Churches: How to use Social Media


From here:

When Brandon Cox began planting Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, AR, he didn’t want to drop a ton of money on massive but impersonal means of announcing our arrival. So they used Facebook.

In a recent blog post, Brandon wrote:

  • We started with two couples (including the Cox’s). We spent $0 on traditional advertising but had 35 at our first gathering in July of 2011.
  • We grew to approximately 80 within six months by word-of-mouth and while spending $0 on traditional advertising.
  • We launched with 176 on our first Sunday, mostly gathered through Facebook, word-of-mouth, and search engines.

Sounds like a pretty good start.

So how did they do it?

Brandon included some great tips!

1) Start with a website

“It’s a content hub, of sorts. Sometimes your goal is to move people from social platforms to your site. Sometimes it’s the opposite. And sometimes they simply co-exist for different purposes, but having a hub on the web is essential.”

2) Use Facebook Pages Well

A few key tips:

  • Understand the difference between a profile (which is for people) and a page (which is for brands, organizations, celebrities, etc.).
  • Use your personal Facebook profile to connect with new people in your community, people who get in touch about your plant, etc.
  • Write often. At least daily.
  • Converse. Answer messages, reply to comments, and be helpful to those with questions.

3) Provide Easily Sharable Content

“You are a content-producing master! … We take our messages and break them into bite-sized pieces and share them as a daily devotional on both our website and our Facebook page… All of the content a church produces can be distributed to the volunteer army of people in the pews to equip them to share their faith, their church, and their story.”

5 Things Brandon & Grace Hill are NOT Doing

There are a lot of churches that are “on” social media but seeing little to no results. What separates Grace Hill from others? As I read Brandon’s blog post, I noticed they are NOT doing several things that a lot of churches do.

  1. Using social media purely to broadcast & promote the church and its activities
  2. Putting up a wall of separation between personal and church social media
  3. Viewing online and offline as two separate worlds
  4. Leaving the church’s social media to young volunteer
  5. Expecting the church to reach people directly

5 Things Brandon & Grace Hill ARE Doing

In contrast, here’s the approach they are taking.

1) Using social media to connect, listen, start conversations and answer questions. It’s less about marketing and more about building relationships.

2) Integrating personal and church social media. Many pastors are OK with their church using social media, but they personally don’t want any part of it. It’s messy, time-consuming, leads to interruptions. But guess what? True community and genuine friendships are… messy, time-consuming, and lead to interruptions.  If you truly believe in community, then that means personally connecting and developing friendships with people inside and outside your church.

3) Integrating online and offline worlds. Brandon writes, “I’m a big believer that you can initiate relationships online. I also think it’s important to find ways to go offline, to meet face-to-face, to serve others in a hands-on way.” The reverse can happen as well; you can also meet someone face to face and then take that relationship deeper by connecting online.

4) Being led by the senior pastor. Social media is not an afterthought for Grace Hill, but a strategic part of their culture. It’s part of the way they do evangelism, discipleship, organize volunteers and more. That doesn’t mean the senior pastor has to do all his church’s social media (anymore than he has to do all the evangelism, discipleship or organizing of volunteers), but it does mean he needs to give it direction and make sure it aligns with the church’s vision and values.

5) Empowering the people to reach their friends. Many people view church social media as a way for the church to reach people directly. In contrast Grace Hill provides the content – devotionals, personal stories, pictures – their people can comment on, like and share with their friends.

Brandon provides lots more insight in his post Going Social to Plant Churches. I high encourage you to read it.

If you’re leading communications and social media for your church, I encourage you to connect with Grace Hill and Brandon Cox on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Observe firsthand how they are doing social media effectively. As they say, often more is caught than taught.


Go-To Links for Social Media Guidance

From here:

Social Media

Read it all here.

Tell your story in six words?


