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?

Revised and Updated: Digital Real Estate

It’s been a little over a year since I first blogged about “Digital Real Estate“. Was I right? Did you take me up on my plea and dive into social media for your organization? Let’s see what’s happened in the last year and what changed with the examples I mentioned in the first blog post. Basically, I showed you the concept of digital real estate and gave you some examples of people or churches that weren’t actively twittering at the time, but had reserved their space/name online.

The first example was of worship leader Matt Redman. When I first blogged about him over a year ago, he had created an account, but was not using it, yet. He had a total of 310 followers.

I’m writing this blog post on August 11, 2010. As of today, Matt Redman is twittering regularly and has 21,135 followers. Wow! Look:

The second example I pointed to was’s Twitter account. Now is active and has 3,586 followers as you can see here:

The next example I gave was of Willow Creek Church. Willow now has 3,774 followers on Twitter and tweets regularly. You can check them out here:

Lastly, I mentioned that Rick Warren had reserved his spot on Twitter and had 5000 followers before ever writing his first tweet. Now Rick has 130,463 followers and is a regular on Twitter and encourages church leaders daily.

So… have you claimed your digital real estate? Have you grabbed you or your church, business or organization’s name?

Follow Up to Twitter Changes the World of Advertising

Two weeks ago I blogged about Twitter’s new “promoted trend” and how I thought it would forever change the world of advertising. Mashable blogged about Coca-Cola’s overnight success on Twitter. See their post below:

In just 24 hours, Coca-Cola’s first Promoted Trend garnered 86 million impressions and an engagement rate of 6%, according to the company’s Global Interactive Marketing Vice President Carol Kruse in an interview with The Financial Times.

Following in the footsteps of Disney/Pixar, Coca-Cola is the second company to reach TwitterTwitter audiences by advertising as a Trending Topic on Twitter.

The cost for this particular Twitter ad buy is said to be tens of thousands of dollars, but Kruse indicated that the expense was small relative to other ad buys and that Coke is pretty pleased with its initial Promoted Trends experiment.

The company choose to run with its Promoted Trend campaign during Wednesday’s World Cup matches, a peak time for Twitter activity. The decision was a risky bet that could have yielded mixed results due to Twitter’s inability to keep the service up during World Cup online hysteria. Fortunately for Coke, its risky decision paid off.

Coke listed Promoted Tweets atop the Trending Topic search results for the sponsored #WC2010 Promoted Trend that “congratulated the England and US teams, linked to videos on YouTubeYouTube and invited people to ’share their celebration’ of their teams’ success.”

Given that the soda-making giant has gone on record with its Promoted Trends results, we definitely expect to see even more big brands follow suit.

Twitter Changes Philosophy on Making Money and Forever Changes the World of Advertising

For most, we assumed that Twitter was going to remain ad-free, build a huge following and user-base and then sell it to another company (like Google) to let them figure out a way to make money off of it – probably by junking it up with ads all over the place.

Today I logged into Twitter and notice the Trending Topics on the right had Toy Story 3 with a “Promoted” tag next to it. Twitter has found a classy way to make money and not be an eye sore. The question is how many companies will it allow to promote on their Trending Topics and will the column become useless and meaningless due to the amount of “Promoted” companies or topics. Time will tell. Here’s a closer look:

More info on this Promoted Tweets HERE. Personally, I think Twitter just changed the game when it comes to advertising. Now, “Promoted Tweets” are personal and relevant and not random. This subtle shift and mindset could seriously be a game-changer for how companies approach promotions.

This is from the Twitter website:

Since all Promoted Tweets are organic Tweets, there is not a single “ad” in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter. This is distinct from both traditional search advertising and more recent social advertising. Promoted Tweets will also be timely. Like any other Tweet, the connection between you and a Promoted Tweet in real-time provides a powerful means of delivering information relevant to you at the moment.

There is one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar—they must resonate with users. That means if users don’t interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or Retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.

