Archives For social media

Did you know you listen every day with your eyes just as much as your ears? I listen every day as I read through Twitter posts, Facebook statuses, Instagram pictures, people watching, etc. Listening is an art, but it helps to approach it like a science.

I follow a wide variety of people on social media because I’m listening through technology – a science I learned from my friend Tony Steward. Christians, non-Christians, atheists, New Agers, Jews, Muslims, tech gurus, musicians, celebrities, churches, news outlets – you name it, I follow them. I get a pulse on culture and the world via the people and companies I follow and listen to.

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he knows something.” – Wilson Mizner.

“The first duty of love is to listen.” – Paul Tillich

The thing about listening is it goes hand-in-hand with intentionality. I can only share this concept with you, but you have to put feet to it. I listen because I care. I listen because I want to learn. I listen because I want to grow.

I want to join God where He’s at work.

I often talk about having our spiritual antennas up. If your spiritual antenna is up, you won’t miss opportunities to be Christ to someone in need. In the book and study Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says, “God’s activity is far greater than anything we could aspire to do for Him.”

Listening is another way of saying being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. If we truly believe God’s activity is greater, then we would have to take steps to seek His moving.

“Watch what God does and then you do it.” – Ephesians 5:1 (MSG)

As we open our eyes, ears, and hearts and truly listen with all our ability (again this takes intentionality), we have the great privilege and opportunity of getting on the same page with our Creator and joining Him in His work and mission.

As I said in a blog post for Outreach Magazine: If you want to be truly innovative and start doing new and exciting ways of ministry you must be dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 33:3 teaches us, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.”

If we “call to God” and He promises to answer, this inherently requires listening on our part. God will reveal things that we would never figure out on our own, but we have to be ready, available, sensitive and actively listening.

Who are you listening to?

I spend a lot of time with pastors around the country. I get asked all kinds of questions. I’ll write another day about more in-depth communications strategy. Today, I want to write about one of the most common things I say to churches. Here it is:

Always point people to your church’s website. Always. 

Before I finished this post, I took a quick poll of pastor friends of mine. I texted them and said, “Am I the only one that says this or is that what you also do with your church’s strategy?” They all agreed it’s the same for them, too. It’s what I always encourage pastors with when I consult with their church.

Think mobile. Why? Because people will check your mobile website out (most likely) first – before they sit at their computer and look. I’ve written in the past about being mobile. Let me just say this is HUGE. You have to have a mobile website or responsive design these days.

What are some examples of how this aforementioned principle plays out?

  • Your church’s receptionist and voicemail: When I call your church’s voicemail (and I do), I want to hear your service times and directions FIRST and then point me to your church website. You can list the departments and team members’ extensions later. When I call during the day and talk to your receptionist, she needs to be friendly, personable and knowledgeable. She shouldn’t have to ask someone for help answering a question. They need to know the services times, directions/address and they should ALWAYS say, “Please check us out online at www.yourchurch.com.
  • Social Media: Your social media reaches out to your community (and the world) and allows you to connect with your members, their friends, and family. How you use social media is a topic for another post (and others have covered this in great detail), but make sure your social media points people back to your church’s website.
  • Bulletin or Worship Guide: Guests don’t want to be overwhelmed with too much information on their first visit. It’s too much. Always remember: Less is more! Be selective about what you put in your worship guide and ALWAYS list your church’s website and point people to it. That is where they sign up anyway.
  • Announcements: Whether or not a church should have announcements in their service is a topic for another day, but whether you do live announcements, announcement slides, or pre-recorded video announcements, make sure you ALWAYS point people to your church’s website. Don’t stand up and make 10 announcements. Please stop. Please don’t. If you say anything, say something like, “If you’re looking for ways to get involved or plugged in here at Your Church, check us out online at www.YourChurch.com and you can find out what’s going on.” It’s concise, succinct, efficient, and effective. It’s actually more concise than that last sentence and more effective than if you announced each and every one of your announcements or listed them all in your bulletin (see above). To read some really great and well-thought-out thoughts on announcements, read Phil Bowdle’s blog post on the subject. I agree with everything he said.

Why?

Because we get such precious little time in front of, or on the phone with, or via social media to make a connection with people. The stage or platform, the phone, and your church’s social media channels are not the places to hit people with a ton of information or announcements.

What do a pastor speaking, a phone call, and a church’s social media channels all have in common? They are all highly relational. The worst thing you can do with any of those outlets is bombarded people with tons of information. Please don’t be broadcast-only on social media.

Dave Adamson recently said that at North Point Church they strive to use more questions marks than periods. “Facebook is a social network, which means that conversation is central to the platform and the best way to create a conversation is to ask a question.” – Nils Smith

Communication matters. How and what we communicate matters more. 

Do I believe in social media? Absolutely! Check out my social media channels. They’re very active. I use social media to connect with people – your church should, too. Church Facebook pages are wonderful. Interact with your congregation and community and respond to all comments.

However, your Facebook page doesn’t have a listing of your staff (with pictures) – it doesn’t have your Vision, Values, Beliefs, your church’s story, What to Expect page, etc. I could go on and on. Your church’s website (when used properly) is a goldmine of really important and relevant information.

Next Level:

Once people come to your church website, please encourage them to sign up for email updates (this is a genius add-on idea from my friend Nils Smith) and THEN you can keep the congregation informed on all that’s going on. Get it? There is a time and place for everything. And your church’s website is THE place to point your people to. You’ll get more “bang for your buck” – if that makes sense.

I’m telling you the same thing I tell all churches. I hope you’ll take this to heart and make the necessary changes. Let’s be clear, concise, and effective communicators of good news!

