Saint Paul Used Social Media

By Emily Hope Morgan

Things have changed with social media.Circuit Board with People

Back in 2005 when I first got on Facebook only college students could get a Facebook account. Even back in 2009 when I started seminary many churches who at that point could get on Facebook didn’t want to, and many people thought Twitter was for nothing but short updates about meaningless things.

Now, my mom and grandma  are using social media. Churches, synods, dioceses, presbyteries, and the like, have Facebook accounts that at the very least give their contact information. More and more individuals, organizations, and churches are becoming Twitter converts as they see it being used in huge movements like elections and revolutions as well as for personal communication.

For anyone in ministry who has hesitations about social media, let me calm some of your fears. There is biblical precedent for churches and ministries using social media. Saint Paul used social media.

Paul used the absolute best social media of his day: letters. The people who wanted to be like Paul wrote letters. We may not think of letters as incredible technology, but back in Paul’s time letters were a big deal. Never before had people been able to communicate like this!

Someone like Paul who traveled so much was able to keep up with communities he had let not just through sending messengers or constantly having to travel back and forth. Through writing letters Paul was able to keep relationships going that he may not have been able to if he didn’t write letters. He was able to help those early communities with their problems and struggles. He was able to encourage what the churches were doing well and explain what they were not.

Then the communities had those letters to continue looking back to. Today we still look to Paul’s letters to help us understand how we live out the Gospel. The technology had drastically changed, yet churches and ministries are still using social media to build relationships, encourage, and explain. Social media connects us with communities we are not with in body. It is a useful tool in our lives individually and communally as we try to live out out our commitments.

Saint Paul used the best social media of his day to be in communication and conversation with people he cared about and people he did not even know! He had never been to the church in Rome yet felt so strongly about wanting to be in conversation with them he wrote the Epistle to the Romans, an incredible letter.

Saint Paul is a powerful example of how to use social media, and as social media continues to change we continue to look back to his example of using technology to best serve his ministry to discern how best to use technology in our ministries.

Facebook Pages: Intermediate, Part 2

Yesterday we explored some new ways to use and organize your Facebook page. Now, let’s look at how to tell how your page is reaching people.

Action Button

You don’t want visitors to just come and look at your Facebook page, you want them to do something while they are there. With the Action Button, you can send them to your website, have them sign up for a class or special event, or participate in a fundraiser. If you are designated as a non-profit pages you have the option of creating a donation button. You can confirm your status in your page settings.

 

Page Insights

Page Insights show you how your page is performing, week to week, month to month, etc. You can see overall page performance as well as details on specific posts, how people are using your page, who your page is reaching, and more. Insights can help you figure out what type of posts work best for your audience, as well as the best days and times of day to post.  Numbers aren’t everything, but the point of social media is to be social and interact, and your page statistics can tell you how well you are doing.

Next Steps

Learning to use your Facebook page well is all about trying, seeing what works, and making adjustments to improve interaction and engagement. Even the most expert social media professionals are constantly evolving their Facebook strategy.

Try some different types of posts, experiment with ads, and add an action button. Let us know what gets the most engagement, and what you tried that didn’t work, but you’d love to adjust and try again.

Facebook Pages: Intermediate, Part 1

Posts

Last month we discussed the basics of getting and maintaining a Facebook page for your ministry. We included tips about the dos and don’ts of Facebook posts. Let’s explore some of the features of your Facebook page that will help make your page a center of engagement with your audience.

Post Types

Did you know that there are more types of posts than just simple text, links or media, like photos and videos? You can also create an ad, event, survey, write a note and more. Try out different types of posts – you never know what might reach people in new ways.

Post Settings

One of the features that is unique to Facebook pages is the ability to schedule posts or create draft posts that you can come back to at a later time to revise and schedule. Click on the arrow next to the “Publish” button in order to use these features. You can also backdate posts, which might be useful for past events you want to add to your timeline.

Publishing Tools

In the publishing tools area you will find your scheduled and draft posts, if you need to edit them. There are a few other unique tools you can check out to help you with video, forms and unique advertising (Canvas).

Page Settings 

There are several items you can adjust in your page settings to create a page environment that fits your ministry. Most of the settings you will use will be in the “General” settings area – who can comment or post on your page, whether your reviews are turned on or off, and more.

Edit Page

Editing your page allows you to rearrange, add and delete elements on your page to highlight the information most relevant to your audience and make them easily accessible. In this section, you can try out different templates and adjust the tabs displayed. Tabs are found on the left sidebar in the current standard page template.

