Event: UU Social Media and Membership Growth – May 16, Framingham, MA

UU Framingham MAFriends, if you want to rock your social media and grow your congregation come the Fall, join me on May 16th for a day-long training at our UU congregation in Framingham, MA.  We have a tiny window to infuse our teams with new ideas, intention and skills if they are going to be ready to implement come the new church year.   Now is the time — I know, we haven’t even been to the beach yet!  I say, come to the training and then THINK ABOUT IT on the beach. Oh yes, that’s the way…

It is time to register, we’re just two weeks out.  I know you like registering last minute but that tends to freak out the hospitality team of host congregations.  If you know you’re coming, register today. Okay?

Details and registration:

UU Social Media & Membership Growth  – May 16th in Framingham, MA

Peter BowdenI’ve said it before, but it is important to repeat…   Today we need to be intentionally integrating our social media, visitor greeting and other membership development efforts.  If we don’t,  we’re in trouble.

Thanks to technology the path to membership is moving increasingly online.   How many people visit your website before visiting?  Around 100%.  And now people are wanting to explore your social media and check you out digitally for a while to judge you before they visit. That’s right, they’re judging you based on what you’re online presence and identity.

Potential members are  increasingly making a decision about your congregation based on their digital experience, and then and only then, if that’s good, they’ll visit in person to confirm you are what you’ve said you are online.

Increasingly you need to be helping people pre-qualify themselves for membership online if you want them to visit and join in person.  I was just guest preaching on this and a newcomer (4th visit) reported keeping an eye on the congregation’s website for a YEAR, a whole year, before feeling like the match was good enough to try it in person.

And your existing members?  They are bombarded with information via multiple communication channels.  How do you get them to hear you and to not drift away?  We’ll discuss all of this in more in one very full, exciting and useful day…

Peter Bowden speaking at event

These trainings have gotten rave reviews and have been catalysts for congregational teams to take their social media to a whole new level, especially if your minister comes with you.  You can’t communicate well with the world if your minister isn’t communicating with your media ministry volunteers.  So, bring a team and get a 2015-2016 upgrade for your communications and membership growth strategy.

Details and registration:

UU Social Media & Membership Growth  – May 16th in Framingham, MA

What’s that you say?   Are these events being lives streamed?  No,  but I will be turning the content into text and video resources. Make sure you are subscribed to my Leading Congregations E-Newsletter to be updated as they become available.

In cooperation,
Peter

UU Social Media Year in Review for 2013

Like - Social Media

Here are a some thoughts in response to Rev. Daniel Harper’s The year in review: UU social media in 2013. I’ll share more thoughts when I have time. Thanks for kicking off the review, Dan! ~ Peter

BLOGGING
We’ve discussed the issue of UU clergy vs. lay person blogging in the UU Growth Lab and most agreed that the ease of sharing ideas and engaging in discussion in topical UU groups has taken some of the energy away from public blogging. While it is great to have these forums, there was some worry expressed in having these conversations moved behind closed doors.

FACEBOOK OUTREACH & DESIGN
There’s been amazing UU outreach done over the last year via social media, especially on Facebook using combinations of striking visual images and quotes. The biggest contributors have been the page (featured in UU world this Fall) & , and Thomas Earthman’s I AM UU page.

TWITTER
There continues to be growth in the number of UUs and UU congregations on Twitter. The UUA’s twitter account now lists:

128 UU Ministers
50 UU Religious Educators
279 UU Congregations

I don’t have stats on the counts from previous years, though I’ve logged these numbers for future comparison.

Hashtags: Though they are now more mainstream, I don’t see many Unitarian Universalists using them well.  Some do, but not overall.  There’s huge potential to bring our congregations, clergy and other UUs on Twitter into larger conversations using hashtags.  Hard to say if it is lack of technical understanding, or simply lack of intention to reach out.

Gini’s Twitter Lesson: At the UUA’s 2013 General Assembly then moderator Gini Courter gave the full plenary a brief Twitter lesson.  It was great to see this attention brought to social media at GA.

VIDEO
The UU video site I curate, http://www.unitarianuniversalism.tv now has over 2450 UU videos. Alas, many are poorly filmed, and are designed for viewing by existing members chained to their pews. Unless someone is already a member or friend of the congregation, you have maybe 3 to 5 seconds to grab their attention. Many of the sermon videos posted online take 3 to 5 minutes, an eternity for a web video.

Also, many congregations are not titling their videos or tagging with keywords which reduces their value. Titles, descriptions and keyword tags will greatly increase the reach of the videos UUs are presently producing.

I’ve had many inquiries from congregations wanting to take their video to the next level (or to start filming) in 2014, which is encouraging. I still advocate for starting with an awesome podcast and periodic video messages designed for outreach (a message from your minister speaking directly to viewer online), and then getting into video of sermons.

