UU Social Media: Why collaboration is critical for success

In this Facebook Live session, I discuss UU congregational social media management and why a collaborative spirit and team approach are critical to success! This 23-minute session is for all congregational leaders including religious professionals, staff, and volunteers. Parish ministers and ministry leaders: A special message (cheer leading!) for you is included starting at 14 minutes into video. Unitarian Universalist leaders are invited to join my UU PLANET Facebook group. In this group I hold weekly live sessions on themes related to leading and growing UU congregations.

Friends: I just added closed captioning for this video. Make sure to hit the CC button if you want it displayed.   ~ Peter

Prefer to watch and share on Facebook?  Here’s a public Facebook Post from my UU PLANET page.

New UUA Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit

Friends, I’m excited to share the new UUA Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit with you!

I’m always sharing great UUA resources, but this one is special as worked with the UUA Outreach Team on its development. It represents a fantastic collaboration and synthesis of many best practices and recommended outreach strategies.  More on my contributions and link to the toolkit below.

I highly recommend sharing this resource with your leadership. Use it to help you realize your congregations growth and outreach potential.

About the Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit

The Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit is designed to help Unitarian Universalists congregations and groups accomplish the following:

  • Discern who you are and compellingly communicate a cohesive identity online and in person.
  • Use social media to identify, reach, and engage with specific target audiences.
  • Create and promote outreach events and opportunities based on the needs of these audiences.

UUA Congregations Reaching Out Cycle

The toolkit is presented in three guides:

  • Finding Your Target Audience
  • Social Media Strategy for Outreach
  • Planning and Promoting Great Outreach Events

“Together these present an outreach process of continually refining your public identity, sharing this through your online presence, identifying new audiences you want to reach, engaging with them via social media, and intentionally designing and promoting outreach-focused events. As the need for UU values has never been greater, we must turn up our efforts to turn our ministries outward to our communities, helping those values reach new groups of people inside and outside our congregations.”

My Role and Contributions

As for my contributions to the toolkit, first, I offered content feedback and strategy recommendations on an early version of the toolkit. Later, after the two principal authors on the resource changed staff positions — Carey McDonald moved from UUA Outreach Director to UUA Acting Chief Operating Officer and the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh joined the congregational life staff of the Pacific Western Region of the UUA — I accepted the task of doing a major edit and re-write of the toolkit.

Because of these various roles:

  • I am directly quotedin the toolkit
  • Offered additional tips and strategies for inclusion
  • And re-wrote / edited large portions of the toolkit

If you recognize language from my training in parts of the resource that are not directly attributed to me, that’s because I wrote or edited that section. As I said, this resource represents a great collaboration.

I’m grateful to Carey McDonald, now Executive Vice President of the UUA, for the opportunity to work with the UUA Outreach Team on the development of this resource, and to the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh for giving it a home with the Pacific Western Region of the UUA.  Thank you.

Get the Toolkit

That’s it! I hope you find this resource valuable.  You can download the strategy guides that make up the toolkit here:

Make the most of this great resources:  Share it.  Print it.  Discuss it.

Going to the UUA’s General Assembly conference?  Bring it with you.  It will make for great reading and conversation.  Once you check it out, I’d love to hear what you think.  Comment on this post, where I share this via Facebook and Twitter.

Celebrating 10 Year Anniversary of the “You’re a Uni-What?” Video

This coming UUA General Assembly conference is the 10 year anniversary of the “You’re a Uni-What?!” video.  You heard me.  Ten years…

The Rev. Amy Freedman and I filmed the interviews at General Assembly 2007. Our segments were filmed in our living room in front of a projector screen.

That was BEFORE social media. BEFORE smartphones.  And Youtube was just a baby….

What amazes me most is that despite the video’s age and lower resolution, people are still learning from it.

When I am guest preaching and meet first time visitors, they often ask, “Have we met? You look familiar.” And almost every time it is because the night before they were checking out UU videos on Youtube! I’ve come to deeply appreciate the potential of video to work for us online 24/7.

What might your congregation do with video? There are so many possibilities!

You can find a list of ideas on my video making tips page. Thanks to smartphones, you don’t need to hire a professional. You just need to make a commitment to experimenting with sharing your message.


