Build an Effective Content Strategy by Amplifying Your Content Curation

It’s staggering what happens every minute online:

Email users send 204,000,000 messages
People share, send over 277,000 tweets on Twitter
Apple users download 48,000 apps
Over 2,460,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook

When online, we’re reading.

Regardless if we’re scanning our social media accounts, staying up-to-date with Hollywood’s gossip with Perez Hilton, or digesting the Harvard Business Review, we’re reading.

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I understand we’re primarily scanning material and becoming superficial readers, but that’s not my point. My point is this: For better or worse people are reading when they’re online.

When wading through this flood of information, many—if not most—of us will share what we’re reading online with our network. (Even if we don’t actually read the entire article.) We do this by sharing what we think about a product or service, cute and funny videos, content we found helpful, and on and on and on.

I don’t think some people really care about what they share online. At least that’s the impression I get when scrolling past their social media vomit.

But many of us care about what we share with our network.

If this isn’t you, well, I think it should be.

If this is you, how do we know what’s worth sharing with others?

This is where Jerod Morris and Demian Farnworth come into play.

Previously on The Lede, Jerod and Demian were discussing The 5 W’s of Link Curation and Jerod provided the following acronym when answering this question: “What content should we share with others?”

R – Read it

O – Original

A – Applicable

R – Reputable Source

Content curation is an important facet to creating an effective content strategy and I believe it’s worth your time to listen to this entire podcast episode The 5 W’s of Link Curation.

12 Ways Your Church Can Use Facebook Today

Facebook intimidates many churches leveraging the social network, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

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Assuming you have created a Facebook Page for your church, here are 11 practical ways you and your church can use Facebook today.

1. Be Social

Look to engage people through your Facebook account.

It may be hard to do this, but think about Facebook like a physical water cooler people gather around to talk. To put this another way, being on Facebook is not about being on social media, it’s about being social. It’s about showing up to the water cooler and hanging out with people.

It’s best to have an individual or team of people responsible for overseeing your social media accounts. Most churches cannot afford to pay a staff member to do this, but I would argue that every local church has someone within it who would be willing to volunteer a few hours a week to oversee the account.

If you’re considering handing this over to a volunteer, look to establish clear boundaries, requirements, and expectations.

To help you get started, read this helpful post from my friend Phil Bowdle How to Build a Volunteer Social Media Dream Team.

In the meantime, don’t let this slow you down. Get started today.

2. Share Helpful Content

Share good content that is helpful and encouraging.

From passages of the Bible, quotes from books, to snippets from a recent sermon, aim to provide a steady stream of content throughout the week.

3. Ask for Prayer Requests

Designate a time you are going to pray and ask for people to share their requests on your Facebook page or to send you a direct message. If people leave a request on your page, either like their comment or let them know you received their request. This is a simple way of letting people know you received their request.

4. Share Stories

Share stories about the life of the members of your church.

If possible, take a picture of them, ask them some questions, and then share this in the form of a short story.

5. Recognize Volunteers

With their permission, take pictures of volunteers and share a little about them.

This is an excellent way of affirming the individuals within the church and even raise awareness of ministries and events.

6. Schedule Events

You can schedule events and even worship services through your Facebook Page. (Be careful with scheduling worship services as events through Facebook. They may become spammy.)

This is a great way to engage people, encourage people to share the event with their network, and even gauge how well the event is being received.

7. Link to Your Website

If you have a website for your church, be sure to link to the homepage.

8. Create a Welcome Tab

Create a welcome tab on your Facebook Page.

You don’t want to provide a ton of info here, but just enough to let people know more about your church. If possible and available, link back to a page on your church’s website that provides additional information.

9. Encourage People to Tag the Church

Encourage staff, visitors, and members to “tag” the church during their social media conversations.

Also consider adding your church as a “nearby place” on Facebook. This will give people the opportunity to add the church to their status updates when they are visiting, volunteering, or attending a worship service.

10. Advertise on Facebook

You can create awareness of your church in your geographic location by taking out targeted ads on Facebook. This is the most technical piece of advice on here, but it can be well worth the investment—especially for an event or holiday service like Christmas and Easter.

11. Be Human

Share the life of the church through behind the scene pictures, Q&A’s with staff members, volunteers getting ready, and on and on and on.

These simple acts will “humanize” your Facebook account.

