Social Media Freelance Digital Marketer :: An Interview

Jamie Golden is a freelance digital marketer that helps companies, brands, bloggers, and anyone who is trying to gain a presence on social media to frame and execute plans to do so. You can learn more about her on her blog here!

I got to meet with Jamie at Seeds Coffee Company on a chilly Monday afternoon to ask her some questions about her experience with social media and some tips for those trying to better their own social media.

How did you get to where you are today? What decisions were made along your journey and what steps did you take to get to where you are in your career?

12107250_10156090350945384_6887094831190124358_nI am a classic example of someone who had a degree in sociology womens studies and african american studies (because you study what you want to study), so I don’t have a marketing educational background. I came up in the ranks of ministry. I’ve only worked in nonprofits my whole life. I was an early adopter of all social media, so I used Live Journal early and Myspace early personally. I was in ministry, a volunteer on the board of organizations that wanted to adopt those but didn’t know how, so I became the resident expert just because I knew how to use them personally. I finally told myself I would get educated on how to really use them professionally. I made the decisions to go to conferences, attend virtual conferences, and to really get engaged by following all of the leaders of the social media marketing movement. I tried to find the people that were doing it well and educate myself on what they were doing.

What is your current/past relationship with Church of the Highlands? What contributions have you made to their social media ministry?

I currently am a member there and am on the Dream Team and also a coach of the Growth Track at the Fultondale campus. I originally helped by doing some minimal consulting with Katie Vogel, their Social Media Coordinator, and then served on the social media team for my campus. I only left to become a coach of a team at my campus. Now I do some local stuff for my campus, like creating graphics and creating things for them to use on local pages and writing content.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

Really understanding the platforms. For example, being a personal user of Periscope is different from being a brand user of Periscope, and the same is true for every platform. It’s finding out two things: what the client’s target audience is and what their objective is for every platform. Is it to sell products? To grow a donor base? To recruit volunteers? Or to just raise awareness? It’s figuring out what they really want to do and where those people are that they want to engage with. Is that a middle-aged woman on Pinterest who’s going to be most affected or is it college students that are all on Snapchat? How does that brand figure out the best platform to use and how can they concentrate on not doing it all, and how do you convince them not to do it all?

What is the most rewarding?

Social media for clients and for me is for making connections. For me personally it’s for meeting people on the internet. For brands, it’s building ambassadors – people who love your mission, love your products, or love the Gospel (whatever the case may be for your organization) and are communicating that. They’re not just followers and fans, but they’re sharing your content and engaging with you. Any time I represent a client and I see people commenting and sharing and liking and following another network that we have, I always think, “This is what we’re meant to do. We’re meant to build relationships here.”

What is a mistake you see frequently in social media marketing (overall or in ministries)?

People think they need to do all social media channels, when that’s rarely if ever true. What most organizations need to do is figure out their target audience (who is it they’re trying to reach? Who is their ideal attender to their church? The ideal buyer of their product? The ideal reader of their blog?) and where that person is on the internet. For most companies, it’s going to narrow them down easily and immediately to three networks. Every client is different. Some excel really well in a visual platform with digital media, so Youtube is their answer. Marketing-wise, Instagram has the highest user engagement of any platform, but not every business uses that. A lot of times companies will spend energy and time and money focusing on the wrong thing.

What are one or two online tools you couldn’t do your job without? Why?

I have to have a social media management tool. For me, it’s Hootsuite. I don’t live on networks, I live on Hootsuite, and it lives on networks for me. What’s great is that it helps me be most efficient; I can reply and can engage in one space on all networks for all clients.

Google Analytics is how I measure my ROI. I know my return on the time I’m investing in any one network because I’m very much looking at reports every week. I’m scouring over what’s bringing people to our website, what’s causing people to click on things. That may be Insights on Facebook for some, but any analytics tool is a must-have for anybody doing social media marketing.

What have you learned on your career journey concerning social media that surprised you?

