As we continue to progress in 2016, let’s look at how to be more focused on growing our online platforms and increasing engagement with our online audiences. While there are no shortage of ways to do this, it seems that creating an online strategy is quite elusive for many organizations. One of the most important aspects of building an online presence for your organization is to develop a digital strategy, “before” you join any networks or start communicating online.
When my children were younger I would give them iPads to hold their attention while I had to tend to other things. This early introduction helped them become comfortable with technology at an early age. Many of us have all seen toddlers who have been given an iPad or smart phone and watched them “click and swipe” to their favorite apps or watch their favorite netflix cartoon.
Working with AT&T has been a great experience and it continues on Friday, October 23, 2015 at 12pm CST. AT&T Inspired Mobility will host a live chat with social media guru, James Andrews, and author, producer, DeVon Franklin. Join us next Friday as we discuss social media for social good. I look forward to seeing you all there, RSVP at the link below.
When Facebook introduced Edgerank, the formula that determines the information that appears in the newsfeed, it was one of the many steps Facebook took in limiting what is called organic reach. Organic reach is the number of friends and fans we could communicate with on their platform for free. Take, for example, you having 1000 friends/fans on your Facebook page. When you post, an average of only 4% of your audience will see the post.
Just as important as “Visual Social Media” is the impact of “Mobile Social Media.” When Social Media first became popular, it was Myspace that ushered in this new “thing.” Myspace gave us custom URLs, and we were able to connect with numerous people on the platform. We even had the opportunity to highlight our top 8 friends and let everyone know who was at the top of our friends list. When Facebook came onto the scene, there wasn’t a mass migration to it until they implemented a feature that changed Social Media as we know it. They made the website mobile-compatible, and they released apps on all the major mobile platforms. This feature was something that Myspace couldn’t match, and the convenience of being able to communicate socially on-the-go became one of the major facets of Facebook’s early success and the demise of Myspace. Let’s not forget that Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion because of its large following and that it is a great, photo-based mobile platform. Twitter followed this same route, making sure their platform was mobile-focused. The 140-character messages, the main focus of Tweets, is based on text messages being 140 characters on mobile phones. Twitter wanted to make sure their messages would be delivered within a single text on mobile devices. Their mobile-first approach has led to their platform being one of the go-to sources for up-to-the-minute breaking news around the world.
Vine and their fully mobile six-second video platform, Snapchat and their mobile platform, YouTube’s mobile app, Pinterest’s mobile app, Tumblr’s mobile app, and Linkedin’s mobile app all show their understanding of how important mobile Social Media is and its unlimited potential for growth.
Mobile Social Media is growing significantly. Here are a few key mobile Social Media statistics:
- 2x more Sharing on mobile vs. desktop.
- 71% of people use Social Media from mobile devices.
- 76% of Twitter access is mobile.
- 50% of Tumblr content is accessed via mobile devices.
- 40% of YouTube Access is mobile.
- 68% of Facebook Access is mobile.
- Mobile devices will increasingly play an important role, considering more than 60% the population access Social Media content using them.
- Microvideo: This type of content will be on the same level as pictures and will become more and more popular.
- 94% of the marketing executives that have invested in mobile ads considered themselves satisfied with the results of using this tactic.
- This year, there has been an increase to 38% from 33% in the use of mobile marketing by the enterprises.
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Facebook Offers Button Part 1 is available here
On your Facebook Fan page, you can click the “Create an Offer” option to create an online offer that sends people to a preset website to redeem the offer. As you build the offer, you will be able to see exactly how it looks on users’ screens. You choose a title for your offer, a description of your offer, upload or choose an image for people to see, choose a start and expiration date, how many people can claim this offer, and the website you are sending people to claim the offer on. Once you have completed these steps, you click “Create Offer.”
Facebook Buy button With this feature, people on desktops or mobile devices can click the “Buy” call-to-action button on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business without leaving Facebook. Facebook built this feature with privacy in mind, and they have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure. None of the credit or debit card information people share with Facebook when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers. Plus, people can select whether or not they would like to save their payment information for future purchases.
YouTube Fan Funding YouTube has a new feature called "YouTube Fan Funding" that allows viewers to send voluntary payments to support the channels they love. As long as your channel is in good standing, you are a partner, you have an AdSense account associated with your YouTube Channel, and you have activated the feature in the creator studio channel section of your YouTube account, you’re good to go. The money from your account is deposited into an associated Google Wallet account, which is Google’s online payment feature.
