Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Social Media Revolution

I like these videos. A lot. I remember one that came out 6 months ago with statistics from that point in time. Just amazing to see the difference, for example: Facebook jumped up several positions on what it would be ranked by based on size. Just in 6 months!

And yet, I am frustrated by the lack of vision/forethought/planning/strategy on utilizing these amazing resources by such a large amount of "the church."

Granted, some of us do it really, really well.

Check out Lifechurch or North Point Community Church for example.

But so many other churches have problems:

1. They don't have a web strategy - They don't know what they want to do, or have a general idea of what they'd want. Sure, they may want to let the "few" people who will go looking for them online be able to find them...but we don't really use this technology, so it's just a fad....right? Bad news...

2. They don't know what's possible - #1 is usually caused by ignorance. Ignorance is not a bad word. It just means you've yet to be made aware. In this case, made aware of the possibilities. Social media is not just about teenagers and 20 somethings hanging out online! People need connection. This is so much more vital in larger churches as it's very easy for people to come and go as spectators without even interacting with anyone. Online social media provides ways for members who share similar interests (you Jesus) who would otherwise never meet or talk to each other in a large atmosphere to create closer personal relationships with each other. This is important.

3. They have little web presence at best - Sure, you may have a website. And it may not even be decked out in awesometastic 90's geocities animated gifs. It may actually look like a modern website. But odds are, it's not great. It's not a hub of information. It's not where people go to find information, to get connected, or to access program material, etc. And most likely, it's pretty freaking non-intuitive to navigate (guilty!).

4. Social media presence - pffffft. They may have a webmaster. But doubtful if there is someone who is responsible for their social media presence. They may have a facebook group, that gets updated every month or two. Perhaps a youtube channel where things get posted quarterly (hey, it's only the 2nd largest search engine in the world). If you're lucky, the senior pastor (but not staff) will have a blog, an active facebook account...or even a twitter account! Either way, this area usually screams lackluster effort, and very obviously so. Unfortunately with social media, if you're going to give it a half effort, you'd be better off giving it no presence at all.

Social media is about life integration. It's not some segregated aspect of life that people keep apart from other areas of it. Why would we not want and strive for the church to be a part of that integration?

As the world shifts more and more towards "living" significant portions online and through social media, we need to seriously look at how to be a part of it. And not only follow along, but to help drive the innovation train.

There's always room for innovation on this front. Even from those doing it really well at this stage. Things in that video will be outdated in mere months. Not years, months.

It's unfortunate to see how we get so many stages behind, and fail to see the importance of this area. Both in our desire of reaching those who aren't being reached and in discipling/building up those who are already in our community.