One Trick to Get a Week’s Worth of Church Social Media Content

Creating content every week for your church’s social media channels can be a difficult task. However, there’s one way to get all the content you need for a week with one simple trick. It’s a trick that I learned while having lunch with a former social media staffer for a large church. When he told me what his secret was to getting content, I was dumbfounded how easy it was and knew that I had to share it with you.

One Trick to Get a Week's Worth of Church Social Media Content

In fact, what is so great about this one little trick, is that it’s repeatable week after week. Every week you can do this one thing and create some really interesting content for your church audience. Are you ready to learn this repeatable and content generating trick? Here it is… (more…)

How I Gained and Lost 20K Twitter Followers in 48 Hours

I looked my screen and hit refresh a few times. My eyes couldn’t believe it. I had gained 20,000 Twitter followers in last six hours. I sat back and then snickered, knowing the truth that I had bought those followers.

Now why would I go and buy Twitter followers? Simply put, it was an experiment. I was under no illusion that this would somehow boost my Twitter status with people. I wanted to see if you could actually buy Twitter followers and what the repercussions would be.

Well, that short high of having the additional 20,000 followers quickly faded. About twelve hours in, I lost about 11,000 of those followers, then about three hours later I lost another 5,000. The remaining 4,000 were gone after 48 hours had passed.

What did I learn from all of this? Well, first I learned that most of those followers I bought were robots. Secondly, I learned that this practice of buying followers is much more common than I thought. However looking back, I think I came to some more substantial realizations.

Twitter Is Not About Followers, but a Tribe

I think it was Seth Godin who first coined the term “Tribe” to describe the group of people who you identify with. I think of a tribe as a group of people who share the same concerns, passions and ideas of my own. A tribe freely gives and takes with each other. A tribe lifts up and encourages in times of doubt. When I look at Twitter, I want to make sure that I am not trying to amass “followers”, but instead build and become part of a tribe.

A Tribe Is Your Best Marketing

If your tribe shares the same goals as you do, then marketing becomes that much easier for you. You already have a built in understanding and trust with your audience. You know the boundaries and what the tribe expects from you. Deliver on those expectations and the tribe will take care of the marketing for you.

A Tribe Will Defend You

If you are a part of a tribe, you really shouldn’t have to worry about naysayers. If you are doing something original, naysayers will show up. However, a tribe usually runs to the defense of others. With a tribe you are not going it alone.

A Tribe Gives Back

With a a tribe if you are constantly giving to it, eventually it will give back to you. Now this “giving back” might not be instantaneous. In fact, it could takes months for your tribe to start giving back. However, stick with it and soon your tribe will give you back ten-fold what you put in it.

What does this mean for your church? It’s time we stop worrying about getting more followers and start thinking about how we turn our church into a tribe. How do we build groups of people who will rally around each other and give without thought of receiving anything in return? Does your church reflect this? If not, how can you foster it?

Top Five Questions and Answers for July

I thought I would take some time and answer some questions from readers, social media and real life conversations. As I said before, this blog is about helping churches use social media and technology, so I love answering questions about these subjects. If you would like for me to answer your question, contact me here or on Twitter. Without further ado, here are the top five questions for July.

Does your church you use QR codes?

We do use them. However I’m not a big fan of them and let me tell you why. First, QR codes require most people to download an app on their phone to be able to scan them. So in theory, when someone sees a QR code, they first have search for a QR code app, then download the app, then scan the QR code. That doesn’t sound very practical to me.

How do you manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts?

The tool we use is called HootSuite. HootSuite allows us to manage our Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts in a single dashboard view. We can also track retweets, mentions, direct messages, as well as certain hashtags. We also use it to schedule out our social media messages in advance, once we’ve mapped them out on our social media content calendar.

What book do you recommend to first time social media users?

I’ve written about this before, but the first book I recommended is Platform by Michael Hyatt. Hyatt does a great job of covering social media basics and also covers how to build and maintain an audience.