Vimeo Tip Jar Vimeo Tip Jar enables Vimeo Plus and PRO members to receive small cash payments from people who like their videos. It’s a simple three-step process to enable Tip Jar. Step 1, Join Vimeo Plus or Vimeo PRO. Tip Jar is available only to Plus and PRO members. Step 2, Once you’ve signed up, connect your PayPal account. Step 3, Turn on Tip Jar for individual videos, or all of them.
Snapcash A vast majority of Snapchat users never log out of Snapchat. SnapCash is built upon the Square Cash platform. The sender and the recipient, however, are not associated with an email address, but a Snapchat ID.
SnapCash is really a wonderful integration of the Square Cash platform that utilizes the Debit Card network to simply send cash. The process to associate a Snapchat ID with SnapCash is almost precisely the same as Square Cash:
- Once the sender registers a debit card associated with SnapCash, the sender simply types in a recipient’s SnapChat ID for a stated amount.
- The recipient will receive the message as a new notification and will either register a debit card to receive the funds or accept the transaction into a previously registered debit card.
There are two key social commerce options quickly arising. One is social shopping and the other is social payments. The social payments option has seen much success in China with a number of chat/communication platforms integrated with payments. The key to making social buying a popular option will be to build great experiences around those buttons because simply placing buttons on social pages will not change habits. Currently, people do not associate social networks with shopping. They are more comfortable with leaving the social networks and going to the seller’s website to purchase in a secure environment. If the previously mentioned social networks, and others, can create a cohesive online experience that integrates our online connections opinions/recommendations, a secure shopping process that keeps our financial information safe, and a shopping method that doesn’t feel like it’s more complex than a few clicks, social commerce will become wildly popular, especially via mobile devices seeing we are always connected.
To learn more about this topic and others get your copy of Social Connections TODAY!
The initial rise of social commerce, in my opinion, was a result of the social aspect of shopping. Shopping, in itself, has always been a social activity, whether it was people shopping together, a parent with a group of kids in tow, a spouse shopping for their entire family, or someone getting sales tips from a friend about products or services they are looking for. Social Media made the shopping process more social because, as we are able to shop offline or online, we can share our experiences with our social networks. Take a look at these key statistics:
- 70% of marketers have been successful in gaining new customers via social networks.
- 57% of users trust more in the opinion of his/her contacts than in what the brand has to say about its product or service.
- 47% of social networks users state that Facebook has had a bigger impact on their decision to buy than any other social network.
The early phase of social commerce was led by users sharing their shopping experiences with their networks and companies providing social features to enhance the shopping experience. Enhancement included adding Social Media Sharing buttons to products or on eReceipts so people could easily share these things. Amazon.com was one of the initial online stores to provide these features. Key networks that these Sharing features initially resonated on were Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Another example were offline stores providing Social Media advertising inside of their stores or on receipts, letting customers know that these stores were active in the Social Media space. Once people connected to these companies online, they would receive incentives such as online coupons and early sale notifications. The sharing of web links to online store’s coupons or websites was the key driver of early social commerce.
Fast-forward to the current phase of social commerce, and the actual social networks are leading it. Certain social networks see the benefits, engagement-wise and financially, of making the eCommerce process easier for consumers and sellers. Here are some of the key advancements in social commerce:
Twitter Offers When users see a Twitter Offer in their timeline, they can add the offer to their credit or debit card in just a few taps and redeem them in real-time by using the card at the store. Because the offer is tied to their card, redemption is seamless and easy. There are no coupons to redeem at the point of purchase. After the purchase, the cash-back savings appear on their card statement within a few days.
With Twitter Offers, advertisers will be able to attribute redemptions directly to their campaigns on Twitter. That way, they can effectively measure the ROI from their promotions, even when redemption happens offline. Additionally, we make it easy for merchants to get up and running. Because they can use their existing payment network, there’s no change to the consumer purchase process, no employee training, and no new hardware or software to install. By leveraging Twitter’s robust targeting capabilities, advertisers can tailor their promotions and campaigns to the right audience all while optimizing for performance.
