Month: August 2014

Keeping Up with the Joneses

We’ve all been there.  We’ve watched the church down the street have huge social media numbers and a website that could power NASA.  It’s easy to feel small in comparison of the number of large churches that are out there.  If you’re not careful you can start question if you’re making any impact at all.

The problem with comparing yourself with the church down the street is that it sets unrealistic expectations on you and your church. Sure, the church next door has 5,000 Facebook likes, but there are lot factors that probably helped them get there. They might have full time person dedicated to social media or they might have spent money to buy “likes” (yes, you can do that and no it’s not recommended). In short, there are lot of factors to how a church might succeed using social media.

Instead of focusing on the what the church down the street is doing, take time to do an honest assessment of your church and it’s strengths.   Yes, the church down the street may have “a lot going on”, but that can also be a disadvantage as well.   Churches with large programs tend to push out a lot promotion for all of their programs.   You however can be laser focused on a few things and promote them well.

You can also take the time to make sure that your social media channels are not only pushing the right content out, but there also listening as well.  Listening is the key to great social media. Listening is the “social” part of social media.   Focus on listening well and the size of Twitter follower count won’t really matter.

Trying to keep up with the church next door is a fool’s errand.  God put you where you’re at for a purpose.  Embrace that purpose and focus on what matters.  Do that and then everything else will fall in it’s place.

31 Sites to Find Free Stock Photos for Your Church

Finding great photos for your church’s site is not an easy task. This is especially true if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a typical stock photography site like iStockphoto. However, there are some really good options out there that are free. I took the time and compiled a list below of 31 free photography sites for you to use. Feel free to peruse the list below and get what you need. Also don’t forget to give credit to the photographer and obey any copyright restrictions.

11 Mistakes I’ve Made On Social Media

I wrote yesterday on how failure is a good thing. So I thought I would share with you some of the mistakes I’ve made with social media. Hopefully this list will make you smile and let you know you’re not the only one who makes mistakes.  Enjoy.

I sent out a misspelled tweet about our church’s live streaming. Recently our church’s live stream went down. I quickly sent out a tweet to let everyone know we were working on a solution, however I misspelled one small word on the tweet. Here’s what I sent out:

We’re experiencing technical difficulties and our love streaming is down. Should be back up shortly.

Obviously, I meant to say live streaming and not love streaming. I pulled it down before anyone noticed.

I forgot to proof a blog post that was picked up by The Gospel Coalition. There’s nothing like the rush of seeing your Google analytic numbers go up. Especially when it’s from a prominent site like The Gospel Coalition. However, the post that was picked up wasn’t supposed to be live yet, because it was still a rough draft. Let’s just say there was a lot errors in it that would make an english teacher blush.

I tweeted out a picture of my pastor’s lower posterior. A few months ago our pastor was speaking to our leadership.  I wanted to capture the moment and I took a photo of him speaking on stage.  I then tweeted out the photo and moved on. What I didn’t realize was that I took the photo vertically (which I rarely do) and that Twitter cropped the photo in the timeline view.  Twitter managed to crop out everything except my pastor’s lower posterior.  Thanks Twitter.

I got in argument over SEO on Twitter. Arguments on social media are ridiculous. I participated in one and won’t do it again.

I bought Twitter followers as an experiment. Amy Haywood and I decided to conduct an experiment and see what would happen when you bought Twitter followers. So we went to Fiverr and paid someone five bucks for 20,000 followers. Did we get the followers? Yes. Did they stick around? Nope. They were robots and we lost them about two days after we bought them.

I followed too many people on Twitter and then I decided to unfollow them and they got angry. I ran another experiment on Twitter and tried to see how many people I could gain if I followed everyone on Twitter who followed me. I also tried to follow as many people who had a high chance of following me back. Did it work? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I gained a lot of followers. No, in the sense that it added nothing for me in terms of building community.  I also learned that some people really take unfollowing on Twitter personally.

I used the same template too many times on a Facebook promo. Recently we were trying to promote our small groups event. We carefully planned our Facebook promotional photos with quotes and queued them up. What we didn’t think through was that when you’re running an advertisement on Facebook is that it’s very important to vary the imagery you’re using. If you use the same look too many times, people will begin to ignore the promotion.

I tweeted out a sarcastic comment to my executive pastor from our church account. My executive pastor once tweeted that we should take the time to thank our ministers for all the hard work they do. Since I’m married to one of the student ministers, I thought it would be funny to tweet “I thanked one this morning”, obviously referring to my wife (and no I didn’t mean that tweet in an inappropriate way). It seemed funny to me at the time, but I sent it out on the wrong account. The church’s account. I pulled it within ten seconds of it being posted, but it was embarrassing nonetheless.

