Using Social Media To Communicate More Effectively

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Doing Middle School Ministry looks a lot different today than it did when I first started full-time ministry back in 1997.  In all honesty, any ministry that we were doing back in 1997 will probably look different than it does today.  If we didn’t change and adapt to 2016, we would probably be failing in those areas.

But let’s be honest, many of us are still stuck in some of our old tactics for reaching people as we were some 20 years ago, no matter what our ministry is.  That is why we need to change what we are doing.  This is especially true in how we use Social Media for ministry.

If we want to be successful at reaching people today, we have to learn how to maximize Social Media to communicate better.

Communication

Communication is one of the key ingredients of effective ministry.  After all, how will anyone ever know anything about your ministry unless you are to tell them?  But it is not just about what you communication. It is becoming more and more about where and how you communicate.

For instance, getting information on Facebook and your other social media accounts is very important.  Contrary to early reports, people are NOT fleeing Facebook. They keep flocking to it. In fact, Moms literally LOVE Facebook. It’s true.  Try going to the elementary school at the end of the day when all the parents are picking up kids. What are they doing when they are waiting for their kids to come? They are on their phones checking Facebook.

But just as important as reaching moms on Facebook is reaching millennials.  If you want to reach the next generation for Christ, communication is best these days through mobile outlets and social media.   For instance, these are the key social media platforms you should be aware of and on…at least to some degree:
·      Instagram
·      Twitter
·      Snapchat (not just for sexting anymore)
·      Facebook
·      YouTube
·      Text  (yes even Text is important).

People LOVE to share pictures and what they are up to (Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat), like to ready short witty updates from all sorts of people (Twitter),  and they love to spend countless hours watching funny cat videos (YouTube).  That is why is is so important to have a presencse on these networks so you know what people are up to and are able to communicate with them and all they are doing.

But even with these forms of communication, communicating to them is not just the only thing here.  It is the way you communicate with them that is important.

How to communicate effectively on social media

Communication is not just about what you say but how you interact with others on those networks. What you say CAN and WILL come back to haunt you if you are not careful. Here are some tips:

1. Avoid negative chatter. On social media it can be easy to let emotions fly and say something negative in a post or reply negatively.  However, never have I seen anyone convinced of another persons viewpoint on social media, especially when there is negativity involved.  Furthermore, as a believer and minister, it is so important to communicate Christ (see #4) and, to my knowledge, Christ never convinced others about the love of God by tearing someone down, even if He knew he was right.

2. Be clear. Think through what you are going to say.  There are so many times when, in our head, what we will write sounds great, but then on text it comes out wrong.  Again, as a believer and minister, we really have to be crystal clear what we send out online and on social media.  One mistake can come back to haunt you so make sure you read and re-read what you are going to send before you send it.

3. Be creative. In a world of short, witty video clips or creative pictures, teens and millennials are doing so much because they have these tools at their fingertips.

That is why how you communicate is equally important to what you communicate.  You do have to be creative in your postings.  Years ago, just typing in what you are doing and giving the details was good enough.  Now you need more than that.

You need images or videos that tell the story.  I know, I know…you think you aren’t creative at all.  That may be true, but even if you are like me and don’t have a creative bone in your body, there are Apps for that.  Apps like…
·      Instaquote
·      Word Swag
·      Adobe Post
·      Videohance

These are all easy apps to get to know and that you can use to help tell the story and engage people.

4. Represent Christ. This is a no-brainer, but we need to be reminded that as believers and ministers, we need to represent Christ to everyone we come into contact with on social media.

As we seek to reach more and more people for Christ I am reminded by the old saying from Young Life, “go where they are”.  Where are people today? They are on their mobile devices communicating with the world.

Step into that world and see what kind of conversations you can be having online that lead people to Christ.

What do you think? How are you using social media to communicate and minister to people today?

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Tom has a background in Student Ministry working over 17 years with teenagers and currently serves as the Student Ministry and Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA.

Tom started YMSidekick.com back in 2007 (under “Not a Mega Church” branding) with the purpose to help ministry leaders do ministry more effectively. Tom writes, create videos and podcast weekly. In addition to the work he does at YMSidekick.com, Tom blogs regularly forOrange Leaders and is an official Orange Blogger. Follow Tom on Twitter @tapounder

Stop Treating Social Media As Binary: All or Nothing

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Social media.  Greatest invention ever? Or not?

Just say it to anyone who is responsible for publishing and managing social media for a church and the word “overwhelming” immediately creeps into their mind to differing degrees.

So much to do. So much to monitor. So much to create. So much to schedule. So much to handle.  And that’s just with the channels you’re managing now.

There’s also so much that feeds the FOMO (fear of missing out) machine with whatever the latest trend people chatter about or whenever a new kid on the block pops up (snapchat or peach anyone?).  It is easy to get buried with a sense of crushing weight on your shoulders.

 One of the biggest mistakes I see with organizations I partner with to help make sense of their digital communications efforts is that they assume they need to do it all.  But that’s not true at all.

 Meaning, the big lie is that you have to do it all on social media.

For social media managers, while social media promised to be the world of mouth, it has become the weapon of mass distraction.