Another thing to consider is when the administrator for the page responds to comments, he or she can place their abbreviations at the end of the comment. This is another touch that allows people to know that a person made the comment and not some random robot.

12. Share Photos 

Share photos. Lots and lots of photos.

You can share before, during, and after photos of your worship services. (May need to place a sign letting people know that their images may be used.)

It’s also a great idea to share photos of the regular day-to-day life of the church. For instance, share photos of events, baptisms, community groups, Sunday school, etc.

As an important FYI, do not post pictures of children unless you have their parents or guardians permission.

Question: What are some strategies you would add to this list?

Arguably One of the Greatest Opportunities for Businesses Today

“The Times They Are a-Changin.”

This is the title of one of folksinger Bob Dylan’s most famous songs. In penning these words, Dylan identified with the social turmoil that existed at that time in the United States. This song has enjoyed a lasting legacy by capturing one of the constant realities of our life and world: change.

Change is exactly what’s taking place among consumers and businesses.

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Though change amongst consumer behavior does present a myriad of challenges to businesses and non-profits, changes within consumer behavior also provide a plethora of opportunities for businesses like never before.

Arguably one of the greatest opportunities for businesses today is creating direct relationships with consumers.

Listen to this advice from Mitch Joel in Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It:

Your business needs to not only sense this urgency, but also realize this seismic shift in the battle for direct relationships. While some businesses are beginning to capitalize on this by recognizing the value that comes from these relationships, most are still using these channels as a form of broadcast advertising. It’s almost as if businesses have become anesthetize because of their reliance in the past on using media channels as a gateway to the consumer.

In the pre-Internet media world, your business could not have a direct relationship with the consumer. If you wanted to let people in your city know about your products or services, you had to take out advertising (few were great at direct marketing). The value of traditional media was not in the high quality of content that they produced, but rather in the direct relationship they had with an audience because of the perceived value of the content to the consumer. Now, in this world where consumers are liking, friending, tweeting, and +1-ing brands, not only have the tables turned, but the game has completely changed…

The new consumers are not linear. They are scattered. They are squiggly. They are connected—not only to one another, but also to the world—and their connectivity and engagement are highly untethered. I’m often critical of brands that try to make digital media bend to their will instead of spending the time, making the effort, and having the patience to build valuable credibility (which leads to loyalty and true direct relationships with the consumer).

Consumers are social…much more social than they have ever been before. If you think your consumers are (still) not social, that’s going to change as well (quickly). These are not linear relationships, and you’re not going to be able to make them bend to your will either. The brands that build a better direct relationship with their consumers will be able to transcend [current]…challenges…The opportunity is in recognizing that—finally—your business can reboot its relationship with your consumers like never before.

There is a sliver lining to the rapid changes brought on by rapid changes in technology. Though this change will be painful for many, it is a change taking place and one that presents a great opportunity for businesses and non-profits to directly connect with their target audience.

 

The Holy Spirit is Not Cousin It (or Who is the Holy Spirit?)

Cousin It is arguably one of the strangest people—ever.

His body is covered by longhair, he always wears a pair sunglasses and a black bowler hat, and speaks in some sort of British gibberish that is only understood by his family.

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The Holy Spirit is treated by many like their own Cousin It. He’s considered weird, distant, and hard to understand. Many of us tend to treat him like a disgraced politician.

It’s easy for us to think about the Holy Spirit this way. Shoot, he’s a spirit—right?

That sounds strange enough and if you watch a lot of paranormal television programs, it’s hard to say what you actually think about the Holy Spirit.

While there is a degree of mystery surrounding the Holy Spirit, he’s not an it, impersonal, or strange. You just have to get to actually know him.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

There has been little disagreement about the person and work of the Holy Spirit throughout the history of the church. From the Old Testament, New Testament, and church creeds and liturgy, there has been widespread agreement on who the Holy Spirit is and the work he does.

The Bible menaces no words when it comes to telling us about the Holy Spirit:

  • He’s called God (Acts 5:3-4)
  • He’s called the Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2; Judg. 3:10)
  • He’s considered God (Acts 28:25-27; 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 3:7-9)
  • He’s treated as equal to God the Father and Son (Matt. 3:16; 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 2:18; 4:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2)
  • He’s eternal (Heb. 9:14)
  • He’s self-existent (Rom. 8:2)
  • He’s omnipresent (Psa. 139:7-8)
  • He’s omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11; John 14:26; 16:13)
  • He’s sovereign (Zech. 12:10)

Make no mistake, the Holy Spirit is so much more than an it—he’s God.

