Three Questions I Get From Ministers About Social Media

If you’re a minister and thinking about joining social media, you might have a lot of unanswered questions. I don’t blame you. Social media can be daunting if you have never used Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

While I can’t answer all of your questions, I thought I would compile some of the top questions I’m frequently asked and my responses.  Here they are:

Can I Hire Someone Else to Write My Social Media?

Let me ask you this question: Do you have someone else writing your sermons? I’d assume your answer would be no, and with social media the same thing should apply. When you tweet or blog, there’s an assumption that the content is coming from you. Write your own content.

What If I Make Mistakes?

Let’s get this out of the way, you’ll make mistakes. I’ve seen pastors accidentally tweet out content that was meant for text messages or forget how to correctly send direct messages on Twitter. The thing about mistakes on social media is that they are quickly forgotten.

Perfection is not the goal of social media. Your congregation cares more about you interacting and sharing then perfection. I often find that mistakes remind people that you’re human and they usually give you an opportunity to show others your sense of humor.

Is This One More Thing I Have To Do?

You won’t like this answer, but yes this is one more thing you have to do. I know that your schedule is packed and you don’t need something else on your plate. However I believe that once you start interacting with your congregation on social media, you’ll see the benefits. In fact, I think that social media is rewarding enough that you will want to make time for it.

Question: What do you tell ministers who are thinking about joining social media? Click here to share below. 

Are You Using Spotify’s Secret Social Media Powers?

Like most Americans, I’ve not bought a CD in a long time. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve only bought one album on iTunes in the last six months. Why? Well, like most of my friends I’m getting my music through an online subscription service. My service of choice right now is Spotify. It has a wide selection of music and apps for all my devices. It’s interface is not too bad to look at and my wife and I like sharing new discoveries with each other.

Are Using Spotify’s Secret Social Media Powers?

However, the more I play with Spotify the more I see some hidden potential for churches. Underneath what appears to be an online music service lies some pretty cool social media features that churches should take advantage of.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Spotify is another social media network, however it does have some social media elements that your church could use to collaborate, discover and share new music. Let me show you what I mean:

It’s All about Following

We all know that radio is on the decline. There once was a time that the only way to discover new music was to let the radio dj curate the hits and be the tastemaker. However, with radio’s decline we have entered into a new era of music discovery.

One of the reasons why I love Spotify is the ability to discover new music. With Spotify, you can follow different users and see what they are listening to. I love finding a few people who I know have great taste in music and then seeing what they discover.  Try setting up a Spotify account and encourage church members follow the account.  This will allow church member to see in real time what new music the church is discovering and they can add it to their own collection as well.

Spotify also has a built in discovery tool that suggests what you might like as well. I have found this tool to be surprisingly accurate and as a result I’ve found a lot of new music that that I love.

Collaborate and Listen

Spotify makes it very easy for your church members to build their own playlists and share them with you. This is really great for when you are building a pre-worship or event playlist. Imagine telling your members what next week’s sermon topic is and letting them send you songs on that topic. You might be surprised what you get back.

Social Is Built In

With Spotify, social media is built into the platform. You can sign in with Facebook, share tracks on Twitter, SMS, email or with other Spotify users. With this feature, you can tweet out Sunday morning’s pre-worship playlist as the service is about to start. (Trust me, I have worked the sound booth enough to know that there is at least one person in the pew who wants to know what the song is that is currently playing.)

Now there are other services like Rdio, Mog and Pandora which offer some of the same features with their own twist. However, I found Spotify to be the most robust choice out there. Right now, Spotify offers a free trial to first-time users which I think is worth your time. So head over to Spotify, sign up and discover some new music for you and your church.

Question: How does music play into your social media strategy? Click here to share below.

40 Blogs You Should Be Reading Right Now

If you’re like me, you’re always trying to read and grow. However, finding the right material to read can be overwhelming. Sometimes a little curating can help guide you in the right direction.

Here are forty blogs that I think you should read. Hopefully you will find these blogs useful and worthy of your time. If you do, fire up your favorite RSS reader and add these blogs to your reading routine.

