Friday, January 23, 2009

Should companies and churches create their own social networks or use ones already formed?

Should churches concentrate on creating their own social networking sites, or join in ones that have already formed such as Facebook? Here is a quote from the book Marketing to the Social Web by Larry Weber.

"How can you and your company get involved? You can either join in other people's communities or create your own destinations and invite others to join in the conversation there. Or you can do both.

Pontiac, for example, is joining the Second Life conversation. Depending on your marketing goal, it is possible to join all kinds of conversations both as an organization and as an individual within the organization. The advantage of joining another organization's community, like FaceBook or YouTube, is that it already has members who come to it regularly. On the other hand, you may not be able to find the exact community you need, so you have to create your own."

I am convinced that both forms of networks are needed. Churches and individual Christians need to be active in social networks such as Facebook. They also can invite people into networks that have a higher concentration of Christians, and they can use social networking sites for mission.

The new website, Missional Outreach Network, has really taken off. It is great for pooling resources, people, and churches for outreach and mission, and we have been able to successfully invite seekers into this site as well. We also are working on implementing a Facebook strategy to interact with non-Christians.

It says a lot when we go to someone else's social networking "hangout." Today, my wife chatted with me on the Missional Outreach Network--my site--and I really appreciated it. It was probably not her preferred way of communicating (phone call), but I liked it.

Social networking, in whatever form or site, is the preferred way of communicating with most people under 30, and is spreading amongst all ages. By using the medium of communication of people today, we are being incarnational. And by going where they are already hanging out and by sharing Christ in new ways, we are being missional.

How can we better use social networking to share Christ with others?

4 comments:

Donny - MarketingTwin #2 said...

I actually like your last question better than the blog post title question. I think we can certainly do better in using social media to connect with others. I'm a part of a church where I don't see that happening from our leaders and I think that's a mistake. Dialouge and interaction shouldn't just take place at church service... this is a full-time interactive world and the church and its leaders need to be knee-deep into it so people like me who are up til almost midnight on blogs and Facebook and Twitter can hear what's going on with them!! HA

jeremy said...

I've had a dream for a few years of creating a type of social networking web site framework for a church. The difference is the church would be able to leverage (appropriate) user web content for public consumption. Such-and-such lifegroup is meeting at Starbucks, come and join us! Personal prayer requests can stay private, lifegroup people can have a safe, private area as well, but things can be shared with the greater community. My vision of this site was before I joined Facebook, but you could have some tie-in with those sites as well.

James said...

Donny,

Thanks for sharing. There is indeed a large segment of people like you who are online all the time--and this segment will only increase over time.

In 2007, Facebook had 9 million members. Currently, over 100 million. And by this time next year, it is projected to have 300 million members. Phenomenal.

I am currently reading everything I can about social networking and how to use this to reach out to others. I'm glad that you have this same heart.

I checked out your site. It looked interesting. Thanks!

James said...

Jeremy, good thinking! The Missional Outreach Network (www.missionaloutreachnetwork.com) that I've created is this type of site. You can create public or private groups. It is really quite powerful.