*** What do you think about it? Did Twitter just open up a whole new can of worms? Where do you think Twitter is headed? Where do you advertising and PR is headed?

A Deeper Look at Social Networking

Last week I spoke on my personal thoughts and learnings of how to use social networking at the M2Live webinar in Atlanta. If you missed it, you can see it HERE. I covered the 2 L’s of my philosophy: Listening through technology and Life-streaming. Watch the video and see if it helps you see new ways to use Twitter and Facebook.

Almost 2 months ago, my friend Scott Williams, wrote a blog post on his 3D philosophy of Twitter. I thought it was worth reposting. Check out what Scott had to say…

Twitter allows us to see people in the following 3 Dimensions:

1. Personal Dimension- The Personal Dimension is the dimension of Twitter where individuals share things about, life, family and is filled with many twitpics, yfrogs and LOL’s.  This is the dimension of Twitter where personality really pops out to the world of Twitter.  This dimension is most important and sets the tone for how the other two dimensions come into focus.

2. Professional Dimension- The Professional Dimension is the dimension that allows you to share expertise, experiences, thoughts, visions, trends, happenings… in your area of professionalism.  This is the dimension where the social media professional shares all things social media, the doctor shares all things medicine, the stay-at-home mom shares all things mommy, the pastor shares all things ministry and so on.  The personal and professional dimension will definitely have some overlap.

The professional dimension is the dimension where business twitter accounts should always remain.  It’s not pragmatic for business twitter accounts to share information from the personal dimension.  I other-words @starbucks  should not be tweeting about mowing the lawn, unless they are mowing the lawn and drinking a cup of Starbucks.  Starbucks should be tweeting about all things Starbucks Coffee and all things Starbucks Coffee Customers.  Unfortunately, some business twitter accounts get this one wrong all the time.

It’s important to understand that your followers may view your professional dimension a little broader than your professional role.  For instance Michael Hyatt is not just viewed as the CEO of Thomas Nelson, but also as a Social Media Expert, Blogger and Leadership Guru.  In this dimension I am viewed as a Pastor, Blogger, Social Media Guy, Leadership Guy etc.  If you want to know how the Twitter World views you, simply take a look at the categories of Twitter Lists that people have placed you in.

3. Thought Dimension- The Thought Dimension is the dimension deals with cognition.  Cognition–being the mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, thinking, reasoning, and judgment.  This is the dimension that releases what’s going on inside of your head.  This dimension is filled with random quotes, random thoughts, the sharing of information that you have read or opinions that you may have.

The Thought Dimension will have overlap with both the Personal Dimension and the Professional Dimension.  I gather the most useful information from the Though Dimension.  @RevRunWisdom  has mastered the thought dimension, he is one of the most retweeted individuals on Twitter and 100% of his posts originate from this dimension.  Again, I love to share and receive from this dimension.  My life philosophy is this: dream BIG. think BIGGER.

In order for an individual to have well-rounded and effective Twitter experience, they must be able to see Twitter In 3D.  All three dimensions must be present.  Personally I think a Twitter Profile should outline these three areas in order, for instance here is how my twitter profile reads:Husband, Father, Thought Leader, Campus Pastor, Speaker, Diversity… Al Gore invented the internet and I invented the #FistBump on Twitter!

Now You Can See, Twitter In 3D.

What Do You Think?  Share your thoughts on Twitter In 3D.

Guest Post by Bill Seaver: The Twitter Balance Score (So You Don't Look Like a Jerk)

The following is a guest blog by Bill Seaver, Social Media Marketing Consultant

In one way or another we’re all marketers now. Once you got your hands on Twitter or Facebook or your WordPress blog or that Flip video camera for your YouTube channel, you became a marketer. Most of you did that on purpose, and you shouldn’t apologize for that.The question isn’t so much whether you use these tools for promotional purposes as it is this: do you use them the right way?

The way you use social media tools is directly affected by the way you think about them. They are excellent promotional devices when the promoter (that’s you) has the right mindset. With the right mindset you can connect with people and promote whatever you’re doing in ways that were never this cheap or easy.

