The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Overwhelmed By All The Social Media Choices? Here's Some Help!

Perhaps you and your church/ministry are overwhelmed by all the social media choices out there. Where do you start? What is the best use of your time and energy? Certainly not all social media channels are the same. Here are some distinctions and highlights of the big 5 social media platforms.

1. Facebook
Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg. As many are probably aptly aware, Facebook is one of, if not the most, recognizable social networking platform in the world. With over 1.4 billion users around the world, just about everyone you’ve ever known, or will ever know has a profile on this platform.

These Facebook Statistics will blow your mind. Did you know?:
  • People share 1.3 million pieces of content every minute
  • 350 million photos are uploaded each day
  • Facebook adds 8 new users per second, or 7,246 people every 15 minutes
2. Twitter
What started as a microblogging site has now become one of the largest social media platforms. It all started back in March of 2006.

Since then, the site has garnered some impressive numbers:
  • 300 billion tweets have been sent since the site’s beginning
  • Average number of followers is 208
  • Tweets including images have 5 times the engagement
3. Pinterest
This social media platform took off like a rocket, literally almost overnight. Despite behemoths like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest became the third largest network in the U.S. within two short years!

Check out these Pinterest statistics:
  • Despite the thinking that most Pinterest users are women, 33.3% of all sign-ups are actually men.
  • 75% of time spent on Pinterest is done with a mobile device
  • There are over 100 million active users
4. YouTube
Yes, not everyone always thinks of YouTube in terms of social media, but it certainly is. YouTube began as an idea drummed up by three PayPal employees who wanted a website where they could upload, share, and watch videos. The domain became active in 2005. It’s incredible how far the site has come since then, behind Google, YouTube is the second largest "search engine".

These YouTube numbers are mind-blowing:
  • There are over one billion users on the site.
  • 80% of YouTube’s traffic comes from outside the U.S.
  • YouTube has paid over $1 billion to partners in revenue
5. Instagram
What started as an iOS exclusive app has since become a mobile and internet icon for sharing images (and now video). It’s a relatively young platform with roots dating back to 2010, but it’s already built up some serious statistics:
  • There are 400 million active users per month
  • 51% of users are male, 49% are female
  • 75% of Instagram users are outside the U.S.
Here are some tips on how to integrate social media into the life and fabric of your church and ministry.

1. Consider where you constituents and audience are present and engaged before you decide what social media channels you choose to add. If most of your audience are engaged with Facebook then it makes perfect sense to be active and participate there. Do you work with youth? Then perhaps Instagram is the place to be since it's demographic skews younger. If hardly anyone in your ministry is on Twitter, perhaps it's best to avoid that platform for the time being. It doesn't do you any good to spend a lot of time and energy talking within a certain social media channel if no one you want to be there and listen is NOT there.

2. Consider your objectives and what you desire to accomplish before you dive in. If you are looking to connect and communicate within your own community, Facebook may be just the right platform to connect with your group and tribe. But, if you are looking to network with other ministry and thought leaders, then you'll probably want to consider Twitter, given that it is a powerful place in which to accomplish that goal. 

3. Use tools to strategically help and assist you. There are all kinds of tools to help you manage multiple social media channels such as Buffer and Hootsuite. These tools aggregate all your social media work in one place. And through these tools, you can schedule posts, monitor the conversations and receive great feedback on how others are interacting and sharing your content.

4. Make sure you ask the question, "How does using this particular social media channel improve the quality of ministry and help move the church's objectives forward?" I believe there need to be 3 ROI Quality Goals and Objectives for Social Media in place before you start. You can read more about that in my earlier post HERE

How To Get Maximum Impact In Sharing Your Story Via YouTube

You probably already know the impact a video makes in helping your church or ministry communicate it's message. The visuals that a video provide are powerful. Now, with the help of YouTube, your video will have a lot more BANG!

