Part Four: The Cloud and Involvement
I know a church elder whose impressions of social media were forever ruined when his daughter ran off with a…well let’s call him a “character”…that she met on Facebook.
On the other hand, consider the case of a Lutheran church that was actually saved by its online blog.
Like all groups, church members love to interact online. And the cloud was made for social media. There really isn’t a non-cloud alternative. But whether you decide to fight the tide, or embrace the wave, there are plenty of tools to keep an eye on…
Consider the free stuff first
Poll your members. See if they would visit a church Facebook or Twitter™ page to keep updated on church events. Consider a YouTube™ page to post video/audio recordings of your services or Tumblr to share church photos.
The upside to these sites is that they are all free to use, and it’s famously easy to post your content.
But consider the cost of “free”
The downsides? Advertisements and other distractions. Plus the possibility of your members seeing offensive content. We had this problem when posting videos about church giving on YouTube. When our video ended, YouTube suggested others and displayed screen captures of the same. Trust me—some of these had NOTHING to do with church giving. Granted, money was changing hands, though there was no grand purpose. And we heard about it quickly. In YouTube’s defense, there is a way to disable the feature, but we found it wasn’t 100% effective.
Nonetheless, thousands of churches use these sites to share their message. Look into them, but if you don’t think your members are ready for it, these free tools might not be for you.
There are cloud-based church management systems that include their own social media pages. There are also sites dedicated only to social media for churches. Here, your members view and post only related messages and files. It’s the best way to keep the dialog on-topic and family friendly. Of course, you give up the chance to broadcast your ideas to the rest of world. But if you prefer more spiritual online communication, and you don’t necessarily have to go the free route, make sure to include social media on your checklist when shopping around for church management solutions.
If you look back over these last four posts about churches and cloud computing, you might see the chance to reach out to new members, or to lighten the load of your staff. But I hope you will feel neither pressured nor intimidated about making the move. The cloud will still be there when—and if—you’re ready.
Mark Thompson is a tech writer for ACS Technologies’ cloud offering, Realm.