Stop Talking!

This past summer our family attended a wedding.  As we left, my daughter-in-law, Hazelle, said to me. “Facebook has really interfered with people’s ability to have conversations”.  I asked her to explain – and she told me that during the course of the entire day, in the conversations they had with many of my son’s friends, not one had asked questions about each other – but simply each person had a story to tell – news to broadcast – the desperate need to be listened to.  The problem was … NO one was listening!  They were all waiting to tell their own story. Hazelle felt that due the daily broadcasting our society does through social media – we’ve lost the ability to converse.

photoThe United Nations tells us that by the end of 2013, 2.7 Billion people will be online!  That is 40% of the world’s population. Four years from now, 5.1 billion people will be mobile phone users around the globe — almost 1 billion more mobile users than the 4.3 billion people worldwide using them now.

The world is approachable like never before.  Research shows that 72% of North American adults use social networking and media to connect with others. People today are connecting more online now than in person.  (Pew Foundation)

The world is online … everyone is talking!

But, there is a problem:

The problem is that it is increasingly difficult for people to connect.   We “cocoon” in our homes.  We live behind locked doors.  We ride alone in cars and often don’t even see our next-door neighbours.

We have tremendous opportunity to connect!  People are seeking relationship and wanting to talk – all we have to do is learn to listen and engage.   However, the noise is overwhelming.  How can we expect someone to hear us, much less respond?   We have to communicate differently than we ever have before.

Think about this….   You are already telling a story.  Look at your personal Facebook wall.  Most of your posts are stories of relationship – photos with friends, social events, messages from family, anecdotes of funny things friends have said.  We already use  social media to tell the stories about relationships…ours, as well as others.  We need to learn how to talk about Jesus, our number one relationship, through the connections we have in our personal and ministry social media platforms.  We wont do this by talking more – but by having conversations – and this begins by being available to listen.

Elicit a response through your content, listen and engage people like never before so you can share the message that really matters.

1.  Communicate as a listener

Internet usage has shifted dramatically. Initially the Internet was primarily an information-driven experience. People went online to find answers to specific questions. Today, the Internet is a relational experience.

Users want to participate, they want to belong. In addition to getting information they want to be heard. Knowledge is no longer enough.   Previously users were content to just sit back and read. Now they want to actively participate through relational and user-driven content. It’s time to create “Responsive content”

What is Responsive Content?

“Responsive content” opens a door to relationship.  It starts a conversation.

  1. Create content that generates a buzz and reverberates throughout social media.
  2. Think of social media as an ongoing conversation – post conversation starters to spur engagement.
  3. Include thoughtful questions and give an opportunity for a response
  4. Shorter and punchier is best
  5. Pays close attention to the audience and their “tribes” (Seth Godin refers to a tribe a s a group of people connected to one another, a leader or an idea.)  You want tribes to engage with and push your content.
  6. Use multiple methods of delivery such as text, video, audio, and SMS. Interlink the delivery methods with one another. Provide many choices and keep the communications short.
  7. Always tell a story – stories are powerful, but use them well.

Most who are doing digital strategy jump to ‘create new content’ – new videos, websites, articles, tools.  We assume that if we make great content, people will somehow see it.  Unfortunately this is untrue – 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute. Thousands of articles are written each day. Most churches and groups spend vast budgets creating content that no-one ever sees.

Let’s use posts and content that are so compelling, our audiences will push it to their “tribes”.  The day of people coming to a website is long behind us.  Think of your website as an elegant library where you store and push your content out from.  There is no allegiance by any audience to you.  People care about the things they care about.  Make it easy for them to engage!

2.  Use passion topics – it makes content share-worthy 

  1. Don’t be afraid to tackle the toughest and most controversial issues to stimulate emotion and engagement.  Be creative in how you do this.
  2. To engage in culture, one needs to be bold, direct and yet enormously diplomatic, “tolerant” and sensitive.

         Compelling life issues: 

  • Controversy:  racism, sexuality, spirituality, integrity, ethics, religion, tolerance, and politics
  • Significance:  wealth, poverty, humanitarian, success, position, power, compassion, empathy, self expression, dynamic uniqueness, cutting edge
  • Relationships: family ,  love, sex, friends, casual relationships, likability, acceptance, tolerance
  • Purpose: make an impact, execute social change, spirituality, satisfaction, destiny

As you choose your topics, realize that they will determine the type of responses you will get – choose topics you are prepared to deal with.

3.  Elicit a Response:  Use Less Content – More Relationship

Have you ever responded to something that was so compelling, you couldn’t help yourself?

If we create posts and content that people can’t help but engage with, this will lead to tremendous ministry opportunities and open the door for us to come alongside people, encouraging, resourcing and equipping them.

You will create more relationship when: 

  1. Create content that begs a response – make it clear you are starting a conversation
  2. Write for individuals – humanize your posts and content.  Have someone in mind and consider yourself in a conversation.
  3. Be authentic – the more human and real you come across, the more likely people will be to respond to you.
  4. Share stories of others you have related with.
  5. Provide a variety of engagement opportunities.  – Make it easy for people to reply – have your content say “talk to me” with many opportunities for that response
    1. Comment capability
    2. Ask for feedback or reply
    3. Ask for prayer requests
    4. Connect these responses to mentoring.
    5. The more immediately you reply, the more likely you are to start a conversation.
    6. Create a safe environment.  Moderating your comments can help communicate that.

When we stop being broadcasters – we now have the ability to listen.   Let’s go back to my son’s friends at that wedding.  Those same people have a significant advantage.  They already know so much that is going on in their friend’s lives.  With the information about their friends activities and relationships, they are now in a position to have deep and meaningful conversations.  They already know what matters to their friends.  All they have to do now is actively listen.

You can learn to engage people like never before if you attempt to elicit a response through your communication and share the message that really matters.

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