As a non-profit, church or ministry, you can register your account with YouTube in their nonprofit category. By being in that category organizations up to now have had the privilege of inserting a "Call to Action" overlay on top of the video. Certainly up to now this has been a great way to drive someone to action, whether it be to serve, go, give or to learn more. But now YouTube is offering something different. Something more powerful. You'll first notice the difference when you're editing a video in the video manager - you will now see a new option called "cards"

With cards you have more options to engage your audience. You can use cards to add interactivity to your videos. Cards can point viewers to a specific URL (from a list of eligible sites - this is a site that you must verify ownership over) and show customized images, titles, and calls to action, depending on the card type.

Watch this video, which is an overview of cards - it's use and function.

Also, watch how a non-profit called CMDA Atlanta, uses cards to engage the audience throughout the course of the video.

What do you think? Can you see how the power of using cards will be a game-changer for your ministry?

The Big List Of The Best Prayer Apps

In a follow up from our previous post - The Big List of the Best Bible Apps - here is a list of some of the more popular and useful prayer apps out on the market. Using these apps will encourage and remind you to pray for the many prayer requests that God puts on your heart and in your life.

iOS | Android

How many times have we told someone we’d pray for them, and then forget to follow through? This Christian app helps you keep track of prayer requests and faithfully pray for the people and causes you care about. (recommended by Tim Challies)

From their website: PrayerMate brings all your prayer points together. Whether it’s your personal prayer points for friends and family, regular updates from some fantastic mission organizations, or the latest PDF prayer letter that just arrived in your inbox, PrayerMate puts it all together in one place and helps you get on and pray.

iOS | Android

This app comes highly recommended by the editor of Ministry Best Practices. It is an app that is clean and simple in design - and simple in function. It keeps track of prayer requests, reminds you to pray and also creates and gives space for the actual act of praying. You need to definitely take a look at this app.

From their website: We believe that prayer is a powerful and effective way for us to connect with God. If you're anything like us, the biggest obstacles that keep you from praying are difficulty organizing or keeping a list of your prayers, then actually remembering to pray for those things when life gets busy. Echo was created to solve these problems, and to give you space to engage with your Creator.

iOS | Android

If you want an app that not just reminds you to pray but also connects you with a praying community, then you may want to check out this app.

From their website: How many times have you told someone you'd pray for them but never did? With Pray With Me you can see the people you're praying for and the people praying for you all in one place. You can even set up reminders to ensure that in the busyness of life you don't forget those most important to you.

Prayer Notebook
iOS | Android

If you’re looking for an iOS app that will help you keep your prayer life organized, then this app will definitely do the trick. The Prayer Notebook app is a well organized, easy to use, and is nicely designed. 

From their website: Have you ever told someone you would pray for them and forgot? Us too, that's why we made Prayer Notebook. Use it to organize your prayer life and remind you to pray. Prayer Notebook is designed to be your personal prayer assistant.

Prayer Calendar by Voice of the Martyrs
iOS | Android

This app helps Christians remember their persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world, and alerts users to specific requests daily.

From their website: Christians around the world have one primary request: “Please pray for us!” Support the body of Christ through daily prayer for the persecuted Christian church. This free iOS or Android application will help focus your prayer requests and remind you to pray each day.

Praying God’s Word

This Christian devotional app is the accompaniment to Beth Moore’s bestselling book of the same name.

From the app page: This app includes 30 prayers on the topic of Overcoming Unbelief that accompanies Beth Moore’s best selling book, Praying God’s Word. [. . .] Every Scripture reference is linked to an online edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible so you may read the referenced verses in context. You can save favorites, email prayers, and tweet or post to Twitter and Facebook.

Every Day Pray

This app, although a general prayer app, has a unique family/child focus, as it helps remind you and gives you Bible verses and encouragement as you pray for your family and children.

From the app page: You know the power of prayer, and so do we! Every Day Pray is an app designed to help you stay in constant communication with your heavenly Father. The app includes your own prayer journal with the ability to set scheduled prayer reminders


The Pray! app lets you set reminders to notify you of prayer requests. This is a great app if you want to set reminders to pray for someone during their surgery, interview, or at any specific time of day.

From their website: Pray! has been developed by one person to address the need for more efficient management of prayer requests. Despite a love for fountain pens and paper, keeping track of prayer requests on a phone seemed more useful and efficient. Pray! is the result of that thought process.