Next Steps

Try out some different post types, take a look at your page layout, and stay tuned for part 2 (tomorrow), where we’ll look into some tools to measure how you are doing.

 

Social Media How-To: Facebook Pages 101, Part 2

In Part 1 we talked about why and how to get a Facebook page for your ministry. Today we want to share a few tips about what and how to post.

Get Started

When posting on social media, a good rule of thumb from people who have been doing this a long time is a 1:5 ratio – 1 post about yourself to 5 posts about/from other sources. This is a goal to set, even if you don’t hit it every 6 post rotation. Don’t think of your Facebook page as a Facebook version of your newsletter or announcements.

Do:

  • Post sermons or other ministry-generated content.
  • Post blog posts/announcements about unique ministries.
  • Post pictures (posts with pictures catch viewers’ eyes).
  • Post and share pictures and memes that fit the personality of your ministry.
  • Share pictures, updates and articles from other ministries and general news sources that might spur good conversations about faith and your work together.
  • Highlight your members/participants as appropriate.

Don’t:

  • Only post information and announcements from your ministry.
  • Only share pictures from your events, without any context. Would a visitor know what is going on if they hadn’t been there?
  • Only post updates with words and zero graphics – some of these are ok, but don’t make it a habit
  • Tag children or parents in a picture of a child or youth. There are definitely times to post these pictures, but by not tagging children or parents, they can remain anonymous.

Next Steps

We’ll go deeper into tools and advanced uses of Facebook pages in the upcoming months. With the advent of the Facebook Live live-streaming video tools built into your page, we recommend some further reading and testing!

We’d love to hear what you’ve posted or LIVE streamed, what has worked and what hasn’t worked so well. Your experience, context and end results can be a resource to others.

Social Media How-To: Facebook Pages 101, Part 1

If you don’t have a Facebook page for your church or ministry, we recommend you create one, today. It’s a great way to share information, events, connect people to your website, boost information to people in your community, and so much more!

Here is why and how:

Why

79% of adults in the United States are on Facebook. That’s 8 out of every 10 adults. Even among the oldest demographic surveyed (65+), 6 out of 10 of them are on Facebook. If you want to be where people spend their time, Facebook is where you need to be.

How

There are a few ways to start or claim a Facebook page for your ministry.

First, search for your ministry’s name and location on Facebook. Facebook often creates placeholder pages for businesses and non-profits that get mentioned on Facebook. It will also have as much information as they can connect to a particular location, including address, pictures, and posts where people have mentioned your ministry. The more populated your region, the more likely it is you already have a placeholder page for your ministry.

If a placeholder page exists, there will be a note below the header picture area that says, “Unofficial Page,” with the question, “Is this your business?” To claim the page, you click on “Is this your business?” and choose the appropriate verification.

The best way to claim a page involves a confirmation phone call to the main ministry number, so make sure someone is standing by ready to confirm your information with Facebook.

If an unofficial placeholder page exists, but you have already created an official page, you can also merge those pages by clicking on “Is this your business?” and choosing “Claim and verify…with a phone call or documents.”

If there is not a placeholder page already set up for your ministry, you can go to your Facebook home feed, and click on “Pages.”

Once you are in the pages section, look on the upper right corner of the main section, where it says, “More.” Select “more”, and choose, “Create Page.” Follow the instructions to create your new ministry page, and you are ready to go.

Next steps

It is a good idea to have multiple administrators on your page, which you can set up under “Settings” (top right of your page), and “Page Roles.”

 

Also, update your contact information, profile picture and header picture. Making your page look like a real page lets people know they can visit your Facebook page for news, updates, prayers and more. There is a fantastic Facebook page dedicated to the dimensions for Facebook pages (which are regularly updated). It’s a great one to bookmark.

Also, check out Part 2 of Facebook Pages 101 – getting started with posting.

Shout It Out: Intro to Social Media

shout it out image smallFacebook is only 12 years old, and Twitter recently turned 10. Just a moment in time compared to the millennia that the church has been in existence, an institution, yet no one can deny the power and influence of the many forms of social media in such a short time. And, lest you think this is just an American or Western phenomena, there are numerous platforms and accounts beyond Western borders. All of these things are important considerations as the church thinks about how to engage and evangelize using social media. For the question is no longer, “Should we use social media,” but rather, “How are we going to use social media?”

At Worship Times, social media is deeply linked to our main work of building websites. In fact, we often are called upon to help answer wider communication and evangelism questions and concerns as a website is but one piece of that puzzle. As we look toward Pentecost, we are kicking off a blog series about the ins and outs of social media. We don’t know everything about every new platform or technology, but we hope we can offer some good starting points and questions to ask as you think about how your ministry can and should be engaged in a wider social arena.

