The Virtual Gospel:Finding God Anytime, Anywhere In A Virtual World


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Primer for churches wishing to engage social media to reach a growing audience.

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The Virtual Gospel:Finding God Anytime, Anywhere In A Virtual World

  1. 1. Presented by: Marvin Dejean Markcom Industries Inc. February 24, 2010
  3. 3. SOCIAL NETWORK A Social Network is a website, or network of websites, specifically established to allow end users to communicate directly with each other on topics of mutual interest. SOCIAL MEDIA Social media is any form of online publication or presence that allows end users to engage in multi-directional conversations in or around the content on the website. CONVERSATION
  5. 5. <ul><li>35% of adults in the US have a profile on a social networking site </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia has over 2 million articles posted to date </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook has 200 Million users globally. </li></ul><ul><li>133 million blogs since 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>Apple’s iTunes has sold more than 6 billion songs since 2003, and there are currently 30,000 iPhone Apps </li></ul><ul><li>Out of the 20 most downloaded podcast shows on iTunes during a given day, 2 have spiritual themes </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly one out of every four U.S. adults say they have listened to a religious podcast in the previous week </li></ul><ul><li>78% of Twitter users are older than 24, and most are women </li></ul><ul><li>Dalai Lama among the top 10 Celebrities on Twitter </li></ul>THE NEW REALITY
  6. 7. Top Insights: 1)  The 35-54 year old demo is growing fastest, with a 276.4% growth rate in over the approximate 6 months since we last produced this report 2) The 55+ demo is not far behind with a 194.3% growth rate 3) The 25-34 year population on Facebook is doubling every 6 months 4) For those interested in advertising alcohol on Facebook, there are 27,912,480 users 21+, representing 66.3% of all users 5) Miami is the fastest growing metropolitan area (88.5%) and Atlanta (6.4%) is the slowest 6) There are more females (55.7%) than males (42.2%) on Facebook – 2.2% are of unknown gender. 7) The largest demographic concentration remains the college crowd of 18-24 year olds (40.8%) which is down from (53.8%) six months ago. FACEBOOK BY THE NUMBERS
  7. 8. More interestingly, the age demographics of Twitterers show a dramatic shift. When the site became popular in early 2007, the majority of its visitors were 18-to-24-year-olds. Today the site’s largest age demographic is 35-to-44-year-olds, who make up 25.9% of its users. -Bill Tancer, General Manager Hitwise Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience. While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing.” - John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online &quot;Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, Web sites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization, and catechesis,&quot; Pope Benedict XVI 
  8. 9. number of users aged 25 – 34 has grown 60.8%; the number of users aged 35 to 54 has grown 190.2%, while the number of users older than 55 years has grown a tremendous 513.7%.
  10. 11. NEW MEDIA
  11. 15. Ministries now should view transparency and nakedness not as a punishment for historical faults but rather a guiding step in rebuilding trust, repairing relationships, and building new ones.-Church Crunch
  14. 20. 7 Reasons Why Churches Struggle with Social Media
  15. 21. 1. MARKETING Some ministries still see the “web” and, as a result, social media as a marketing channel, or a place to promote their “services” (pun intended) and get more people in the door. Social Media is far much more nuanced and is less about marketing than really anything else. Creating conversations and dialogue and empowering the people within the space around you is what it’s all about. 2. THE “FIT” Ministries do not really understand where it “fits” in terms of the overall strategy of their particular ministry. Like the 1st point, is it in “marketing” or “branding”? Is it a “new” thing for our congregation? Is it for outsiders or insiders? Strategy…? What’s that? 3. WHO Ministries have no idea  who  should be “doing” it. Does the Pastor need to blog, or do we need ghost writers? Do we need volunteers or trained paid staff? Who the heck is going to run the campaign and initiatives? Who’s responsible? 4. CONTROL Social Media can’t really be controlled. That’s a terrifying fact for many of us, including ministries. Coming to terms with this idea can paralyze any initiative or ministry movement.