IMG_4818I thought it would be (for clients and for me personally) very much a megaphone industry – that it would just be me telling people about what we’re doing and what we’re selling or when our events are and what have you – but what I found is that social media is very relationship driven. You really meet people that will go to the mat for your company in a way that very much surprised me. I’m always amazed that, when you ask people to support you, they will do it in such amazing ways. They will offer up their Facebook statuses for you as a company and that is beyond valuable. It’s more valuable than any video I could edit or collage I could curate of our product. I’ve spent a lot more time engaging with people than I thought I would. I thought I would just be writing and copying all the time and creating content when it’s really about how I engage with customers or attenders or members.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would have for a ministry leader that struggles with their ministry’s social media account engagement?

I think the key is to figure out your voice. Don’t let it turn into what you’d write in your bulletin. A lot of times people take what’s in their newsletter and just curate that down to 140 characters and let it be a tweet. I think the most successful brands have a voice on social media that’s different, very accessible, very relatable, and what’s more relatable than changing the world and the Gospel of Jesus Christ? There’s nothing more personal than that, so our voices have to be personal on social media for that same reason.

What steps might they take to find their voice?

Part of it is how they do ministry now. What do they care about? What is their church? Every church is different. Some are doing a lot of efforts in foreign missions like Brook Hills. Find out what you’re really passionate about. Is it community service? Is it Bible teaching? Is it discipleship? Narrow those down to three or four things and let those inform your voice. For example, if you’re talking about community, it needs to be a voice very filled with emotion because that’s what calls people to do missions. They need to feel connected to the story of what you’re doing. Have a voice that’s very personal, very detailed, and pull on heart strings. If you’re focused on Bible teaching and people understanding the Word of God, let it be an educational voice but in a very relatable way because you’re trying to make something that’s hard very accessible to the masses. The Hebrew and Greek were translated to English so we could understand, so we need to look at what the language is on the internet. That language is very casual, very easy-going language and you need to do that too. People are scared of that sometimes when you’re talking about the Word of God, but it’s also very personal and we have to make people understand that on social media. We have to put it on the bottom shelf for people rather than try to make them figure out what we meant in a 140 character tweet. It should be “Jesus loves you. Period.” It’s not complex and doesn’t have to have a disclaimer on it.

Church of the Highlands’s Social Media :: An Interview

katie_parker_700_307_80I met Katie Vogel last year when I started to hear God calling me to vocational ministry. Since day one of knowing Katie I’ve truly admired her wisdom and heart for ministry, as well as her spiritual walk. 

Today I’m so excited to share her words on my website. I had the opportunity to meet with Katie on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Church of the Highlands Grants Mill campus. In this interview, I was able to ask about her personal experiences with social media, her audience’s experiences, and her hopes for the church’s social media in the future.

What would people be surprised about what you do?

People don’t think that social media is time intensive. Sometimes people ask me how I fit social media into 40 hours/week. There’s a lot more that goes into it than what meets the eye, so I think people would be surprised to see how much work it is to keep up with engagement and to have a strong presence. It takes a lot of intentionality and the person behind the platform being present in order for the church to have a strong presence on social media.

What surprised you most about your job?

I was worried that I would get disconnected from people because [doing social media] you’re staring at a computer screen instead of doing ministry face-to-face, but I find myself burdened for their prayer requests and praying for them personally. I am grateful for not losing the sensitivity to people.

Also, like I said before, the time intensity and how long this job takes was surprising, as well as what can happen when you neglect it for even a day. Things can spiral out of control really fast, so you want to take really good care of your platforms.

How do you see God working through social media at Highlands?

IMG_4728“Sharing” on social media is a huge part of what God’s doing at Church of the Highlands. We have tens of thousands of users sharing stories every month, so the Gospel message being spread is what’s happening on our social media. Also, on the home front, there’s just people being encouraged and faiths being grown and testimonies being shared that spur on people’s faith. You’ll see somebody have a prayer request and another user jump on and say, “I’m standing with you and believing with you for an answer in this.” I think it builds an atmosphere of unity and encouragement.

How has your job helped you grow in your spiritual walk?

It’s challenged me to not be defensive and to remember that the negative people are people. They’re not just trolls, they’ve most likely been hurt by something. The Lord has challenged me to actively love all people, not just the ones that are friendly and who are ministering on the page as well. He’s working on me in that recently. I’ve realized that the negativity is most likely birthed out of a place of pain unless they truly are just there to be a troll. Often times people will lash out of a place of pain. I’ve learned that if I’m just ignoring them and deleting them and not engaging them, I’m not doing my part.