I accidentally set my profile pic as the church’s profile pic on Facebook. Facebook’s photo management system is an embarrassment and I found out the hard way when it picked the wrong photo for our church’s profile pic. Awkward.

I caught a co-workers computer on fire. Okay, this happened while I was at LifeWay, but I can still smell the burnt hard drive of Aaron Linne’s computer.

I accidentally caught an amusement park restaurant on fire while working for a charity. This actually happened in college. Long story. Let’s just say there’s a theme park in America where security has a photo of me on file.

I hope this list made you laugh and encouraged to go out and try.  Failure’s not that bad and it can be a bit amusing.

How to Become a Techie

Techie. Geek. Just a few of the names I’ve been called at some point in my life. They’re usually followed by the statements like “I wish I was more technical or I just don’t understand all that web stuff”.

However, I think those statements are a cop-out. Yep, you heard me. I’m calling out all of my non-techie friends.

You see, I’m really not that technical. In fact if you get me in a room with other techies, I’m probably the least technical person. Yes, I can write some code and I have fixed an iPhone or two, but I’m really not that technically inclined. It’s just that I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.

Becoming technically proficient isn’t that hard with a little work and patience. In fact, if you work hard at it you’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of doing. Before you know it, you’ll be the one Aunt Ethel is asking to fix her computer at Thanksgiving dinner.

So are you ready to learn? If so, here’s a few things you can do to become a “techie” and amaze all your friends.

Read the Manual

Yes, I know that sounds boring. However, there’s a reason there’s manual, a help section or a FAQ. People a lot smarter than you or I have taken the time to think through all the situations you might find yourself in and what you need to do. Before, you scream at your computer and claim that Apple doesn’t know what they’re doing, read the manual (and also make sure the computer is plugged in).

Ask Questions

I ask a lot questions and you should too. Can’t understand Instagram? Grab a teenager (preferably one you know), hand them your phone and ask a lot questions. Yes, you will probably feel like an idiot, but everyone does at some point.

I’ve been blessed with a group of friends who have much deeper understanding on a wide range of technical issues. When I have a web coding question, I ask Amy Haywood or Josh Jenkins. If it’s video, I ask Seth Worley. Digital Publishing? I ask Aaron Linne. I’m not afraid to look stupid in front of them and they know they can call on me when they have questions.

Find friends who know more than you do and build those relationships. They’ll come in handy when you’re trying to set up your blog, save your iPhone photos or capture your kid’s first steps.

Copy Then Remix

About 90% of anything I’ve ever done is probably a copy of someone else. Don’t be afraid to copy something else and make it your own. In fact, by reverse engineering the work that someone else has done you get a better insight about how something works.

Of course, make sure what you’re copying is okay with author. For the web, a lot coders give away their code on Github. You’re free to use it as long you attribute the work back to them and you’re not trying to profit off of the work (however, if you’re unsure please contact the creator of whatever you’re copying).

Do It Wrong

There’s probably a right way to do everything, however rarely is there ever the only way to do something. If you’re being told that your way is the wrong way, but it works for you, then stay with it. I find sometimes that by doing something the wrong way, I learn why the right way is really not that important or in some cases I find out why you should never do things the wrong way.

Enjoy Failing

I don’t like to fail, but I’ve learned that failing is not the end of world. I’ve sent out the wrong tweets, accidentally deleted social media accounts and caught a computer on fire (sorry Aaron). Fail often and fail fast. Every time you fail, it just means that you’re little closer to where you want to be.

So quit telling yourself that you can’t create a blog, build a webpage or fix your Phone. You can do it. Just practice a little patience and read the manual.

Why My Pastor Rocks at Twitter

I want to take a second to brag on my pastor, Mike Glenn. He’s not only a great guy and a fair speaker (kidding, he’s actually quite good), he’s also very good at necessary social media skill.  Well, actually it’s three things that Mike does well on social media.

He’s clear, concise and compelling all in 140 characters.

Mike has joked that he think’s social media should be taught in seminary and I don’t think he’s that far off. You see, Mike’s realized that social media is only part of the conversation. He doesn’t try unpack an entire theological truth in 140 characters, instead Mike gives the audience enough for them to think about and then gives them a little more.  See what I mean below:

The other part of Twitter that Mike has mastered is owning a subject matter.  In Mike’s case, it’s marriage. Everyday Mike tweets #marriagetips.  Yes, some of them can be a bit hokey and little too southern for my tastes, but it’s what his audience wants (Twitter metrics have confirmed this).

Is my pastor perfect on Twitter? I’m afraid not. However, I’m proud that he’s willing to get out there and let God use his voice. I’ve said before that more pastor’s should get on social media and I still believe that. We have too good of story to tell to be holding it within our churches.

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