God—as revealed in the Bible—is one and eternally exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From what we can briefly see above, this means that each person within the Trinity shares the same divine attributes. In other words, one person within the Trinity is not more of a god than the other.

And the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal, vague, or distant god either. He’s up close and personal.

Up Close and Personal

Far from being an impersonal force, as the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is a person and personal. We see this clearly in a few distinct ways.

First, throughout the New Testament the Holy Spirit is referred to as a person (John 6:63; 14:26; Rom. 8:11, 16, 26; 1 John 5:6).

What is more, before ascending to heaven, Jesus said he was going to send the Holy Spirit to be a counselor like him (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is also capable of teaching (Luke 12:12). Unlike gravity that can neither counsel or teach people, the Holy Spirit can and does both.

As a person, the Holy Spirit has personal characteristics:

  • He speaks (2 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 21:11; 28:25-26; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:7-8; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 14:13; 22:17)
  • He witnesses (John 15:26)
  • He searches (1 Cor. 2:11)
  • He can be grieved (Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30)
  • He loves (Rom. 15:30)
  • He has a mind (Rom. 8:27)
  • He has intelligence (1 Cor. 2:10-11)
  • He can be tested (Acts 5:9)
  • He can be resisted (Acts 7:5)
  • He has a will (1 Cor. 2:11; 12:7-11)

Impersonal forces cannot speak, be grieved, or express love, yet the Holy Spirit does express these abilities and emotions.

The Holy Spirit’s Presence and Power

The Holy Spirit is God and he is a person who personally pursues us.

He reveals to us Jesus Christ, convicts us of sin, and gives us new life. He helps us to understand the Bible, pray, and empower us to live and love like Jesus.

Knowing who the Holy Spirit is more than a rote exercise of Biblical theology. Living a life that aims to glorify and enjoy God forever is impossible without the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Worst Advice Ever on Love and Marriage from a Dancing Outlaw

Jesco White is known as the “Dancing Outlaw.”

For better or worse, he’s considered a cultural icon in my home state of West Virginia. (I once named a basset hound after him when I was a teenager.)

He’s known for his rhythmic tap and clogging dance moves, his Appalachian manners, and a string of documentaries, such as the Dancing Outlaw and The Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.

What he’s not known for are his thoughts on love and marriage—and rightfully so.

Watch this video to see for yourself.

How to Assess Your Potential (And Others): The CliffsNotes Version

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Senior Advisor at Egon Zehnder and author of It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best, recently sat down with Linda Hill and the host of the HBR Ideacast to discuss the importance of identifying, managing, and measuring the potential of others.

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Here are the five indicators Claudio provided in assessing potential:

1. Humility

Paradoxical blend of fierce commitment and deep personal humility. This is highly correlated with what Jim Collins calls a Level 5 Leader.

2. Curiosity

If you have little children, why do they grow and learn so much in the early years? Because they’re curious. They observe and experiment with everything. They ask all sorts of questions and get all sorts of feedback.

3. Insight

Ability to connect the dots in this complex world. Very related with what you would consider a holistic thinker.

4. Engagement

People who—after connecting the dots—can separate the signal from the noise, can come up with a creative decision, can engage the hearts and minds of others.

5. Determination

People who will not crack under pressure and will continue to strive towards challenging objectives under good and bad times

Be sure to checkout the entire segment at the HBR Ideacast.

The One Surefire Way to Write a Book Your Audience Will Actually Read

There’s one surefire way to write a book your audience will actually read.

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From Ryan Holliday’s Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising:

Much of the marketing I do is with authors and books. I’ve worked with dozens of bestsellers in the last five years— and, of course, many that weren’t successful. In my experience, the books that tend to flop upon release are those where the author goes into a cave for a year to write it, then hands it off to the publisher for release. They hope for a hit that rarely comes.

On the other hand, I have clients who blog extensively before publishing. They develop their book ideas based on the themes that they naturally gravitate toward but that also get the greatest response from readers (one client sold a book proposal using a screenshot of Google queries to his site). They test the ideas they’re writing about in the book on their blog and when they speak in front of groups. They ask readers what they’d like to see in the book. They judge topic ideas by how many comments a given post generates, by how many Facebook “shares” an article gets. They put potential title and cover ideas up online to test and receive feedback. They look to see what hot topics other influential bloggers are riding and find ways of addressing them in their book.