After users add a Twitter Offer to their credit or debit card, that card information will be encrypted and safely stored to make it easier for them to claim other offers or make future purchases on Twitter. This option also gives users the ability to remove this information from their account at anytime.
Part 2 is coming on July 30 - Click Here to View
To learn more about this topic and others get your copy of Social Connections TODAY!
I recently made a statement in a podcast that said, if the church didn’t stay up to date with technology, how quickly it’s changing, and understand its influence on society, the church might become irrelevant. The example I used was that we don’t see preachers preaching from stone tablets, scrolls, and parchments. They are using a copy of the Bible which was created using the technology of the printing press. Additionally, many of us have seen a toddler pick up an iPad or smartphone and instinctively know how to navigate/tap it and find their favorite app or game. We’ve also seen teenagers/young adults use texting, social media, photos, and videos from their mobile devices as easily as making calls. They are able to quickly and efficiently use multiple apps, platforms, and features of their devices and stay connected with their friends, celebrities, and anyone they deem important. Now consider that these devices are the oldest technology these people will see.
One of the responses I received was that the church will never become irrelevant because it’s God’s house and the Word of God will never be irrelevant. While I believe that God’s Word will never be irrelevant in the sense of it speaking to the state of the human soul and society, I was focusing less on the message and more on the method. The message will always be effective, revolutionary, and life-changing. However, if the method used to deliver the message is ineffective and outdated, how relevant can it be when the masses are not receiving it?
So the question was, “Why does technology permeate so many aspects of our lives but we go back in time when it comes to the church?
Technology is defined as the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment. Let’s look at two historical examples of technology currently being used by the church (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/technology)
1. Chairs and Pews - Throughout most of the history of Christian worship, there were no pews or chairs. Not until the fourteenth century did seating gradually encroach upon the open space where the congregation stood and walked about during worship. In the late Middle Ages, the congregation sat down on the job and there was a drastic change in Christian worship—perhaps the most important in history. People, in effect, became custodians of individual spaces they occupied throughout the service. In other words, for the first fourteen centuries of Christianity, people stood throughout the worship service. (Source: http://thesecondeclectic.blogspot.com/2012/12/churches-without-chairs-how-christians.html)
2. The Printing Press - This technological advancement put the Bible in the hands of the masses. In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was mass produced in Europe. Without the Bible, how would this have affected the impact of the church? One of the main informational resources and understanding of the Christian faith is the Bible, and the popularity of Christianity ties into how readily available the Bible is to everyone.
With these two technological implementations, the church transformed it’s worship experience and it’s distribution model. Today, with digital tools, we can touch all aspects of the church experience. In church, we have a variety of tools that can enhance the music, lighting, sermon, and other aspects to create an interactive, immersive worship experience. On the other hand, with websites, social media, mobile apps, internet tv, and internet church campuses, we have a variety of tools and platforms to reach people regardless of where they are and the device they use. We can connect with, engage, minister to, and change the lives of millions through something as small as an iPod. Therefore, with over 3 Billion people accessing the internet in 2015 and over 6 Billion mobile devices around the world, we have the largest digital mission field that is primed for the life-changing Gospel.
The question, now, is whether the church will use this technology to fulfill the Great Commission in taking the message to the uttermost parts of the world?
Social Media has given us platforms to evolve the way we communicate and stay connected online. As new platforms arrive, the methods and strategies we use change as well as in some ways stay the same. I want to make a special offer just for you, I am giving away my Social Media Manual, Social Connections FREE until Sunday, July 26, 2015.
Social Connections: Connect with and Engage Your Online Audience, takes an in-depth look at the ways we communicate on these platforms and what consistent methods we can use to best stay connected.
What is your brand’s message? What is the voice of your company? What is the message you wish to convey to people via Social Media? How will you communicate it? Will your organization speak on societal and current issues? Will your organization push out marketing updates and never respond to people? Make sure your organization isn’t one-dimensional. There are many types of people you can reach, so you must distribute many types of Social Media posts in order to reach them. To give you some guidelines, here are five focal points in establishing your organization’s message via Social Media: Education/Inspiration - Make sure to provide education, inspiration, and motivation via your social networks. These are the best types of posts. Whether they are quotes, photos with encouraging words on them, or quick videos that give educational tips about your organization or industry, everyone wants content that enhances their lives.
