sole responsibility for everything.

 

4. Know where to turn to for help

Find someone (or multiple persons) you can turn to for motivation, support & technical assistance. It could be a colleague, staff member or an enthusiastic or knowledgeable member of your congregation. Having a source of motivation and support when youʼre not sure how to proceed or feeling overwhelmed will help you past the hurdle.

 

 

5. Just try it

If your church is likely to have endless committee meetings and discussions before embarking on some new strategy, try pursuing your new internet strategy on a trial basis. Itʼs easy and inexpensive enough that you can just try it out. You can save many months of discussion time by just trying something out, demonstrating whatʼs possible and then letting enthusiasm drive progress from there.

 

 

6. Set aside time to work on it

It can be difficult to squeeze a new activity into an already busy calendar, but a good way of doing just that is to set aside a regular but realistic block of time to work on incorporating your new internet strategy. First, spend the time developing the concept for what youʼd like to achieve and then put it into action. If you’re not realistic in setting aside time, you may easily jeopardize your other work and then end up never coming back to the internet work, for fear of again overlooking or falling behind on your primary responsibilities.

 

How would you start?

Think about how you might put the internet to work for you. Which strategies would best help you?

Some ideas to get you thinking about topics to share with your membership.

 

It’s not intended to be all-inclusive, just a list to get you thinking. It’s also not intended that every item is something that you (no matter what your role in the church may be) need to be personally involved in. Some things a pastor ought to be involved in. Other things, not. Some things you should be or may want to be involved in. Other things can be left to others.

 

Remember when implementing any of these, just about every one ought to be presented in a way that encourages interaction.

 

  • Post your sermon audio

  • Post other recorded audio or video messages

  • Express your viewpoint (especially when done in a teaching way) about issues (especially complex ones)

  • Post an idea and look for feedback

  • Conduct an online Bible study

  • Conduct other online discussions

  • Spread church newsletter-style material

  • Discuss progress of one of the church’s ministries

  • Discuss progress of some church-wide project or activity

  • Share interesting, insightful, or provocative (in the sense of challenging you) things you’ve read

  • Keep church members up to date on things they want to hear about

  • Help build relationships, encouraging members to get to know one another better

  • Communicate with those difficult to reach or those unable to be with the church family physically. This can include shut-ins, the elderly (an ever-increasing number are on Facebook!), students away at school, members serving in the military, and members who have fallen away (or are in the process of falling away)

  • Get a “buzz” going (and build enthusiasm) about an upcoming event or worship service

  • Follow-up with new members (can be combined with teaching)

  • Broaden the definition of “church” we’ve used here to include groups of churches (denominational, local, or whatever), and then use social media to communicate between churches for growth, reinforcement, support, etc.

  • Teach something

  • Bring attention to some issue or social need

  • Share your passion for a topic

 

Many of these ideas will also work very well as material for our church website.

 
 
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