Seth Godin provided similar advice for authors roughly eight years ago:

The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.

Though writing is a private endeavor, share it publicly with your audience.

Rather it’s through blogging, social media, or speaking, engage your audience early and often with your content. You will discover who your audience is and what they’re interested in reading from you.

Engaging your audience with your content will help you write a book they will actually want to read.

Rescuing the Holy Spirit From the Fate of a Disgraced Politician

The Holy Spirit gets either a bad rap or a cold shoulder.

Some often refer to the Holy Spirit as an it, mistake him for the force from Star Wars, or liken him to a strange mystical presence who causes people to convulse wildly out-of-control. If this is you, I can totally see how you think this is the case, but in all honesty, we need to sit down and talk.

Others may know him by name, but have no idea who he is, how he is at work in the their life, and whether or not they should even care. Many times he’s just given a tip-of-the-hat during a sermon, prayer, or confession. Apart from knowing him by name and that people are to baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, many Christians don’t know him at all.

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Instead of being revered as the third Person of the Trinity—which is a technical way of describing the God of the Bible who eternally exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—many of us often times treat the Holy Spirit like a politician who has fallen from grace. We either speak bad about him or don’t want anything to do with him. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, he shouldn’t be treated like a disgraced politician.

The Quick and Dirty Guide to the Holy Spirit

As the third Person of the Trinity,  the Spirit was involved with creation (Gen 1:1-2), inspired the writing of the Bible (2 Pet 1:21), and is the empowering presence of God, filling all believers with his presence.

The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to recognize the glory of God (2 Cor 4:4) and call upon Jesus as Lord (1 Cor 12:3). Without his work in our life, we would never have a desire to follow Jesus Christ and place our trust in him (John 3:5-8).

Through his work in our life, we are given a new mind and desires that are set on pleasing God (Rom 8:5-8). From the inside out, he enables us to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

The Holy Spirit also provides us with spiritual gifts. These gifts are often times reduced to a mystical, personal experience, but they are given by the Spirit for the common of good and mission of the church (1 Cor. 12:7).

The Holy Spirit is alive and at work in the church and world today.

He is calling people to worship Jesus, transforming people into the image of Jesus, and empowering the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Instead of downplaying his Personhood and work, I encourage you to seek to be filled with his presence (Eph. 5:18) and come under a greater influence of his work in your life to be like Jesus.

Your Web Content Is Useless Unless it Does One Of These Two Things

All web content isn’t helpful—let alone necessary.

Some web content is quite useless and can derail an effective content strategy.

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To know whether or not you are writing either useful or useless web content, Kristina Halvorson provides some poignant advice:

Generally speaking, your web content is useless unless it does one or both of the following:

  • Supports a key business objective
  • Supports a user (or customer) in completing a task

If you assessed all of your current web content, how much of it would meet these two simple requirements? Ninety-five percent? Seventy-five percent? Less than half?

Typically when I ask this question of clients or seminar attendees, I hear a lot of rueful chuckling and see many shaking heads. Apparently, in most organizations, more content is perceived as more opportunity to sell, more support, more brand enhancement, more context, more everything.

But it’s not.

When it comes to creating an effective web content strategy, ensure that you’re web content fulfills either one of these objectives.

If you’ve already published any amount of web content, it may be a good idea to conduct a thorough content audit to ensure that your current web content is useful—not useless.

10 Things Reformed Christians Can Learn from Non-Reformed Christians

Today there is an amazing work of God sweeping the United States of America and the world that is marked by a peculiar distinction: many people are embracing Reformed Theology.

Like many—if not all—movements before its time, there are positive and negative trends that can be observed in varying degrees. Though I may not completely agree with his assessment, I do believe Jonathan Merritt previously made an interesting observation:

One of the markers of the neo-Calvinist movement is isolationism. My Reformed friends consume Calvinist blogs and Calvinist books, attend Calvinist conferences, and join Calvinist churches with Calvinist preachers. They rarely learn from or engage with those outside their tradition. (My feeling is that this trend is less prevalent among leaders than the average followers.)

Personally, this hasn’t been my experience or what I’ve observed, but this does raise a good question: Can Christians who identify with Reformed Theology learn from Christians who do not embrace this tradition?

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Dr. John Frame, the J.D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, believes so.

