Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
A Case Study in Equipping & Empowering Social Media Ambassadors
Most of time, events don’t happen in a silo but rather involve several partners. I have found time and time again that active social media partnerships are a key element in successfully promoting events on social media. If you reach out to 10 contacts who each have a “small” social media following of 1,000 people, your message suddenly has the potential to reach up to 10,000 people online. Reach out to more contacts, with bigger fan bases, and you can see how your reach can grow exponentially.
Communicators typically have a lot on their plates, and social media manager is just one of many hats that they wear throughout the work week. Contacts are often willing to promote partner events through their various digital channels, but time and resources are limited. With this reality in mind, providing your partners with a “promotions packet” is an effective and easy way to equip your contacts with the resources they need to easily become social media ambassadors and share your message.
Normally, when marketers reach out to contacts and ask for promotion on their behalf, there is an assumption that the partner is responsible for writing the posts and generating the content. As a result, most requests are not prioritized and do not realize their full potential. A promotions packet, on the other hand, provides recommendations, pre-made social media posts, eNewsletter blurbs, tracking links, graphics, and more. Then the social media manager only needs to copy, paste, and schedule. They can of course modify the message for their audience if desired or necessary, but they no longer have the burden of generating everything on their own. This approach also has the added benefit of allowing you to control the quality and consistency of your brand’s message as it is distributed through your partner’s channels.
Our recent campaign for the pilot episode of “Is This Thing On?” is a prime example of how a promotions packet can be utilized to magnify reach online to targeted audiences. Is This Thing On? is a new series that aims to connect Adventist young people with church leadership to discuss relevant topics via a live interactive social media experience. With just three weeks to promote the first episode held at Union College, we utilized digital communications and partners to help us reach our targeted audience (Adventist young people). Along with a traditional press release that was sent to all the schools, conferences, unions, Adventist media, and partners, we included a promotions packet of pre-made social media posts with our branded hashtag #NADnow.
Because we provided a promotions packet as a resource, our contacts felt empowered to promote the event to their followers, and awareness for the event quickly spread, helping us reach more of our target audience.
Below are select examples of contacts who made use of this promotions packet. As you can see, some posted the provided posts; others modified the messages to suit their audience. Either way, these partnerships generated increased awareness of the event. If we add up the followers of these seven examples (we had many more than seven social media ambassadors across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and email), there is a combined potential reach of over 16,700 followers on Twitter, which is more than the current total Twitter account followers of @NADadventist alone (15,800).
The #NADnow hashtag gives us the ability to find related posts, and we can also track traffic to the website through Google Analytics tracking codes. The goo.gl link provided in the promotions packet social media posts allowed us to record the number of visitors to the website and discover where they heard about “Is This Thing On?”.
Full link: https://www.ittoshow.com/?&utm_campaign=PP-NADnow-UnionCollege-2017&utm_source=Social-Media
To create your own trackable link, simply add ‘?&utm_campaign=PP-NAME-of-Campaign-Date&utm_source=Social-Media’ to the end of your destination url and update the the campaign name and source to reflect your event by simply editing the text (no fancy software or applications needed). I used ‘PP’ in the campaign name to indicate that the link is from the promotions packet. Then shorten the link.
To learn more: URL Shorteners: How & Why to Shorten Your Links.
To view the data: go into your Google Analytics account for your website, choose “Acquisition” from the left-hand menu, expand campaigns, then choose “All Campaigns.” You should be able to see your various campaign names and sort by source if desired. If you do not have your website connected to Google Analytics, I highly recommend that you do. It’s free, and it can help you make strategic decisions. Learn how>>
For the #NADnow campaign, the promotions packet resulted in 265 visits to the website, in addition to the already expanded reach across multiple social media platforms.
Now this is just one aspect of a multi-channel, multi-platform campaign that works together for one unified goal. I strongly encourage you to create your own promotions packets and develop digital partnerships to help expand your reach in future campaigns. Plus, in a world of limited budgets, it only costs you time and effort.
Download the #NADnow promotions packet to use a template for you own campaigns.
One last important note: make sure that when you reach out for help with promoting your events, you are not only willing to reciprocate, but able to follow through with such agreements. Partnerships should be mutually beneficial, and trust can be built and cultivated over time when both parties follow through on their promises.
Post your questions or comments below. We love hearing from you!
Kimberly Luste Maran
Assistant Director of Communication for the North American Division
Sabbath Keeping in the Media Age
It’s Sabbath morning and Charisse Hernandez is ready. Sabbath dress, purse, and shoes on, she grabs her keys from the table and does a quick double check for her iPhone before climbing into her car and driving to church.