My pastor (bisphop, priest or rector) wants to start a blog, but thinks using their name as the url might be considered vain. What do you think?

That is a completely valid concern. However, the stigma of buying your own name as a URL is slowly going away. Ask your pastor this question, if they were writing a book, would they put their name on it? More than likely the answer is yes. Tell them to think of a blog as an online book. If you are willing to write something online, put your name behind it.

Should my church worry about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

As I’ve said before, unless your church is trying to dominate local search results, the answer is no. Instead, focus on making shareable content that your congregation will want to share with others. Your congregation will be the most effective marketing tool you have, and will always beat out SEO when it comes to getting people to visit your church.

Do you have a question that you want answered? Click here to comment below or ask me on Twitter.

Photo Credit: SCFiasco via Compfightcc

An Interview with MeLissa Gavarrette About Writing, Comedy and Social Media

One of the many joys I had while being a creative director was meeting new talent and watching them grow in their craft.  About five years ago I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with comedian and writer, MeLissa Gavarrette. Now when it comes to funny people, I put them in two categories. First, there are people who say funny things and second there are people who say things in a funny way.  Personally, I think the latter of the two is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.  MeLissa definitely falls in that second category.   In this interview, MeLissa was kind enough to share her creative process, thoughts on the future of her craft and her views on social media.

How did you get started writing comedy?

Using humor to wow the masses is something I started doing when I was little, doing my own renditions of children’s plays for my fellow classmates instead of working on phonics. In middle school, I wrote a comedic comic book to sell to new classmates and in high school I was popular for one week after I wrote our Senior class play for Homecoming. I didn’t get serious about writing comedy until halfway through college. I was writing a lot of live stuff for student camps and what I would later realize were stand-up bits.

Erin McGown (left) and MeLissa Gavarrette (right) of Erin and Melissa.

I realized that I could be funny on the fly, but I could be really funny if I really constructed my words to pack the maximum punch. When my writing partner, Erin and I started shooting videos regularly, we started writing out everything. It was really something I learned out of necessity and trial & error. I mean, I’m sure there were people who said things like, “are these shows scripted”, to which we’d say, “no”, to which they’d respond “they should be…”. To them, I roll my eyes and then I thank them profusely because they were right for insisting. Being funny doesn’t necessarily make you a good comedy writer.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

I am super inspired by other people who are working hard and making things happen. People who invite you over for game nights are awesome, but if you’re going to game nights every night of the week, when are you getting stuff done? I love to hear about the things my friends are working on (regardless of the field) because you walk away feeling like you have a chance too and sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps you moving forward with your crazy ideas.

In “On Writing” by Stephen King (which I recommend to EVERYONE regardless of whether or not you ever plan to be a writer), he says, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcuts.”  I watch a LOT of movies. I read a LOT of books. I see a LOT of shows. Some I love, some I hate, some I knew nothing about walking into it. These are the things that fuel creativity, give you perspective, help you see what’s possible. Try to take as many opportunities to expand your knowledge of pretty much everything. I promise it’ll help.

You made the jump from Nashville to LA, why did you move and how has it impacted you creatively?

LA felt something that was becoming more and more of a possibility, but then I read this article by Jenna Fisher from The Office. She said, “My first piece of advice to someone who is serious about being a professional television or film actor is: move to Los Angeles.” Now, I didn’t necessarily want to be a film or television actor at the time (though it’s always been an option), but I realized that it only made sense for me in my stage of life to be where the industry was and the film/tv writing industry lives predominantly in LA. I worked as hard as I could where I was (Nashville) until it felt like it was time to start building a foundation where the industry is.

If you’re serious about a field, surround yourself with those people. That’ll help you decide if you really love it or if it’s just a hobby…

Let me tell you that it has been the best/worst/hardest/most growing experience of my life. It’s like being the only kid in your area who can play a violin. You start to think you’re the only person on the entire planet who knows anything about violins. You might even think you’re the best violinist that history has ever known that wasn’t born when men still regularly wore wigs. Then your mom signs you up for music camp and you’re surrounded by violin players. Two things happen: 1) You realize maybe you are not the best violin player in history without a wig. 2) You feel like you found your people. You meet people who are better than you make you work harder. You make people who are newer to writing that remind you of how far you’ve come.