Information - Provide information about your organization by using your social networks. Please do not assume everyone reads your website or even saw your eblast. Distribute the information about events and other happenings through those same social networks. You can also repurpose flyers, newsletters, eblasts, and other marketing materials and send them out.
Communication - Social Media is social! Therefore, it should be a two-way communication. If you post to a network and people comment, ask questions, and take time out of their busy day to respond, make sure your organization takes time to acknowledge them and respond back. Do not appear too arrogant to respond to your social network fans, even if you do not have the staff or time to answer every comment or question. At least answer some. Show that the organization sees their comments and questions and cares about their audience’s concerns.
Consistency - Make sure the content from your organization flows consistently from your online properties to your online users. On some networks, this means posting multiple times a day or once a week. It depends on the network. That being said, no matter which one your organization uses, you must maintain consistency.
Diversification – Have you noticed that neither Social Media network has been mentioned to be better than another? The network you use to distribute content to your online users is irrelevant if there is no consistent strategy behind it. Ten years ago, everyone was using AOL email to communicate with the masses. Five years ago, it was MySpace. Three years ago, Facebook and Twitter became popular. Just recently, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat have become very prevalent. The networks will come and go. So, do not make the mistake of putting all your eggs in one Social Media basket. Find a network you want to use and grow on it. Then, add another network and repeat. You do not have to be present on all the social networks that are out there. Simply don’t depend on just one network to be your savior.
To learn more about this topic and others get your copy of Social Connections TODAY!
One of the greatest aspects of conferences is the offline events that help create online conversations. When I am working with organizations that are planning conferences, I continue to remind them that even though they are focused on the offline event and making it successful, do not neglect the online aspect of the event and how that can impact the experience of virtual and actual attendees. When creating the online experience for the conference we want to make sure the online experience enhances the experience of users at the conference as well as creates a great experience for users that are participating online only. This starts with four key areas, the web experience, the social experience, the mobile experience and the streaming experience. Web Experience - The web experience should be one that is:
- Easy to use - The website should be easy to use, load quickly and have a great layout. Build the website to suit the user, not the organization. The organization creates and populates the website, the users actually depend on and use it.
Informational - The website should be informational, make it a destination of information. Key pages are speakers, schedule, topics, location, travel accommodations and more.
Interactive - The website should be interactive, providing features that keep potential attendees coming back. Interactive features can be social (interactive Twitter feed, interactive Instagram feed, social sharing links) and they can be informative such as a news feed of latest conference updates. Keep users interested in your conference website by providing interactive features that encourage them to interact and share your conference website.
Social Experience - The social experience is key to creating an interactive online audience, here are some key things to consider:
- Choose Key Social Media Networks - When you are looking at which networks you want to promote your conference on, you want to make sure you choose networks that your audience already uses. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are ones that most organizations use often for adult audiences. When it comes to a younger demographic they may forego Facebook for Vine or Snapchat. Make sure if you choose multiple networks that you have adequate staff to push updated consistent content on these networks as well as interact with people in a timely manner.
Choose a Great Hashtag - A great hashtag can make or break the online aspect of a conference. If the hashtag is difficult to type and difficult to remember, the attendees won’t use it and it won’t gain traction. Without key traction, it makes the online aspect of the conference much more difficult to measure and promote. Choose a hashtag that is close to the title of the conference, a clever short acronym of the conference or a consistent overarching theme of the conference that users can type quickly, share easily and remember.
Encourage and Facilitate Interactions - Sharing features on your website are a great start to facilitating social interactions about the conference. Giving people a way to share your website as well as pre-populating posts with text and hashtags can help people share with the simple click of a button. Additionally, when people are having conversations using the conference hashtag, interact with them from the official conference account. Retweet them and talk with them about the conference, encourage them to share and make them feel like someone is listening to their excitement about this event. Don’t forget to ask that speakers and presenters at the conference use the hashtag and share the event with their online audiences as well.
Mobile Experience - Staying connected on the go is key to conference attendees these days.
- The website needs to be “responsive design” so that it can be viewed on the go. Users are not sitting at desks and laptops that often at conferences but they are carrying around mobile devices often. Make sure your conference website is accessible and loads quickly on mobile devices.