How do you envision this part of your ministry growing and changing in the next few years?

Right now it’s just one person, and I see it becoming more of a team approach. I see us teaching the voice with which we speak and having people be able to post and like and respond more than just me. Who knows what we can do? We’re just really open to whatever the Lord wants to do.

I only get overwhelmed during big events. The rest of the time, I feel like I have enough time to do what I want to do in terms of keeping the socials afloat. I don’t have that much time to think ahead, so I think having another person on our team and being able to divide and conquer would leave more time to brainstorm and to plan ahead for series and things like that. When it comes to ideas, I’m the one that’s thinking and doing, but if I ran an idea by you, you would be able to add to it and make it that much better. I’m hoping the team will grow because we’ll be able to do more.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Staying fresh and having new ideas is the hardest part of my job. I think it’s easy to get yourself in a rut with social media. You find something that works and you just always do that. Finding ways to break the mold and do something new and different is a challenge, but it’s definitely not impossible. When you have a lot to do and you need to keep things going, it’s easy to choose four kinds of posts that really rock and stick with those. That’s where I found myself even a few weeks ago, so I met with creative people all throughout the church. We sat down and said, “the sky is the limit with ideas, let’s just do this” and we were able to come up with some great behind-the-scenes ideas for Periscope and shake everything up a little bit and have more fun.

What is the most rewarding?

What’s awesome about social media “marketing” in the church is that we have the opportunity to encourage people all day long. That is such a rare job and it’s amazing that someone would pay me for this. I get to pray for people and encourage them and make them laugh and inspire them and that is the coolest thing to me. It’s really rewarding to sit down and encourage people who are reaching out, perhaps because they have no other outlet.

How do you receive feedback from your community?

We use Sprout SIMG_4727ocial to receive it. We can see how our posts did through the reports section. I read everything that ever gets posted on our pages and Sprout helps me do that. I love seeing our people respond, and it definitely motivates me to create posts that draw out more response. The people of Highlands love to rally around a good cause, so it’s really fun to be apart of that and see what inspires and moves them.

What common mistakes have you seen in ministry marketing?

I think people still assume that we are living in a billboard world – a world that is receptive to the kind of messages you see on billboards – but the world is looking for a social aspect to all marketing and otherwise they’re turning their brains off. If you’re not adding a social aspect to your social media and you’re just allowing it to be a billboard – a place where you post a graphic and just leave it there – then no one cares and no one wants to engage with you. I think that’s what most church social media is missing. People connect with people. They want Instagram photos to be windows to a world that they can look into and be apart of and interact with. Too often, things become way heavy on the graphics side and it’s not creating a window into any environment or any person’s life. It keeps everyone at surface level and tells the happenings of the church, which you would know if you drove by the building and saw it on the sign outside.

What are your thoughts about Periscope? (i.e. has it been influential for your ministry and, if so, how?)

We are just getting started with Periscope and are realizing more and more that people love behind-the-scenes stuff. Periscope is something you have to be careful with, especially with church, because everything truly is live and anything can happen. It’s important to know the environment in which you are scoping and being aware that anyone could come by and say anything and it’s live and it’s heard. It’s important that you have a good bearing on what’s going on around you. You have your location services on because that’s how you get the most interaction and people in your area are watching, but they might not know Jesus. You’re totally making yourself vulnerable to people that hate God. In that comes the responsibility of being a very on-top-of-it social media manager and blocking people immediately. You have to have that conversation with your leadership and see if it’s a risk you’re willing to take.

I think Periscope is the ultimate social media because it’s livestream. How much more social can you get? If we can find a way to do it well and we aren’t afraid of having to be careful, we can do something with it.

I think it’s more interesting to people on the inside of the organization than on the outside. That’s one of the reasons that the behind-the-scenes aspect works so well; it’s your home team that’s watching. It’s more taking care of your home community than the outside on Periscope. Highlands loves seeing our team livestream and it makes them feel apart of it, which they are. Including them in those moments is a lot of fun.

