Archives For Social Media

social media storiesDo you ever see opinions like these on social media?

“Now’s the time to take advantage of this special offer.”

“Our problem is not a lack of information, it’s a lack of application.”

Social media is an attractive platform for the expression of opinion. I think there is a place for such expression, but organizations which default to opinion are missing a more attractive form of communication: STORY.

Story is meaningful. Using story allows others to find meaning through your life. When we hear other’s stories, we ask ourselves: Can I relate? Was their experience like my experience? Is their story like my story?

Those are questions of meaning. People interact at a deeper level around meaning, rather than superficially engaging around opinion.

Story invites. Opinion forces. Most opinion comes with a silent “read it and weep” disclaimer. Story invites the attention of the listener.

Here is a simple tweet that expresses the value of church involvement through story better than any opinion.

What’s the hold up?
If story is more attractive than opinion, then why don’t we use a story-tone more often?

One simple reason: It’s easy to tell someone your opinion. It’s hard work telling them your story. (tweet)

Story requires vulnerability. I was recently a part of #NBsocialday at New Beginnings Adoptions. I heard the stories of birth-mothers who wrestled with the choice between abortion or adoption.

It’s easy to talk about unwanted pregnancy with opinionated prejudice, but it’s much harder to sit in judgment after hearing the stories of afraid and alone birth-mothers. Their stories draw you in to understand the fear of an unexpected pregnancy, and the hope they need from an organization like New Beginnings.

Take 4 minutes and watch Jeremy’s Story to see first hand how effective communication comes from a place of story more than opinion.

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leftoversIf you’re single would you invite your date over for a meal of leftovers?

I hope not, but that’s what gets served in a lot of weekly church communications – the leftovers from Sunday.

This happens because churches usually create everything to be served on Sunday. Graphics, worship set, sermon, announcements are all communicated for the Sunday-only experience. The rest of the week is an after thought.

Churches have a broader opportunity to connect by creating weekly content. Here’s a potential template:

Monday – thank guests for coming. You asked to follow guests, right?

Tuesday – ask people what “take-aways” they had from Sunday.

Wednesday – invite people to share a pic of their week with a specific #hashtag. This is great if the pic can connect with an ongoing series. i.e. ask couples to share a date-night pic during a relationship series.

Thursday – share something comical. A funny saying or vine clip to help lighten-up the work week. Dilbert is always a good choice.

Friday – share a weekend-weather screen shot and ask people, “What are your weekend plans?”

Saturday – share the titles of Sunday’s worship set on a graphic. Like this one.

Of course you can promote the upcoming Sunday message throughout the week and share last Sunday’s announcements. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Just remember a good way to help people think about church beyond Sunday, is to let them know the church is thinking about them Monday through Saturday.

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NO signIf you have visited my blog before, then you know I am extremely committed to helping nonprofits engage with their communities through social media. However, I sometimes encounter organizations that I know are not ready for social media, and so I advise them not to tweet a word.

The lack of social media readiness is usually due to one or more of these:

An unwillingness to be transparent. This is the organization that doesn’t like to “show all their cards.” If a nonprofit feels that followers should never see behind the scenes, or the less polished moments, or the faces of employees, then social media is not the place to put up a pretense.

An avoidance of conversation. Social media is just that…social. If your organization wants to run a never ending monologue by only posting self-promoting content, then expect people to do what they always do in one-sided conversations – tune you out! In social media people “talk back” – mostly positive but sometimes negative. If your organization plans on ignoring the voice of followers or just doesn’t have the bandwidth to engage with them, then it’s best to stay off social media.

An overbearing tone. I often have to help churches realize it’s best to drop the “pulpit voice” in your social media. I realize that tweets and posts with a “read it and weep” tone get retweeted and liked, but if you watch who is doing the liking it’s the same repeat followers. A “like it or leave it” approach with social media will keep your organization from engaging with the broader community. (tweetable)

A cruise-control mindset. Many organizations know they should be on social media, but they don’t want to BE on social media. They want to “set it and forget it.” When I see organizations simultaneously posting the same content on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I know they have set their cruise control. It’s important to monitor each social media channel and use them in content-specific ways.

Every organization fights resistance to change, but if the culture of your organization is entrenched in one or more of these four behaviors, then it’s best to wait before diving into social media. You might consider running a pilot program within a single department, in hopes of creating a culture change within the rest of the organization.