If you are one to get distracted or lose focus while praying, Prayer Prompter is the application for you. It prompts topics to pray about (worship, adoration, for your spouse, for yourself, etc.). It gives you passage suggestions to read through and pray back to God. This app is great when you don’t know how to pray. 

From their website: Prayer Prompter has been designed to enrich your prayer time by providing an easy way to read and reflect on key passages of Scripture and return to them on a regular basis. The first few folders in the top drawer are organized according to the popularACTS method of prayer. The letters, A-C-T-S, stand forAdoration or Worship and Praise, Confession which includes Repentance and Forgiveness, Thanksgiving or the expression of Gratitude to God, and Supplication which means Petition, Intercession or Requests.


Using this app will require you to create an account but it will give you an opportunity to pray for people you follow, global requests, or group requests. This is a very interactive app. When a request comes up, you can select “PRAY” to notify that person that you prayed. You can also send them a message of encouragement. The best feature of this app is the “GROUP” setting. You can create your own private group to share with your small group, church, or family and share prayers and updates instantly.

From the app page: Ask for prayers, love and support safely! Help and encourage others! Connect with trusted and genuine people! Pray in small, private groups or with the whole world! Engage in meaningful conversations, follow users that you care for or join groups that are of interest to you.
Join Instapray today and help us make the world a better place!


From the app page: The Prayer Journal is a great companion for starting your day out each morning. You will see an inspirational piece of scripture displayed against a stunning background. Your prayer list is saved and can be pulled up at a moment's notice.


From the app page: If you attend a small group there’s always a time at the end where they gather prayer requests. Or your friend will mention a prayer request. Or there are things going on in your life that you need to pray for. What do you do with these. Normally we just try to remember or they end up on loose pieces of paper that despite our best efforts get lost or forgotten. This app gives you a place to record the prayer requests and answers to prayer.

Want To Create Awesome Visual Content For Social Media?

Visual Content
You probably are well aware that using eye-popping visual content for your church/ministry on social media channels increases engagement with your audience tremendously. If you have any doubts, look at these statistics below. According to HubSpot:

  • Facebook posts that feature photos account for 87% of interactions on the site. (Source: eMarketer)
  • Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets than those without. (Source: Buffer)
  • Even tweets that only have a link to a photo or video receive a boost in retweets averaging 35% and 28%, respectively. (Source: Twitter)
  • In 2014, 70% of marketers planned to increase their use of original visual assets like infographics and memes. Visual content also ranked first among content types marketers want to learn more about. (Source: Social Media Examiner)
Of course the key to designing and sharing great visual content is knowing the appropriate dimensions necessary for each individual social media site (btw, does a great job in helping you keep to the necessary image sizes)

Below is a helpful infographic which outlines the various social media image sizes.


How To Create Quality Videos In Just A Snap

Animoto has been one of my go-to video creation app for years. It has been an invaluable ministry tool, allowing me to share the many ministry stories in a powerful way. What I love is that Animoto simplifies video editing by limiting the number of customization options and making most of the editing decisions for you. What it delivers for you in the end is a very professional looking video with impressive results.

Here are some details:
Compatible with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch (iOS 7.0+), Android (version 2.2+), and an online version available here. 

Pricing: Free to try, with plans starting at $9.99/month. But if you are a nonprofit you can apply for their FREE nonprofit license here.

Additional paid features: HD videos, longer videos, video downloads, cloud storage, more photos and videos to upload

Here is a short tutorial using the app:

1. Add photos and videos.
With just a few taps of your finger you can insert your preferred photos and videos from your camera roll. You cannot capture photos or videos from within the app.

2. Select editing style.
Add filters and embellishments to your video by choosing a style theme from the list of provided options. The theme you select will determine how your clips are processed.

3. Select soundtrack.
Animoto provides song options for your video. If you choose to not use a track provided by the app and instead opt for a song you purchased for your personal use, ensure that you are following all copyright laws when you upload your video for the public to view.

4. Add captions and titles.
Animoto prompts you to include copy for intro and outro titles. You can also add text to your photo and video clips by writing captions for your visuals. In addition you can insert title screens with custom messages throughout your video.

