Archives For Blogging

I am teaching a workshop at the National Lutheran Youth Ministry Conference in San Antonio this summer. The workshop is titled “Leveraging Social Media for Your Church’s Mission.” This post is part of a series relating to that workshop. Here’s a full listing of the topics.

Overview

Social media is so large that it’s difficult to talk about everything that exists. The for purpose of this post, the “Big Picture” will be limited to blogging, social networks such as Facebook and video sharing. They are influenced by how we use each of these platforms at First Trinity.

Blogging

Blogging continues to be a fast-growing sector of social media. It’s not as “social” as something like Facebook, but still serves a valuable purpose for churches. The platform is great for extended posts that go deeper into a topic or are a little less “conversational” in nature. Blogs are great for sharing your views or ideas about a topic. They can be wide-ranging in topics, but it’s generally best to let blogs have one distinct “voice.” In other words, there is one author and face for the blog. The good thing is that you can have any number of church leaders blogging (we have 4 regular bloggers).

Setting up a blog is pretty painless. There are a number of options available:

While there are some really great things to say about all of these options, WordPress is by far my favorite platform. If you sign up for a blog at WordPress.com, you’ll have limited customization options with a few added options you can pay to use. The free account was my blogging platform of choice for several years. Recently, I moved this blog from WordPress.com and used their free software to host my own. It also runs the First Trinity Website.

All of our staff bloggers use WordPress. It’s a powerful, fast and easy-t0-learn. Google’s Blogger is a fair alternative, but not nearly as good. When I compared TypePad and WordPress, I felt like WordPress did everything TypePad did and more, all for free.

Social Networking

Social networks are really about building relationships with people and interacting together. The strength of any given network is largely determined by the size of the user base and if your circles (to borrow from Google+) are using it. It’s not unlike cell phones and the free “in-network” calls. If everyone in your family uses Sprint, it’s hard to get out because you lose the free minutes you experience from being in the same network. Social networks are similar. If all your friends use Facebook, Google+ won’t be as attractive to you because you won’t be able to communicate as easily.

Some of the major social network players include:

At First Trinity, we have chosen to focus most of our efforts on Facebook, because that’s where a great majority of our people are located. Google+ tends to have a smaller audience than Facebook, but provides similar features. Twitter is a supplement to the two that we often use for communicating in short bites (140 characters or less) on mission trips to Haiti, youth Workcamps or others that we do.

Video

Posting videos online can be a great tool for helping people understand who you are as a church. Whether it’s a welcome video on your website, a video “advertisement” for an event or just a video of something that happened at your church. There are really only two major players in the hosted video market:

Several years ago when I first looked at hosting video online, YouTube had a limit on video duration that was shorter than what we needed, so we decided to go with Vimeo. Over the years, however, that limit was removed and we use YouTube exclusively for hosting video. It’s easy to use, fast, and easy to embed in other projects like our website, blogs and Facebook. Vimeo is an excellent alternative, though the lion’s share of the traffic goes through YouTube (3 billions hours/month watched at time of publication).

If you’re looking for livestreaming of events, there are two companies that I’m familiar with:

I have not used either service extensively. Both are ad-supported for free accounts and come with some restrictions. Both have paid accounts available as well.

 

Twitter and Blogging

October 11, 2009

For a while now, I’ve Tweeted (and by extension, Facebooked) my blog posts. They’ve taken the format:

Blog // Title of a Post // Address to find it

I’m uncertain if this is a good practice. Instead, I’m going to try asking a question in a Tweet that might get people to tune into the blog. I’m trying to help people find valuable content that’s relevant to them rather than just shamelessly promoting myself.

Hopefully, if people are interested in the question, they’ll click through. If not, that’s cool too.

I’m not sure you wanted to know this, but now you do.

Routine

September 15, 2009

I’m told that children like routine. Truth be told, I’m a big fan of it myself.

Summer “vacation” was lots of fun, but it’s great to be getting back into a normal routine and rhythm. Between Workcamp, two weddings, National Youth Gathering travel and other stuff, it’s been difficult tracking when I need to be where and doing what.

If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve only blogged 3 times in the last month and a half, party because of the craziness of summer. This is your warning that I’ll be more regular about it again. So if you haven’t unsubscribed already, now’s your chance!

(Of course, I hope you continue to stick around…)

500th Post

July 29, 2009

You may or may not have noticed, but I haven’t been blogging much recently.  Part of the reason for that is that I’ve been coming up on my 500th post and I wasn’t sure what to do to mark it.  So I slowed down my blogging to figure out an idea.  Turns out, I never came up with one.  🙂

So this marks my 500th post.  Unlike the 200th post, I won’t be redesigning my blog.  I will leave you with the updated stats and how they compare to the 200th.

General Stats

Top Posts

So, now that this hurdle is behind me, I may start blogging more regularly again. 🙂

Windows Live Writer Wish List

December 19, 2008

Microsoft released a new version of Live Writer.  It’s a tool to make blogging easier.  it comes with a host of great new features (check out Digital Inspiration’s take on it), but there are a few that are missing that I’d like to see:

  1. Sync drafts to the “cloud” for editing on another computer with Live Writer.  I found a workaround for this temporarily, but it should be standard.
  2. Insert Picasa Web Album.  I know it’s a Microsoft product, but I’d love to see a way to enter the URL for a PicasaWeb album and it goes to the site, logs in as me and downloads/inserts the code necessary to make the photo album appear in my blog.
  3. Better Draft Management.  How hard would it be to add folders to the draft section?  Let me sort my drafts!
  4. Firefox Integration.  While we’re at it, why not an extension for Firefox that allows me to push a button while at a web page and have it copy the current page title/link into a new draft.  Bonus points if I can title the draft and mark which folder it should go into.
  5. A working “Check for Updates” button.  The last two versions have not been found by the existing check for updates feature.  Make it work like Firefox, where it checks on load, then gives the option to install the new version on load.

In other news, the most useful change out of the gate is addition of the tags field on the same line as the categories and publish date fields.  I hated expanding the bottom section to get to tags.  Of course, it only appears to be available if you haven’t downloaded your blog template for the editor from WordPress.  Irritating that I lost the look of my blog while editing, but worth it for the tags thing.  Maybe that will be fixed in the next version.