‘Social Media’ Archive
I’ve not blogged here much lately. I have good excuses:
- This fall our book, This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling, came out.
- Chrissy and I started a new blog related to that.
- We wrote a column for six months for Relevant, and you can read them here.
- And I worked on InterVarsity’s huge Urbana Student Missions Conference.
I have been part of the 10-member leadership team for Urbana. During the conference, I led our social media efforts and live stream content for the 16,000 people on-site (and everybody else who couldn’t be there).
We had not done either of these before. It seems like we did a pretty good job.
And to get down to results, we had nearly 40,000 tweets on our hashtag (#u12) or about seven tweets per minute around the clock for the duration of the event. My team tweeted over 3,000 times (with a large percentage being interaction with individual participants) and we were retweeted 6500 times.
We posted over 300 photos on Instagram, with over 6,000 likes. Another 6,400 photos were posted about the event by people using our hashtag (#u12).
Our live streaming content had over 10,000 viewers on YouTube. We posted individual videos and segments on Urbana.org, as well as on Vimeo, with total views passing 15,000 during the conference, including 5,500 of David Platt’s message and another 1,000 on a powerful and eloquent call to faith by Ram Sridharan. DJ Chuang also wrote a liveblog for us.
At Urbana 12, we had about 3,700 people recommit their lives to Jesus, 6,500 people commit to study the Bible with friends who aren’t Christians, and a staggering 4,000 people commit to long-term service in God’s global mission. Think of what 4,000 leaders can do in the coming decades!
I wonder if in some small measure God used the efforts of my team to connect participants to the content and to each other in a stronger way than ever before.
How did we do this?
Who really knows how to facilitate social media interactions amongst 16,000 participants, including over 260 organizations, and hours of diverse content from 150 overlapping seminars? This week, I quoted Indiana Jones to a reporter on this topic, “I’m making this up as I go.” Here’s what we did…
Assemble a large, diverse, skilled team (the “social squad”) of people—different experience levels with Urbana and missions, different involvement with social media, different ethnicities, from different parts of the country.
Set vision. Our aim was to “be a conduit for God’s action to move upon as many people as possible as deeply as possible through Urbana content and related conversation to help compel our generation to give our whole lives for God’s global mission.”
Enable others. Our main job was not to push content, but to interact with people. We answered questions, we shared their observations and stories, we connected them to some of the 250 mission organizations on-site.
Listen well. We knew what was going on with participants in way we haven’t in any previous Urbanas (and we’ve been doing this since 1946). We captured important quotes and stories from students that otherwise we never would have found.
Learn as you go. I explained to my team from the beginning that we’d be experimenting, measuring, evaluating, and innovating again. With social tools, feedback is very fast, so you can morph in the midst of a long five-day conference like Urbana.
This is ministry. I kept our focus on facilitating what God was doing in the lives of people at the conference. I stressed the need to be pastoral for participants, to help them process as they drank from the fire hose.
Share great content. This was easy, as the Urbana program team brought together leaders from around the world who are very gifted. We used as much visual content, strong quotes, and student stories as possible.
Coordinate. If there was an area we missed, it was this. We used the @UrbanaMissions and @InterVarsityUSA accounts, but lots of other parts of our organization were also actively producing content. I’d like to pull us all together a little bit more next time.
Did you follow along during Urbana 12?
What was good?
What could have been better?
Leave a comment below.
Average, average, average. Mass everything is built into our culture.
But right now—on our watch—is a revolution.
Books, newspapers, music–traditional pillars are crumbling.
Now, there are new modes of media. This results in a proliferation of choice. You just need to reach a tiny sliver of the seven billion people in the world.
We’ve branded ourselves to death, guys.
And what we’re seeing today is the death of the industrial age.
We are entering the age of tribes–a group of people who share a culture.
We’re used to a spiritual tribe, a work tribe, and and a community tribe. But now we can have a hundred tribes. People still meet up, connect up, and want to be in sync.
New paradigm: Connect Challenge Culture Communicate Clear Commit. It matters not if you make iPhones or work for spiritual advancement.
Those who control the means of production, and you control the world.
The new means of production is the laptop. Now the worker owns it.
We are facing the the end of the job, the death of the job. And I can see beyond the job. After the job is the artist. It’s the delivering of a human expression.
Following rules has infected the Church because it’s inherited the culture of the factory–it makes people interchangeable. That’s what makes the factory work. The reason why they want you to fit in so that they (the industrialists) can ignore you.