5. Animoto generates a preview with automated editing.
Once Animoto generates your video, you can make minor changes to your design.

6. Save and share.
Share your video via Messages, email, Twitter, and Facebook. If you upgrade to a paid version, you can save your video on your device. Although the FREE nonprofit license will automatically give you those features for your church or ministry.

Here is a sample video that I created from a medical mission trip to Haiti using Animoto.

Churches Take Notice Of The Top Web Trends For 2015

Here are the top 5 web trends of 2015. Here are some highlights, that churches should pay attention to!

  • Americans spend 2.5 hours/day on mobile devices and 57% of people will not recommend someone if the website looks bad on a mobile device.
  • The average attention span for an adult online is only about 8 seconds. You do not have long to get your content to your website viewers.
  • 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text (so your website better use video and picture media to tell your story..not just words)

(ht: ChurchMag)

Best Twitter Posts From The Past Week

Twitter Church
Here are the most popular Twitter posts from the past week. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter - @BestMinistry 
Facebook - MinistryBestPractices 

And of course don't forget to subscribe to Ministry Best Practices via email to get your daily dose of actionable and awesome content delivered daily right to your inbox.

3 Reasons Your Church Should Participate In Social Media

The Ministry Best Practices Staff will be on vacation and will be entering a "tech-free" zone. Therefore for the week we are sharing some of the best of MBP. Some of the content has been repurposed and updated.

Sure Social Media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, have a big "gee-whiz" factor. Everybody is hopping on the bandwagon and getting involved. People are telling you that if you and your church don't get connected to this new media that you're going to get left behind and miss out.

But there has got to be a more compelling reason for a church, ministry or non-profit to sign on to these social media applications than "everybody else is doing it."

The question you have to ask concerning your organization is, "Why get on board and get involved with Social Media?" You must be convinced that there is a compelling reason for your church to dive into social media.

That compelling reason can be found from business -they call it ROI, Return On Investment. What is the ROI of Social Media for ministry and your church? In this post, I don't want to address the quantitative aspect of ROI, but rather the qualitative.

How does social media improve the quality of ministry and help move the church's objectives forward?

I believe there needs to be 3 ROI Quality Goals and Objectives for Social Media

1. Communication
2. Connecting
3. Call to Action

Let me break these down:

1. Communication
- Social Media must help the church effectively and efficiently communicate it's message. Certainly Social Media isn't the only medium. A church can communicate to it's people on the Sunday morning platform, bulletins, mailings, phone calls, emails, face-to-face conversations, television, radio etc... Social Media, though, becomes just another effective tool to add to the church's communication mosaic. But Social Media has some unique benefits all it's own in effectively communicating:

  • - it's easy and effortless, it doesn't take much money or manpower to implement or use it.
  • - it's ubiquitous, since it is so available and pervasive it isn't hard for people to miss the message.
  • - it's variety, social media takes many different forms, words, audio and image.
  • - it's viral, the beauty of social media is that your message can expand well beyond it's intended audience - therefore exposing and introducing new people to your cause and community.
2. Connecting - Social Media must connect your community. Unlike communication which most often pushes information in a "one-way" direction, connecting must create a conversation. You must ask, Will Social Media create conversation within the community? Are people able to talk to you the minister/ministry team leader? Can they talk to one another? Also, part of the conversation involves other key elements:

  • - contribute, can others contribute in helpful and meaningful ways to the conversation? Are they even able to shape the conversation?
  • - collaborate, does your social media allow the benefits from the collective hive of experience, skills and knowledge from your community?
3. Call to Action - Social Media must prompt people to do something. It can't be passive. Some of the calls to ACTION might include:

  • - Go, are you asking someone to go and serve others in some way?
  • - Give, are you asking someone to give either of their time or financially to the cause?
  • - Pray, are you calling people to act in concerted and persevering prayer?
  • -Mobilize, are you asking people to spread the message of the cause to their friends and networks?
So as you think about Social Media for your church, ministry or non-profit, you must ask yourself....How will this new Social Media "thing" help our church, ministry or organization Communicate, Connect our Community, and Call People to Action?