PINTEREST
There are approximately 20 active UU congregations and UUA accounts on Pinterest. A search for “Unitarian Universalist” results in ~35 related boards. Numbers are approximate as some appear to not have been used since creating some time ago.

GOOGLE +
I’m getting circled more often by UU’s but I don’t know if people are really using Google+ more or are just being forced to create accounts to use Google services.  As for congregations, a search for Unitarian results in ~90 UU congregations (with profile photos) on Google+.  Searches for Unitarian Universalist yields fewer number, and Universalist fewer still so  “Unitarian” seems best for tracking the trend at this point.

What are your observations on 2013?
And your hopes and dreams for UU Social Media in 2014?

Share your comments on Dan’s post at
The year in review: UU social media in 2013.

Announcing Jan 4th, 2014 Social Media Intensive for Congregational Leaders

Like - Social Media

Friends, on January 4, 2014 I will be leading a social media intensive for congregational leaders.  This event is being held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, AZ.   If you are a minister, congregational staff or volunteer interacting with human beings in the United States with internet access and mobile technology,  this event is for you.   Registration is open nation-wide. Hope you can join us!   Full Details & Registration ~ Peter   

Social Media for Ministry, Outreach and  Membership Growth with Peter Bowden

January 4th, 2014  *  Tucson, AZ

Oh yeah!  Join us...

Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions.  This has significant implications for congregations, from  how we share our news and announcements, to how we invite people into membership. For our congregations to thrive in the 21st Century, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with purpose, skill and integrity.  Join us for this day-long social media intensive for congregational leaders!

Event Location
Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson
4831 East 22nd Street Tucson, AZ 85711

Event Sponsors
Special thanks to our sponsoring congregations and the Rev. Charles Gaines, my mentor,  for helping to make this event possible.

Testimonials

“Peter’s passion for social media communications and Unitarian Universalism is contagious. His vision for our future is something we need to learn and embrace.” – Don Southworth, UUMA Executive Director

“Peter provided our team with an opportunity to learn together about social media giving us a common understanding of the benefits and costs of utilizing it. His enthusiasm for social media is infectious, making us feel not only that implementing it is possible and perhaps inevitable as our world continues to evolve.” — Sara D., Church Administrator, Cedar Lane UU Church.

“Peter’s training on Social Media was clear, instructive, and interactive. He is dynamic, engaging and brings an enthusiasm to his sessions that is contagious. I recommend him highly.” — Mark Bernstein, Regional Growth Development Consultant, Central East Region of the UUA

The UU Media Collaborative week 1

Friends, this is a glimpse of how Unitarian Universalists can collaborate with amazing results…

Late September 2012 we started a Facebook group called the UU Media Collaborative to bring together UU creatives who want to work together to share our faith and raise the quality of UU Media.  We created the group, then a page to share content, followed by a site for archiving hi resolution images.

The first week (according to Facebook) over 50,000 people saw the images and 3,000+ were “talking about” the content.  Check it out…

Here’s an alternate version.  Sharing this video with the group for feedback, ultimately it was decided there was no reason not to share both 😉

3-day UU Social Media intensive next week!

Peter and daughter enjoying porch/rocking chairs at 2011 Star Island Lifespan RE Week


Friends, just received these details for the three-day option we’ve created for those who want to attend the mid-week portion of my social media track next week.  A few people still trying to join us for this  Tue — Thur option  featuring sessions on Facebook, Twitter, and online video for UU congregations. The following details are from email sent out this morning by the conference organizers. Hope you can join us!  -Peter

Can’t make our full conference?
Join us for a mid-week 3-day UU Social Media intensive!

Tuesday, July 17 – Thursday, July 19
Peter Bowden, leader of our week-long social media track, has adapted his program to allow for a Tues to Thurs option—featuring sessions on Facebook, Twitter, and online video.
Interested? Register ASAP!
LRE Registration Fee: $30/day
Room/board charged as personal retreat.
For pricing, details, and to register, visit:
starisland.org/overnight/personalretreats


Interested in attending other days?
We’re working to maximize participation and fill our remaining open seats! Let us know.

The following is the full program description:

Social Media for Ministry & Outreach
Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions. This has significant implications for congregations. For our ministry to thrive in the 21st Century, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with skill and integrity. With a focus on ministry and outreach, we will explore major social networking tools including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (video). After rave reviews last year, we are bringing Peter back to lead another round of his social media intensive for congregational leaders. This year will include even more material on integrating video into our ministry with all ages!

