A police officer was shot in my city yesterday. He was responding to a robbery at a local jewelry store.
Twitter immediately lit up and tweets started flying about the incident from news outlets, community leaders, and residents. Most people used the hashtag #woburn - the general hashtag we use here for community information - to tag their posts. For the rest of the day, Woburn was trending on Twitter.
Twitter is one of the ways I've become more engaged with our local community and so I recognized many of the people who were tweeting.
I jumped in and started retweeting information. One suspect had been apprehended. Three other suspects were on the loose, considered armed and dangerous. It was a manhunt. Local and state police, SWAT teams, helicopters all on scene. Road blocks. Door to door searches. Schools and the YMCA were in lock down. Residents were urged to stay inside with their doors locked. The officer had been shot several times but was in stable condition.
One of the challenges for churches and ministers working in social media is figuring out how to build meaningful relationships with members, friends, and strangers.
In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk draws on lessons he's learned from working with customers with his wine business and translates them into some great lessons for life, business, social media - and, as I see it, church and ministry.
Its worth reading in its entirety, but here are four big lessons I took away from it:
One of the most important ways to help get your church found online is to claim and develop local search pages.
Every search engine like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! automatically generates a generic local page listing for every business or organization with an address.
As the "owner" of that organization, you are allowed to claim the page as your own and then add content, share information, and receive reviews.
It's actually a pretty easy process. When you're done you'll have six (free) mini-webpages floating around the internet, each pointing people to your church. As an example, here is Redeemer's Google Place Page and Yelp! Page.
This post will show you how to find, claim, and develop your local search pages.
Back in the day, people used the Yellow Pages to find churches and local businesses.
Since all the Yellow Pages listings were done alphabetically, people would purposely name their companies with something that started with an "A" like "American" or "AAA", so they'd appear first and get found faster. Easy.
Now, of course, people don't flip through the Yellow Pages. They Google it. And getting found on Google - and its super secret search algorithm - takes more than just your "A" name. It requires your "A" game.
Here is how to get your church website or blog found on Google in five easy steps (and I mean easy - one is just writing down a few words) and why it matters.
After one of my recent workshops on social media, one of the participants confessed that she had money riding on my presentation.
She and a friend had wagered on how long it would take me, a Lutheran pastor, to mention the Printing Press.
She won. It was the third slide.
When Lutherans (and many others) talk about social media, we often take the printing press as our starting point. Its our way of describing the amazing revolution that is taking place in communications today - and our way of thinking about how we harness new forms of media to share God's grace.
Yes, they both represent a dramatic shift in communications. However, while the printing press marked the dawn of broadcast (or mass) media - communicating your message to many people at one time with little opportunity for comment, today's social networking actually resembles the communal reading of the medieval period, which was more interactive, social, and crowdsourced.
I wonder: how do we get beyond the printing press? How can we engage social media theologically? After all, the printing press and social media are only tools. Where can Lutherans locate social media in our theological framework?
For me, the most compelling theological category is vocation.