First, some resources. Whether you are dipping your toe in, or an early adopter who remembers back when MySpace and Friendster were the hot new kids on the block (pre-Facebook! What?!), a great place to learn and share questions and experience is the weekly Church Social Media (#chsocm) on Twitter. A Tuesday evening (or Wednesday lunch for those in Australia and New Zealand) chat – 9pm ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT, for US time zones – you can find out more here: Twitter, Facebook, ChSocM Blog.

You will also find more information on their Facebook page about a closed Church Communicators group that has spun off from ChSocM, and has wonderful links, resources and conversations from a wide variety of church communicators – professional, volunteer, representing tiny and large churches and many denominations and styles. Ask to join, and you will find a very supportive community that really believes no question is too small – they’ve probably asked it themselves when they were getting started.

Next, as you get ready to get out there on social media, don’t go gonzo. You don’t need to create accounts on every platform you’ve ever heard of, and those ones that you’ve only heard your kids talking about. Start simply, and get comfortable with one or two formats before you expand (and you may find your comfort zone with just a few accounts, and never add any more – that’s ok).

As with any communications strategy, you need to ask yourself who you are trying to reach and what your goals are in reaching them. Where are the people you hope to reach? How do they use different platforms (almost everyone uses Facebook, but different ages and cultures use it in very different ways)? Do you have easy ways to post content that you are already creating – sermon text, audio or video? Pictures of events, memes or thought-provoking quotes? What platforms would be the best for sharing those? Does your ministry have talent in creating worship music, art or other liturgy? Do you have an creative curriculum team? And how might you put pieces of those together that make the most sense on Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Instagram vs. Pinterest?

We cannot answer those questions for you, but conversations with other communicators, or communication consultants you may be working with, can be helpful in clarifying and pinpointing your area of expertise to share with the world, and the best way of sharing that expertise.

Most of all, remember that what we do is to tell a grand story. An ancient story. And the best stories are ones that draw in their audience, make them think and then act. How do you tell our story in your words/pictures/dance/prayers/video? Take that unique story-telling style, and think about how it can be shared beyond your walls, and you will be on your way to creating your social media foothold and style.

 

Next Week: A deeper look at some of the different social media platforms.

Tips & Tricks: Facebook Page – How to Add Administrators

tips and tricks smallWe’re going to do some more extensive posts and videos on how to claim, administer and manage your ministry’s Facebook page, but today we’re going to tackle a question we’ve received more than once this week.

Today’s Facebook conundrum: “I’m the administrator on a Facebook page, and I need to add another administrator. And I have no idea where or how to do that.” (How you do this has actually changed over the many iterations of Facebook, so don’t worry if you once knew how to do this, but now it all seems different. It is.)

Before we get started on instructions, one of the important things to remember is that when you add administrators (or other roles – we’ll get into that), they have to be real Facebook members, with real accounts, with real emails. You cannot set a page administrator to be another page or group. Ok, let’s get into it.

1. Go to your ministry’s page, and select ‘Settings’:

fb admin instructions 1

2. Under ‘Settings,’ select ‘Page Roles’:

fb admin instructions 2

3. In ‘Page Roles,’ there is a spot where you can choose other people to administer the page (or other roles – not everyone needs to be an administrator to edit the page):

fb admin instructions 3

4. Enter the name or email of the person you want to add and use the drop-down menu of roles to select the role for that person:

(Must be the email used for that person’s Facebook account. And for most of your ministry pages, this role will likely be Administrator or Editor, but check out the ‘Learn More’ link if you want to find out more about the roles and options.)

fb admin instructions 4

5. Save update. Repeat for each person you want to add.

fb admin instructions 6

 

More on Facebook later, but we hope this is helpful for Facebook page administrators as you think about sharing that work.

Telling Your Story: Taking It to the World

We’ve talked about why you need to tell your story, the foundation of your story and creating a story that is clear and unique, and now we want to talk about going beyond your story. Your story shouldn’t stop at your front door, or even your website. It should be connected both to the grand story we are telling together as a Church, and also to all of the stories of everyday life – of struggles and joys, loss and birth, of ordinary meals and chores and fabulous gatherings of friends and feasting. We don’t do ministry for money or fame or even honor or legacy, but to answer the call to life together. And if your story doesn’t connect to other people where they are, why are we telling it?