Need help to get started with smartphone video production?  I offer smartphone video & social media training.

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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

Get my tweets @uugrowth

After Tweeting @uuplanet for the last few years I’ve just changed Twitter usernames to @uugrowth.

This is to bring my UU Growth related tweeting in line with this site’s address, uugrowth.com, associated Facebook page at Facebook.com/uugrowth, and all my other UU Growthines into alignment.

Questions about that?  Send me a Twitter direct message via @uugrowth.

https://twitter.com/#!/uugrowth/status/149182952503386112

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)

Ministry and Media for All Ages workshop – Nov. 19. 2011

Friends, if your congregation is within reasonable travel to Southern New England please share this event reminder with your congregation.   My workshop will be focused on MEDIA and MINISTRY  for all ages.  I’m designing it with a wide range of participants in mind — religious educators, clergy, volunteer teachers, youth advisors, youth, young adults. 

You may download a PDF flier to share here  as well as use the sharing buttons at the end of this post to share via social media.

See details below for additional workshops on RE committees and working with special needs.  Interested in my workshop but can’t make it on November 19th?  I’m scheduled to lead a week-long workshop with a similar theme at the Star Island LRE week this coming Summer.  ~ Peter



Ballou Channing District
Fall Religious Education Conference
“We’ll Build A Land”
https://i1.wp.com/evbdn.eventbrite.com/s3-s3/eventlogos/3414525/2157256412-1.jpg

A conference for religious professionals and religious education volunteers.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
8:30am to 12pm

DOWNLOAD FLIER:
November 19th 2011 Fall RE Conference Flier (PDF)


REGISTER ONLINE
:
bcduua2011reconference.eventbrite.com

Location

Unitarian Church of Barnstable
3330 Main Street
Barnstable, MA 02630-0285

Schedule

  • Registration 8:30am
  • Worship: We’ll Build a Land  9:00 to 9:45
  • Workshops (descriptions below)10 to 11:30
  • Close by noon.

Food
No meals will be served during this morning program, but hardy snacks, coffee and the like will be available throughout.

Workshops

1) Effective Religious Education Committees
Panel hosted by Diane Elliott
The committee is an important aspect of church life where there is underlying philosophy and belief about the committee and the people who serve on it. Having an effective committee is vital for the growth of the church and the strength of the RE Program.  We hope you will join us to learn more about how committees work and what you can do to help them to function better.  We will learn about the ways to structure committees, what tasks and goals need to be created and ways that you can help to make your committees stronger.  We will hear stories of functioning committees and stories of how committees can were not so functional.

Diane Elliott: BCD Coach for Religious Educators. Diane has had 25 years worth of experience working with RE committees.

2) A Child With Special Needs ….in My RE Class…What Do I Do Now?
With
Michelle Cote
Michelle CoteThis workshop will be a hands on, practical overview of how to deal with children and youth who are in your programs who may ( or may not be!) identified as having special needs. Topics that will be covered are behavior redirection, strategies to deal with the active child, helping children with learning disabilities and setting up a potential buddy system. Bring your scenarios, issues and concerns.  Be prepared for some active role-playing!  The goal of this workshop is to give you hands on techniques that you can teach to your volunteers or use yourself as you work with children and youth.

Michelle Cote is in her fourth year as Director of Religious Education as First Parish Church of Stow & Acton.  Prior to taking her position there she taught in private and public school settings as a special educator and a Literary Specialist for over 25 years.  She has worked with children and youth of all abilities and feels that you can always find the good side to every child!

3) Multi-Media and Ministry for All Ages
With Peter Bowden
Peter BowdenWe live in a society that is increasingly media oriented. This presents a huge opportunity for congregations!  This workshop will look at ways media — primarily video — can be integrated into our ministry and religious education.  Workshop will include a brief presentation, video crash-course (video made simple), and time to share other tools participants are using in their congregations.  Participants are encouraged to bring video cameras and other tech for show-and-tell, as well as to share success stories with Peter in advance. Contact him via email, Facebook or phone at 617-744-9784.

Peter Bowden, BCD Growth Consultant, is also a television producer and media consultant.  He works on multiple nationally syndicated childrens television programs and speaks regularly on media, communication and culture change.