Remember 3 years ago when most companies and businesses doubted social media? When a business considered their social strategy good because they at least had an account? Those were the days.
Today, you cannot drive down the street without seeing gas stations telling you to like them on facebook and commercials pushing hashtags. And just as businesses and companies are starting to adopt social media, churches are as well.
Hearing stories about how churches are using social media for the good is always encouraging.
Yesterday at Cross Point Nashville campus social media played a huge part of our service and message.
Upon arrival to the campus that morning we found out that every entrance to the campus except for one was open. There was a triathlon in downtown Nashville that day that closed down several roads and exits off the highway and we were the victims of the route chosen. Having only an hour to react before our 1st service started, we turned to social media to get the word out.
Here is what we did:
This map was created in 15 minutes and was posted on the front page of our website linking to a post with information to what was going on.
From there we moved to facebook, twitter, instagram and most importantly texting.
Each of these tools pointed people back to this map and 3 steps they can take to join us for services that day. We stuck to this plan for the morning and continued to look for ways to alert people to the problem ahead.
Many of us have had “an experience” with social media. Whether it was someone helping you find your lost dog or getting you a job. The good of social media has been felt. But something that I (maybe we) have to constantly remember is the power of social media.
As we walked in to church yesterday morning realizing the potential problem that we were about to face there was not a doubt in our mind how we would get the word out to our attendees. And that is truly the amazing thing of it all. Thanks to social media we were allowed to dialogue with thousands of people and inform them of potential problems facing them as they headed to our campus that day.
We were successful with our message that day for several reasons, but here are 3 that stick out to me:
1. We had equity
The most effective way we communicated about the road closures on Sunday was through text messaging. We often use this tool to announce events, happenings, and upcoming series. But this time we needed to use it to get the word out quickly. We generally send a text message a week to our database. On Sunday we sent 3 in 3 hours. That might not sound like a lot to you (I send at least 10-20 an hour sometimes), but think if a company or organization had your number and texted you 3 times in 1 day. You would probably not say that was an enjoyable experience. But in this moment, when we needed to get the word out, we used our texting tool and heard nothing but positive response. In fact, people were thanking us for alerting them to the issue.
We built enough equity over time, to “spend” a little extra to get an important message out. In social media, you have to build equity with your audience. Give Give Give Give Ask Give Give Give Give Give and then Give.
2. We coached
You ever notice an author or musician take to twitter right around the time their book or album is about to released? You know, when you see them tweet and wonder to yourself “I still follow that person on twitter? I haven’t seen them tweet in forever.” One thing that we have tried to do at Cross Point is make sure that we are always talking. Not because we like the sound of our own voice, but because we want people to know that our social media accounts are a resource for them. It has taken a while to develop this, but our congregation knows that our social media accounts will have relevant information, resources, and quotes for them to check. And not only will we have this for them, we will be ready to answer any questions they have for us.
3. We used equations
Usually equations are those things that allow you to plug in numbers and get back answers (I hated math in high school). For us we plugged in the information and instead of answers got conversation. The temptation in these moments of potential chaos is to go overboard with noise. Instead of blanketing our social network with panic and chaos, we stuck to the initial plan of developing a hub of information, updating our accounts and then going back to regularly scheduled programming. We didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. In fact, we worked like a well oiled machine. For those that do not know, Cross Point is a multi-site church. We have 5 locations spread across middle Tennessee and 1 online. And because of this, all on staff wear multiple hats on Sunday. For myself, I run the social media, internet campus, and communicate with each campus about the message stream and production. The temptation in this moment was to forget everything else and focus on the problem at hand…road closures.
What really happened in this moment was we worked as a team. Stephen Brewster jumped in with me and handled all the @ replies on twitter. Heather Stevens worked on copy and information making sure it sounded and read correctly. We worked as a team to tackle the issue. And because of this, no one felt overwhelmed by the situation. We planned out our equation, entered in the information and then started to listen. It was an amazing picture of social media at its finest.
I am sure that even without social media people still would have made it to church. But I am also sure that we were a part of something that allowed people to arrive at our campus in a way that might not have been without us alerting them to the problems ahead. And that is, they arrived in a positive and upbeat mood ready to join in worship together as a community.
Thank God for social media :)
How have you seen social media be used to alert people to something? Any cool stories of how you (or others) used social media to share an urgent message?