The United Methodist Church recently launched a site with social media at its heart! Their new site goes far beyond a Facebook page or Twitter account. What they’ve done is create a “social media mashup” – Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iLike and more. Why’d they take this approach you ask?
- They want to reach the digital generation of 18 – 34 year old individiuals
- They want to spread their message and build community online
- They want a “home base” for it all
ReadWriteWeb has more to say, but we went to the source and asked the communication arm of the Methodist organization to share some things with you all. The goal is to help guide your thoughts as you navigate the world of social media.
Let the interview begin …
10thousanddoors.org is an integral part of our current Rethink Church (see video here or learn 101) advertising strategy throughout multiple mediums. It is promoted through a national advertising campaign to raise awareness about The United Methodist Church. We are seeking to reach a digital generation, so we have to communicate in a media environment where our audience is comfortable with content that is relevant to their day-to-day experiences and concerns.
Explain the concept or idea behind the new site?
Our new advertising campaign seeks to redefine the church experience as more of an out-of-church 365-days-a-year experience where people are actively engaged in the world beyond. Key to the concept is that there are thousands of doorways through which to engage with the church and through which the church engages the world —many of them non-traditional.
What are your goals?
10thousanddoors.org encourages exploration of the diverse ways United Methodists are making a difference in the world, and invites participation, discussion, and action. The messaging, targeting 18- to 34-year-olds, highlights the many opportunities available through The United Methodist Church to get involved and connect with others.
How did you communicate to the masses?
As a part of the national advertising campaign strategy, the Web site is promoted in all materials and mediums. We also developed an internal messaging strategy to inform member churches and organizations of the new campaign.
What social media tools/technologies are you using?
We are currently using Blackbaud Sphere, RSS feeds, Podcasts, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, iLike, Google Friend Connect, Google Earth and Yahoo Pipes. We are looking to add social bookmarking and possibly Facebook Connect applications in the future.
We chose several of the technologies because of their current user adoption (Twitter, YouTube). Some of the other technologies were chosen because of ease of implementation or because of feature sets that allowed us to do things (Google Friend Connect, Yahoo Pipes, Google Earth).
Editor’s note: This site is sweet! The entire site is a “Mashup” of social media tools and user generated content from around the web. Remember the Skittles.com site launch. This is done in the same vein. They are pulling together various “outposts” into a central “home base” that acts like a “tag cloud” … it changes based on feeds from various news sources, blogs, Twitter, keyword searches, YouTube videos and more. I think this is pushing the “home base” consept that Chris Brogan talks about to it’s limits! So by design, the site is constantly refreshed and always highlighting the most relevant content based current topics relevant to seekers. Don’t believe me? Try going to the site and refreshing the home page every so often – you’ll see what I mean. Here’s some info on the various sections.
Watch: YouTube Channel for the United Methodist Church
Talk: Google Friend Connect for bringing a community and encouraging dialog, sharing and participation.
Now: Twitter and various content aggregation pulling together a wide range of content and discussion.
Listen: iLike tunes pulled in and integrated with Google Friend Connect to build community around listening and sharing music.
Go/Do: Google Earth Mashup used help people find needs, unite and take action around the world.
What challenges did you overcome to launch a site that aggregates user generated content from around the web?
The most difficult was determining how we would moderate content and finding or developing tools that would allow us to do this easily. Though we have developed a good process for aggregating and moderating both user and news-source content, we still have much to do.
What is your stance on moderating the content and how are you doing it?
We are attacking moderation in many ways. Both feed aggregations and user generated content (UGC) are being shown on the sight. Moderating feed aggregations allows us to select news and current event content that may be more pertinent to our audience as relating to church ministry or to particular themes running throughout our ad campaign. Moderating UGC is a little tougher, but our primary goal is to welcome all thoughts, and just make sure users do not cross the line of harassment and injury to others.
How will you measure impact?
We’ll measure Web analytics as well as other metrics. We are still developing some of the metrics, but will use both online and offline metrics to help us determine if the entire campaign is making an impact. Participation both online and offline through various avenues will be some of our key indicators. This process will take some time so that we can see what the trends are.
What advice can you share related to using social media?
Make sure when using social media, you have a focus and reason to use them. Don’t go out and create a social media site because everyone else has. Select particular social media tools to reach particular audiences and needs. Also, make sure that your organization has a high-level social media strategy, so that your efforts aren’t fragmented.
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