If you’re serious about a field, surround yourself with those people. That’ll help you decide if you really love it or if it’s just a hobby (which, it’s okay if it is just a hobby, but let me not recommend you move to LA where you will likely live in a closet for $700 a month just for the sake of a hobby. Stay wherever you are. Live like a king. Email your stuff from that castle to wherever in the world you want.)

Do have a process for writing? Is it sporadic (when the mood strikes) or is there a schedule? If there is a schedule, what does it look like?

I will never stop recommending people read Stephen King’s “On Writing”. He talks so much about discipline and writing regardless of how you feel. Steven Pressfield talks about it in “War of Art”. He says that writing whether or not you feel like it was separates the professional from the amateur. The amateur writer has the luxury of saying “I don’t feel like writing today, so I won’t.” The professional writer has deadlines and expectations to meet. The professional writer writes regardless of how they feel. So I decided for myself that I would be a professional writer. This means no excuses. I don’t necessarily get up every morning and write at 5 AM (though, I probably should and I definitely have in the past), but I definitely set deadlines for myself.

The professional writer has deadlines and expectations to meet. The professional writer writes regardless of how they feel.

I try to have at least a couple of projects on my desk all the time. I keep a serious “To-do” list of creative projects on my wall where I can see it, in order of importance. I also set deadlines with no wiggle room. If my first instinct is “this will take me 2 weeks to finish”, I’ll set a deadline of 10 days. I communicate that deadline to whoever needs to know because I think it’s absolutely not okay to turn in a project late. Maybe a little early, but otherwise, always on time. We have this bad habit of giving ourselves plenty of time and the majority of that time is spent thinking about how you’re going to work on whatever it is later. If this art form is what you love, why would you not push yourself to be doing more often than not?

Where do you see the future of comedy going?

For as old as comedy is as an art form, I think I love it because it’s not maxed out. Everything hasn’t been played out and I think that’s because comedy is so unique to the person performing it. Shakespeare jokes are different from Mark Twain jokes, which are different from John Cleese or Adam Sandler or Kristin Wiig or myself. Everyday it’s new. I see the future of comedy kind of like a great frontier and I’m a tiny biracial Starship Enterprise.

With the technology we have today, we have the freedom to make whatever image we have in our heads something tangible for anyone anywhere else to see and that’s freaking amazing. So if you have a weird idea to make a laser-light puppet musical with live streaming images on the backdrop (that idea is free to the first interested party), now iss your time, now is your dance! Do it! You have no excuses! And trust me, there are people who want to see it! (I expect my ticket to be comped). Can you imagine what sort of renaissance could happen if people start to really realize they can? I mean, for sure there will be a lot of garbage to wade through (not everything you do is a work of art, Michelangelo), but that feels like a risk worth taking.

I see the future of comedy kind of like a great frontier and I’m a tiny biracial Starship Enterprise.

I also see comedy doing what it’s always done in a grander scale and that is talking about tough things that are important to us. There’s a lot I have issue with on this planet, the mistreatment of the natural environment, human rights abuses, poverty, greed, our glorification of famous people. Comedy is allowing us to bring these issues to the masses in a way that makes sense and doesn’t shut people down. That has to be exciting for humans.

How much does social media factor into what you do?

Social media has to be a tool. I mean that in a couple of ways.  First, it’s free and it gets what you’re doing out there, so don’t be a weirdo. Go register your username and make it work for you. Second, It can’t control you. You are not (supposed to be) the tool. If you’re letting likes, retweets or shares determine whether or not you should be an artist, well… I think you have bigger questions to answer. While there is a certain amount of feedback you definitely should take into consideration, your ability and worth as a human being cannot be based exclusively on how many followers you have. You’ll make yourself crazy that way. Decide that you love what you do and the people who feel the same way will respond. How? By discovering it via friends and social media, of course!