The story we have to tell has power. We talked about telling an authentic story so people could be drawn toward a community that contains truth and meaning at the center. People are constantly searching for a life that means something. It is why we see people invest in work and things and power, and most often do not find what they are looking for. It is why so many people seek out answers from religious institutions when there is a crisis – we claim to have truth to share. And we shouldn’t wait for a crisis to share that truth. The more we offer our story in ways that touch people’s lives, the more they will seek us out when they are ready to go deeper.

Some of the powerful ways people are telling this story of faith are through short videos, such as the Slate Project creates, tiny audio pieces, like 30 Seconds or Less, blogs, photos, prayers, twitter chats, devotional writing – a million ways to take the things we’re already talking about in our churches, and share them with the world.

Baghdad Paris Beirut picture prayer

Originally posted by The Young Clergy Women Project

One example is a simple picture prayer in response to the attacks in Baghdad, Beirut and Paris within a few days, shared by The Young Clergy Women Project, a Worship Times member. Their mission is to create a community to support young women in ministry, and they have conferences and a private Facebook group that do so, but they also have a blog and a public Facebook page, where they share their words and thoughts with the world. This simple picture prayer went viral because they had built up an audience with their other writing and sharing, and when people went looking for something to speak to so much tragedy, they responded with something meaningful.

The more you are able to reach an audience with the story you are already telling, the more they will want to hear. What are some ways you can share your story with new audiences? How will you meet them where they are with the truth and meaning they seek?

silhouette in reflection, identity

Telling Your Story: Branding and Identity

silhouette in reflection, identityA ministry establishes its identity in telling its story. Your brand is your identity and it’s telling a story. Each ministry has a story to tell. Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it?

What’s in a brand?

Your image is built on your beliefs, values, character, logo and digital “curb-appeal,” i.e. social media and web presence. How your brand is viewed comes down to content, customer service and messaging, and that includes color schemes, visual elements, font selection/usage, and making sure you have a well-developed message in the first place.

That may seem like a lot, but it all fits together in expressing who you are as a ministry. Your story isn’t just words, it’s color, pictures, and images that reflect who you are and your call in and to the world.

A good place to start in branding and identity is with your mission statement. Don’t have one? Write one. (With proper committee approval, of course.) This will serve as the foundation in everything you do as a ministry. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but to the point. (A classic: Matthew 28’s Great Commission.)

The next step is identifying who you are through your brand, which is all of those things mentioned up top.

So why do this?

1.     It improves clarity around and understanding of your mission;
2.    It promotes a disciplined approach to ensure that everything your
church does aligns with that mission;
3.    It establishes a clear point as well as a source of inspiration and
information; and
4.     It will leave an impression on visitors.

What does this look like in practice?

Worship Times logoAt Worship Times, our mission is: To serve ministries communicating their message and mission in the world. Like our ministry partners our on-line presence is intended to express our mission clearly. For us, using a liturgical color (green for Ordinary time), our logo graphics, and the pictures and examples on our site represent our commitment to ministries and sharing your stories with effective digital communication solutions.

This is who we are and what we do, and we’ve heard from many of our members that they came to us because our website clearly reflected both our expertise and our understanding of ministry. What a compliment to our branding and identity!

What’s next?

Incorporating your logo, design, color, etc. in your other communications such as Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, etc., is a first step. Making sure your message is consistent and matches the way you tell your story throughout all your communications and how you present yourselves on-line and in person is how you continue to live into and build your brand and identity.

What story are you telling with your website? What does your branding and identity say about your ministry and call in and to the world? How does it share your story and invite others to join in your story?

Thou shalt be thoughtful about using social media

EditorsPick_2014_200The team at Worship Times is dedicated to empowering congregations developing their church websites and digital presence. On November 1 Worship Times was named one of Worship Leader Magazine’s Editor’s Pick for web development (read more here). So for the next couple of weeks we will be presenting what we consider to be the 10 Commandments for Church Websites. If you have further questions or want to learn more about Worship Times, please feel free to email us.

7th Commandment for Church Websites

Thou shalt be thoughtful about using social media

Social media for churches is different than social media for individuals. You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out all the social media platforms out there. You don’t need to jump on every new form of social media that comes out. Focus on a couple that can really build up the communication between community members like Facebook and Google+.

They key thing to remember is: if your church leadership can’t explain clearly why the church is on a certain social media site, it’s time to re-think how you’re spending your digital energy.

6. Thy website is never done

5. Thy website shalt be mobile friendly

4. Thou shalt keep it short

3. Thou shalt use pictures that show thy community in action

2. Thou shalt be on thy website who God is calling thou to be in the world

1. Thou shalt put needed info right up front