From here:

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Ernest Hemingway supposedly wrote that eerie but decidedly evocative six-word story in a bar room challenge. It’s just a literary urban legend, but the idea that a gifted storyteller can get their point across in so few words is still a formidable challenge for writers. That’s why Smith Magazine launched its Six Word Memoir project in 2006, asking readers to send in their life stories in six words. What was meant to fill space after writers backed out of an assignment turned into a full-fledged writing trend, as the magazine received a deluge of responses. The project blossomed into an ongoing challenge, with six books published with some of the best responses. Teachers use “six words” as a prompt in the classroom, it’s an icebreaker at conventions — and it’s an annual Twitter Festival.

This year, from September 24-26, the Six Words Festival provides Twitter users with a variety of different prompts encouraging them to craft six word yarns. Celebrity judges read the responses, retweet the ones they like best, and decide daily winners. The standout entries may get included in the next installment of Six Words books.

The first prompt on the schedule was “I Will Never Do That Again.” Members of the cast of Orange is the New Black and Regina Spektor, as well as the creator of the show, Piper Kerman, judged the set of tweets. Jason Biggs was especially enthusiastic (remember, he plays Larry Smith in OITNB, who is the founder of the magazine). The real-life creator of Smith Magazine got the ball rolling:


Invite both girlfriends to graduation ceremony. @sixwords

Watch the video here:


Read it all here.






Good ideas from Facebook’s 10 biggest brands?

But what of Kirk’s Prime Directive: Get Involved?  These top ten brands are still using the old marketing ways – they post, others react – how does someone have a relationship with a brand?

Is it really all about fans – or is there something more?


Inspire people
Fan count: 71 million+ 

Call for the captions
Red Bull
Fan count: 39 million+

Transport people
Fan count: 37 million+  

Product photos reimagined
Fan count: 35 million+  

Spread the news
Fan count: 34 million+  

Product hacks
34 million+  

Make them drool
32 million+  

Tap into celebrity power
Fan count: 30 million+

Yep — puppies
Fan count: 29 million+

Drive them to your content
Fan count: 28 million+


7 Tips on how to Tweet!

Dunk in the DarkFrom here.

1. Participate in Real-Time Events

Like mentioned above, participating in mainstream events in real-time will help bolster the effectiveness of your Tweets, bringing your brand into relevant conversations and helping to improve your reach across Twitter. This could entail attending an event like a sports game or an awards show, watching a TV premiere, or another form of a live event.

Use Twitter during these events to add real time commentary that brings value and your expertise to the conversations around the experience. Use the event’s hashtag to ensure all of your tweets are further associated with what’s happening at the event. Reach out to other commentators and players related to the event and active on Twitter to spur interesting conversations that further engage users to retweet and interact with your commentary.

2. Add Stunning Visuals When Possible

Visuals resonate far better than any other type of media shared on Twitter and across social media in general. When it comes to Twitter, tweets with image links tend to have ENGAGEMENT RATES 2X HIGHER than tweets without image links. Images are easy to add to your tweets through the Twitter website, mobile apps, and many other social media scheduling tools available to manage your tweets.

3. Incorporate Vines

Video as a form of marketing is an effective method of connecting with an audience because your messaging can be spoken and seen dynamically, as opposed to just being read in text or viewed in an image. Begin using Twitter’s new video service Vine, to add even more value to the tweets you’re sharing with your followers.

Vine is a unique video platform that only allows for uploads of real-time videos clips, no longer than six seconds. These clips continue to loop after they are played until a user clicks on them to stop or decides to move along further in their feed. Create videos to incorporate in your tweets that educate, excite, and expand upon the topics you’re regularly tweeting.

4. Tweets with Links & Hashtags Receive More Engagement

When tweeting with your audience it is important to vary the topics and the types of content you are tweeting. When tweeting about a variety of subjects make sure to always relate back to your voice, industry, expertise, and the overall subject areas you cover. One way of drawing more engagement with TWITTER AS A BRAND is by including links and hashtags.