Church and Culture

Ed StetzerEugene ChoTrevin WaxScot McKnightTony MorganJonathan MerrittQ (Gabe Lyons)Frank Viola

Church Social Media and Communications

78p.tvDustin StoutPro Church ToolsJosh BurnsNils SmithChurch Marketing SucksJonathan HowePhil BowdleSteve FoggChurch Web Strategies

Productivity

99UAsian EfficiencyMacSparkyGTD TimesLifehacker

Technology

The VergeWirecutterDaring Fireball

Design

Minimally MinimalDribbbleboardBrand NewSwissmissFastCo DesignFastCo CreativeFastCo LabsLogo Design LoveIdentity Designed

Web Development

A List ApartSmashing MagazineTreehouseCopy BloggerWebmonkey

Question: Is there a blog that isn’t on here that you recommend? Click here to share below.

Photo Credit: Ben Clinch via Compfightcc

Three Social Media Tools That Your Church Is Missing Out On

We all know that if you want build an effective social media campaign, you typically start with Facebook and Twitter. Both of these tools seem to have become the bedrock of most churches’ social media strategy.  However, if you rely solely on these tools, you may be missing out on areas of growth by not utilizing new tools that are quickly establishing themselves as players in the social media market.

While I could give you an exhaustive list, I don’t want to waste your time. So here are three tools that your church may be missing out on and how you can use them as part of your social media strategy.

Tumblr

In recent months Tumblr’s made news because of it’s selling to Yahoo for 1.1 billion dollars.  So what’s the deal with Tumblr? Tumblr creates a space for you to post quotes, links, videos, audio and photos all in one place. It also features a very easy to use sharing option that can allow your content to quickly spread across the Tumblr system.

One way you can use Tumblr is like a catch all for items that you want to share with your congregation, but aren’t really important enough to put on your main website.  Think of it like the b-sides of a record or scraps from preparing a meal. It’s great content you want to share with your members, however it doesn’t earn prime placement on your website.

Pinterest

Pinterest is stereotypically known as the place where women congregate to share decorating ideas and pictures of Ryan Gosling.  However, it’s a lot more than that.  It’s a great way to work with your church members to visually brainstorm.  With Pinterest you can create a group board where you can collectively pin ideas for what the new children’s area might look like or a redesign of the church logo.  It allows you to let your church members visually submit ideas, comment and like the “pins” (that’s what posts on Pinterest are called).  This gives everyone in the church the feeling that their voice is being heard.

Instagram

We all know of Facebook’s 1 Billion dollar purchase of Instagram, but did you know if was one of the fastest growing social networks of all time? Instagram’s ability to deliver a Facebook like visual news feed, has quickly become a favorite amongst the young adult audience. I’ve covered before various ways you can use it for your church and shown churches who are great examples of how to use it. If you haven’t signed up, do it today and give Instagram a spin.

Questions: Do you use any of the tools?  If so, how?  Is there another social media tool that has been great for you church?  Click here to share below.

How to Create a Social Media Emergency Plan

No one wants to be in the middle of the social media emergency, but they’re becoming more common as major brands are seeing their accounts compromised and taken over by hackers. It’s only a matter a of time till something like that might happen to your church.

Your church probably has plans for severe weather or a medical emergency, but what about a social media emergency? How do you prepare for a social media emergency?

how to create a social media emergency plan
 
If you haven’t take the time to prepare for a social media emergency, now is the time to do it. It won’t take you that long to complete, but those few hours you spend preparing can save you a lot of headaches.
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Four Familiar Church Social Media Problems and How to Solve Them

When I first started out in social media, I ran into lots of various issues. Some of which I’m still trying to figure out and some I quickly solved. While I don’t have all the answers, I do have solutions to some common problems that I know most of us have faced.

Today I want to walk through some of these common problems and what you can do solve them. While every problem and solution might not speak exactly to your situation, I bet you’ll encounter some these problems if you haven’t already.

