Four Resources to Help Your Church with Social Media

If you are beginning to dip your toes into the social media waters or if you are someone who is well versed in various platforms, a good resource can only help you.  Here are four resources that I have found to help you hone and focus not only your skill set in social media, but also in managing your church’s digital presence as well.
Digital Presence for Dummies by Limelight Networks

Church and Social Media by Church Tech Today

The Church Planter’s Guide to Social Media by Three Story Studio

The Social Media Handbook for Churches by Matt Mckee

Four Things I Learned from PodCamp Nashville

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of spending my Saturday at Podcamp Nashville. Podcamp Nashville is a digital media “unconference”, where people from all types of backgrounds come together to learn from each other. As usual, I walked away with a lot valuable information but four things struck me as I begin reflecting on the conference.

1. Nashville has a vibrant, strong tech community

Although Nashville is seen as the music capital, it is encouraging to see more startups and freelancers make Nashville their home. Ten years ago, I probably would have had to search San Franscico or Seattle for someone to code a project, however today I know that Nashville has the depth of talent.

2. The gap between knowing and doing is shrinking

This year, more than ever it seems that a persons ability to make an idea happen is becoming easier. At Podcamp, there were great sessions on coding and creating mobile apps. No longer do you need to have computer science degree from Stanford, the tools are there and the knowledge and doing gap is shrinking.

3. The gender gap is shrinking

It seems that with ever tech conference I attend, I am seeing more and more females not only in the audience, but also leading sessions. It can’t happen fast enough.

4. Go mobile or go home

Every single one of my breakouts really all led back to one thing. Mobile. When the desktop revoution happened it was slow roll out, with penetration into homes taking some time. The mobile revolution has been more of tidal wave, happening quicker than any of us could have imagined.

Congrats to the Podcamp Nashville team for leading an incredible conference. Podcamp is always informatve, fun and insightful.

Should Your Church Have a Mobile App Or a Mobile Website?

So you are trying to work on your church’s digital strategy and you have come to the realization that essentially your strategy has to revolve around mobile devices (trust me, if you haven’t arrived at this conclusion, you will). The question then is, do you focus on a mobile website or work with a third party to develop a mobile app? The short answer? Go with a mobile website.

Why a mobile website?. Think about it for a second, when someone googles your church what is most likely to be at the top of results? Will it be your app or your website? The obvious answer is your website. Your website is your first impression, not a mobile app.

On the other hand, mobile apps have become the sexy thing for churches to have. However, if you dig deep into most churches mobile apps you will find that the app itself is really a nicely packaged RSS feed of their content. Most of these apps really don’t take advantage of the mobile device itself, but instead are just another channel to push their content through.

Unless you have the resources to really create an outstanding mobile app experience, focus on a mobile version of your site. It’s easier to update, it’s not limited to just an iPhone or Android phone and it’s Google friendly.

Your Congregations Daily Digital Habits

Your congregation has daily digital habits. For some it is checking Facebook before they go to bed, for others it is downloading a podcast before they head to work. No matter how small it might seem, everyone has some sort of daily digital habit.

The question to ask is: How is your church a part of people’s daily digital habits? Every day your church members are allowing other organizations to enter into their lives on a personal level. What are you doing to provide a way for people to include your church as a part of their habits?

This is more than just giving them an app or a mobile version of your website. It’s giving them daily content that they will consistently want to come back for.

How to Take a Digital Sabbath

I love my iPhone, iPad and Macbook. I am sure if you scanned your office, you could probably name a few digital devices that you too are also fond of. What would happen if those devices were gone? What would happened if you knew for the next 24 hours you couldn’t use them? Could you survive?

I think we all know that we could “survive” without our digital devices, however there is still tension there when you know you might be apart from them. Have we become too attached to our digital devices? If so, how do we create some space so we can maintain proper perspective?

One way to keep perspective is go on a Digital Sabbath. A Digital Sabbath is where you take 24 hours and step back away from email, text messages, television or any other electronic device that gives you information (iPad, Kindle, etc…). With a Digital Sabbath, you give yourself time to reflect, listen to God and allow for some uninterrupted time with your family and friends. So how do you take a Digital Sabbath? Here are a few ways to get started:

Tell Your Church Staff About It

Before you take a Digital Sabbath consider talking with your church staff first. Are there possible pitfalls to you being out of the loop? Are there ways to prepare your staff and church members for the fact that you are not going to be available? Including the staff not only helps you eliminate potential problems, it also helps them feel as if they are part of the Digital Sabbath as well.

Set Up Auto Responders

Go ahead set up your email to auto respond so that people know that you are not ignoring their email, however instead you are taking some time away from your digital devices. If you have an Android phone, there are a few apps like SMS Text Auto Responder that will auto respond to your texts for you (sorry, iPhone users, you have to jailbreak your phone to get that functionality). Also go ahead and change your voicemail to let everyone know when they can expect to hear back from you.