With the wrong mindset, however, the best thing you can hope for is that you’re wasting your time. The worst thing would be that you’re becoming an annoying jerk who’s losing influence and dragging your organization’s reputation down at the same time. To use the tools effectively, you need to understand the new online culture and acquire the new mindset. The new mindset is to earn people’s attention before you promote anything.

Understanding The Old Mindset
The old mindset was one in which organizations just talked about themselves. The assumption was that people were interested in them. In some cases they were. In a rare few cases, they still are. For most of us, however, we’re just another one of a thousand people wanting someone’s attention.

Twitter is a perfect place to observe the old and new mindsets in action. With Twitter and other social media/social networking tools, a shift is occurring where people can more easily choose not to pay attention to self promotion. Marketers still need to get attention, but rather than screaming for it, they need to earn attention by being valuable to the people they want to reach. To earn attention with Twitter you have to understand it to be the conversation tool that it is. Twitter is a conversation tool that also does promotion.Many marketers seem to think it’s the other way around. As such, I have observed organizations that don’t understand this strategic mistake and don’t have the restraint to keep from over-promoting on Twitter. It’s fine to promote sometimes, it’s not fine to promote all the time.

Scoring The Right Balance
To help organizations strike the balance, I’m proposing a self-imposed Twitter Balance Score that is weighted toward conversation and sharing before promotion. The idea is that once you have scored 10 points, you’re free to promote, sell, or otherwise bring attention to something you’ve done. Until the points are scored don’t promote anything. Be part of a conversation or start a conversation.

Keeping Score
The easy way to think about the Twitter Balance Score is to think about sharing as the most valuable portion of a conversation and then listening. Only after that do you start talking. With that perspective in mind, here’s the Twitter Balance Score:

  • Share a link: 3 points
  • Retweet: 3 points
  • Ask a question: 2 points
  • Respond/reply to someone: 2 points
  • Update about what you’re doing/thinking/etc.: 1 point

The goal with this scoring system is to Tweet at least four times between promotions.

Negative Points
The downside to keeping score with anything is the ability to “game” the system. As such, someone could look at the scoring method above and just share a lot of stuff but still never talk to anyone. Beyond that, there are numerous tools available that give the appearance of activity and sharing without actually requiring the person to participate, which should result in negative points. Here are a few scenarios where negative points would be applied:

  • Provide links in three consecutive Tweets: -3 points
  • Three consecutive Retweets: -5 points
  • Retweeting compliments: -10 points (I think this is a big Twitter sin as I’ve written about in the past.)

So that’s the Twitter Balance Score. Think it will help?

User-Generated Media


Often when I’m asked to speak on Church 2.0 I compare the parallels between Web 2.0 and the Church. One thing that I usually point to is user-generated media (such as blogging, podcasting and uploading videos) and user-generated ministry – when people actually take ownership of a ministry, take the ball and run with it.

Over the last few weeks it’s been fascinating to watch the user-generated nature of how people are voicing and showing support for Iran on tools such as Twitter (in the picture seen above). Though the foreign press was kicked out of the country, the people have let their voice be heard via social media and social networking tools. Again, I’m amazed by it.

If you’re not familiar with it, as you can see above, many people have changed the color of their avatar or Twitter picture to one that is green in someway. Green shows support for a free Iran. Below is a blog post that documented the show of support as it started a while back. Click on the picture to read the blog.


Last night I followed the Texas Rangers baseball game via someone’s tweets. What a time to be alive. What are your thoughts on user-generated media?

Church Geek Squad


One topic of discussion that came up at last week’s Church 2.0 Local Forum in Phoenix was the ever-increasing new role for Church leaders and staff to be equippers and trainers of new media and technologies to those in their ministry, volunteers, other staff, etc.