For the novice, social media looks a lot alike. No matter the platform, it’s the same stance: people hunched over their phones scrolling and thumb typing away endlessly.

I’m here to tell you: You don’t need to do it all.  You don’t need to be on every platform.  You don’t need to have an account on the list of hundreds of social networking sites that even Wikipedia can’t keep track of.

 THE TRUTH: Each social media platform has a different sweet spot for audience and mode of engagement with the community.

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And as I’ve been using them more, I’ve found that each one is good for different things.  You can’t assume any or all social media platforms with help you achieve what you want in the same way or even at all. Each social media network has it’s own personality.

 So how do you begin to learn the differences between social media platforms?

 Start with one, become familiar with it and you’ll see your capacity to handle more will grow.  Just as social media is about using technology to mediate relationships, you’ll have your own relationship with each social platform too.

 If you are at a total loss for where to start, begin with the biggest one of them all: Facebook.

 Why? Here’s some sobering stats about Facebook for what you’re missing out on:

  • 72% of adults online are active on Facebook. They check at least once a month. And it’s growing. Which means, it’s the most efficient way to reach your people.
  • 65% of Facebook users logon daily. Not many other places even Starbucks can claim this characteristic of being the true watering hole for your community.
  • The average person spends 20 minutes on Facebook daily.  If you had to guess where to meet someone in town on a given day, this is it.
  • Want to reach millenials (15-34)? 91% of them are on Facebook. Why would you avoid showing up where everyone else is already?
  • Average number of friends teens have on FB: 300. Women: 250.  They’re connected.

 After Facebook, you should take up Instagram, or Twitter. You can save LinkedIn, Peach and Snapchat for later.

 So I hope that gives you some permission to stop treating social media in a binary way.  You have more than just two choices: All or Nothing. 

 Choose some with incremental gains.

 What else is contributing to your anxiety around social media for your church? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

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 Kenny Jahng is the Church Online Pastor at Liquid Church Online - a multi-site Christian church with multiple locations across New Jersey. He also advises nonprofit, cause-driven and faith-based organizations on strategic content marketing initiatives. You can connect with Kenny on Twitter at @KennyJahng. Or check out his blog at www.KennyJahng.com

Technology & Social Media Are Not The Starting Point

Polaroid camera was once a dominating force in the camera business. Their instant photo camera with the white edges around it made them a recognizable brand as their pictures were hung up all over the rooms of high school teens and photo albums across the country. 

However, in the mid-1990s, with the advent of one-hour color film processing, single-use cameras from competitors, videotape camcorders, and digital cameras Polaroid struggled to keep up. No matter what they tried to do, nothing seemed to stick.

They even tried to reinvent themselves a few years ago with Fotobars. However that didn't change much and Polaroid went through years of Bankruptcy filings.

Today, even though you can still find Polaroid cameras and film, it is a shell of what it once was.

What are you getting at Tom?  What’s the point?

As churches and ministries seek to adapt to changing styles and interests of young people, one knee jerk reaction seems to always go to technology and social media.

 For instance, the problem with you not reaching more of the younger generations is “probably" be because you feel that your website is old and dull so you need to make it edgier. Or, you feel you aren’t really active on social media so you need to start to doing more funny things on Facebook or other social media platforms to gain attention.

While those things may be necessary action steps to take, the reality is that you should not be looking at technology as the first, knee jerk reaction step to take.

Technology can help and will be a really great tool for you to use to reach the next generation. But it should not be your FIRST step. 

Rather, your first step needs to be more of a focus on the mission and vision of your Church and how that overall plan works to reach the next generation. I’m not a church consultant in any way, but the issues of your church not reaching a particular group of people or the younger generation has less to do with technology and more to do with how your church is functioning. 

Dig deep and ask tough questions as you evaluate your church and your mission.  Look at how you are viewing young adults today. Do you treat them with respect or as young “hooligans” who don’t get it?  Do you actively listen to their needs and desires?  Are you meeting the needs of the community you are located? Do you even know the needs of the community you are in? Are your messages relevant to where they are in life?  

Those are some of the questions you need to ask first. Now, I’m not encouraging you to change your principles and core beliefs…those should not change. But, as you seek to be a relevant part of the community you are in, reaching young adults today goes far beyond adding a funny video or great Pro Presenter worship theme.

The more effective you can be at knowing and understanding the needs of your community, the more likely are you going to be able to reach them.  

But only after you know THAT will you be able to know how you can use technology as a tool to reach them.

What do you think? 


Tom has a background in Student Ministry working over 17 years with teenagers and currently serves as the Student Ministry and Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA.

Tom started YMSidekick.com back in 2007 (under “Not a Mega Church” branding) with the purpose to help ministry leaders do ministry more effectively. Tom writes, create videos and podcast weekly. In addition to the work he does at YMSidekick.com, Tom blogs regularly forOrange Leaders and is an official Orange Blogger. Follow Tom on Twitter @tapounder

 

 

How a Small Church Can Leverage a Church Online

I had coffee with a friend who planted a church a few years ago and he asked me how my job as an online campus pastor could in anyway help his new church. I loved the question because at first I wasn’t sure, but after some conversation and caffeine I had an idea and I wanted to share it with you.