Decide that you love what you do and the people who feel the same way will respond.

Personally, I use my Twitter for jokes and sharing stuff I think is important (like links to good articles or work my friends are doing that I think everyone on the planet needs to know about). Facebook is a little more private to me, but I use fan pages for the projects I work on (Erin & MeLissa Show, Land of Unicorns are a couple of them). Those entities also have their own Twitters but it didn’t make sense for us to make them their own Instagrams and Vines (for example).

We’ve kind of just grown into what we needed versus getting all these platforms and managing them poorly. I do recommend getting someplace online that you take care of well, whether that be a blog (for you writers) or a Twitter (for you comedians), an Instagram (for you photographers) or a regular ol’ website (for anyone and everyone, including your grandma). Have a place you’re proud of to send people when they say “What do you do? I want to see some of your work!” Because hopefully they will, and because you’ve already decided you’re a professional, you’ll be ready.

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p id=”yui_3_10_1_1_1389752699942_144671″>MeLissa Gavarrette is a human being living in Los Angeles who partakes in jokes, writing, singing songs about bellies and creativity of all sorts. She is 50% of the Erin & MeLissa comedy super team. She has neither an iPad or a husband. Find out her thoughts on outdated things at Twitter by following @OhDarlingGirl.

What Jimmy Fallon Can Teach Your Church About Social Media

The late night talk show circuit is a cut throat business. Becoming a late night talk show host is a rare feat but staying on top even rarer. One person that has managed not only to survive this business, but also grow and build their own audience is Jimmy Fallon.

How difficult was it for Jimmy Fallon? Well, first he was replacing the wildly successful Conan O’Brian, who had a loyal following. Second, Jimmy had never hosted a show like this before. Now most comedians would have cracked under that type of pressure, however Jimmy didn’t. In fact Jimmy Fallon has done so well that he is schedule to take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in 2014.

Now you might be thinking, good for Jimmy, but how does this apply to social media and my church?

Well, as I have watched Jimmy Fallon grow in his craft, I began to see some similarities between what he was creating for late night television and what churches create for social media. Much like churches, Jimmy had niche audience that he had to build and maintain a relationship with. How did he do it and what your church learn? Here are some takeaways for I believe could help your church with social media:

Jimmy Provides Interesting Commentary

A lot of people use social media to comment on current events or life in general. In fact, for most people that’s what social media is, commentary. People are commenting on daily activities, what they see on television or maybe what their coworker said. Well, I think we both know that is pretty mundane and boring.

Jimmy Fallon comments as well. However, Jimmy provides commentary in manner that is interesting and unique to his audience. For example, Jimmy noticed something interesting about Justin Beiber’s twitter account and decided to employ one of his writers to have some on Twitter.  See the interesting results below:

See how Jimmy comments on what could have been a mundane topic and instead makes it interesting for his audience?   What is going on your church that needs an interesting spin?  Is there anything that mundane that needs some interesting commentary?

Jimmy Knows How to Curate for His Audience

Curating for audience not only helps establish your church as an authority, but it makes your church a resource for your audience. It’s pretty clear that Jimmy understands this. During E3 week (a huge electronics expo) Jimmy brought on the Xbox and Playstation on respective nights to demo their product to his audience. Why? Well, Jimmy understands his demographic and what they care about. For Jimmy’s audience it’s videos games.  See an example below:

Now, you might not care about the Xbox, but Jimmy Fallon’s audience does.  Are you delivering content to your church members that they care about? Find out what your church memebrs cares about and deliver it to them.

Jimmy Knows How to Create for His Audience

Creating original content is probably the most difficult thing to do. However, Jimmy accomplishes this task well with original videos that are geared towards his audience. By creating original content, he gives them something to share.

