1 hour 10 – will have had session on ‘missional discipleship’ the day before. This session going to think mostly about the social media environment – why we should be there – open to questions about how they work – e.g. can go live on my sites on Twitter, etc. Some are harder to show because they are more private sites – but Twitter, FB, etc. can be done.
Introduce self, been online since 1997, when published first website, and joined first social network in 2005, getting serious in 2009. Worked within history (KCCO), media studies, ed tech, and last post before this one = 3 years looking at faith and social media, which am continuing in new role … so that’s the perspective that I’m looking at this morning... Faith in the digital world – why it matters, and some of the ways it may change the church’s engagement with the world.
As disciples we live for God, whenever and wherever we are. In the 21st century, the digital is an intrinsic part of our complex world. We need to take seriously our online experiences (this tweet from the other weekend – and something I associate with the Salvos – about getting stuck into the community)
What kind of things do people find in common in 60 seconds? – then take questions…
Social Media – all about RELATIONSHIPS, so we are going to start by getting to know each other as if we are on Twitter … in some ways we are looking at the kind of issues that will arise, including some exercises that you could do with others if you feel inspired at the end of today to encourage others online…
Image source: Stockfresh
Commonality – finding a starting point & getting to know each other – essential building blocks of any evangelism, etc… with a strong focus on LISTENING! You’re looking to provide information, engage in dialogue, listen to your audience … build a community who will be interested in the other things that you do ..
Concentrate on SOCIAL over MEDIA … and yes… it can be fast!
Stats can lead to this kind of reaction... Which I think history will show us is not unique, and part of a ‘moral panic’... Where everything seems to be going out of control too fast (every new tech process has done this – inc Socrates re writing)
… more bluntly here … human beings still human beings … we use different tools available to us (though modern tools have built in ‘affordances’ – make things possible, but not necessarily inevitable … but still want to hold tech/software companies to account…)
SO many people online .... Important to see the growing numbers, but also that it’s not 100% (except in Western countries)… this company in Singapore does a regular look at the global picture….
… and once a year looks at each country in detail.
We need a sense of what platforms are being used …
(WeChat/QQ/Qzone/Weibo/Baidu all Chinese, VK is Russian). We’re not so worried about the small ones at the bottom… but LINE quite like Whatsapp, Viber an app etc
Facebook/Messenger: Friendship based, typically already known, or, like me, move from Twitter to getting to know someone better before meet f2f WhatsApp: Rather like text messaging, but with video/group chats, etc. – often used by families – I chat to younger nieces/nephews… Instagram: Hugely popular with teenagers, etc. Square images, often with vintage ‘filters’… Some ‘Christian’ accounts = standard inspirational, but some v creative and clever attention catching stuff.. Twitter: Interest-based – connect around particular interests, media looks, builds up trust/authenticity https://twitter.com/URCGlobal Snapchat: Images that disappeared after 10 seconds, building itself to a very successful app (last year huge growth) – possibly for those who’ve grown up with every move documented, they like things that disappear .. Pinterest: Image based (huge online), bit like a pin-board, great for churches to use for e.g. children’s work .. Wedding planning is HUGE YouTube: Video – builds up hugely influential platforms – think about what people look for – often ‘how to do x’ LinkedIn: Professional platform, for CVs, connecting with huge corporate companies, etc.
Only last week Ofcom produced a new report on adult media use and attitudes – not had time to read it all, but one of the headlines is the increasing use of smartphones by 65+ (obviously a key church audience), so let’s not assume they don’t use it…
Hear a lot about teenagers being engaged in their phones ALL the time – lots of debate about whether it’s because they are limited by living inside (outside world not safe), by parents spending too long online, etc…
Just last week – in The church Times… guidance for digital for kids to keep them mentally healthy…
People know I’m really passionate about this, and get pretty angry when we think people are ‘addicted’ to their phones (most aren’t) … most people are engaging in relationships with others (sometimes people who are more important to them than the people that they happen to be physically with...) and those personal relationships – whether online/offline are key!
Many still see the digital spaces as the enclave of ‘digital natives’ a term Marc Prensky popularised in 2001, referring to those who had grown up surrounded by technology. As Lewis (2014: 62) writes:
A more useful idea has developed from a team at Oxford University led by Dave White: that of the “digital resident” and the “digital visitor”, defined more by attitude than by age. “Visitors” use the internet as a tool: go in to complete a task, and leave. “Residents” regard themselves as members of communities that exist online, rather than having access to an online toolbox. I am most definitely a digital resident, though I’m far too old to be a “digital native”.