Hernandez, an Adventist baby boomer, lives in Puerto Rico to be close to her ailing mother. For her, having the smartphone is necessary, and not only for emergency calls. “I have my Bibles, Spanish and English, on my phone and I do use it to read a verse or passage in English to compare it with the Spanish version,” she says. “I also have different versions and sometimes I compare texts, this helps me to understand some things better.”
According to research conducted by network experts Ericsson, 6.1 billion smartphones will be in use by 2020, an enormous jump from the 2.6 billion smartphone users recorded in 2014. The 6.1 billion phones represent 70 percent of the global population; Ericsson also estimates 90 percent of the populated world will have high-speed mobile data coverage by 2020. (1)
It isn’t unusual to see Adventists walk into church clutching their phones, or worshiping heads down, eyes focused on the small screens as the service proceeds.
“I am usually looking up Scriptures or letting my kids hold my phone to use the Bible apps,” says Chip Dizárd, a multi-talented tech blogger from Baltimore, Maryland. “I also may respond to texts when they come in, as I am in the media department for my church.”
Useful tools, smartphones do make convenient “Bibles,” and can also help keep young children engaged in church-appropriate activities via apps, the age’s new “Sabbath bags” of coloring books, Bible puzzles, and stories.
Too Many Temptations?
Unfortunately, smartphone usability doesn’t stop there. Constantly connected to the world, users can check sports team scores, the latest CNN headlines, or see delicious looking food dishes made in about 30 seconds à la time lapse. Between Kardashian Instagram pictures, constant election-year Tweets, BuzzFeed quizzes, and thousands of games, tempting distractions are literally a finger swipe away.
We get distracted from God just by living: money, hobbies, relationships, media. Sometimes, writes Fritz Chery, “we’re consumed with our technology all day, and we only acknowledge God right before we go to sleep with a quick 20-second prayer.”(2)
We always need balance and time with God. But Sabbath is special. Exodus 20:8-11 is clear: six days for work; one day for Sabbath rest with God. It saves us from the fate of seed sown among thorns where the things of “this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful (Mark 4:19).
We need Sabbath time to refresh—to both unplug and recharge—in order to “live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:35). We also need distance from the smartphone’s potentially unending demands to achieve renewal and discernment from God (see Rom. 12:2).
And while our use of handheld devices is the most obvious offender, humanity has been dealing with media distractions since the first story was written on papyrus.
Not New, But More
Imagine the distraction when newspapers first printed daily news and people became connected with their world at, for many, an affordable cost. Or when radio shows kept listeners pinned to their living room seats. Or when the 1950s brought TVs into those living rooms, and the late 70s offered computers that would, 20 years later, easily be connected to a World Wide Web of streaming information. The argument can be made that Sabbath then, too, was under siege.
But at no other time in recorded history has media access been so pervasive and obtrusive, threatening to drown us in a vast and shoreless sea of news and entertainment.
Thankfully, yesterday’s practical ways of spiritual survival still work today, if we undertake them seriously and with much prayer. And, as The Message paraphrases: “Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions” (Prov. 4:25).
Tech-Free, Reduced-Tech, or Tech-Integrated Sabbath
In 2003, a small group of Jewish artists, writers, filmmakers, and media professionals developed The Sabbath Manifesto, a “creative project designed to encourage people to take a weekly day of rest from their technology.” (3) They were hoping it would help them slow down in an increasingly hectic world. For some deliverance may require quitting “cold turkey,” while others may be able to manage a reduced-tech Sabbath, maybe restricting church service involvement to use of a Bible or commentary app, and ignoring e-mail, checks, texting, or tweeting.
If the kids watch Bible videos or nature programs on Sabbath, find a way to bring it back to Jesus and practical Christianity. Watch a video on the good Samaritan? Afterward, devise a plan to help those in need nearby. Play a Noah’s ark game app? Discuss its parallels to Christ’s second coming, or humanity’s role in protecting God’s creatures. Read a story about the Last Supper? Talk about why the Lord’s Supper is one of our Fundamental Beliefs. With a little planning and thought, media can be used to bring us all closer to God.
Strike a Balance
Yes, there are ways to embrace media and enhance Sabbath keeping: read Ellen G. White, send out “Happy Sabbath” greetings. Hernandez is careful to strike a balance with what she does on Sabbath. “I don’t use my media for news on Sabbath, with the exception of if there is bad weather or something of that sort going on. News can wait.”