A Conference app is better than a mobile website - An even better option than a mobile website is a mobile app. Conference attendees are much more likely to download your conference app then go to your mobile website. This app gives the organization a much better connection to their users by using features such as push notification, real time updates and continued access after the event since the app is still installed on their device. Make sure your app has all the key pages from your website as well as social interactive features and mobile streaming.
Streaming Experience - Watching the conference live stream can one of the most engaging aspects of the online experience.
- Make video streaming adaptive - Adaptive streaming means the video will adjust to the internet connection speed of the device. Whether the user is on a mobile device with a slower connection or a desktop with high speed broadband, the stream will adapt to their connection and give them the best viewing experience.
Make the video HTML5 compatible - HTML5 compatible video works on any device and the best experience for the user is to make the video compatible on the device they choose.
Make desktop streaming interactive - Whether it’s an online live chat, a live interactive twitter feed or a sharing button to promote the stream on social networks, make sure the desktop stream is interactive. There are a variety of options that can be added to the desktop streaming experience that can enhance it and increase engagement.
Make Access Easy - I can’t stress this enough, make access to your conference’s online properties easy. Users want a seamless online experience or one very close to it. One of the most important aspects of the online experience is to promote it from offline venues. If there is a main stage or traditional marketing materials (goodie bags, flyers, etc.) that are given to attendees, make sure to inform them of the online aspects of the conference and ask them to “Stay Connected with us Online” and let them know how (hashtag, mobile app, social networks, and more).
Over the last three years, The Potter’s House Church of Dallas has seen significant growth in a very nontraditional way. While most churches measure growth by attendance in the sanctuary, The Potter’s House saw a huge increase in their online presence. Going from a platform that reached thousands online to one that reaches millions was a strategic, focused effort and opened up new ministry opportunities for the church. With this type of growth, the one question that we are often asked is, how did you do it? Well, let’s look at one of the most important initial steps we took. Social Media, Internet Church, Internet TV, Mobile Apps and a myriad of other digital buzzwords are always thrown around when it comes to describing digital impact, but at The Potter’s House we started with our main platform, our ministry website. Our website was the most important online platform that we as a ministry had. Our internal research showed that up to 80% of our new visitors checked out our online properties first, more specifically our website. It was our largest welcome ministry, our largest information resources and the largest representation of the ministry. Our website spoke to people at times and in places no one else was speaking. The reason it was constantly speaking to people was that our website was made to be accessible, innovative, simple and practical.
One of the most innovative changes I have seen regarding websites in the last 10 years has been responsive design. Responsive design is a development style that creates websites that adapt to the device the user is on. Once the website is created, if a user is on a mobile phone, ipad or desktop computer, they are still able to use your website accordingly. This feature is very important because we are seeing many organizations design websites for desktop usage but people are increasingly viewing websites from mobile devices. Studies show that we are never more than 3 feet away from our mobile devices and we check them over 40 times a day, thus our mobile phones are the way we continually stay connected. As we checked our google analytics, we saw that our users we coming to our websites from their mobile devices more than traditional desktop computers and we had to make sure our websites could adapt to this shift in browsing behaviors. Additionally, we have created more engaging experiences online that mimic the social media experience. While people want to come to websites that are informative and educate people on what they were looking for, the customized engaging experience is one that allows people to stay on our site longer and helps us better understand what our online users are looking for in their online ministry experience.
We didn’t just want the external part of the website to be easy to use, we also wanted the internal (back-end) part to be easy to use as well. In order to complete this we moved all of our web platforms into content management systems (CMS). Wordpress is one of the best website content management systems available and with the numerous templates and add-ons, you can make some powerful websites that are innovative, responsive, engaging and impactful. But the best part with using a CMS is that multiple people can work on a website at the same time and make updates without being super technical. Content Management Systems provide the technical prowess for tech geeks like myself as well as the ease of use for nontechnical people like our admins who want to update a few words of text on the about-us page.
Overall, we find that the online experience and numerous platforms that we have created at our ministry are very effective in reaching people all around the world with the gospel. But we have realized that the most important digital platform that we have is our website and we want to make sure it represents the ministry with excellence and gives people the best experience online.
Instagram for Ministry An interesting transition is happening in the world of social media, Facebook is undoubtedly the king of the hill and Twitter is up there as well but the popular new kid on the block is Instagram and it’s here to stay. Instagram now has 300 Million users, over 20 billion photos shared, 1.6 billion likes daily and 60 million photos posted daily (instagram.com/press). With this type of impact it’s no wonder that Instagram is one of the best social media platforms we use for our ministry (our main ministry account is instagram.com/bishopjakes).