Social Media for Ministry and Outreach 2/25, Metro DC Area


Social Media for Ministry and Outreach
with Peter Bowden

Saturday, February 25, 2012  *  9AM – 3PM
At the UU Church of Silver Spring  (Website | Google Map)
10309 New Hampshire Avenue  Silver Spring, MD 20903

 Register Online Now
Download & Share Event Flier (PDF)

Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions.  This has significant implications for congregations. For our ministry to thrive in the 21stCentury, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with purpose, skill and integrity.

Join us for this day-long social media event for congregational leaders with Unitarian Universalist growth, outreach and media consultant, Peter Bowden. With a focus on ministry and outreach, we will explore major social networking tools including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Clergy, staff and volunteers from all dimensions of congregational life will benefit from this training.  

Peter Bowden is a consultant working with Unitarian Universalist congregations across the United States, as  as well as a TV producer working on multiple PBS programs.  Known for his work with growth, outreach and media, Peter has led trainings for a growing number of UUA Districts, UUMA & LREDA Chapters, at UUA General Assembly conferences, Ferry Beach and the Star Island conference center. Peter lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife, the Rev. Amy Freedman, and their daughter.

Event coordinated and hosted by
the U Church of Silver Spring

Facebook UU Lab Directory as of 11/11/11

UU Growth Lab on FacebookThe following is a directory of topic focused UU labs on Facebook.  After I launched the UU Growth Lab in February 2011, lab members immediately started launching “spin-off” labs in an organic fashion.   For those not familiar with the UU Growth Lab, I like to think of it as a virtual lounge where UU leaders can discuss issues related to the healthy, growth and future of Unitarian Universalism 24/7.  The other labs are similar, just with focused topics.

Thanks to all who have worked to create, nurture and growth the various lab communities on Facebook!

Here are the labs listed in launch order.

Growth, Front Doors and Foyers in the Digital Age

In this post, a call to action for congregations wanting to grow but not fully realizing that their front door and first greeting space has moved online.

Plus information on related UU Labs on Facebook. And yes, I know this is a hard transition.  But it is necessary.  If you’re stuck, ask for help and get movin’ before you lose another potential member and they suffer as a result.  😉

It is November 2011, almost 2012!  Do you know where the front door to your congregation is?   Many don’t…

For years your front door was the street-side door to your physical sanctuary with small groups and other connecting experiences serving as side doors.  Today the  front door is your congregation’s website.  Nearly 100% of people visiting a church visit the website first, conduct research, engage with your social media, and “pre-qualify” themselves for membership before they attend. People arrive having had multiple virtual visits to your congregation.

Think of it this way…

You have a virtual front door, your website, connecting to an online foyer, your social media and our larger Unitarian Universalist online space.  People enter your front door and from there connect to information, social media and other related Unitarian Universalist resources and online communities.  After a time in this environment,  if people like what they see and if you engage with them, they will move to through to your physical entry way. Again, nearly everyone travels through your online front door first, that makes it your primary front door.

We need to care for our virtual front door and foyer with as much care as the rest of our congregations.  How does it look? How does it feel?  Do you have greeters in the foyer?  Remember, nearly 100% of visitors start there.

Websites and PR are not PR for your ministry, they are the front line of your ministry and education with newcomers.  Much of the process of educating people and their preparing to join is now happening in these virtual spaces.  All that work you’ve been doing with greeting and hospitality?  It has to start online.  Yes, thanks to technology, the first half of your welcoming and membership process has moved online.

Where does that leave us?  Your website is your most important publication, communication tool and, with associated social media, a critical part of your ministry if you want to grow.  Don’t undermine your ministry with an outdated website and reluctance to use the communication and relational  tools of our time.

Finding Help

I’m now guest preaching on “Friendship in the Digital Age”, a service designed to help people see this shift, and offer related trainings, coaching and consultations.  Contact me to discuss where you are and how I may be of assistance.

I also highly recommend that the people responsible for various aspects of your online ministry (website, social media, minister’s blog, etc…) connect with related UU labs on Facebook. See below.

UU Website and Social Media Labs

For those of you working with congregational websites and/or social media, two related labs on Facebook have spun-off from the UU Growth Lab, the brand new UU Website Lab and the UU Social Media Lab.  Both offer community, resources and inspiration  —  I highly recommend them.  More information below.

UU Website Lab
http://www.facebook.com/groups/uuwebsitelab/
UU community lab for web administrators, designers and developers, communications enthusiasts and anyone else working specifically on congregation or UU community sites (note that there’s a separate lab for those who doing social media stuff online). Join us for site reviews, tips and tools, and (the ever compelling) much, much, more!  (As of 11/8/11)

UU Social Media Lab
http://www.facebook.com/groups/uusocialmedialab/
UU Social Media Lab is a place to post social/new media projects, share ideas, and collaborate on ways Unitarian Universalists can develop and use social/new media in justice, service, education, and other practices of our institutional and individual religious lives. (As of 11/8/11)