This year is almost over! Can you believe it? I hope your year will end on high note. Like most of us, I’m reflecting on the craziness of this year, and I am getting ready for the exciting new year of 2015!
When I look back at 2014, I reflect on how I saw social media change and evolve. Yes, it’s true that some things didn’t change. Facebook is still king when it comes to the number of users. Pinterest and Instagram continue to grow at a rapid pace and Snapchat is still a dominant force amongst teens.
However, when I reflect further on 2014, I find that there were some key things that I learned about social media. Some of these lessons were painful, some were embarrassing, and others were encouraging. While my list of lessons below is by no means exhausting, my hope is that you may learn something as well!
- Instagram Video is a dud. – “Instagram now has video. This is going to be awesome!” That is what I was screaming when Instagram finally let users upload 15-second video clips. I started scheming different ways we could have fun with our pastor and reduce his whole sermon to a few fleeting seconds.
Well, the results are in and Instagram Video didn’t really take off as expected. I consistently find that our photos on Instagram get more attention than our videos. I’ve realized that people just want to scroll through their Instagram feeds, look at photos, like them, and then move one. Instagram Video seems to mess up the flow of the typical user experience.
Another reason behind Instagram Video not taking off is the audio. I think a lot users look at Instagram when they’re in public places while killing time (i.e. the doctor’s office). If you’re looking through your Instagram feed, you don’t want to deal with the audio of video coming out of your phone during inopportune times.
I really wanted Instagram Video to take off, but for now, it looks like we’ll be sticking with photos and keeping the experience nice and quiet.
- Google+ could have been awesome. – I love the Google+ layout. I love the concept of circling people. I love how photos look on Google+. What I don’t love, though, is the fact that Google+ is a bit of ghost town.
Yes, you can argue that millions of people are using Google+. However, users need to be put into categories. One category being users who have accounts and the second being users who are active on their accounts. Most of the research I’ve read suggests that a lot people have accounts but not many of them are actually active users.
I mainly wanted Google+ to excel because I wanted Facebook to have a real competitor. I wanted someone to keep Facebook honest when it came to privacy, and I wanted someone to push Facebook to create more user-friendly features. I still hope Google+ can be that competitor!
- Email is still a great option. – If you asked me if I had only one digital tool (social media, website, email, etc.) to get a message out to my congregation, which one would I choose, I would choose email hands down. Why? Well, first, email still has the highest engagement in all of our channels. Second, I don’t have to wonder if someone logged onto Facebook and saw my message. I can look at email analytics and see who’s reading an email and who’s not.
I know email may seem like a dated way of doing things, but it still performs the best. Yes, we’re finding new ways of getting messages out through social media and websites, but email still leads the pack.
- The need for churches and ministers to get online is greater than ever. – Okay, I’m not going to go all Billy Graham on you, but I think with one quick scan of social media we can all safely say that there’s still a lot of Kingdom work left to be done. More than just those who utilize social media or are techies can do this work. It’s requires every single one of us to play a role.
Now is the time to get online and shed some light in some pretty dark places. It may be a kind word, bringing peace to an argument, or just making a human connection, but we need each voice now more than ever. Don’t deny others the chance to be impacted by what God has done in our lives just because you or your church is scared by the digital world. Jump in with both feet, and have some fun.
- People follow ministers not ministries. – When our church posts something on its Facebook page, we typically get a decent response. When our pastor posts something on Facebook, we get a huge response. Why? I believe it’s because people want to connect with people and not organizations.
I see a lot of ministers who want to set up a Facebook page or Twitter account for their ministries and then use those accounts versus their own to spread the word about events and other information. Some of their reasoning is that this method is very sound. What if a minister leaves the church? How does a pastor keep his or her personal life private on social media? What if a minister doesn’t want work and his or her personal life to mix?
I think all of those reasons on some level are valid. However, I think when you only use an organization’s account to communicate, you will have a hard time making connections with people. People want to connect with people. That’s why my pastor’s Twitter account will always outperform our church’s account. People feel like they know my pastor and can relate to him. You can’t do that with an organization’s social media account.
- The church communications community is awesome. – You may be new to this whole “Church Communication” thing. If so, I’ve got some great news for you. There are people out there who want to do nothing but help you. That’s right! They just want to help. There are people like Dave Shrein, Chuck Scroggins, Justin Wise, Josh Burns and the entire #chsocm community available to you. These people want to help make you a better a communicator for your church.
Think about this for a second. Ten years ago, this kind of community was only something you could find by flying out to a four-day church convention. Now, you have the opportunity to access this large community through blogs, podcasts, videos and social media. This is a church communication community at its finest!
I hope your 2014 ends on high note and that you have some really big goals set for 2015! If you haven’t started yet, begin dreaming about and planning what God will do through you and your church during this new year.
What did you learning in 2014? Click here to comment below.