In order to be effective on Social Media you must have a strategy, and Instagram is no exception. Before we post a single graphic or video, we make sure we have an overall strategy for Instagram and an idea of what we consider success. Overall, our strategy for Instagram includes consistently posting photos/graphics and videos that are inspirational, informational and conversational. Now let’s break that down, first thing we make sure is that we have a consistent flow of content and posting between 2 - 5 times daily. Next, we want to post inspirational content that uplifts and inspires our audience, we also want to post informational content that keeps our audience updated on things going on with the ministry. Lastly, we want to make sure we keep our posts conversational by responding to comments and questions as often as possible.
Now that we have our strategy laid out, we have to actually create and post the content. Devotional memes are created using our graphic artists or apps like Tweegram, we basically take the daily devotional we post on Facebook or Twitter and add it to a meme and post on Instagram. When we have events we make sure we create flyers or posters that we post on social media, including Instagram. Normally, our flyers are 900x1500 and we make sure we have a 600x600 version created for Instagram. One of our most engaging posts are based on our sunday services where we take an action shot of our pastor and add a quote from his sermon to the photo and post it. Also, we take 15 second clips from his sermons and post those as well, which for some people is the only ministry they receive and we understand how powerful this platform can be. Lastly, one of the things that our audience loves most is the personal and family moments that are posted by our pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes. Whether it’s a banana pudding he baked for his family or a hug he is sharing with his children, people love to see his transparent moments as a father, husband, family man and regular individual.
Overall, Instagram is yet another platform that our ministry uses to visually tell our story as a ministry. We have so many individual stories from our members, leaders, staff and volunteers that showcase how impactful this ministry is and how great the gospel can be. And the best part of it all is through all of the photos, videos, devotionals, quotes and everything we post, God gets the glory. Amen.
Jason Caston (@jasoncaston) is the author of The iChurch Method (ichurchmethod.com). Additionally, he is also the Digital Platform and Innovation specialist at T.D. Jakes Ministries.
After you have implemented a great social media strategy and have seen people respond and interact with you on your networks, it’s time to analyze your results, optimize your strategy and repeat. Many organizations don’t analyze their social media results; they take the approach of “just put it on Facebook or Twitter” and hope for the best. If your ministry takes the time to develop a social media strategy then it should take the time to measure the results. Analyze Your Results In order to effectively measure social media results you need to assess quite a few things such as: • How many people are seeing the posts, tweets? • How many people are sharing your posts, tweets? • What is the demographic of your online audience (age, sex, location)? • How many people are following your social media links back to your website? • How many people are clicking on the links that you are posting? • Who are your most important and influential followers? These stats are measured and calculated by quite a few online software programs that your ministry should utilize. SproutSocial.com or SimplyMeasured.com are social media analytics companies that take your Facebook and Twitter profiles and provide analytics on your social media strategies. Facebook insights is the analytics section on Facebook Fan Pages that provides demographic information on your pages’ fans. Hootsuite.com is a great software that we spoke of earlier that helps manage social media strategies by scheduling posts to a variety of networks and it also has analytics reporting features that can help your ministry measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Finally, Google Analytics has a Social Reporting feature that reports traffic that comes to your website from Social Media networks. This feature is called Google Social Media Analytics and it is very important in measuring the impact of your social media campaigns.
Optimize Your Strategy Looking at your social media analytics and comparing the data of what you posted, when you posted, how often you posted and which networks yielded which responses, we can now look at ways to optimize our results. First, you want to see which times people responded to your posts. On average this is between the hours of 7am – 11am and 6pm – 11pm. Next, you want to see which days garner the highest response, and more often than not this is Saturdays and Tuesdays. Additionally, as you optimize your strategy you want to continue to create and distribute visual content to your networks. Continue to find ways to create innovative and inspiring photos and videos that will engage your audience as well as compel them to share. If they are not sharing, liking, retweeting or commenting enough to your content, then add more calls to actions in your posts. Finally, utilize your hashtags on Twitter, Google+ and Instragram. Hashtags can help you create, get involved and control conversations that occur about your ministry as well as give you numerous opportunities to reach people where they are at and conduct ministry.