  16. 22. 5. LONG TERM PERSPECTIVE Marketing typically is used for some short term initiative and demands results immediately. Social Media Ministry is not about marketing. But, since it’s been approached that way we think that the results should be instantaneous. Wrong. Like most investments it takes time. Ministries need a long term perspective and goal to provide true understanding of the value. 6. EXPECTATIONS Simply put, some ministries expect far too much from Social Media. It still requires a lot of hard work, strategy, and wise deployment. Just because you launched your blog doesn’t guarantee that it’ll bring people into your doors, or that anyone will necessarily read it. 7. METRICS There’s almost no way to ‘tell’ if you’ve been “successful” or not at times in the Social Media Ministry space. Be at peace in that tension. There are ways to analyze and understand, but be ready to be wildly disappointed… or wildly surprised. Ah… Humility. But there is hope. There are a number of ministries that have “got” it. Perhaps one of the first steps is to reach out to those that have done it well and ask for help? Ah, humility.
  17. 23. <ul><li>P is People. </li></ul><ul><li>Know who specifically you want to target and your key audience. Are you trying to target the congregation or potential visitors? Are you trying to engage with the “lost” or the “already found”? Is this tool for your internal leadership team, a specific group (or activity), or a program and/or ministry initiative? </li></ul><ul><li>O is Objectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Are you educating or informing? Are you starting conversations or picking fights? Are you energizing or evaluating? Are you looking for feedback or telling how it is? Decided on the  specific objective before making a move on your technology. </li></ul>
  18. 24. <ul><li>S is Strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done.” Is your goal a closer relationship with your congregation, ministry leaders, or to establish a “presence” in the lost online world? Do you want people talking about your church or about what your church does? What is the  result  of this particular effort? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>T is Technology. </li></ul><ul><li>After going through the above three, decide on the technology that’ll best engage the people, fulfill your objectives, and meets your criteria for strategy. Is it a blog? A community of blogs? A wiki? A social network, an application? What? Make a move and do it! </li></ul><ul><li>Remember always to have fun! Engaging deeply in the world of social media should always be just as rewarding as it should be fun. Sometimes we forget that. </li></ul>
  19. 25. Step #1 – Know Your Audience Step #2 – Choose the Platform(s) and People(s) Step #3 – Do It Step #4 – Get Off the Computer Step #5 – Metrics Did we learn more about our congregation? Did we learn more about our local community? Did our congregation/local online community learn more about us as a ministry? We’re we able to meet up face-to-face with a number of our new relationships? Do we  feel  that people are growing in their relationship with Christ? Is the traffic increasing to our sites or to our social networks? Are our relationships with both internal/external “growing?” Are we able to save money by doing things online now that we used to do with offline media?
  20. 26. Make your ministry and social media more “human.”  Sure, you’re an institution, but that’s not what people connect to. Make sure your model of engagement enables your staff, congregation, and everyone else to relate to  people . Keep the  bar of adoption   extremely low .  Make sure that your staff can easily sign up and start using it. Make sure that the visitors engaging with it can as well. Develop a culture of “ openness “.   Create a culture and framework that makes people want to share, want to invest in the platform, and want to invest in the experience. Create value.  A social network that gives a healthy return and that creates deep “value” is a powerful mechanism for people to return, and ultimately for it to sustain itself. Staff-driven, not institutionally driven.  Get people who are passionate to drive and to build because they will be the biggest evangelists. Make sure that they have all the resources that they need to promote and drive the experience. Market, promote, and let people know about it.  Apparently a lot of churches and ministries do a terrible job of just letting the congregation know about what’s going on. Get the word out! Redesign your web properties to reflect social media  (and sustainability) as a core value. Enough said here. Perhaps you need a redesign. KEEP IN MIND…….
  21. 27. GOSPEL GOES HI-TECH…..