Give Your Devices to Someone Else

If you are someone who thinks they might be tempted to cheat on a Digital Sabbath, think about having a family member or friend hold onto your devices. This also allows someone to check your messages for you to let you know if there is something urgent that needs your attention.

Find a Secluded Location

Find a place where you won’t be around people where digital devices will be prevalent. The less you are around other people’s devices, the less you likely will be thinking about checking yours. For me, I like to go to a park, the library or on take a long drive.

Find a Partner

Consider getting a friend or the family member to take a Digital Sabbath with you. In fact, think about taking the whole family on a Digital Sabbath. This might encourage conversations about how technology is not only affecting you but your family as well.

Document How You Feel

As you go on your Digital Sabbath, take a moment and write your thoughts down as the day goes along. This is a great time to reflect on how technology is shaping your life. Begin a dialogue with yourself about what needs to change and how to implement the change.

Advertise Beforehand

Before you start, think about publicly declaring that you are taking a Digital Sabbath. This will put some pressure on you to make sure that you live up your commmitment. Have some fun with it and start a countdown on Twitter or Facebook. You could even use a hashtag like #digitalsabbath to let people keep track of what you are doing.

I know for some of us, this seems like a daunting task, but isn’t that really the issue here?   If we can’t take some time away from our digital devices, are we really in control?  Maybe if we took one Digital Sabbath day, we could regain some of that control and even find some new meaning of the word “Sabbath”.

Questions: Do you a take Digital Sabbath? If so, how? Click here to comment below.

photo credit: .m for matthijs via photopincc

My Android Experience

A few months ago I decided to venture into the world of Android.  I wanted to see what some of my geek brethren were so excited about.  My choice was a Nexus 7.  I have now finished my little experiment and have moved back to the iPad.  Here are my overall impressions of the Android experience.
What I Liked
Notice I use the word liked and not the word loved.  There is a lot that I liked, but nothing that I really loved about the Android platform.  First, the customization factor is a big win for those who like change and feeling like a true geek.  Modification of devices always seem to be a hallmark of geeks and Android comes through on this.  Second, I really liked the widgets.  Having the ability to instantly add something to a Remember the Milk account or create a quick text document in Google Docs account without having to open the app is a really handy feature.  Finally, I loved the seven inch tablet size.  I see why Apple followed suit with the iPad mini.

What I Did Not Like
Where should I start?  Well, first the touch screen is really not up to par when you compare it with an iPad.  The first couple of days I had adjust to the fact that it’s not as responsive as the iPad, it’s not a huge difference, however it is just enough to notice if you are a heavy iPad user.  Secondly, the menu system is complete mess.  At the bottom of the screen are buttons for home, back, menu and search.  That would seem to be okay, however the problem is that the back button can utilized differently by every app, making it virtually impossible to figure out what would happen when it is pushed.

Third, while the app selection is slowly gaining traction in terms of quantity, it still seems far behind in terms of quality.  The main problem is that while some apps claim to be built for your tablet, they really seemed like phone apps stretched to fill your screen.  Now I know that iOS does this, but you decide if the iPhone app will be stretched, thereby making it clear which apps are not really designed for the iPad.  I assume the reason for this oddity in Android is the device fragmentation which would lead a designer to make their app responsive like a web page.  This works for the web, however it doesn’t translate well with applications.

Finally, the settings were a nightmare.  While granularity in settings can be a great thing when you want to tweak something, it can be bit of pain when you take the item right out of the box.  I felt like I was back on Facebook trying to figure out the security settings.  I can’t imagine an average consumer understanding or enjoying this experience.

Overall
If you are completely invested in Google products then I can see why Android might be an attractive option.  However, with the increase in quality of Google apps for iOS I think that argument is waning.   I really can’t recommend this platform to anyone, unless you are someone who knows what they are doing behind the scenes.  However for the average end user my advice is to stay away.

How to Send Any File to Your Mac or iPhone With Instashare

Sharing a file between your Mac and your iPhone can be a pain. There is the iCloud method, which feels like throwing your files in deep dark closet and hoping you can find them later when you need them. You can use Dropbox, however that only works well when sending stuff to your iPhone from your Mac and not the other way around.

The solution I want is where I can take a file, place it in a window then have it appear on my iPhone. Now with Instashare I can do that. Simply install the application on your iPhone and the desktop client on your Mac. If you want to send a file to your iPhone from your Mac just click on the Instashare icon on the menu bar. You then should see a window pop up. Now drag the file you want to transfer on the window. On your iPhone launch the Instashare app and you should see a notification that your Mac wants to transfer a file to your iPhone. Just accept the transfer and the file will be delivered to your iPhone. From there you can use the “Open in” feature with any of the corresponding iPhone apps.

If you want share a file from your iPhone to your Mac, just select the file you want inside of the Instashare iPhone app and a list of devices should appear. Drag the file over the name of the device that you want to transfer it to. (Keep in mind two transfer between devices they need to be on the same wifi network). On your Mac you should see a request appear to accept the file from iPhone. Confirm the transfer and watch your file appear on your Mac.

Enjoy.

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