5. Occasionally Ask Followers to Retweet

An often-underutilized technique for gaining more traction with your tweets is simply asking your followers to retweet your content. This approach to the way you tweet should be balanced with other types of tweets because once you start asking your audience to share your tweets too often, then this tip quickly loses its effectiveness and could hurt your credibility on Twitter.

6. Shorter Tweets Are More Engaging

Twitter already limits your tweets to 140 characters, but it is highly recommended that some of your tweets also be shorter than that. Analysis shows that TWEETS THAT CONTAIN LESS THAN 100 CHARACTERS RECEIVE 17% HIGHER ENGAGEMENT than longer form tweets.

Read the entire article here.

Total Recall: Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win

AnglicanGeeks: Where are the data crunchers now?

Anglican Geeks: And could they be working and we’re not getting it?

ImageFrom here last November 2012:

Data-driven decisionmaking played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle

“The cave” at President Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago

In late spring, the backroom number crunchers who powered Barack Obama’s campaign to victory noticed that George Clooney had an almost gravitational tug on West Coast females ages 40 to 49. The women were far and away the single demographic group most likely to hand over cash, for a chance to dine in Hollywood with Clooney — and Obama.

So as they did with all the other data collected, stored and analyzed in the two-year drive for re-election, Obama’s top campaign aides decided to put this insight to use. They sought out an East Coast celebrity who had similar appeal among the same demographic, aiming to replicate the millions of dollars produced by the Clooney contest. “We were blessed with an overflowing menu of options, but we chose Sarah Jessica Parker,” explains a senior campaign adviser. And so the next Dinner with Barack contest was born: a chance to eat at Parker’s West Village brownstone.

For the general public, there was no way to know that the idea for the Parker contest had come from a data-mining discovery about some supporters: affection for contests, small dinners and celebrity. But from the beginning, campaign manager Jim Messina had promised a totally different, metric-driven kind of campaign in which politics was the goal but political instincts might not be the means. “We are going to measure every single thing in this campaign,” he said after taking the job. He hired an analytics department five times as large as that of the 2008 operation, with an official “chief scientist” for the Chicago headquarters named Rayid Ghani, who in a previous life crunched huge data sets to, among other things, maximize the efficiency of supermarket sales promotions.

Exactly what that team of dozens of data crunchers was doing, however, was a closely held secret. “They are our nuclear codes,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt would say when asked about the efforts. Around the office, data-mining experiments were given mysterious code names such as Narwhal and Dreamcatcher. The team even worked at a remove from the rest of the campaign staff, setting up shop in a windowless room at the north end of the vast headquarters office. The “scientists” created regular briefings on their work for the President and top aides in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, but public details were in short supply as the campaign guarded what it believed to be its biggest institutional advantage over Mitt Romney’s campaign: its data.

On Nov. 4, a group of senior campaign advisers agreed to describe their cutting-edge efforts with TIME on the condition that they not be named and that the information not be published until after the winner was declared. What they revealed as they pulled back the curtain was a massive data effort that helped Obama raise $1 billion, remade the process of targeting TV ads and created detailed models of swing-state voters that could be used to increase the effectiveness of everything from phone calls and door knocks to direct mailings and social media.

How to Raise $1 Billion

For all the praise Obama’s team won in 2008 for its high-tech wizardry, its success masked a huge weakness: too many databases. Back then, volunteers making phone calls through the Obama website were working off lists that differed from the lists used by callers in the campaign office. Get-out-the-vote lists were never reconciled with fundraising lists. It was like the FBI and the CIA before 9/11: the two camps never shared data. “We analyzed very early that the problem in Democratic politics was you had databases all over the place,” said one of the officials. “None of them talked to each other.” So over the first 18 months, the campaign started over, creating a single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states.