Now you have a chance. You say, “Tell me the map, the steps! I’ll even take a fictional map.” (Cue the Narnia slide…)
You must be different and unique. (Read Lynchpin if you haven’t!) Because if your boss can write down what you do, you are expendable.
Local is like cheap. If local is all you’ve got, you’re sunk. (I wonder what this says to or means for the “local” church.)
Bowling trying for perfect. Who cares?
Bottled water is a commodity: nobody cares, there’s no way to differentiate yourself. Nobody is going to talk about you. Everyone has seen brown cows. Nobody talks about brown cows. Nobody talks about any cows–except for the purple cow. You can’t get there from a Dummies manual. You’re not going to get there because your boss told you to. Because if your boss knew, she’d have done it already!
If failure is not an option, you’ve just made sure that success isn’t either. Art makes us uncomfortable.
Note: I’m working out some of my own thinking on this. Stay tuned!
No one doubts the prevalence and therefore the importance of social media generally and also particularly in college culture. A few of my notes, observations, and questions from the World Assembly of the IFES:
1. Data Dangers. Some people are deeply concerned about the security of our data, especially how it’s used by governments and corporations. While most nod a bit, we mostly scoff. In a generation, we may herald their prophetic attempts to get us to see what’s happening.
2. That’s a problem. Social media (@jamesdoc on Twitter called it “immersive media”) can be problematic for some people. It may be that someone has an addictive personality, as one person I chatted with mentioned. Or it may be that such a medium can release internal and social sin in a way that is unique in human history. Or maybe there’s nothing new under the sun.
3. Some students are well ahead of older leaders in their media savvy, management of different relationships and spheres (or acceptance of the impossibility of doing so), and theology of socially mediated relationships. One student pointed out how many more relationships one can begin and even maintain well with Facebook.
4. Social media permit us to put out soft and intriguing invitations to dialog, through quotes, observations, links, and the like. The “weak links” of social media are wide (and yes, often shallow), but they can lead to significant conversations both online and face-to-face.
5. With Skype, Apple FaceTime, and Google+ Hangouts, what does “face-to-face” mean anymore? There’s general agreement that there is great value in actually being in the same physical space, but why exactly? People have flown in from 130 countries for this conference. What is it about being together that makes it worth such a significant investment? Further, we have commented dozens of times how amazing it is to sit with biblical texts in the middle of ten people from ten countries here at the World Assembly, hearing different perspectives brought to bear on it (and being born by it). We can do this every week online if we so choose. That didn’t exist at the last World Assembly in 2007.
6. “We have lost control. And that is good.” @Andy_Shudall said this during his presentation, explaining that it is no longer possible to moderate—let alone manage—any large, long discussion online. The question was raised, with concern, of starting students in discussion online and then not being able to be there, with the result being wrong answers given, hurtful things said, and (in this case) the Bible being misquoted. I found myself explaining the two options in this scenario. First, you don’t facilitate it and make it happen. It either occurs elsewhere and you may not even know about it, or it doesn’t happen at all and you can’t ever deal with whatever would have surfaced. Second, you facilitate it and deal with all the wonkiness that arises. The latter is preferable for the student ministry that IFES does.
7. It’s not so different. Several times in the social media sessions, we found ourselves talking about new scenarios and saying, “But hold on—how is that different than this analog situation?” For example, the conversations and the lack of control is no different than those had after an event by students as they walk back to their dorms and apartments. Technology gives us an illusion and expectation of control, and it scares some people to release that.
8. We value being together more. Andy Moore, acting head of communications for IFES (@lovingmercy on Twitter), opened the plenary session on new media by having us turn to our neighbors and acknowledge how good it is to really be together. By having socially-mediated relationships, the contrast of our incarnate friendships makes us cherish the latter, perhaps.
9. Nothing is private anymore. And maybe that’s a good thing. Someone raised a question about online deception and false identity. I suggested that it’s actually harder to deceive others on Facebook than real life, given the interconnection evident through that medium. (Andy Moore recommended the movie Catfish.)
10. The potential needs our attention. While concerns and questions arose in abundance, I really wanted more careful thought and discussion of the potential of social media in the work of the IFES. Who are our best thinkers on relating well to people on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the rest? What are the bleeding edge students trying and is it working? How do we share insights between Brasil (Portuguese), Hong Kong (Cantonese), and the South Pacific (several languages)?
It’s here and we’re going to be surfing for a while, just barely staying up on an unstable but exciting platform.