Repeat When you know better, you do better and knowledge is power! With that being stated, now that you have analyzed your results and optimized your strategy, it’s time to repeat. Repeat the process of posting to your social media networks at the optimized times with the optimized content to achieve optimized results.
First and foremost, let me reiterate, when you post content through your networks, make sure you optimize it for interaction and sharing. Call to Action - When you share content, provide a call to action such as asking to like, comment, share or retweet this. Calls to action let people feel like they are participating with the organization. When your organization posts something that is engaging and moves someone to action, they make a conscious decision to participate in your social media marketing. This is the power of social networking and as your organization reciprocates that communication and engagement, the online relationship becomes deeper and those fans become self-proclaimed brand advocates and marketers. Make sure in your posts you put a call to action and allow people to participate in your social media campaigns with you.
Ask Questions – As you build your social media audience, “crowd-source” things you need to know by asking your online audience what they think. Ask them questions about your brand, current topics, new products and other things that will give your organization pertinent information to help build your business. Marketing companies pay focus groups money for information that you can get for FREE by using your social media networks. Another great reason to ask your online audience questions is that you can get immediate responses from REAL CUSTOMERS about your business and that information is always valuable.
Keep the Multimedia coming – I have spoken on this subject already but I want to say it again: pictures, photos, images, graphics and videos are the most engaging types of content for social media networks. There are entire networks built around photos and videos so make sure your brand has multimedia content in addition to text based content that you can push out to your networks and engage your audience.
Welcome to 2015, The iChurch Method is taking some great steps this year to helping organizations advance online and we have some great things in store. Here’s a preview of whats coming real soon.
1. The iChurch Method Vol. 3: Digital Missionary Field - April 6, 2015 is the release date of the latest volume in The iChurch Method series. This book will continue to focus on the five main areas of the iChurch method, web, multimedia, ecommerce, social and mobile, as well as take things to another level with topics such as internet church, internet tv, mobile apps, responsive design and much more.
2. Social Connections: Connect With and Engage Your Audience - April 6, 2015 is the release date of the first book in the new Digital Connections series by Jason Caston. This social media manual will help any organization connect with and engage their social media audience.
3. Mobile Connections: Reaching an Always Connected Audience - August 10, 2015 is the release date of the second book in the new Digital Connections series by Jason Caston. This mobile manual will help organization understand how mobile is changing the internet and we are always connected via our mobile devices.
4. Speaking - Here are Key Speaking dates - ichurchmethod.com/calendar *dates are subject to change HIM Conference - Honolulu, HI - March 20, 2015 - himonline.org CLA Conference - Dallas, TX - April 14, 2015 - christianleadershipalliance.org/outcomes-conference Pastors and Leadership Conference - Orlando, FL - April 30, 2015 - pastorsandleaders.org Biola Digital - Biola University - June 3, 2015 - events.biola.edu/bioladigital/ MegaFest - Dallas, TX - August 20, 2015 - mega-fest.com Group eConnect - Loveland, CO - Nov 4, 2015 - group.com/econnect
5. iChurch TV - with new book releases come new episodes for iChurch TV such as internet tv, internet church campuses, social media strategies, best networks to use and much more. YouTube.com/ichurchmethod
6. AT&T Inspired Mobility - As I continue to be the spokesperson for the AT&T #InspiredMobility Campaign, I will continue to speak on how we use mobile devices to enhance our personal and spiritual lives as well as teach how The iChurch Method can help organizations connect with growing online audiences. Look forward to events coming soon. http://inspiredmobility.com
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We at The iChurch Method are always looking for better ways to help organizations advance online and your encouragement helps motivate us to continue to develop innovative ways to fulfill those tasks.
Continuing my interview on the state of the church and technology, I gave the following insight on my thoughts on the church and technology.
The church as a whole, I’d say maybe there are about 5% of churches that really have a good grasp of technology. They have the resources to actually utilize a lot of the new things that are going on out there, but 95% of the churches I see out here just don’t have the resources. They know what they want to do but they don’t have the resources and expertise to actually implement it. They might have a volunteer come in and do the website; someone that really has a good heart but just doesn’t have the knowhow to make it look as effective as it could be. Or they may hire somebody that doesn’t have the integrity that the people in the church have. If they don’t have that integrity then they might just basically take them for their money and not give them a high-quality website.