The new megafile didn’t just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn’t just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign’s most important priorities first. About 75% of the determining factors were basics like age, sex, race, neighborhood and voting record. Consumer data about voters helped round out the picture. “We could [predict] people who were going to give online. We could model people who were going to give through mail. We could model volunteers,” said one of the senior advisers about the predictive profiles built by the data. “In the end, modeling became something way bigger for us in ’12 than in ’08 because it made our time more efficient.”

Early on, for example, the campaign discovered that people who had unsubscribed from the 2008 campaign e-mail lists were top targets, among the easiest to pull back into the fold with some personal attention. The strategists fashioned tests for specific demographic groups, trying out message scripts that they could then apply. They tested how much better a call from a local volunteer would do than a call from a volunteer from a non–swing state like California. As Messina had promised, assumptions were rarely left in place without numbers to back them up.

The new megafile also allowed the campaign to raise more money than it once thought possible. Until August, everyone in the Obama orbit had protested loudly that the campaign would not be able to reach the mythical $1 billion fundraising goal. “We had big fights because we wouldn’t even accept a goal in the 900s,” said one of the senior officials who was intimately involved in the process. “And then the Internet exploded over the summer,” said another.

A large portion of the cash raised online came through an intricate, metric-driven e-mail campaign in which dozens of fundraising appeals went out each day. Here again, data collection and analysis were paramount. Many of the e-mails sent to supporters were just tests, with different subject lines, senders and messages. Inside the campaign, there were office pools on which combination would raise the most money, and often the pools got it wrong. Michelle Obama’s e-mails performed best in the spring, and at times, campaign boss Messina performed better than Vice President Joe Biden. In many cases, the top performers raised 10 times as much money for the campaign as the underperformers.

Chicago discovered that people who signed up for the campaign’s Quick Donate program, which allowed repeat giving online or via text message without having to re-enter credit-card information, gave about four times as much as other donors. So the program was expanded and incentivized. By the end of October, Quick Donate had become a big part of the campaign’s messaging to supporters, and first-time donors were offered a free bumper sticker to sign up.

Predicting Turnout

The magic tricks that opened wallets were then repurposed to turn out votes. The analytics team used four streams of polling data to build a detailed picture of voters in key states. In the past month, said one official, the analytics team had polling data from about 29,000 people in Ohio alone — a whopping sample that composed nearly half of 1% of all voters there — allowing for deep dives into exactly where each demographic and regional group was trending at any given moment. This was a huge advantage: when polls started to slip after the first debate, they could check to see which voters were changing sides and which were not.

It was this database that helped steady campaign aides in October’s choppy waters, assuring them that most of the Ohioans in motion were not Obama backers but likely Romney supporters whom Romney had lost because of his September blunders. “We were much calmer than others,” said one of the officials. The polling and voter-contact data were processed and reprocessed nightly to account for every imaginable scenario. “We ran the election 66,000 times every night,” said a senior official, describing the computer simulations the campaign ran to figure out Obama’s odds of winning each swing state. “And every morning we got the spit-out — here are your chances of winning these states. And that is how we allocated resources.”

Online, the get-out-the-vote effort continued with a first-ever attempt at using Facebook on a mass scale to replicate the door-knocking efforts of field organizers. In the final weeks of the campaign, people who had downloaded an app were sent messages with pictures of their friends in swing states. They were told to click a button to automatically urge those targeted voters to take certain actions, such as registering to vote, voting early or getting to the polls. The campaign found that roughly 1 in 5 people contacted by a Facebook pal acted on the request, in large part because the message came from someone they knew.

Data helped drive the campaign’s ad buying too. Rather than rely on outside media consultants to decide where ads should run, Messina based his purchases on the massive internal data sets. “We were able to put our target voters through some really complicated modeling, to say, O.K., if Miami-Dade women under 35 are the targets, [here is] how to reach them,” said one official. As a result, the campaign bought ads to air during unconventional programming, like Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, skirting the traditional route of buying ads next to local news programming. How much more efficient was the Obama campaign of 2012 than 2008 at ad buying? Chicago has a number for that: “On TV we were able to buy 14% more efficiently … to make sure we were talking to our persuadable voters,” the same official said.