If you have a clear answer to that question, then most definitely your church should invest in Social Media.

from original post HERE

Top Twitter Tweets Of The Past Week

Twitter church
Here are the most popular Twitter posts from the past week. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter - @BestMinistry

Facebook - MinistryBestPractices

And of course don't forget to subscribe to Ministry Best Practices via email to get your daily dose of actionable and awesome content delivered daily right to your inbox.

Want To Know What Most Interests Us? Google Knows

google search

In 2014, Americans looked to Google for information on Ebola, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the actor Robin Williams’s suicide—all of which ranked among the hottest search terms of that year.

Google has announced the results of its “14th Annual Year in Search,” an inventory of the year’s most-searched-for keywords and phrases. 

The inventory is set up by category so you can browse through the different areas and drill down to more specifics. For a pastor and ministry leader, there is an enormous amount of information here for articles, blog posts, sermons, and essays. Seeing what we (Americans) were curious and interested about will help to give you some perspective and a pulse of the audience you minister to.

Scientific American also posted some interesting insights as well as trending subjects that were searched on Google. 

(ht: Phil Cooke)

Mobile Can No Longer Be An Afterthought!

iphone anxiety
If you ever had any doubt that our culture has grown highly dependent on our smartphones, then you'll need to read this:

excerpted from Digital Trends:
If you feel a dark, heavy cloud over your head preventing you from being a fully functional human being whenever you forget to take your smartphone with you, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s now a study that declares smartphone separation anxiety is a real affliction that has psychological and physiological effects. 
Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a study observing what happens to iPhone users when they’re unable to answer their phones while they work on word search puzzles. Participants were told to sit at a computer in a lab and that the experiment was about testing a new wireless blood pressure cuff.
“Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks,” said Russell Clayton, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and lead author of the study. “Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.”
Putting aside the real psychological effects of being apart from our smartphones, this study reinforces yet another issue - that people are never too far from their phones. They are always with us and we are connecting through them. Which means that if you are not thinking and working toward reaching your church, constituents, community and culture through their phone then you are missing it.

More and more people in your church and ministry are connecting through their phones. They are reading news and information from their phone, giving through their phone, communicating through their phone and watching media through their phone. Every email you send, every website you create, every call to action you require must be seen through the lens of how it accomplish it through mobile. Mobile can no longer be an afterthought for you and your church and ministry!

You're Not Going To Believe This About Churches Online!

Just read in Christian Web Trends news that surprised me a bit.

Here is a quote from their post:
2012 Duke University National Congregations Study that showed a shocking low percentage of U.S. congregations. How low? 55.7% 
Granted, the study was conducted in 2012, so it’s 2-3 years old. However, considering the fact that the percentage of churches with websites only grew 11% in previous 5 years (from 44.3% in 2007), we can extrapolate that the current percentage isn’t likely to be more than 60-65%
Wow...those stats are incredible! Yet even though those statistics say that about 65% of churches have a web presence, it of course says nothing about the nature or condition of those websites. Are they current? Are they updated? Are they aesthetically appealing? 

There are a lot of ugly and broken websites out there! And truthfully I wonder if having an ugly, dated, and inactive website is any better than no website at all. (btw you don't have to settle for this...there are great website builders like Clover Sites and others that can give your church and ministry an attractive web presence.)

Don't forget your church and ministry website is your storefront. It will be, for many, the first thing they see or experience about your church before they even step through the front door on Sunday morning. Your church and ministry is creating a significant divide and disadvantage if you are not online.

The Top Facebook Posts From MBP

Here are the most popular Facebook posts from the past couple of weeks. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter - @BestMinistry

And of course don't forget to subscribe to Ministry Best Practices via email to get your daily dose of actionable and awesome content delivered daily right to your inbox.

Will Twitter's Next Move Be A Game-Changer?