Here are 10 things he believes they can learn:

1. Evangelism

I do think that American conservative Reformed churches in recent years have not been very strong in evangelism. There has been all too little practice of it, and the theological reflection about it has been mainly negative: “don’t do what the Arminians do, especially Finney.”

2. Discipling

Reformed churches, in my experience, have done a very poor job of discipling adults who are new converts or who come from non-Reformed backgrounds…Often the big evangelical churches are better than we are at discipling, in my view.

3. Reach Beyond White Middle-to-Upper Class People

I would also say that Reformed Christianity is rather narrow in its appeal today. We seem only to be able to reach people of the white middle-to-upper class, people with some college education. We have not reached minorities, the poor, the uneducated…There are a few exceptions to this general rule…But I still don’t see us on the whole making much of an impact. Groups like the Salvation Army and Victory Outreach have much thinner messages than we, but they have done far more good in poor communities. We can learn from them.

4. Communicating Ideas to the Public

For all our Kuyperian talk about bringing the Word to bear on all areas of human life, we have not addressed issues in our society very often or very effectively…[Other] leaders are sometimes dependent on Reformed scholarship, but the Reformed haven’t followed up on their insights…We need to learn from Christians outside our tradition in the practical work of communicating our ideas to the public.

5. Appeal to the Intellect, Will, & Emotion

Part of the problem in all these areas is that Reformed Christianity has been too intellectual in its emphasis…Many Reformed people have taught the “primacy of the intellect,” the notion that God’s truth always enters (and should enter) us by the intellect, before it affects the will and the emotions…I think we need to put much more emphasis on will and emotion in our preaching and worship. In these respects, we need to be much more like Scripture itself…In Scripture, God pleads with sinners. We, however, tend to just state the truth and wait to see how people respond. Here I think the Arminians are actually closer to the truth than we are.

6. Corporate Worship

And as you might guess I fault traditional Reformed worship (as practiced today) because it has an inadequate vocabulary (musical and otherwise) for expressing joy and for edifying  people of all sorts.

7. Evaluating & Preparing Pastoral Candidates

I think we do a fairly poor job at evaluating ministerial candidates and preparing them for the ministry. Our seminaries give them a good academic preparation: the intellectual area, again, is the Reformed strength. But most of Paul’s qualifications of elders are qualities of character, and the responsibilities of pastors require interpersonal and counseling skills of a high degree…Here we can learn from Episcopal churches, black churches, Reformed Baptist ministerial academies, Latin American “street seminaries,” etc.

8. Love & Unity

I also think that the demand for doctrinal precision in conservative Reformed circles has become rather unbalanced, so that the matter of church unity gets short shrift. Earlier in this debate, when I spoke of unity, Hart berated me for advocating “unity at the expense of truth.” Of course I wasn’t advocating that. But that’s what tends to happen in our circles when the subject of unity comes up. Unity always gets trumped by a concern for doctrinal purity, with the implication that we shouldn’t ever seek unity. And often our concern for doctrinal purity is distorted…There have been parties contending with one another, sometimes very ferociously, sometimes dividing churches and presbyteries, with people even trying to hinder ministries that hold the contrary view. We seem to have no conscience about calling one another terrible names, if they are on the other side from us of one of these ideological divides…We need to remind ourselves that love (not only the traditional three marks) is a mark of the church: John 13:35.

9. Pastoral Care for Pastors

In our circles, pastors have almost no pastoral care. That can lead to shipwreck in the ministry. The idea of presbytery as the pastor’s local church becomes quite meaningless when presbytery meetings consist entirely of business, or, even worse, consist largely of partisan battles. We can learn from Baptist, charismatics, and others with association-type polities, where much time at ministers’ meetings is spent in prayer and edification, and where people do not look down their noses at touchy-feely emotional support.

10. Teaching Kids

I think that dispensational fundamentalists do a better job at teaching Scripture to their kids than Reformed churches do. In my view the teaching of Scripture should take precedence over the teaching of catechism.

When concluding his remarks, I believe Dr. Frame dropped the mic with an excellent charge to those who identify him or herself with the Reformed tradition: “I do love  Reformed theology, but I don’t believe that Reformed churches have always been the best churches. We need to do a lot of growing, in many areas. That’s why I think the idea of making Reformed tradition normative (in addition to the confessions) is entirely wrongheaded.”

Read his entire thoughts on Frame & Poythress.