  24. 34. 1. Ask questions For status updates,  try ending with a question .                                                                               2. Use the words “you” or “your” Use the word “you” often – “What are your thoughts?” “What do you think about xyz?” 3. Keep it short The easier it is for your fans to read, the more likely they are to respond.  Keep your status updates short and simple with one topic . You have up to 420 characters per update, but I recommend about half that for an ideal size. For longer updates, use the Notes app – or write a blog post and update. 4. Post in high-traffic windows Get to know when your fans are most responsive . Depending on in which part of the world the majority of your fans are, you might want to post between 9:00am and 2:00pm in your timezone. 5. Respond promptly Do your best to  respond to fan questions (as wall posts) as promptly as possibl e. If you find you can’t keep up with the volume of questions,  offer a free teleseminar or webinar where you answer the top questions for your fans . You can do this in the traditional way of having people opt-in to get the phone number so you’ll build your email list at the same time. 6. Address fans by name Come back and reply often to your fans’ comments – Facebook currently doesn’t have threaded commenting, so  I suggest addressing specific fans in your comments as @name . See my comment at the bottom of the screenshot below:                                                                                       
  25. 35. 7. Comment yourself Add your own comment as needed to get the ball rolling . However, don’t step in too soon. I often find that the comments come more freely when you allow your fans to run by themselves initially. 8. Thank your fans Acknowledge your fans often with simple thanks. Genuine recognition goes a *long* way! 9. Surprise your fans Don’t be afraid to  stray “off topic” from time to time  and surprise your fans. In other words, your content doesn’t always have to be directly related to your product or service. You might share an inspirational quote and add your own thoughts, for example. If you happen to know a fan’s Twitter ID, send a tweet thanking her/him for the comment on your fan page. With a link of course.       10. Use @ tagging You can tag other fan pages that you’re a fan of and your own friends (along with Groups you belong to and Events you’ve RSVPed for). When appropriate, and used sparingly,  @ tags can be a very powerful way to have your post show up on others’ walls, which gives you more exposure and brings more fans or potential fans back to engage . 11. Use the Discussion Board Give your fans a place to network with one another . Plus, often fans want to do self-promotion. You can encourage these types of activities on a specific discussion thread. Also, when you first launch your fan page, be sure to start 3 to 5 discussion topics so it’s not a blank  tab.
  26. 36.   12. Send updates to fans Each tab on your fan page and each discussion thread topic has its own unique URL . To bring fans back to your page to contribute to a discussion and get them more engaged,  send out an update with a call to action and specific link . (To find the Update feature, click Edit Page under your image then look for Send Update to Fans on the right of your Admin page.) 13. Monitor insights If you’re a perfectionist, the goal is to get 5 stars and a perfect 10 score! Facebook uses algorithms to calculate your Post Quality as determined by the percentage of your fans who engage when you post content, calculated on a rolling seven-day basis. The number of stars depends on how your Post Quality compares to similar pages (for example, pages that have a similar number of fans).
  27. 37. <ul><li>Distribution? </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, you only have so much time in a given day to dedicate to your social networking efforts, so </li></ul><ul><li>doing  everything  just won’t work. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Cost? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s this going to take to get started? What are the costs associated with starting up a robust ministry initiative? Overhead? Head count and staffing? Do you need to buy some hardware, license some software, hire any developers? </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, there are a lot of open source products out there that may suit your needs but open source does not equal “free.” </li></ul><ul><li>   3. What Makes You Unique? </li></ul><ul><li>It doesn’t have to be  unique  for it’s own sake, but to grow a groundswell there’s wisdom in doing  it differently. Although your message, at its core, is the same as every other ministry, your application, vision, and mission is different, which means you’ll do it a bit differently from everyone else. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Metrics? </li></ul><ul><li>How are you going to gauge and determine effectiveness? What is your “return on investment”? Do you even know what “success” looks like in terms of your strategy? These are some good questions to think about because it’ll help guide you as to whether you’re making the best use of your time. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Timeline? </li></ul><ul><li>What does your rollout look like? When are you going to start and “finish”? Is there a “win” scenario that needs to be met in a certain time frame to help provide metrics for success? Essentially, when are you going to start having to “pay” for all of this? </li></ul>
  28. 39. Marvin Dejean, CEO  Markcom Industries, Inc.  11046 NW 34th Manor  Coral Springs, FL 33065  P:(954) 254-9030   Twitter:@MDejean Linkedin:Marvin Dejean