What other signs have you found in organizations that indicate a lack of social media readiness?

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Lincoln SelfieWhen I watched the movie Lincoln I wondered how do we know what we know about his decision making, his mannerisms, his relationship with his wife?

Data, of course. Data in the form of government documents, personal letters, travel itineraries, transcribed debates, photographs, and speeches.

All of which was ravenously collected in the shadow of Lincoln’s assassination. It seems that every minuscule data point of Lincoln’s life was snatched up and preserved by someone.

In the future, you won’t have to be famous or die an infamous death for researchers to have enormous amounts of data about your life.

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Lazy feet up FacebookIf you haven’t noticed lately, then take a look at the organic reach of your organization’s FB page. It’s going down.

Several studies have shown the organic reach of Facebook is around 6%. That means you can expect 6 out of 100 people to see each of your Facebook posts. It was 49 out of 100 just last October. That’s a big change, but why?

FB has gone public.

As a publicly traded company Facebook’s primary responsibility is to shareholders not users with free accounts. The current Facebook algorithm gives preference to those who pay for ads or to boost posts. Some think that FB is slowly turning into more of a paid advertising company.

Whatever Facebook might become the fact is it’s getting harder to be lazy with your Facebook content if you still want to reach people.

Jay Baer calls it the Reachpocolypse and he created this graph to show the coinciding decline of Facebook’s reach as their stock price has gone up.

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Last night PBS aired an episode of FRONTLINE entitled “Generation Like”. The program explores the relationship between teens, social media and corporate marketing.

There is an unprecedented relationship developing between teens and the companies that market to them. Social media is allowing teens to directly connect with brands and celebrities. Watch this 30 second preview.

A powerful line from the full-episode: “This is the biggest transformation of communication in our lifetime. To stand on the side lines is not an option.”

Many families are struggling with social media confusion because parents are standing on the side-lines unsure of what to do.

Here are a few things to understand about teens and social media:

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twitter followersWhen I joined Twitter in 2010, I quickly maxed out my following once everyone who remotely knew me had followed me. I hovered around 100 followers for three years.

Last week I passed 1000 followers!

My Twitter following has grown by 900 followers in 9 months.  I have not subscribed to any “pay for followers” service.  I haven’t had anything unexpectedly go viral. And most of my followers are not “follow to get followed” junkies. My following has come through intentional, steady effort.

Here’s what I’ve done and plan to keep doing.

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Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the gurus of social media. He is always worth a listen or read. Thanks Delano Sherley for tipping me off to this clip.

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Donors & FollowersI recently had the opportunity to partner with Urshan College (UC) & Urshan Graduate School of Theology (UGST) in an effort to raise the visibility of their annual stewardship banquet through social media.

Rick Hernandez Pic

Rick Hernandez
Urshan Director of Development

Afterwards, I got a chance to ask the Urshan Director of Development, Rick Hernandez, about his experience using social media to raise dollars and followers.

What type of a fundraising event is the Urshan Stewardship Banquet?

Rick: We provide a free catered dinner and share how Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology are impacting and equipping individuals for a better future. In addition, Urshan College’s vocal ensemble, United, provides incredible music and signing.

What led you to think about incorporating social media into the Stewardship Banquet?

Rick: Every year the “big” challenge is to reach individuals who aren’t “plugged in” to what UC/UGST are accomplishing. Most banquet attendees are supporters who are already well versed in what’s happening at Urshan. We felt that incorporating a social media initiative into the Stewardship Banquet would help us reach a larger audience than those physically present at the event.

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hands typingAs a consultant, I often get asked by pastors, “Should I blog?” My go to answer is that blogging will increase your social media traffic by 55% on average. However, blogging makes sense for pastors far beyond just growing their following on twitter.

Church leaders often interact with people in a “touch and go” manner. Hospital visits, funerals, Sunday sermons, counseling sessions are all environments with a predetermined focus. While genuine connection does happen in these environments, it is connection born out of need. Think of the ER physician with a good bedside manner who connects well with patients.

Blogging allows church leaders to enter a voluntary conversation, which is a connection born out of choice. When people leave their comments they do so at their own discretion, and pastors are able to listen without the pressure of delivering an “expert” opinion. If pastor’s hope to have influence with current generations they have to be open to conversational engagement, not just preaching engagement. Lolly Daskal offers good advice when she tweets, “Stop using your leadership as a monologue and start engaging in a dialogue.”

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