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Content Strategy Example 1 :: Instagram

Today we’re starting a series of posts that will focus on good and timely content posted on various social media platforms. Hopefully this series will give you a better idea or new ideas to aid in your creation of content for your ministry’s social media accounts!

instagram

The first one we’ll look at is Instagram.

First, when creating and scheduling content, it’s important to know who’s on that platform and when.

The Who

Social-Demographics-instagram
Photo from Sprout Social

Ages

53% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram.
25% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram.
11% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram.
6% of people 65+ use Instagram.

Gender

29% of online females use Instagram.
22% of online males use Instagram.

Education

31% of Instagram users have some college experience.
24% of Instagram users are college graduates.
23% of Instagram users are high school grads or less.

The When

A study was done in early 2015 by Latergramme to discover when people are engaging most on Instagram. The two following photos give us a picture of their findings.

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Photo from Huffington Post
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Photo from Huffington Post

The Examples

Here I’m going to give you a preview of three examples of good content, taken from social media accounts of ministries I follow!

Advertising for an Event

Sozo Children is a nonprofit ministry here in Birmingham that I enjoy following and learning more about. Below you’ll see a post they put up not long ago advertising for an upcoming missions opportunity.

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This is example is a good one because it provides efficient information, but also an emotional connection through the photo and the description of the trip.

Storytelling

Church of the Highlands, my home church, posts many of this type of post throughout each month. I always really enjoy reading them and I know my church family does, too.

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This example is great because it allows the viewer an inside look of Shelby’s story. With such a large congregation at Highlands, Instagram provides an opportunity for storytelling and the connection of people that we may not see otherwise! As a church family, we are able to celebrate with Shelby even though we don’t know her personally.

Encouragement

Incourage, a company owned by DaySpring, is a blog site for women. I follow this account on Instagram mostly for the encouraging content.

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This post is a good example in its simplicity, but also in its ability to catch the attention of the scroller with the graphic. The caption is short but meaningful and allows the viewer to meditate on the words because of the lack of length. It uplifts and adds a little love to their newsfeed.

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I hope this post has given you some tidbits on how to better your Instagram account! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

Sources: Sprout Social, Huffington Post,

Ten Stats Every Ministry Marketer Needs To Know

Happy Friday! Today I’m offering you some information that will be helpful when planning content and social media strategies. Below are ten important statistics that you should know as a ministry marketer.

10stats

  • 70% of Christian millennials say they use a smartphone or the internet to read scripture. Whether it’s YouVersion or on a website, this generation loves to get their information off the internet – even their Bible readings.
  • 46.1% of churches say social media is the most effective method of outreach. Other methods are knocking on doors (24.7%), newspaper (14.3%), radio (9.1%), and TV (5.8%).
  • The average click-through-rate is 115% higher for church emails that include at least one social media link. This is a great piece of information to keep in mind when crafting your weekly newsletter!
  • Approximately 51% of churches claim at least one of their staff regularly blogs or posts on social media. 74% of churches do not have a paid staff member that updates their church’s social media pages. Your leaderships’ presence on social networks is important (stay tuned, as we’ll be chatting more about that later).
  • 62% of churches use social networks to connect with people outside of the congregation. This is an encouraging tidbit in my opinion! Not only can we encourage and uplift those in our own community, but those outside as well!
  • 61% of churches use social media. This is an interesting stat to show that, while the majority of churches use social media, there is still 39% that do not.
  • 28% of church pastors have a blog. Using outlets for your congregation to have a window into your heart outside of the church pulpit helps the people of your church to feel included in your real life as a pastor (or a ministry leader). We’ll be digging into the importance of this more later.
  • 68% of local church members want to connect with their church via social media. This stat supports the purpose of this blog. People of our age love to connect socially online, so we must meet them there!
  • Approximate times spent on social channels (per month, per user): 7 hours on Facebook, 90 minutes on Pinterest, 90 minutes on Tumblr, 21 minutes on Twitter, and 3 minutes on Google+ (as shown below).

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  • Use of Twitter includes: 36% images, 16% article links, 9% videos, 8% products we like, 7% websites we like, 7% status updates, and 39% everything else (as shown below).

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I hope this information gave you some insight into the world of social media that maybe you didn’t have before! Feel free to share comments or questions in the box below.

