08 April 2010

Are Your Social Media and Website in Sync?

Posted in Social Media, Church, Tagged with seth godin

Recently I noticed a congregation making a new push into social media. They started a Twitter feed, a Facebook fan page, and a Wordpress.com blog. Good for them! It’s great to see more churches engaging social media.

Their Twitter page had a background image and a link to their church webpage - two best practices for a Twitter page. I was excited. Then I followed the link to their website and my excitement dropped.

Unfortunately, church's website did not reflect the same spirit that their push into social media was trying to convey. Specifically, their welcome statement said quite explicitly that people should go from this website to worship, from worship to fellowship, then from fellowship into a ministry at the church.

Now, the value of social media it allows people to connect with your church in many different ways. It is open and people can decide how they want to connect and participate.  At Redeemer, we have a saying when it comes to newcomers, "Nothing is straightforward and everyone is different."  The same goes for folks engaged in social media.  People come at things in many different ways.  This church’s welcome message immediately takes this wide open portal of social media and narrows it down to a proscribed process. It tells you not just the next step, but the next two after that, and in which order. And they’re telling you what to do.

This, I think, reflects an approach to social media that only sees it as a tool rather than a culture, and a reflection of culture. ·It brings people to the site, which tells them what to do next, as opposed to inviting people to explore and participate in the same open way. I don’t think this was what this church intended, but language is important, and this is an area that the church often gets wrong, so its worth pointing out.

It also sets up what Seth Godin in his book·All Marketers are Liars (read it if you haven’t already) an inconsistent story. He says that all marketers, businesses, and churches must tell stories about themselves that are authentic and consistent, or else people will not feel compelled to follow the story. When people go from this church’s social media outpost to their website, they move from something open and inviting (just by nature of the media) to a message that is more rigid and doctrinal.

That phenomenon is pretty common, as an article·Get Your Story Straight at one of my new favorite blogs,·Convince and Convert lays out. ·The article is a case study is the·Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team, who have a new awesome social media strategy, but there is no connection between their social media campaign and their website. ·Unfortunately, the great story they are trying to tell just ends once you hit the website, and a lot of good work on social media goes to waste.

This particular church is just getting started with social media, and I don't mean to be too picky. They'll find their way. ·It's just instructive and a good reminder to the rest of us.·Make sure your social media and your website are saying the same thing.

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