Tech savvy GenXer Dizárd, agrees. “I’m a huge proponent of media, tech, and their benefits,” he explains. “There is a wealth of Sabbath-ready apps that we can use to justify time spent on our personal devices.”
But, he says, “just as we disconnect from our devices at night to ensure we gain the most from our rest, wouldn’t it be best to also reduce the connection to our smart phones and tablets to increase the benefits we gain from experiencing God’s nature and fellow-shipping with other believers?”
This article originally appeared in the Adventist Review and was reposted here with the permission of the author.
A. Allan Martin
Pastor of Younger Generation Church
A perspective on the social networking landscape.
The Bible makes it fairly clear that in order to reach people, you need to go to where the people are. That's all I'm attempting, just making an honest effort to hang out where today's generation is "hanging out." Barna Group president David Kinnaman revived the phrase "Digital Babylon" to describe today's social media landscape. I like to think I'm making efforts to "dare to be a Daniel" in Digital Babylon―trying to be where next generations are.
Social media has really flattened out the structures of society. We have the ability to reach a wide, eclectic, diverse group of people―worldwide. It's not uncommon to follow a celebrity or notable author on Twitter, and likewise the famous can also follow you. In today's culture, and it seems accurate to say, we are reaching each other.
The latest technology methods haven't changed much about humanity. We are social beings, eager for relationships. Whether it is the latest info divulged at a quilting bee or the latest viral video, we all want to share our lives with each other―we all long for significance and purpose. We all want meaningful relationships.
Although speed, genre, technological advances, and languages vary from generation to generation, we still communicate basic human needs. Generally I see today's needs being familiar to every era. The need for love and attention. The need for meaning and direction. The need for answers to life's most fundamental questions. The need for relationships.
There are many ways church members can engage other and encourage each other through social media, but a key principle for any activity in social media is: Be Kind.
As it is an expansive public arena, social media is one of those places where the most basic of Christian courtesy and compassion can be our best expression of our faith. Kindness to others is a great virtue to hold high when interacting online.
Another principle is: Be Discreet. Just because we can express every feeling, thought, opinion, and urge doesn't mean it's wise to do so. No one has given us permission to emotionally vomit online. Further, if there is a conflict, fight, or disagreement, social media is among the worst places to communicate. Following the biblical model in person has proven to be a time-tested exceptional method of reconciliations (see Matthew 18).
This one is important too: Be Civil. Civility is defined as courteous or polite behavior. It's a discipline that can distinguish believers in a media world that thrives on instantaneous, infamous, and often rude acting out. You video man not go viral, but if you're civil, you will be known nevertheless for all the right reasons.
Finally, keep Matthew 5 in mind. Several times a day I post to various groups of people, mostly through Facebook. As I stand on my "purpose firm," I remember these points:
This post originally appeared in the Adventist Review and was posted with the permission of the author.
Director of The Media Story, podcast and blog.
One of the knocks on churches using social media is, it's all digital fluff. "No real relationships are being fostered." "No deeper connections are being formed." "It perpetuates our culture of digital voyeurism without bringing people face-to-face."
And yet for a church whose members have their cliques and clubs, how are you going to beat human nature in the familiarity of the group? How do you get folks to start thinking outside their circle, to the larger needs of the congregation, and even into the community?
Start telling stories. Pick one person in your congregation, take a nice picture, and write a little bio you can post on social media that will show everyone else in the church a face that may look familiar, but a person they don't know. All of a sudden people realize they have something in common with the person, a shared interest, or some sort of conversation starter when they do see them next time. You'd be amazed at the relationship-building that occurs with such a small effort on your part.
As you move through your congregation, start branching off into the neighborhood surrounding the building and looking for stories you can share with your congregation. When your members understand there are faces behind the doors of the houses surrounding the church, that there is pain and hurt, and there are needs, you will find your member involvement in outreach increase.
One church I worked with had a house across the street with hardened biker thugs always loitering around on the driveway. There was rarely any interaction between the church and the bikers. I decided to film an interview with the owner of the house. We were able to show the congregation how nice these guys actually were and there was even an invitation extended for the church to come have some "juice or water" anytime!
When people aren't just a face (or a skull handkerchief covering the face- darn those bugs when you're riding a bike!), it breaks down our natural walls and allows for real relationships to grow. So try telling a few stories and see where it goes!
This article was originally posted on The Media Story.