This news below has been creating a lot of buzz.
Earlier, Twitter said it was working on a native video platform for 2015 that would allow users to upload and tweet original clips. 
"Aside from just watching video more easily on Twitter, you should be able to record, edit and share your own videos natively on Twitter too," Twitter's VP of Product Kevin Weil wrote in November. "Alongside short looping Vine videos, we think you’ll have fun sharing what’s happening in your world through native video. You can expect to see this in the first half of next year."
The question that I am always asking myself when I hear news like this is how will it advance the church and ministry's mission and vision?

At first blush I think this new and projected Twitter development around the use of video will be a positive and welcomed addition to churches and ministries that are using this platform. Below are two reasons why...

First of all, video invites and garners a lot of engagement. It is by no accident that more and more video platforms (such as Vine and Instagram's Video) are popping up and becoming popular. The ability for a church and ministry to share more video content with their fans and followers is a positive development.

Second, having the ability to upload videos to Twitter, makes it more likely that the content provider will get clear and specific metrics as to how often and by whom their videos are being viewed. A ministry having this kind of information about the videos they upload and share is invaluable and tremendously useful. 

Needless to say, I think this new development in creating and sharing video on Twitter provides another positive opportunity for the church and ministries to both communicate to their constituents as well has market and reach out to those outside their circle.

Who Will Win The Battle Between Email And Social Media?

What is the better, more effective way to communicate with your church/ministry/organization? Is it email? Or is it social media?

There has been a debate going on for the past couple of years. Some say that email is dead and that the younger generation doesn't connect via email anymore. Others say that email is a commodity you can own and control, while social media is "rented" property, continually the victim of the fickle social media provider. I think it's a faulty dilemma to pose having to choose. Both have strengths and weaknesses. Both have a valuable presence and role in your communication strategy.

Your organization should be intentional with both email communication and active & present on several social media platforms. This infographic below compares the two, with both their strengths and weaknesses, in a side by side comparison.

Email Marketing

Imagine - If You Can - A World Without The Internet

Internet Broken
Well can you? It would be hard to do. We are so connected these days using the internet. We all depend on it so much. Through it, we connect, communicate, shop, work, travel, read, watch movies - we do so much through it.

On one hand it is sobering just how dependent (and addicted) we are. It would certainly be a shock to the system if the internet went away tomorrow. I think many people would probably fall into a deep depression!

But the stats below in the infographic also make another important point. If you are ignoring the online opportunities available then you are invisible - that's just a fact. And yet there are still many churches, and even ministries, doing very little online. Their internet presence is anemic and shallow, usually with very little time, attention and effort given to it. That trend needs to change - Today!

There just isn't any excuse anymore to ignore the incredible opportunities for a church/ministry to be actively online. Are you leveraging the online opportunities like you should? Here are some questions that I have for your organization that might help you explore that answer.

  • What would people find if they attempted to search for your church/ministry on Google?
  • Are you active and participating on social media networks like Facebook or Instagram? Do you have at least an active presence on 2 major social media sites?
  • Are you using and leveraging video to communicate to your constituents as well as for outreach?
  • Do you use visually appealing email marketing, such as the Mailchimp service, to communicate with your constituents within your church/ministry?
  • Is your organization set up for and actively promoting online giving?
  • As a ministry leader, are you blogging in order to create impact and influence with the people you lead?
  • Is your website design more than 3 years old?
(if you need any help moving your church, ministry or organization to the next level with your online presence, Ministry Best Practices can help and would love to talk to you more about it)

The World Without Internet

Important Lessons Learned About Social Media In 2014

social media
Before we move ahead into 2015 using social media, lets look back into this past year. What has happened in the world of social media? Well a lot actually! See below the infographic that illustrates several of the key trends and stats that have come out of 2014.

But first let me add to these with my own observations of what I've learned.

One of the biggest lessons of 2014 and moving into the future is don't rely too heavily on just one social network. Remember social media networks are leased and rented, you don't own the space, therefore you have to play by their ever changing rules - see this article about the continuing frustration with Facebook. So don't put too much dependance on just one network - spread out your impact among other social media channels, and invest in leveraging email marketing. Emails are something you "own" not merely lease.