So, in seeing those types of situations, I started to realize what they needed was someone they could trust and someone that also has the expertise to allow them to take advantage of the technology that we have out here because it changes rapidly.
[Question: How are people receiving the ichurch method strategy] It’s being received with resounding success. I think that once the light bulb goes on and people understand and realize that the method that I’m producing and the way that I’m presenting it to them is bringing down the technological barrier and helping them actually be able to utilize technology on a level that they understand, then they realize that they can use this to actually help advance their ministry online and not be intimidated by technology.
The most difficult part about using social media is maintaining consistency. Too often an organization sets out to harness the power of social media but ultimately loses interest over time, often because they discover that it's more work than they had anticipated, or other pressing needs come up and the social media project falls through the cracks. Consistency is vital if you want to maintain a social media presence. Just as with your website, if you don't update your sites regularly with fresh content, people will lose interest. Set a strategy for your social media project and stick to it.
How Much Time Can You Spare? Start by analyzing your staff and how much time each can devote to your social media sites. Different staff members will be suited to different sorts of social media. Some may prefer to sit down once or twice a day and post to your Facebook page, while others will enjoy posting frequent tweets through your Twitter account. Decide exactly which sites you will use, and who will handle them.
What About Content? Social media is an excellent forum to repurpose content from your web page. Think about how news media use sound bytes, and do the same. You can use short video clips from sermons, quotations, announcements, photos - anything from your website is fair game. This is a great way to entice people back to your church's website to read the whole story or watch the whole sermon.
The good news is, your staff can spend maybe an hour or less each day preparing the content they intend to post. Then they can take just a few minutes several times a day to actually post the pre-prepared material. By posting at different times during the day you reach a great many more people, as people tend to check their social media sites at different times during the day and evening.
24 Hour Posting You can also use free software from Hootsuite.com to schedule posts any time of the day or night. Hootsuite works with Facebook and Twitter, and will allow you to set up dates and times for your posts to those two social networks. You can even schedule a whole week - or month's - worth of posts ahead of time, which will save you a lot of time and energy and make sure that your message gets out, no matter what. This is a great way to reach night owls, shift workers, people in other time zones, and especially people who may be awake at odd hours due to stress or depression.
When managed properly, social media is an excellent communication tool. Take advantage of it to get your message out to the whole global community!
For more information on this and other topics, get your copy of "The iChurch Method Volume 1: How to Advance Your Ministry Online." or The iChurch Method Volume 2: Changing the World When You Login or even sign up for the iChurch Method Online School.
Is it Facebook and their one billion users? Is it Twitter and their easy-to-use network? Is it Pinterest and their Pictures and Videos? Is it YouTube and their massive video network? Which one is it? Well, the answer is simple: the best social network is whichever one your organization knows how to use. That’s the hard part for organizations to grasp when they start social media: start with the network that your staff knows best. Consider these four key points.
One. The Social Network your organization should be on depends on your content and capability to use the network. If you have a just a small amount of content, a few photos, text updates and videos, and the people you have on staff know Twitter best, then start on Twitter. If you have people on staff that are familiar with Facebook then use that social network and push text, video and photo updates there. Use whatever network you have people familiar with and your content will work on.
Two. Repurpose your content for each network. Once you have decided to use more than one network, you can repurpose the same content for multiple networks. For example, if you have a motivational quote from your pastor’s sermon, you can take that quote and put it out on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can then take the quote, put it over a picture of your pastor preaching and then put that picture out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Also, you can use the actual video of your pastor saying the same quote and put that video clip out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. So you see, different types of content can go on different networks.
Three. Each network has its own community and its own best way to use it. For the sake of time, many organizations will have their Facebook posts go to Twitter or their Twitter posts go to Facebook. While this does conserve time, it takes away from the uniqueness of each network and hinders genuine growth on the network that stuff is being pushed to. Usually, the network that stuff is being “pushed to,” is the one that’s not being monitored. Therefore people that want to interact with the business on that network are not being answered because that network is usually just something that is being fed content and not attended to.
Four. You don’t have to be on ALL of them but it’s good to be on as many as your staff can handle. If you can only be on one network, then make the most of that network until you get the ability to expand to more.
For more information on this and other Social Media topics, get your copy or How to Get One Million Social Media Fans today.