17 May 2010
14 Social Media Tools for Churches
On May 11th, I presented "Getting Started with Social Media" to our conference of local Lutheran pastors, using my congregation as an example of the many ways congregations can use social media. I thought it would be a good idea to document what we do at Redeemer and share it more broadly. So, here are 14 great social media tools that we use in our church and that you can use in yours.
- Facebook Page (free, must have)
Having a Facebook page is just as important as having a website these days. Create a page and invite your friends to join. It is the absolutely easiest and most popular way to share what's happening in your church. You can post video, pictures, links, and promote events. This is our page. After I post something on our FB Page, I also share it on my personal profile. If you have a blog, you can use a great service called networkedblogs.com to automatically have your blog post listed on your FB Page.
- Wordpress.com (free with available paid upgrades, must have)
This is a great blogging platform that I use to post and host our sermons, educational materials, and this blog. Wordpress has lots of great designs and tools. It includes free metrics, so you can track how many people visit your blog and what they're reading. You can upload audio files for podcasts is only $15 a year, video for $60. Blogger andTypePad are also popular blogging platforms.
- Twitter (free, good to have)
Recent studies show that Twitter is only used by 7% of people in the U.S. It isn't widely adopted yet, but it will be. Twitter is a great way to link to your new blog posts, promote events, and share to things you find interesting - sort of like a personal news feed. The value of Twitter for churches is the ability to share short bursts of news and information. However, most of our people don't use Twitter. One great way to use Twitter is to put a Twitter widget on your church website. It allows you to share important news instantaneously without having to republish your webpage. You can seeour widget on Redeemer's homepage. Twitter can be confusing, if you just view it on the web. I like to use a software program called Tweetie for Mac to manage my Twitter accounts. Tweetdeck is also a great program. When you're ready to take it to the next level, link your Twitter account to bit.ly, a great url-shortening service, and bit.ly will give you statistics on how many people followed your link.
- Embeding Explained
In this post, I refer to embeding several times. ·Here's a short explanation. ·Websites are created by writing code in a language called HTML, ·HyperText Markup Language. ·If you want to see what HTML looks like, click "View" in your browser's drop down menu and select "view source," and you will see all the code that has gone into creating this site.·Embeding simply involves copying the little bit of HTML code that Twitter and these other services give you, and then pasting it into the HTML of your site. ·It's actually fairly easy to do. ·Your webmaster should know how to do it, and there are plenty of free online tutorials.
Make it easy for people who visit your website to share it with others. ·Don't make them copy your web address and paste it into an email.·Put a "share" button at the bottom of every page so people can share your site via email, Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks. ·Other popular services are:·ShareThis and·AddThis.
- iTunes (free, bonus to have)
. ·You can set up iTunes to automatically grab an audio file from your blog posts and load them into your iTunes podcast page. · Go to the Podcasts section of iTunes. ·On the upper right menu, you'll see "Submit Podcast". ·Click it and then enter your "feed url". ·Find your "feed url" by going to your blog and clicking the little RSS logo in the address bar of your browser. ·It will show you a stripped down version of your blog and give you a web address that looks something like http://yourblog/feed. ·That's your "feed url". ·Copy and paste that into iTunes, then continue the set up process in iTunes.
- Podcasting Hardware
·We record our sermons through our sanctuary audio system. ·It's a 40 year old system, so we have to tap into it using this·USB/Audio Interface unit. ·We record in·Garageband on the Mac.··For other audio recording we use the very goodZoom H2 Portable Recorder.·I also like the·Blue Snowball Microphone for USB recording.
- Vimeo.com (free, paid upgrade available, fun to use)
Vimeo is a friendly, popular, and easy to use video sharing site similar to·YouTube.· The advantage of Vimeo is that it doesn't have the 10 minute time limit of YouTube. ·The only limitation in the free version is on the amount of data that you can upload in a given week. ·Most churches won't come anywhere close to exceeding that amount. ·The $60 annual upgrade to·Vimeo Plus gives you unlimited uploading and better video quality. Rather than post videos on our website or through Wordpress, I like to upload the video to Vimeo, and then embed the video in my blog post.
- Slideshare.net (free, handy, bonus)
Slideshare.net is a handy site where people share their PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.· It presents them is a way that is visually appealing and easy for people view and share. ·You can easily embed your Slideshare presentation on your blog or website.· I upload the Keynote presentations I create for our adult education programs and embed them on·our adult education blog later. ·It is also a great research and idea factory for presenting on different topics.
- PayPal (free to create account, fee per transaction, must have)
PayPal is the easiest and most popular way to receive donations online.· Just create a PayPal account and link it to your church bank account.· When someone makes a donation, the money is stored in your PayPal account until you transfer it to the bank.·You can easily make a PayPal button on the PayPal website and embed it on your website and blogs. ·PayPal charges a 2.9% and $.30 fee for each transaction, which is pretty standard.
- Online Newsletter (free, must have)
We have stopped mass mailing hard copies our monthly newsletters. ·Instead, we post a PDF of the Newsletter on to our website and send everyone an email with a link to the Newsletter. ·We still print hard copies for people that don't have email, but we’ve gone from mailing around 150 hard copies to about 30, saving a bunch of money on paper and postage.
- Constant Contact Email Marketing (great tool, inexpensive)
We use an email marketing service called Constant Contact for all our emailing. ·Constant Contact makes it easy to manage your email contact lists and they provide great looking templates for your emails. ·It looks clean, professional, and engaging. ·We use it to send out a weekly Wednesday email and other emails as necessary. ·Constant Contact rates are based on the number of contacts.· If you have under 500 people on your email list, the cost is only $150. ·There’s also a new email service called·MailChimp that we are checking out.
- Google Apps
I don't know whether Google Apps listed below are technically considered social media tools, but they are incredibly useful and free with a Google account. ·The advantage of these apps is that they are stored online, allowing more than one person to edit and update them.
Church calendars are outdated as soon as they are printed. ·We use Google Calendar as·our main church calendar. ·It's easy to update and it will generate an interactive calendar webpage.
Make it easy for people to find you and get directions without leaving your website.·Embed a Google Map with your church location on your site. ·Type in your church address, then click the "link" box at the top right just above the map. ·It will provide with a link or HTML code to paste in your webpage.
With Google Documents you can create and save word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online. ·They can be edited by any number of people.·You can also set a document to generate a webpage, which people can read but not edit.·We use it for·our worship assistants.
That's it. ·Let me know what you think. ·What other social media tools do you use in your church?