Facebook is the new church sign | npENGAGE

Facebook is the new church sign

By on Aug 15, 2011

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Last Sunday I enjoyed a moment of pure bliss: getting a pedicure while sipping a glass of wine and reading the August edition of my favorite magazine, Texas Monthly. (Shout out to the Humane Society for their letter to the editor regarding the cruelty of cockfighting.)

I love the regular feature “The Working Life, Stories from the 9 to 5” because they always select otherwise very normal people who have really interesting gigs. For this month it is Cheryl Evans, church sign writer in Amarillo, Texas. And in the second paragraph I knew there would be a related Connection Cafe post.

“I’ve changed both sides of our sign on Forty-fifth Avenue every Monday since. It’s like the church’s Facebook ‘status update.”

What a wonderful, concise comparison. Evans shares how she comes up with the witty, timely and inspirational content for her church sign in Amarillo. Whether she knew it or not, she simultaneously provided great insights for writing social media content.

  • “If I’m just driving down the street and read a church’s sign, how am I going to feel about that congregation?” When considering your social media content (and really all content for that matter), always be mindful of how you are representing your organization. It’s not just the denotation that matters, it’s the connotation.
  • “I might wonder ‘WWJD?’ Or, actually, ‘What would Jesus write?’” Maybe WWJD doesn’t apply to your org, but try WWFD or “What Would our Founder Do?” I think WWMS (What Would our Mission Say) is also a good sentiment to invoke and will help you stay true to your roots.
  • “I like funny sayings…This shows folks that we’re real, everyday people.” YES YES YES. Humor, semantics, cultural sayings – all these show that behind your org are real, working, caring people. That’s exactly what social media is supposed to do, build people-to-people connections. Let the people behind your org shine and relationships will follow. And remember, people give to people so those people-to-people connections can go a long way. (I’ll be co-presenting a Summit session on personality in social media, check it out.)
  • “Some days it’s hard to think of something to say so I look for what’s coming up on the calendar.” Don’t think of it as a cheat sheet, think of it as a tool, just like a ruler. The calendar is something that can guide you and keep your content fresh and relevant.
  • “But I tend to go away from politics…That would alienate people.” The bigger point here is to stay away from irrelevant politics and other dividers. For example, if you are an animal rights group, there’s no reason to disengage or anger part of your constituency by picking sides in the raising taxes debate. Stick to the issues that matter to your org and your constituency.
  • “People think I write all this stuff, but I’m not that smart. I just find phrases and keep them all in a big plastic notebook.” Don’t let a good idea pass you up just because you don’t need it today! Have one place where you jot down all your social media ideas and pull from it when you get stumped.
  • “I’m not going to please every one of the eight hundred church members” And neither are you. It’s easier said than done but try not to sweat critical feedback too much.

Whether your platform is as old-school as plastic letters on a church sign or as modern as social networks, the principles are in many ways the same. I hope Evans’ insights will build your org’s confidence in social media, even if you are more the plastic letters on a sign type.

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