If you build it, they will give you the ....

The title of this article is a bit sanitized as I like staying employed. Which leads to me eating and I really like that. My personal blog has the fun version which in all reality is harmless but you never know...

Churches, schools, non profits and for profits are guilty of following the old mantra from Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come”. Yep its true, look at many church websites, static and boring. Or, set in at a school council meeting “We need to do the Facebook, Ed, can you make a Facebook for us?” I can hear a number of well intentioned people clamoring to be hip and with it. But in the end the point is totally missed. I shake my head at all the websites and social media pages that had the right idea but leave me thinking, “You should never have created this page”.  And I am a champion of digital media!

One trouble is the media is changing so fast organizations have a difficult time keeping up. I give a bit of latitude there and that is about it. Two things must happen 1) Websites have to be kept current period! I cut no slack at all on this. If a church or school website is too complicated for a secretary or paid staff to maintain, it should be canned for one that is simple. PERIOD. 2) Social media is exactly that, S-O-C-I-A-l . This is a scary concept as there is much fear that inappropriate content will be posted or fans and followers may say something controversial. Luckily there are controls in most popular sites such as Facebook that allow an administrator to approve content before it is posted. It is good to keep in mind that the web allows users to post, comment, like, and interact with virtually any content they click. Our churches and schools need to have freedom for this type of interaction.

So to reach our constituents, thus far we build a website or Facebook page then expect a huge crowd. It will not work that way for this reason alone. There are so many choices…for everything. Again, I am a huge advocate for digital media if done well. But for any church or non profit to see benefit from new media it will take work. Really what it takes is for a person in the organization to care. Not just care about their paycheck and do enough work not to get fired. But care enough that the site, the interaction, the images, become an extension of who they are. Web users are savvy folks. If a person my age has spent the last few years buying books online, writing a blog, or updating their status, we can sniff out an authentic experience in a millisecond. Does your digital media offer anything close to an authentic interaction from someone who cares? Or, will we lose the people we try to reach do to static information and boring updates. Read, give us the finger? Give people a reason to interact with us, to share what we say with friends, and help us build our organization (OUR CHURCH).

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