Note that not only does Jimmy create original content, he gives it away for free on Youtube. You can easily view the content and then share it with a friend. This helps builds audience loyalty and keeps them engaged.  See this recent video the Jimmy created along with Brad Pitt:

Is the content that your church is creating original and engaging?  Is it easy to share with others?

So what does Jimmy Fallon do well?  Jimmy provides interesting commentary,curates content and creates original content.  Does your church needs to be able to do all of these things to be successful? No, but if you can do at least two of things well your chance of connecting with your church audience on social media is much more likely.

Question: How does your church comment, curate and create?  Click here to comment below. 

photo credit: ElizaPeyton via Compfightcc

One Quick Way to Protect Your Church’s Online Identity

Protecting your church’s online identity can be a difficult task. Every day it seems that there is a new social media network or online service popping up on the internet. Of course, you can’t join them all, however if one of them does spike in popularity (i.e. Instagram, Vine, etc…) it would be nice to know that you have your church’s online identity reserved.

Protect Online Identity
 

Today, I am going to introduce you to a tool that will help you reserve your church’s online identity. It’s called KnowEm. What’s so special about KnowEm? Well, with KnowEm you can check to see if your church’s online identity is available on over 500 social media sites.

How does KnowEm work? Here is a quick tutorial:

First, go to KnowEm.com and enter your church’s name in the following area highlighted below, then hit enter.

After you hit enter you will see a list of results for the top social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc…).  KnowEm will show you which identities are still available and which ones are taken. The results should look something like this:

Now if you really want to secure your identify, scroll down and click link entitled “CHECK OVER 500 MORE SOCIAL NETWORKS”, you can then see if your identity is available on more websites.

While 500 sites may seem overwhelming, it’s a good opportunity to find new social networks and services you might never heard of or find a few that you may forgotten about. (Note: Not only does Knowem check social media networks and services, it also checks domain names and trademarks as well.)

Are you actively protecting your church’s online identity? Give KnowEm a try and start protecting your church’s online identity today.

Question: What tools do you use to protect your church’s online identity? Click here to comment below.

How to Create a Church Website that Attracts Visitors

When I first visit a church website, one of things I look for is how easy it is for a visitor to navigate.   What I usually find, is that the most important information for a visitor is usually buried under announcements, events and large amounts of text.  This is interesting, considering the fact that most churches want to attract visitors with their website.

You might think that that your website is immune from these practices.  However, take a hard look at your website.  Does your church website really invite visitors to come and see you? You might think that it does, but unless you are taking the following steps below, you could be missing out on potential visitors.

Clearly Outline the Where and When

The two most important pieces of information that visitors want to know is where you are at and when do you meet. Look at your website and see how many clicks it takes to get to that information. It shouldn’t take any clicks to find that information. It should be visible from the moment when you load the homepage of your website.

Produce a Call to Action for Your Visitors

When visitors come to your website, make sure they know what you want them to do. This means, providing clear call to actions letting them what the next steps are when visiting your church. (Click here to see an example.)

Provide Compelling Visuals Vs Text

Recently a study came out stating that people only read 50% of an article online. I would argue that if studied your Google analytics, you would find that people spend a lot less time on your website than you think. So if people are jumping in and out of your website, why spend time crafting paragraphs of text when you could be using a compelling photo instead?

Remove Heavy Church Language

Recently, I heard someone say: “Internal language becomes external language” and the same holds true for your church. A lot of times we use language internally and eventually it becomes our external language for our visitors. For example, which is better for your visitors: “Theological Statement of Beliefs” or “What We Believe”? I think the choice is pretty clear.

Feature Staff On Your Front Page

The quicker you are able to establish a face with your church, the more human your church will appear to visitors. Try adding the pastor’s photo the front page or at least on the page that is most highly trafficked by visitors.

Of course there is a lot more that can go into getting visitors to your site, however the list above should give you a head start into making your site more visitor friendly.

Question: What do you do to help first visitors on your site? Click here to comment below.

photo credit: Éole via photopincc

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