Month: February 2014

What Facebook Buying Whatsapp Means for Your Church

19 billion dollars. That’s what Facebook just spent on acquiring the mobile app WhatsApp. Yes, that’s a lot of money. However, as the dust settles on the deal some experts are seeing the logic in the deal and why it makes sense.

If you run social media for your church, this type of news doesn’t typically affect you. However, I do think that the purchase of Whatsapp can give us some insight into Facebook’s future strategy and what it means for your church.

Facebook is going all in on mobile

Mobile is the future. Facebook has seen dramatic growth in mobile use of their platform and they know that’s where their future lies. You should expect to see a heavy investment from Facebook in the mobile experience. This means that as a church, you need to focus on the mobile experience first and then focus on the desktop. Ask yourself, how does your church’s content look on a mobile device? Is formatted correctly? Can it be easily read on a smaller screen?

It’s a Reminder that You’re the Product

Facebook’s business model is pretty simple, users hand over personal data through status updates, pictures and likes. That data is then sold to marketers who use the data to sell ads. It’s a pretty simple revenue model. The addition of Whatsapp and it’s 450 million users adds to the growing list of users who give Facebook their data. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg projects that he could easily make at least $2-$3 off of each users to begin with.

Remember when you’re dealing with social media companies, you’re the product, not the customer. It’s easy to confuse the two. That’s not to say that Facebook or Twitter don’t care about the user experience, but it does mean that goal is to get as much data out of you as possible. Again, you’re not paying for the service, marketers are and that’s who social media companies have to keep happy.

As churches we need to be careful not build too many of our communication channels on “free” networks. While these networks are great for your budget, they come with little or no customer service, no gurantee of their uptime and no promise of protection of your free speech as a church. Consider diversifying your channels to platforms that you’re truly the customer or that you yourself can host. While yes, it does take a little more time and effort, but it ensures you will have stable communication channels.

Whatapp is just the beginning

If you’re big fan and user of Facebook then this is just one more way that you will be able to incorporate Facebook into your life. However, if you’re weary of Zuckerberg and Facebook, then be careful what you sign up for in the future. This aquisition is one of many coming down the road for them. As Facebook struggles to create more ways to get on your mobile device (i.e. their dismal launch of the Android Home app), they will be forced to purchased established players in the field like Whatsapp.

Facebook will continue to be a key player in most churches’ social media strategy. As it should, considering its staggering amount of users and rise of popularity amongst senior adults . However, this recent aquisition of Whatsapp is healthy reminder to diversify your communications platforms and always explore new options.

Seven Mobile Tools for Church Social Media Directors

If you’re like me, you can’t be confined to desk and run social media for your church. You need mobile tools that allow you to quickly capture what’s happening and feed it to your social media channels. Here’s a quick list of tools that I use to get the job done:

Hootsuite Mobile App

Yes, you can use the official Twitter and Facebook Pages app to handle multiple accounts, but the Hootsuite’s mobile app is the tool of choice. Here’s a quick rundown of its features:

  • Multiple account management (Facebook, Twitter, etc…)
  • Scheduling of posts in advance
  • Geolocation search for nearby social media activity (read more that here)
  • Check-in with Foursquare
  • Manage your Hootsuite streams


Sorry there’s no third pary app to replace Instagram. Due to their API restrictions, if you want to use Instagram and all of its features, you need to stick with its official app.


VSCOcam is the best photo editor on the iPhone. Not only does it come with built-in filters, it also lets you have fine grain control over editing your photos.


Horizon is a video camera app with one goal; to rid the world of those horrible vertical iPhone videos. You know the ones I’m talking about. The kind that makes you think you’re looking through some sort of rectangular peephole. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Just ask any video professional, and then watch them start to tear up.


I like things that are automatic. IFTTT (If This Then That) let’s me automate a lot of my life. You can automate photo backups, your Buffer account, notifications and more. Recently, they released an iPhone app which let’s you automate actions on your phone. For example, let’s say you added a reminder in Siri but you also want email to yourself that reminder, IFTTT for the iPhone can do that. The possibilities are endless.