The numbers also led the campaign to escort their man down roads not usually taken in the late stages of a presidential campaign. In August, Obama decided to answer questions on the social news website Reddit, which many of the President’s senior aides did not know about. “Why did we put Barack Obama on Reddit?” an official asked rhetorically. “Because a whole bunch of our turnout targets were on Reddit.”

That data-driven decisionmaking played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle. It’s another sign that the role of the campaign pros in Washington who make decisions on hunches and experience is rapidly dwindling, being replaced by the work of quants and computer coders who can crack massive data sets for insight. As one official put it, the time of “guys sitting in a back room smoking cigars, saying ‘We always buy 60 Minutes’” is over. In politics, the era of big data has arrived.

Read it all here.

While most brands are focused on increasing social media engagement …


the smart ones are looking beyond Likes,

towards building genuine, long-term relationships

with their customers.

I was joined in a webinar last week by Eugenie Gijsberts from Dutch bank, ABN AMRO.

it’s one of Holland’s largest financial institutions and Eugenie, sounding remarkably genial for someone at the sharp end of corporate communications, is responsible for managing the company’s social customer services.

ABN AMRO is taking the long view of social media. Like many large companies, it initially took to social media for reputation management. The company was in the middle of a merger and wanted to monitor customer feedback on Twitter, forums and Facebook closely, to pre-empt any kind of backlash, so they got a monitoring platform and started listening.

That was in 2010. Over the past three years it has developed a sophisticated social customer service set-up with a specialist team, embedded in the customer service department, which is responsible for daily monitoring, engagement and problem resolution for customers.

Their team operates 24/7, in shifts, to capture, acknowledge, log and resolve around 150 customer queries every day. These are filtered from around 1,000 relevant mentions of the brand and its products every day.

This ‘front line’ team is supported by a network of experts on mortgages, insurance and other products, so that even complex problems can be sorted out rapidly. ABN aims to respond to Tweets within 15 mins and Facebook posts within half an hour.

Quite impressive, though maybe not more than you would expect from an organization with 23,000 staff and 6m customers. 

The interesting thing for me is how it is planning for the future.

Take one example. A few weeks ago an exam paper was leaked to the Dutch media before the actual exam date, causing thousands of students have to stay on at school and cancel their holidays.

Within minutes ABN AMRO’s social media team knew that lots of their young customers were wanting to change their travel insurance dates. The company set up a special campaign and the webcare team dealt with the problem systematically and rapidly.

Again, good work, but perhaps not ground-breaking.

Building on this knowledge, ABN AMRO is now taking social media monitoring and engagement to the next level.

Eugenie gave us three clear examples:

  • Firstly, the bank isn’t just talking to customers, fixing problems and disappearing. It is using Genesys’ social customer service platform to maintain a record of each interaction associated with each social media user and mapping that to engagement across other channels – to create a 360 view of the relationship that the brand has with that customer. Having a single repository of information is essential, since from the customer perspective, you only have one relationship with a brand.
  • Secondly, for younger customers, the bank is actively engaging in social networks such as Hyves – which has 1.2m members in the Netherlands – to educate them about financial issues and prevent problems, such as getting into debt, or falling for phishing scams. This kind of outreach shows real foresight. There’s no direct ROI here, but in the long term there’s a cost saving. They are also, of course, building trust with the youngsters.
  • Thirdly, the bank is starting to look more broadly at its customers’ lives and how it can help them cope with the challenges of daily life. During the recession, for example, it started monitoring for people expressing concerns about their personal finances, to see if it could offer support or advice. This isn’t designed as sales activity – but pro-active, customer support. Or, to put it more accurately, pre-customer support.