All brick and mortar churches offer up a limited amount of church services on a weekend. You can’t offer more than 8 services at a given location because of daylight, volunteer time, and resources. This means every week there is on average around 4 hours your church location is ready for a new attender to experience your church and 164 hours underutilized. What if there was a way to leverage all 168 hours a week? What if there was a way for a new attender to experience what your church is all about on-demand anytime? Church online is the answer.

Five Steps to Get Up & Going:

1. Weekly capture your church service in high definition quality (welcome, music, & message).

2. Launch a church online experience page

3. Apply for a Google Grant to get $10,000 a month of online advertising through Google AdWords

4. Set up an advertising campaign targeting people within a 30 mile radius of your church address and direct traffic to your new 24/7 church online service page with your Google Grant money.*

5. Create a video and banner advertisement (place invite video/banner directly under your video player on your church online page) for everyone who visits your new online church experience to attend your local church (have your senior pastor do the invite video).

With five simple steps you will have a church service running 168 hours a week for new attenders to watch and get connected to your church targeting your local community.

*When setting up a Google AdWord campaign with your nonprofits’ Google Grant money use local language in the headline of the ad copy people from your city can identify with like “Watch LA Church Service” or “Live New York City Church Online” (insert your city name where the underline is located).

Examples:

If you want to accelerate the learning process sign up for my free 3 part video course here!


Jay Kranda (JayKranda.com) is the Online Campus Pastor and Extension Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. The Online Campus brings in over 20,000 people every week and 1,000 small group hosts open up their homes across the globe. Jay is the author of “Social Media Made Easy: Inexpensive Online Marketing Guide for Non-Profits” and is the Vice President of the Savannah Golf Classic charity. Jay is married to Jody and they have two boys.

5 Easy Ways For Your Church to Thrive on Social Media

I meet pastors and church leaders all the time who are asking the same question: How do we use social media properly?

This is a great question to be asking. In our culture people are spending time on social media everyday. In fact, research shows us that people are spending an average of 1.72 hours a day on social media.

Those numbers will only continue to rise.

Here is a shocking reality......

 "People in your church are spending more time on social media in one day than they normally spend at your church in a whole week." 

So how can your Church thrive on social media?

5 Easy Ways

1. Know where your people are gathering online.

This may seem too simple but it is in fact the first place to start. You as the leader need to see where people from your church are gathering online. This varies depending on where your Church is located.

Some regions of the world are more likely to use Facebook more than Twitter. The different ages of your Church will utilize different social media platforms. For example, teenagers and college age kids are big users of Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

You need to think through the makeup of your organization and the target age of people you are trying to reach and ask: Which social network would they be on?

P.S.  This means you as a church leader need to be active on social media. Be authentic. You can only reach people where you are.

2. Realize that less is more.

Almost every year there is a new platform or network that launches. Your church could try to be on everyone of those. The question is whether you can literally be active in all those platforms. Just because you can be on 5 different social networks doesn't mean you should be. Start small. Start where the majority of your people are and slowly branch out as needed.

You need to be effective wherever you are on Social Media, not just be there.

3. Have more conversations and less advertisements.

People don't want to see your megaphone announcements all the time. They want to have conversations. If you engage with your congregation online throughout the week and know what is going on in their life, they feel valued and it actually will enhance the weekend experience for them because they will feel known and feel community no matter how big your church is. Treat people online like they are real people, not just passive avatars.

4. Be consistent.

If you know that people are spending almost 2 hours a day online, then that means you have the opportunity to have a regular voice into their life. Too often though, Churches think that just because they have a "presence" on Facebook, Twitter, etc, that they are being successful. That is not true. You are not successful if you are posting once or twice a month. That means barely anyone is seeing your content and as a result, conversations and reach are not happening.

To remedy this....

  • Decide what days you will post each week
  • What times you will post
  • What type of content you will post (text, picture, video etc.)

When you start doing that, people will begin to get a feel for how often they will get content from you. This will result in more engagement. 

5. Add value to people's lives. 

At the end of the day, people don't engage with things that don't add value to their lives. That means that whatever you post needs to be filtered through the lens of value. How will this post, picture or video add value to someones life by them seeing it. In fact, this way of thinking will actually help you craft your post and stories that you do share on your social media networks.

People are asking the tough questions online. People are searching for truth. People are looking for community. They are searching for value.

Are you bringing God's light, hope and truth into peoples lives on Social Media, or are you just advertising your latest event?

Always remember, add value to peoples lives with your online presence. 

David Hearne

www.SocialMediaPastor.com


David Hearne (SocialMediaPastor.com) is the Lead Pastor at GraceOnline.Church and also the Venue & Production Pastor at GraceSeaford.Church in Seaford, DE. In addition to speaking and teaching at his Church, David is a Consultant for Churches on how to use Technology and Social Media to reach their community. As part of this mission, David is the Editor-In-Chief of the SocialMedia.Church Blog. He is married to Kristin and they have two adorable kids, Noah and Gracie. Connect with David on Twitter at @SocMediaPastor.