One IT staff member of a mega-church remarked that he’s found himself training more and more staff on how to use tools like Facebook, Twitter and TokBox. Another staff remember remarked that she has been personally going over to volunteers’ homes to teach them hands-on on how to use these tools. She’s personally set them up with email, Facebook and Twitter accounts (even if only to follow her she said).Â

I think this is a new reality we find ourselves in and will probably make it’s way into the Church 2.0 book (or whatever it ends up being called). We as leaders have always been charged to teach, train, encourage, equip, educate and inform. For the many in your church and even on your staff team that don’t “get it” – you may find yourself acting in a role like a Best Buy Geek Squad or an Apple Store Genius Bar.

Have you thought of this before? Do you think this is valid? I’m not talking about forcing anything on anyone. I’m talking about helping those that have interests and are sincerely open to harnessing these new technologies. My hope is that if you are ready and willing to learn that you will seek out those to learn from. And if you “get it” and have knowledge that you could share, I encourage you to see it as an act of furthuring the Kingdom and the Gospel. So, are you willing to serve on the Geek Squad?

Universal Technology

Several conversations lately have led me to consider the integration and universality of technology in a local church context. To be integrated means “combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole” or “organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively.”

Universal means “affecting, concerning, or involving all”, “used or understood by all” or “present everywhere.” As I continue to chew on this concept, other words that come to mind are total, comprehensive and whole.  

I serve as a technology pastor at a church. For years “tech” was considered one person’s role (the techie, tech director or AV coordinator) – whether volunteer, part-time or full-time. Now in most local church situations there is still the need for this AV/tech role that oversees the sound, video and lights for corporate worship services and often oversees and supports campus-wide AV needs. IT is obviously another growing area in the church world and usually requires a dedicated volunteer or paid staff member or the use of outsourced companies.

I’ll be the first to admit that those that serve in “tech” and IT roles in a church have a unique gift mix and personality. In most situations these servants and leaders are seen more as geeks than pastors or ministers. I see my role as a pastor and shepherd, but that’s a topic for another article.

I bring the idea of universal technology up because we’re seeing a shift in the way the Church looks, functions and ministers to the world. The reality that we are missionaries in a digital age is becoming increasingly more apparent and hard to ignore. This brings the whole concept of “technology” to the forefront for regular pastors and church staff members – including the non-techie.

The conversations that I have regularly with pastors are about their desire to learn, understand, apply and fully utilize technology for ministry. The shift is bringing about what I call “universal technology” – meaning every Church leader is engaged in, using and communicating through technology – not just the tech pastor.

Events, gatherings and conferences that I’m regularly apart of look a lot different. The Church 2.0 Local Forums that I host around the country or the churchtechcamp, happening today in Dallas for example, 3 years ago would have been a room full of “geeks” (not my word, I got that from Mark Batterson) and “techies” (that is my word). Now, one walks into a “churchtechcamp” and it’s full of church planters, senior pastors, bloggers and lay leaders/volunteers that are involved in community/small groups and discipleship.

I’m fascinated by it and am enjoying just sitting back and watching this shift. Of course there are still giant conferences like NAB and InfoComm where us techies get together and talk about all things tech-related and the make up of attendees and speakers looks a lot different, but overall I see a change in the use of the word “tech” and the concept and adoption of “technology”.

This new reality that I’m referring to as universal technology is a good thing and a long-awaited one by me, personally. I’ve always viewed technology as a tool and not a toy, so the thought of senior pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, communication directors, small group leaders, missions and outreach leaders, etc. getting interested, involved with and captivated by technology is a beautiful sight to me.

What about you and your situation? Are you seeing volunteers and staff members that don’t have “tech” in their title or job description talk about technology, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and online ministry?

The Twitter Challenge

I’m curious: If you Twitter, why? I’m more curious: If you don’t Twitter, why not? Would you be up for taking a 30 day challenge and seeing if it grows on you? I’m trying to convert a friend of mine currently, but he’s not biting. I sincerely would like to know your thoughts on the phenomenon of Twitter. If you’re up for the “30 Day Twitter Challenge”, I’ll be your first “tweet” – follow me HERE.