The ABN AMRO story isn’t unique. Frank Eliason and his team at Citibank in New York are certainly working along similar lines – but its emphasis on relationship-building over one-off engagement or straight marketing is telling.

For me, the fact that this process is being driven by the Customer Service team rather than Marketing or Communications is equally important. In fact, it’s almost radical.

It worries me when our clients ask us to focus on social media engagement. Of course, in a marketing environment more engagement means more sharing and word-of-mouth, which drives reach, attracts leads and helps with conversions.

But from an organizational perspective, engagement can be a very short-term tactic. Without a longer term strategy it offers limited value and, all too often, provides the consumer with a hollow, meaningless experience.

Any social media strategy that doesn’t have relationship-building at its core is flawed – and this is where companies like ABN AMRO are shining a path for us all. It really doesn’t matter if you’re ahead of them or following on behind. The crucial question is: are you on the path?

Last Rites for Marketing?

From here:


I have good news. Marketing is dead.

Okay, maybe I am overstating my case.

Marketing may not be dead, but, in the world of social media, it has morphed. Dramatically.

Tribe-building is the new marketing.

  • Marketing is no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace. It is about participating in a dialogue with fellow travelers.
  • Marketing is no longer about generating transactions. It is about building relationships.
  • Marketing is no longer about exploiting a market for your own benefit. It is about serving those who share your passion—for your mutual benefit.

In his groundbreaking book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin defines a tribe as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

I reviewed this book right after it came out in 2008. It is just as relevant today as it was then. It is the first book I give to new authors. It is must reading if you are serious about building an enduring career as a creative.

Seth says that a tribe only has two requirements:

  1. A shared interest
  2. A way to communicate.

It is easy to think of examples:

  • Apple users—Just visit a local Apple retail store. People aren’t just there to buy products. They come to share their passion and interact with other enthusiasts. While other retailers struggle, Apple can barely keep up with the demand.
  • Dave Ramsey fans—He has built an immense tribe of people who are passionate about getting out of debt and taking control of their money. It borders on religious fervor. No wonder. His philosophy has given hope to millions.
  • Don Miller readers—His first book, Blue Like Jazz was on the New York Times bestsellers list for months. He tried to make a movie based on the book but couldn’t raise the money. But his tribe wouldn’t let it die. They raised the money themselves.
  • Evernote users—Who would ever think that a simple software database would engender such a large and burgeoning tribe. But with over 12 million registered users, Evernote has attracted a diverse and passionate group of users.

I am a proud member of all four tribes.

But here’s the key for creatives. Building a tribe is your ticket to enduring success. This is what platform is all about. It is a way for you to connect to your tribe.

How do you build a tribe? Let me suggest four ways:

  1. Discover your passion. Marketing is the act of sharing what you are passionate about. Nothing more. Nothing less. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk runs Wine Library TV. He has a huge tribe that didn’t exist a few years ago. It all began when he discovered his passion for wine.
    Millions of people tune into Gary’s short video program daily to discover new wines and better understand the wines they love.
  2. Volunteer to lead. This is everything. Without a leader, you don’t have a tribe. You only have a crowd. Marketing is really about leading people who already want to follow. They just need a leader to take them where they already want to go.
  3. Be generous. The old marketing was about taking from people. As it turns out, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (see Acts 20:35) is a brilliant marketing strategy. When you lead by serving and by giving, people follow.
  4. Provide a way to communicate. People need a way to communicate. They need a way to share their stories. In Tribes, Seth outlines four kinds of tribal leadership. If you are going to be serious about building tribes, you have to provide for all four kinds of communication.
    • Tribe leader to tribe member.
    • Tribe member to tribe leader.
    • Tribe member to tribe member.
    • Tribe member to outsiders.

The real issue is no longer whether or not your publishing company or record label will market your product and give you the visibility your need to succeed. It is really about whether or not you are willing to step up and provide leadership to a tribe of fellow travelers who share your passion.

Read it all here.