Your Content is Getting Lost in All the Noise

There are lots of reasons why people might not be sharing your content. One reason is that your content is getting lost in all the noise of social media. One way to cut through that noise is to make sure that your key influencers are sharing your content.  Identify your key social media influencers in your church and give them the content they want.

Your content might also be getting lost if you are pushing too much content. Are you drowning your people in a sea of content? Your content should be focused on the needs of your congregation. Take their time and attention seriously and don’t abuse it.

You’re About to Burnout

Burnout is common in social media circles. No one starts out with the intent of burning out, however, it can happen to anyone if they aren’t careful. You can avoid burnout by building a volunteer team and helping your staff engage in social media. Accomplishing these two tasks will help lighten the load of running social media.

Another cure for burnout is simply taking some time off. When was the last time you took a digital sabbath? Have you taken the opportunity to sit, reflect and listen to God?  Take care of your soul and allow God to refill your cup.

Your Church Members Don’t Participate

It’s hard to generate buzz about your content if your church members aren’t participating in social media. For some of your church members, social media is still a foreign concept. However, there are ways that you can get them involved. Try hosting a luncheon where you can instruct church members on social media basics. If there are key leaders in your church who hold influence, try getting them involved first.

Another reason why church members aren’t participating is that you’re targeting the wrong channels. You can solve this by building a quick survey and asking your congregation what social media accounts they use. You might be surprised by the results.

You’re Running Out of Content

Generating content day in and day out for your church can get old real quick. Go through the archives and take a hard look at your older content. Is there content that can be reworked and brought back to life? Can you take older content and repackage it in a different format? Could you create an ebook out of  transcripts of your minister’s sermons?

Remember you’re not alone, there are wonderful communities out there ready to help you. Just search the hashtag #chsocm on Twitter or Google+ and you’ll find some of the most helpful people I know. You can also check out really great blogs like Dustin Stout or Church Marketing Sucks and you can always ask me for help.

Question: What problems have you run into and how did you solve them? Click here to share.

How to Setup Twitter Location Search for Your Church

Have you ever wondered what your local community was talking about on Twitter? Sure it’s great to have conversations with people around the world, but sometimes you want to know what’s going on next door. Well today I’m going to show you how you can do just that and how you can use those results for your church.

Twitter Location Search
 

Now how can you make this happen? We can do this with a location based Twitter search. Don’t worry it’s not that difficult.  Just follow these directions and you’re on your way.

(Now before I go any further, I first need to give credit to the awesome Noah Sidhom at Bellevue Baptist for some of these ideas.)

Find Your GPS Location

First, we need to find your church’s geocode. Head over to geocoder.us. Once you are there, enter in your church’s physical address in the search bar.

Next, hit search and the site will return the longitude and latitude of your location. This is the geocode and what we will use to search your location. Your results should look something like this:


 
Don’t worry if the results aren’t an exact match for your address (mine weren’t), just long as the results are close enough to your location. Now the two numbers you’ll want are located at the top of the results. My numbers were 36.001461 and -86.8184. You’ll need these two numbers for our next step.

Start Searching in Hootesuite

Now let’s compose a search in Hootsuite using the geocode we just obtained. Go to Hootesuite and and click “Add Stream”. You should see a new window pop up. On that window click the menu option entitled “Search”. This is where we’ll enter our geocode and search term. Now you’ll need to compose your geocode and search term to look like this “search term, geocode:(your geocode),distance(in km)”. Your search query should look something like this:


 

Now click “Add Stream” and should see a new stream appear in Hootesuite with your search results!

What You Can Do with Location Based Searches

I promise you once you start using this type of search, you’ll be surprised what can find. You can run keyword searches for Twitter users who are:

  • Looking for church home
  • Seeking prayer
  • Asking theological questions
  • Just moved to your area

You’re really limited to what keyword combinations you can come up with. In fact you’ll probably want to try different variations in order to find what you are looking for. Once you understand how to use location based searches the possibilities are endless.

Question: Have you tried this did it work, what kind of reactions did you get? Click here to share below.

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