Social Media still relies heavily on content and conversation. You need to be having conversation within social media, simply just broadcasting and selling misuses and violates the ethos of social media. Also, good content needs to be behind all you do within social media. Make sure you are sharing long-form blog posts and articles, as well as engaging pictures and videos. Good content is king! Good and compelling content drives social media engagement.

Don't measure friends/followers, but rather engagement. Who cares how many people are following you on Twitter or liking your page on Facebook! The big question is, are people retweeting, liking, commenting and sharing your content - those are the keys to measuring success. We've seen too often how easily it is to gain fake followers. The real success of your social media presence is their engagement and participation.

Now, here below is the infographic demonstration some additional trends and lessons of what we've learned in social media in 2014:

social media infographic

(ht: MobileMarketingWatch)

Most Popular Facebook Posts This Past Month

Facebook Church

Here are the most popular Facebook posts from the past couple of weeks. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter - @BestMinistry
Facebook - MinistryBestPractices

And of course don't forget to subscribe to Ministry Best Practices via email to get your daily dose of actionable and awesome content delivered daily right to your inbox.

The Top Ministry Tweets Of The Week

Twitter Church

Here are the most popular tweets from the past couple of weeks. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities. 

Twitter - @BestMinistry 
Facebook - MinistryBestPractices 

Growing Your Congregation With Digital Technologies

Digital Church

guest post by Alan Riley
Christian Millennials represent a growing group of faith followers who are looking online to find spiritual engagement in video. A recent report from the Barna Group says that technology is significantly impacting the way today’s Christian Millennials obtain religious content and connect with their churches. Its findings show that 7 out of 10 Christian Millennials read scripture on a screen, and 6 out of 10 practicing Christians search for spiritual content online.

These numbers are important because they present an opportunity for pastors and houses of worship to expand their audiences by applying a myriad of digital technologies that are available today. Through live streaming, video on demand, mobile, smart television apps and 24/7 broadcast channels, churches can deepen their connection to people, reach a broader audience, and expand their mission online. This is the promise of a “Digital Church.”

At Piksel Faith, we have conducted our own research on this topic by surveying 500 self-identified Christians about their digital and “traditional” church-related activities and content consumption. We’ve found that more than half of all the respondents to the survey said they are searching for spiritual content online, and of those doing so, the majority is doing the searching on a smartphone. Respondents were eight times more likely to say digital content made them feel more connected to the church than they were to say it made them feel less connected, and almost half are reading scripture online or using social media to bolster their connection with God. According to these findings, going digital is crucial to a church.

If you want to truly become a digital church, here are some tips:

Always be “on”. For churches to become truly digital, they need to give their members regular access to what’s happening within their congregations. The best way to do this is to employ a 24/7 video network. This allows the “doors” of a church to always be open - with continual access to sermons, speakers, scriptures, and other relevant church topics. By having a 24/network, a church will have the ability to deepen its relationship with the congregation.

Employ digital signage. More churches are incorporating digital signage into their congregations and for good reason - digital signage is a primary way for churches to share important information. It delivers several distinct advantages, including flexibility with announcements and uniting the community. Plus, if you have a convenient solution, it can be easy to create and update content.

Encourage members to keep their mobile phones ON. With the widespread use of mobile technology to stay connected, today’s more progressive churches are encouraging the congregation to keep mobile phones turned on during sermons as a way to share messages that move them, via social media and live chat apps.

Embrace Social Media. Social media is a critical tool for message amplification, and one that should be fully embraced by ministries. Today’s technologies let pastors syndicate their videos directly to social media networks such as Facebook (and others) at the same time their videos are being made available to their 24/7 networks.

If you are a pastor, you can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime with a genuine embrace and understanding of today’s technologies. You have an invaluable opportunity to grow your congregation by forging effective digital strategies and chart more secure digital futures in a world that is increasingly online oriented, especially among Christian Millennials. It is an opportunity not to be missed.

Alan Riley is the VP of Sales at Piksel Faith, committed to working with church leaders to master new digital mediums. A self-confessed nerd, photographer, writer and guitarist, Alan is also an active part of the worship ministry at GracePointe Marietta Church. Connect with him on Twitter @AlanRiley or @PikselFaith.