Sources:

Anthony Coppedge, National Catholic Register, Capterra Blog

7 Things I’ve Learned As A Ministry Marketer

As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently the Marketing Intern at Redstone Church in Vestavia, AL. With the experiences I’ve had there in addition to what I’m learning in my classes as a marketing major at Samford University, I want to share with you some things I’ve learned in the past year.

This is indeed more so a post of encouragement rather than a how-to, but as brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe it’s important to encourage one another in our work for the Kingdom.

7things

  1. Not to put my value as a ministry marketer in the numbers. I’ve always been a numbers person. As a lover of math and structure, numbers make sense to me and provide me with a type of security. However, numbers can also be dangerous when I put my value in them. I’ve learned and been reminded again and again of this: the value of the gifts God has given me to do this work cannot be measured in numerics. It can’t be scored, tallied, or counted. Your value isn’t represented in the number of likes you can accumulate, how many followers you have on an account, or your reach for a particular week. Your value is found in Jesus alone.
  2. Not to focus on growing the numbers. With a business-focused mind, the focus is to sell, to increase the numbers. Thank the Lord that in ministry, that is not our main focus. Our focus in this space of marketing our ministries is to encourage people, reach people, and glorify God in all things. We are called to do our best with the gifts and resources He’s given us, and to do everything short of sin to reach as many people as we can for Christ, but to leave the growth of our Eternal Family and His Church up to Him. We need to trust that as we are obedient, He is faithful.
  3. It’s all about trial-and-error. Subconsciously, I guess I thought this whole thing was going to come easily. I’m a marketing student and my generation is so familiar with social media that it’s practically our second language. It was humbling to remember that, no matter how true those facts are, I don’t know everything and there’s always more to learn. Social media and the world around us changes every day, and we must do what we can to adapt to the way it receives communication. I’ve sat down with quite a few social media managers of ministries and have asked them how they decide what content to write and when. Answers vary, but it always comes back to one thing: trial-and-error. The great thing about the environment that we’re marketing in is that we aren’t generally motivated by quotas of followers and reach, we are motivated by lives changing.
  4. I need a daily reminder of my purpose. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” – (Galatians 6:9-10 NASB) Often times I get caught up in the job aspect of this position. I have my to-do list and my planner out and I spend hours scheduling and planning posts and content. There are days where I slip into an attitude of complaining and weariness. I see the numbers standing still and I feel defeated. This goes back to not placing your value there, but it also points to the importance of trust. Let us pray daily that we will rejoice in the little things and in the opportunity to pour into peoples’ lives in such a big way. We are doing good for the Kingdom with every work day. Let us be glad in that God is using us and trust that we’re reaping despite what we see.
  5. Importance of knowing your community. Really knowing the people of your church and ministry – the leaders and the congregation – is so important in connecting with them on social media. Being familiar with their lives, reactions, preferences, and personalities is helpful to the formulation of content and structure of your social media platforms. This also helps you to know the best way to encourage them and give them the information they need and want most effectively.
  6. Importance of adapting to the culture. When I first came to Redstone, I unknowingly used terms in my posts on social media that I adapted from my home church and its culture. My wordage and terminology were from the environment of a different space and didn’t fit the culture of the church I was speaking for. {Here’s an example: In posts advertising for their Sunday services, I was often using the term “worship”, which is a word they aim not to use. Instead, they use the term “sing” in order to make the unchurched person feel more comfortable.} It’s important for us as ministry marketers to be aware and conscious of the words we use to speak for the ministry we’re marketing for. Let’s join leadership in being intentional to create a culture of welcome, whatever that may look like for your ministry.
  7. I don’t always have the words. When I’m posting about an event, I have a pretty easy time saying what I want to say and relaying the right information to my audience. It’s when I’m wanting to encourage the Redstone community and speak truth into their week that I come up short. I’ve been reminded lately that I need to leave room and time for God to speak to my heart what to say to His people. He has given us such a huge opportunity in the space of social media to speak truth to people; let’s choose to let Him give us the words.

I hope this post encouraged and spoke truth to your heart! Be affirmed that you’re doing a good work, and that God is using every post to benefit His Kingdom. Keep working hard and doing your best, because that is enough.

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For an additional word of encouragement, I would direct you to one of my favorite posts here.