Sunday, December 31, 2017

Social media trends influencing ministry in 2018

The first trend I'm noticing: lots of writers are committing to less time in the daily grind of social media, with the goal of creating better and more enduring content.

I'm making that commitment also. Personal practices I'll be changing in 2018:

  • No social media sharing other than content I've created myself or that was created by someone I know. 
  • More focus on group work in smaller channels, especially Slack.
  • If I share a post in social media, it will be long. Longread long. Probably on a blog. Like this one.
  • Mostly, I just plan to be on less so I can write longform again. A book. I'm at work on a book.

Then there are some predictions in the larger social media world worth considering as they pertain to  church ministry space. Here they are:

  • From Entrepreneur, there's an emphasis on visual story-telling, especially on Instagram Story. Faith communities have always engaged the visual and the verbal. It may be that this kind of story-telling is the emerging way not only to share our lives with one another, or promote brands, but also proclaim the faith.
  • Livestreaming and interactive broadcasting: There's nothing in social media that has ever more closely approximated the live and interactive nature of preaching than live-streaming. But like preaching, it's harder than we might think to create interactive streaming content. It's going to take practice. Seminaries and synods will probably start hosting live-streaming clinics the same way they currently clinic preaching.
  • Declining organic reach and fatigue from tools and tactics: It's probably ironic to include this in the list, because my list is itself a set of tools and tactics, but we really are fatigued. We like to talk authenticity in the church. We are now seeing an emphasis on the authenticity of our media reach itself, and the users of it. Our influencers are going to help share faith in social media more than the tools or techniques. In the past, these influencers were called apostles and evangelists.
  • Ephemeral content is going to provide higher engagement: This one makes me super curious. I don't know how it translates. But all the platforms are shifting to ephemeral content because the next generation (Z) and a wider set of users seem to prefer it. It's worth experimentation. It's also probably why I'm more interested than ever in live theater.
  • Addressing pain pointsCan you describe the pain your faith community solves–and why anyone should care–in just a few words? Can you then invite those in need to consider your message using your simple explanation? These are the actual kinds of issues marketers are pondering, something the church and people of faith are always working on. But are we doing it well? Tight messaging can contribute to healing.
So, what are you thinking about in social media and church ministry for 2018?

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