*** I go into more detail on this and other things I consult on in my book Secrets of a Secret Shopper.

I thought this was a great article/blog post by Michael R. Macias on that I came across on the Small Business Tech blog. This is what I try to get across to clients that I work with: social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like I said in my older blog post “Diving into Social Media” – you have to be in it for the long haul. Read what Michael had to say to business leaders:

Far too often in the business world the term return on investment (ROI) is used to justify actions or strategies. Though the term certainly has a place in the small business sector, it doesn’t fit everywhere. And there is one place it should never be used-social media. Imagine if all of us treated our “real” friends based on the concept of “ROI” like we do with our “virtual” ones. Chances are it would look a little something like this: “Today I hung out with Billy, but got nothing in return, so I won’t be doing that again, even if we’ve been friends for 20 years.” We’d all end up without any friends if we lived our lives that way. Well, the same rule should apply to any social media efforts your small business engages in. Using Facebook shouldn’t be about tracking ROI, or measuring the benefits of your friends.

Granted, there are metrics or insights, available to show you how effective your messages are, but that shouldn’t define your efforts. Social media is about more than just sales conversions or coupon deliveries…it’s really about relationships. Today’s consumers want to feel connected to a brand, and have a personal relationship with it. It’s about engaging people, inspiring them, motivating them, and encouraging them to appreciate your brand. When you decide to dive into social media, think about treating it exactly as you would a new friend. As you get to know them, and they get to know you, you start to like each other more, and the next thing you know, you are introducing each other to new people. I believe in the business world we refer to that as word of mouth marketing. So before you try to rate your “virtual” friends, or create a system to track their value, stop and think, “Would I do this to Billy?”

This was a guest post and thank you Michael for taking the time to write this great post. You can find out more about Michael and his business at his website www.insidethecube.com . An impressive website and it is worth taking the time visit. Also you can follow Michael and his business on twitter http://twitter.com/CreativeQube.

The following is a great (and informative) video that Maurilio, from The A Group in Nashville, showed at the BUG Conference. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Mark 2: 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

Follow me now – and please don’t take this as an exegisis of this Scripture passage. I’m chewing on something and honestly it’s still stirring in me, so you’re reading thoughts in development – kind of like me thinking out loud. If “new wine must be put into new wineskins”, I think new strategies and tools to reach, connect, engage and mobilize people must be employed with new mindsets.

The following is from my friend, Bill Seaver’s, MicroExplosion blog:

[…A lot of companies are considering trying some new marketing approaches these days. They have become enamored or curious about the new social media tools that are widely publicized and are trying to determine how it can work for them. This is a good spot to be in, but I’ve realized  something is still missing. What’s missing is the appropriate mindset needed to use the social media tools, techniques, and stategies well. The old mindset won’t work with the new tools. They don’t mix. Seth Godin wrote an entire book about that called Meatball Sundae.

New marketing only works with the new mindset. Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want…]

Many of you know that I work with churches, organizations and companies of all kinds. I’m brought in as an innovation consultant and these days almost all want to talk about using new media and social networking tools. What I’ve noticed is that they get excited talking about these new tools and desire to use them, but haven’t had a change in mindset (like Bill said) and thus are striking out.

I’m thinking of 2 cases in particular: One with a well known Christian organization (there’s no need to share their name) that desparately wants to reach the next generation and brought me in to consult on how to use social media/networking to connect with them and the other is with a fitness/health company that I consult on using new media to help get their message out and expand their business.

Both want to tap into the buzz (or what Tony Steward calls “the awesomeness”) – the latest tools and technology. Mind you: this isn’t a bad thing. I do like to keep it in perspective and realize that these are all just tools, but I like that they are wanting to enter this world.

The problem that I see with these 2 organizations (and honestly with a ton of churches, including my own) is that they don’t dive in. They try to dip their toes in the water and hope they catch a fish. A fisherman gets dirty, gets wet and smells. I love to fish (that’s for another blog – Brian Davis and I can bore you with fish tales) – but I know that when I fish, I don’t wear my best clothes and I don’t expect to cast once and catch a bass on the first throw. You have to have patience. You have to be committed. You have to think like a fish.

Some churches I work with don’t “get” Facebook. Most really don’t “get” Twitter. My assessment is that they haven’t been patient enough and don’t live in those worlds. Remember Bill Seaver’s quote: “Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want.”

One organization I work with had previously tried using Facebook in a broadcast-type model (we put out some info about our ministry and you come check it out). It didn’t work and they blamed Facebook. I’m now working with them on how to engage people on Facebook and tools like that. You don’t just put it out and say “Come get”.

Weekly I meet with Paul Watson, a digital missionary. We challenge, stretch, encourage and learn from one another. We have a weekly Bible study/discipleship time that always ends in him sharing his learnings as a full-time digital missionary – one who lives in online community and engages people in virtual environments (this is his full-time job). He’s fascinating and teaching me a ton.

Again, I’m processing a lot of this out loud and expressing things that have been rolling around in my head, but I think I’m speaking to somebody. Maybe you gave Facebook, Ning, Twitter or something like that “a try” and it didn’t meet your expectations. Maybe you, your church or organization is in research and development mode. Maybe you’re in experiment mode. Maybe you’re testing the waters, but haven’t fully dove in.

My prayer, heart’s desire and encouragement/challenge to you is to WRESTLE with Bill Seaver’s quote: “Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want.”

Friends, let’s discuss this out loud (or via comments). Does this hit home with anyone? Does this resonate, scare or encourage anyone? Are you committed to getting dirty, wet and smelly to reach fish?