Essentially – familiarity with technology is cultural/learnt, not “born with” … and there is a danger in simply seeing the digital as “bringing the young in” // “let them get on with it, we don’t need to bother” kind of attitude… THINK BIGGER… (not just an add-on)
So often, especially within the church, the focus is on the face-to-face interactions, often drawing upon the idea that Jesus came to earth in human form, and therefore this is the ‘best’ form of interaction, and I love this quote from Prof Sonia Livingstone “Even though…”. In danger of repeating myself, we need to look at digital on its own terms.
We need to avoid what’s known as ‘technological determinism’ – that technology is changing everything, and we have no choice but to give into it, and think more about the ‘social shaping’ of technology – in which technology offers us new opportunities, but we have choices in how we engage with those choices – e.g. Like a brick – chuck it through the window, or build a wall with it.
But also think… do you recognise this (it’s recently had a new series) … why have I brought this up… because it’s been a HUGE success showcasing it’s “constituency” – it’s not selling anything except a lifestyle… and
… it’s bottom up!
Based on research, and drawing upon e.g. the success of e.g. Dove campaigns (so a reminder as to the importance of looking around at case studies that work), decided to showcase the stories of ‘ordinary’ women rather than models.
So many times in digital marketing, people focus on the means or the message, but what we need to remember that it’s about people – listen to what they want and find a solution – something that seems manageable!
Don’t want to go through this slide in detail, as you could go back and look online, but interested particularly in how we share the things that make us look good, and the things we care about, and how we make them public. It’s typically about telling ‘our stories’ – unless we ‘over-curate’ them..
Berger, p33 - “Self-sharing” follows us throughout our lives. We tell friends about our new clothing purchases and show family members the op-ed piece we’re sending to the local newspaper. This desire to share our thoughts , opinions and experiences is one reason social media and online social networks have become so popular.” [Is there a pressure to SHARE faith, to be authentically faithful?] P39 – we all want to be liked, the desire for social approval is fundamental to the human condition.
So, we’ve had a bit of a think about digital/social, etc. and now let’s have a bit of a think about the type of content that works on social – remembering that it’s about social/relationships, etc.
So, let’s look at a bit of material on ‘content marketing’ (again, those questions about ‘marketing’, but I think we can learn from the best to ‘tell the best story’… (action can be discipleship, or evangelism, or taking time out, etc.) over last few years the notion of ‘content marketing’ has become prevalent’…
Continuing to ask questions about effectiveness … social media content – every tweet, status update, photo, etc. needs to be working within a content strategy so that they fit the overall tone-of-voice, and doesn’t clash with other content (this doesn’t mean every tweet, etc. needs to be signed off individually, but that the strategy is clear enough that that isn’t required). http://www.jeffbullas.com/2016/02/16/optimize-social-media-posts-search-engines/
For this it is key that you understand your audience and their motivations … creating ‘personas’ that can be used to focus your attention … “What would Heidi, 38, mum of 3, loves her iPhone, very tired” think of this content … would it make her ‘love the brand’ or ‘want to buy’ – if not, does it serve any other purpose…
What do you want to do for your audience… how do you add value to your/their lives?
The art of good conversation – you don’t just broadcast your views but engage in a conversation…. So LISTEN (as we said earlier) – what kinds of words are people using, how do we connect with them (this doesn’t mean have to lose your values/words, etc. but good conversation is about being heard/understood and not just thinking that you’ve said something…
“Avoid using jargon, long words and complicated sentences as all of these can make it difficult for the person you are talking to to understand you, and can alienate them, rather than connecting with them. Imagine you are speaking to a 10-year-old child, or a maiden aunt and pitch your language and words at them. The Times newspaper is written at this level – so it is not a case of being overly simplistic or dumbing down. It is a case of being clear.”
“Using positive language reassures and instills confidence in your listener. Words such as promise, commit, will, can and do all achieve this. Using words such as like, aim, want, hope, wish and try, though aspirational, may sew doubts about your ability to deliver what you promise.”
See the importance of keywords/long-tail, etc. which requires a good understanding of audience -
IMPORTANCE of understanding who you are trying to communicate with … and then deciding what key terms you might want to work around … common terminology, specialist words as appropriate … come up with a list of 10 cores words (e.g. body image, bible, etc.) that will help you communicate…
One of the things we encourage our student to do, as these are used widely in the marketing industry – this is one written for a US church – understanding what your people need … and how your church can help… It’s a GENERIC TYPE – typically around 8 are made by marketing…
Who are you interested in reaching/listening to? What ‘problems’ are you seeking to solve for them?
This post draws together advice from 16 different sites as to what is the ‘best time’ to post … mostly I would say experiment, experiment – e.g. BB from 9am to 730am caught people en route to work/over breakfast + past work also another good time … e.g. Sunday morning prob not a great time for most churches …
THINK: about the purpose of why you might be using a space as to how it might work (come back to that this afternoon)….
