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To Blog or Not To Blog?

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Have you thought about blogging?

I am a strong advocate for mission and ministry in the digital world. And I’m generally ranked in the top half dozen or so most-visited blogs in NZ – no that’s not the top spiritual/religious sites; that’s of ALL sites.

Just putting a static website online, Web-1.0-like, with no possibility for engagement or interaction is so last millennium. Then there are even still Christian communities with no web presence. There are also Christian communities with a Web-1.0-like web presence that not only one cannot engage with, but you can’t find basic information. Recently I saw a parish advertising its services: address, nice image, but… not the slightest indication about what time services happened!!! Occasionally, if there’s facility to email a website, I’ll drop them an email asking a question. Pretty close to never do I receive a reply.

And then – how mobile friendly is your site? About half of the visits to this website are from mobile phones and tablets. That, more or less, seems to be about par for the course.

Stats point to people, on average, spending about about 5-6 hours on the digital media a day – about half of that on a mobile. Add in about 4 hours of TV a day and you are getting a picture of today’s world. Are you participating in this? Is your community?

Some mediums are more popular than others. We don’t know what tomorrow’s digital world will look like.

Blogging used to be a central arm of the internet. I think that it still has its place, but there are so many other growing areas: Instagram, Snapchat, you name areas that are growing… Certainly, I think images are far more significant than they were some years back (I put up an image a day ago – it has had two-hundred-thousand views). Twitter still has value – though I don’t think it is as powerful as when I started on it. I need to explore videos more.

It’s the facebook page that I want to spend a bit more time reflecting on in this post. I have previously suggested that parishes/church communities abandon your website and use a facebook page instead. [With a 301 redirect from your old site]. I stand by that suggestion.

The primary advantage of owning your own site (so not a ***.wordpress.com, or ***.blogger.com, or even facebook.com/***, or whatever) is that you have essentially absolute control over the future of that content on your-owned site (like this one). If tomorrow facebook decides to change the look of facebook pages – or just abandon them completely – that’s completely their right and I can ultimately not do anything about it (I don’t think I will). So there would go my efforts I put into my liturgy facebook page.

It used to be good digital practice to own a central site and then to use other (social media) sites to point to this central (your-owned) site. I’m no longer convinced that is best practice now.

I might easily now have, say, 20,000 people view my pointing to a post on facebook.com/liturgy, but only a thousand go through and look at the actual post. YOU have to decide whether putting the essence of your message straight onto a facebook page alone may actually be the better way forward – for you – and your readers/community.

One advantage of your own site was that it is searchable. Facebook pages are searchable now.

One advantage of your own site is that you can put links within it in a better way. You can moderate comments easier (remember that you, as the owner of the facebook page – or any page, are legally responsible for the comments on the facebook page you own!)

What do you think?

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11 Responses to To Blog or Not To Blog?

  1. Thanks for this thought provoking reflection. I follow both the blog (via Feedly, which keeps me up to date when something new is published) and also on Facebook, which I joined later.
    There’s a place for both. With Facebook, you really need to have something arresting to say in the first few lines, or any post will get swallowed in the mass of updates that arrive on your timeline. The blog (for me) is my preferred way of accessing the content. But I’m a bit of a stick-in-the-mud at best, (I also have Luddite tendencies!) and actually like reading, even on the PC/laptop/phone/tablet.

    • Thanks, Peter. The other thing about facebook is that, if you are merely accepting the feed that facebook provides (and not going to look at the actual page) it is highly likely that one sees few if any of the posts put on a page. Blessings.

  2. I still find church websites incredibly useful, and I’m particularly interested in the calendar pages. A monthly calendar of services and events, assuming that it’s reasonably complete, can tell you more about a given parish than all the other web pages put together.

    • Thanks, Duane. What percentage (at an estimate) of church websites do you (does one) see with such a calendar? They are easily produced and simply embedded in sites. Blessings.

      • I would say most church websites that I’ve happened to consult have some sort of calendar — but that’s not a scientific sample.

  3. So much has changed since you and I got started in/on social media. How’s that for an understatement? And hows this for no surprise: I agree with what you’ve written here.

    As a consultant to church, my counsel has changed because of all the online digital options currently available and what we now know about when, why, and how people engage online. Currently I recommend churches have a “flat design” (no drop down anything) mobile responsive website with static information like location, directions, worship times, and contact email links.

    For (not necessarily real time) news, I recommend a biweekly or monthly enewsletter supplemented by email blasts if (rarely) necessary.

    For community building? Facebook–a page and groups. That thing about “no one is on Facebook” simply isn’t true. Most people use FB even if they won’t admit it!

    My next big must-have social media platform recommendations are: Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

    Blogging? It was good and fun while it lasted but there are many many reasons to stop blogging. I, for one, put my personal blog on indefinite hiatus last year. I now post long form musings about writing to Medium and long form pieces about communications to Pulse (LinkedIn’s native blogging platform). I then cross-post links if it makes sense to do so. Facebook has become my go-to place for posts that are longer than tweets but much briefer than a blog post.

    FWIW, I agree with Duane that a calendar page is valuable.

    • Thanks, Meredith. We are discovering the same reality. You will notice – the drop down menus that were on this site are long gone. Of your other suggestions, I have not got into Snapchat – but I certainly have had significant conversations about it. Blessings.

  4. Did you realise that the cool kids all abandoned Facebook once their parents signed up? For them it’s snapchat etc now. Facebook still has an audience – and you can have a great global reach. But if you want to connect to the kids in your own parish, Facebook is now sooo yesterday.

    Also, have you noticed how companies are still collecting email addresses? Sure they’ve got Facebook, Twitter, instagram, snapchat etc – but they also know that building that email list is still critical, because it gives them a fall back option if something happens to the others. Also ones who monitor long term conversions know that the click-thru from an email is far more likely to turn into an actual sale than the casual browse of a Facebook stream.

    • There is much I agree with in your points, thanks, Mary. Snapchat is certainly in. But I don’t agree that Facebook is out. The problem with Facebook is its algorithms. Facebook decides what you see in your news feed – and what you don’t. Whole areas may never appear in one’s news feed. If you are suggesting that collecting email addresses from those who worship in a Christian community is a common practice (say in filling out a visitor’s form) that interests me. Or collecting cell phone numbers and use a facility to send a group text to all in the community. I’m not aware of such practices being common – and I also wonder if people would find it irritating and so be counter-productive. This site has an associated email list (see to the right on the desktop version) – but people only get an email from time to time. Blessings.

  5. Social Media is an amazing platform for spreading the Word of God and for keeping a finger on the pulse of things. It is also a great avenue for finding fun little tidbits to enrich our lives, like this gem I found this morning on facebook (yes, facebook – I’m of the older gen.) It looks like a new family Bible game that you play on an iPhone. The website is http://www.thewordgameapp.com and you can sign up to download it early.

    I love that the modern church is embracing these powerful avenues and I hope it continues to grow with the times in this way.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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