There’s no way to keep up with every social media news site, but there is a way to put all those updates in one place. Using Feedly you can create a dashboard for all your news sources. You can also connect to other services like Pocket to save articles for later reading. (Bonus feature: you can hook up Feedly to Buffer with IFTTT to automatically tweet articles you save.)


Over for me is the best way way to lay text over your photos. While there are other choices, Over provides the best selection of fonts and tools for creating art on the go for your church social media channels.

Of course this list is just a start, however for me these are the essential apps that I use on a day to day basis. Got an app that you think should’ve made the list? Hit me up on Twitter (@dgirardier) and let me know.

Let’s Fix Social Media Conferences

Hey conference planners, it’s time to rethink your social media conference. I think we’re all tired of going to conferences and finding the same topics rehashed. It’s time to move beyond speakers and bloggers throwing up their presentation decks that can be found on Google. So how do you fix your social media conference? Here’s a list to get you started:

Give Me an Experience

If I could be streaming your conference and it’s the same experience as those attending the conference, then coming to your conference is a waste of my time. Make your conference an immersive experience.

Deliver Original Content

If I could get your presenter’s information through a google search or reading your presenter’s blog, then it’s not worth my time. You need to deliver original, exclusive content.

Put the Social in Social Media

If your conference has “social” in the title, then I expect there to be a live social element to your conference. I’m not talking about a #hashtag tweet conversation, I’m talking about a real conversation between a group of people.

You Need to Talk to Your Attendees

If you tell the attendees that you need to listen and interact with your audience, and your conference doesn’t do that, then you’re hypocritical. Conferences have to learn to be flexible and change with needs of the audience. This requires listening.

Don’t Say “Think Mobile” and Not Do the Same

If you tell people it’s a mobile first world, then your website has to have a mobile version. This is non-negotiable.

Conference planners, throw out your previous schedules and do what you preach. Engage your audience, listen to them in real time and give them a true mobile experience. I’m not describing the future, I’m describing the present. It’s time you joined us.

What You Can Learn From Obama’s Digital Team

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some in Chattanooga at the Soclal Ecclesia Conference. One of the highlights of the conference was a surprise visit by Daniel Ryan from President Obama’s digital campaign team. Now regardless of your politics, it’s a fact that Obamas digital campaign team set the gold standard for conducting an effective online marketing campaign.

Daniel gave a lot of great insight into how Obama’s team viewed data and used it to make their decisions.  His visit also reminded me of a resource that every church communications team should read.  It’s called Inside the Cave by Engage Research.  It’s really great ebook that gives insight into how Obama’s digital was built, how they functioned and how they ran their online marketing. Here are some of my key takeaways from Inside the Cave.  

Your Intuition Could Be Wrong

What was the most popular email subject line for the Obama campaign? Hey…  That’s right the most popular subject line was “Hey…”.  Now there’s no way I would’ve guessed that would work as a headline.  However, my intuition was wrong as was many of the Obama staffers who thought the same thing.  Yet, when the email went out, the results were there. 

Intuition can often serve us well, however when we let the data speak for itself we can test our assumptions and make the best decisions.  Are you making assumptions with your church’s social media?  Are you letting your intuition get in the way of data that could help your social media be more effective?

Staff To Get the Job Done

When you compare Obama’s digital staff to Romney’s digital staff the first thing you’ll notice that Obama’s team was better staffed for the challenge of running an online campaign.   Not only did Obama have more staff, he also had some of the most elite people in their respective fields. 

Are you staffed to get the job done at your church?  What pieces to your team are you missing? Can you fill in the missing gaps with volunteers?

Prepare for the Worst

One of the effects of Hurricane Sandy was the disabling of servers on the east coast.  A number of websites and organizations were crippled when they lost power.  Obama’s team however did not run into that problem. 

How did they avoid these problems?  Well, Obama’s team over-prepared for scenarios just like Hurricane Sandy.  They created some of the worst situations possible and then created emergency plans.  Then they ran their team through the scenarios.  So when Hurricane Sandy hit and server’s went down, Obama’s team was ready.

Test your assumptions, staff for the job and prepare for the worst.  These are just some of the many takeaways from Inside the Cave.  I encourage you to download a copy and share it with your communications team. 


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