Think about the kind of content that works…
In a 24/7 world – help people live 24/7, but also throws a responsibility on the church to respond to the world…
Think about how to create a ‘good look’, a contemporary look – take some time to look at the sites that people spend time on, e.g. Buzzfeed, Mashable, etc and think about what information you really need for people to find, etc. What structure do they use, how limited is the number of options they give, how much content, what’s at the top, what kind of images are used, etc…
*The heart that all socmed feeds back to..
Look – e.g. – used to be organised by department, but large reorganisation to ensure around the things that people most commonly looked for … so think, what do the people you engage with look for…
Quite a BORING site, but easy to access information – 2001/2 – did a project – came out that content/structure more important than look, which should ALWAYS support function. With e.g. WORDPRESS.com very easy
If you are working for an organisation – e.g. a church – ensure that people can feel ‘free’ to go ahead and represent you …agreed your organisational values… (e.g. fruits of the spirit online) – things move too fast online to wait for some things, although on other occasions the church can demonstrate difference by demonstrating some thought – but in particular, should have risk assessments for e.g. crises
If you’re using it organisationally… the person with the passion for it, the good communicator – the driving instructor, rather than the mechanic – the communicator rather than the computer geek…. But easier if support from others – are sharing story of the whole organisation (which for the church is the people in it)…
Individually and corporately…
Overall, this requires wisdom, a willingness to engage with the digital at a deeper level, thinking about how we can use it well, help the world use it well, and how we can seek to be counter-cultural where necessary, etc.
Use an app – e.g for interim support, give an encouragement, what else…, and when to have that face-to-face conversation – neither is the be-all-or-end-all!
Introduction to Social Media
Introduction to Social Media
for URC West Midlands Synod
Dr Bex Lewis
Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing,
Manchester Metropolitan University
Director, Digital Fingerprint
Tweet @drbexl 120/06/17
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“Young people want to
know that they are being
listened to, that their voices
count, and that they are not
“Bringing the young in…?”
• “Jake told the executive that he
never goes directly to a brand
like this man’s newspaper or even
to blogs he likes. ... he reads a lot
of news – far more than I did at
his age. But he goes to that news
only via the links from Digg,
friends’ blogs, and Twitter. He
travels all around the internet that
is edited by his peers because he
trusts them and knows they
share his interests. The web of
trust is built at eye-level, peer-to-
peer.” (Jarvis, p.86, my emphasis)
Humans Tell Stories
“When we met the women, we realised how
this was actually real. This wasn’t reading
research on paper any more, they had real
stories so we wanted to give them the space
they deserved. It was never a box ticking
exercise, we just wanted women who embodied
the spirit of the campaign. And that’s who’s in
Tweet @drbexl 19
What makes people share?
• Social Currency: We share things that make us look good
• Triggers: Things need to be in our consciousness to want to share
“Different locations contain different triggers. Churches are filled
with religious imagery, which might remind people of church
doctrine…. And once these thoughts are triggered, they might
• Emotion: We want to share the things we care about (exciting is
more shared than sad)
• Public: If something is public, and on show, it's visible to others and
enters their consciousness
• Practical Value: People like to share useful bits of information that
we think will help people
• Stories: Humans tell stories - and useful information can be
embedded in what seems like idle chatter!
Berger, J. (2014) Contagious, p.74
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Content marketing is a strategic
marketing approach focused on
creating and distributing valuable,
relevant, and consistent content to
attract and retain a clearly-defined
audience — and, ultimately, to drive
profitable customer action.
Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content
Anything that you post on social media (article links,
pictures, videos – everything) is essentially a part of
your content… Like any other content, your social
media posts absolutely need to be of high quality
and provide value to your audience.
Jeff Bullas, 2016
"Content is anything that adds value to the reader's
life. It can add value by making them smarter,
making them laugh, making them do their job
better, rush to their child to share the video, make a
contribution to a charity.”
Avinash Kaushik @avinash
Content that drives Engagement
1. Write for your readers, write as you
2. Inspire emotion rather than reason
3. Write in story/narrative form
4. Make content open ended – listen to
audience, experiment interactivity
5. Offer real-time content
6. Give informational content
7. Visual, visual, visual!
Tweet @drbexl 27
Real Time Response
Don’t overthink. Running through committees,
endless drafts and approval processes to get a
response out there can cause far more damage
than good. As long as you have taken the time to
assess the situation and can take a rational,
respectful tone in your response, even an
awkward response is OK to start with, and buys
you time to continue to respond to the problem.
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Modern Look Websites
https://heatonmoorunitedchurch.org.uk/ via https://wordpress.com/
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