Facebook Pages – Why You Need Two Admins ASAP

I lost admin privileges to my Facebook page.

Now What?

Yes, that was me. Very sad.

How it happened? I have no clue. Zero. Nada. None.

All I know is that as the person in charge of our social media and event promotion, I had two weeks of sheer frustration trying to get it back. I spent hours on Google looking for a solution. Nothing.

Facebook has no tech support whatsoever. No phone number to call, no email to ask for assistance and their “help” area isn’t so helpful. In desperation, I even contacted Facebook Ad support. While I got an email acknowledging the problem, they never solved it.

Fortunately, after almost two weeks of lost access (missing Easter in the process), I remembered and old login using a different email. Using that, I was able reestablish myself as an admin.

This experience reminded me of this verse…

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV

After gaining control, I immediately made a trusted friend of mine a second-page admin.

This is a great reminder to make sure you have a backup plan for all your social media activities. Who, besides you knows your passwords? What if you die? What if a trusted employee leaves? Believe me, the last thing you want is to be left in the dark with no access. Better a little preventative effort NOW, then great regret LATER.

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Adding an Instagram Feed To Your Website

One of the nice things I like about our website is that it is never the same day to day. It has some static pieces, but it also has elements that automatically update when we make updates to our Facebook, Upcoming Event, and Instagram Account.

As you may know (or found out through research), while you can embed individual pictures, Instagram has no built-in option to share a feed of pictures. For that you need a third party solution. I was using Intagme, but I was getting too many error messages that the service was offline. Then I stumbled on SnapWidget.

According to their website, “SnapWidget is the most popular Instagram Widget that allows you to quickly and easily embed a photo gallery in your website or blog.”

Simply fill in the form, and click the “Preview” button. They have several option on how you want it to look. When you got it the way you want it, click the “Get Widget” button to get the code.

snapwidget

The code you’ll get looks something like this:

<!– SnapWidget –>
http://snapwidget.com/in/?u=dHJpbml0eXJlZGxhbmRzfGlufDkwfDN8Mnx8bm98NXxub25lfG9uU3RhcnR8bm98bm8=&ve=220115

Paste the code in your website and you’ll have a beautiful feed of your Instagram photos.

Two Minute Video Tutorial

While I don’t like the ads when you click the picture, (there is a paid option without ads) the SnapWidget code seems rock solid. Glad to report, no problems to date.

20 Ways We Communicate To Our Church

There are lots of ways to “get the word out” when it comes to church communications. This past Sunday I has the opportunity to remind our congregation about some of the many ways they can get the information they need to stay informed and connected. While it’s easy for me to just say “check out the website”, our church skews older, so I broke it down into Non Digital and Digital ways, so nobody felt left out.

This list is not exhaustive…

I didn’t include any announcements that that Pastor might give before or during the sermon, the PowerPoint loop we run before the service, posters and flyers that we put around campus, talking to their small group leader or a simple email or phone call to the Pastor of their choice. It is a good reminder, there is no one magic bullet. Even with all this communication going on, people still miss things and messages fall though the cracks. And this doesn’t even address how we communicate mission and vision. Everything works a little bit, nothing works all the time. 

A phone tree or text tree would be a nice tool to add to the arsenal. If we had more resources I might consider a monthly mailer. But with postage where it is, and more and more people moving to digital, it seems like long term, digital is a better use of our limited resources.

10 Photo Essay Tips & Tricks

Grand prize - webThis past year, the Leadership Network hosted a quarterly Photo Essay Contest. According to their press release:

“The goal of the contest is to collect photo essays featuring large, Protestant congregations. The idea of compiling photo essays, rather than single photos, was inspired by various news outlets’ use of the medium.”

“In our organization we hear tons of great stories of what God is doing in various cities, but we rarely get to see pictures. Pictures can tell a story just as well, if not better, than words alone,” says Stephanie Jackson, publications manager for Leadership Network. “We think photographers can offer a fresh and unique, visual perspective of the vibrancy and life happening in churches around the world,” Jackson adds. More>>

Our church takes an annual trip to Mexico in December and I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to get some great pictures. This was my first photo essay and I figured worst case scenario, by entering I would learn something. This entry ended up winning 2nd place (2nd Quarter).

Bringing Light & Power To Mexico

Encouraged from the positive response from my first try, and having been reinvigorated after my visit to the Evangelical Press Association,  I decided to enter again, this time featuring our Micah House after school program. This won 2nd Place (4th Quarter) and the “People’s Choice Award” GRAND PRIZE.

Micah House Makes A Difference

Entering these contests was a great exercise and fun to do. Winning was icing on the cake. Through the process of putting these together I learned a few things that I found helpful.

10 Photo Essay Tips & Tricks

  1. Know the story you want to tell first – With the Mexico trip essay, I wasn’t sure what approach I was going to take. This made it much more difficult to create with the story photos we had. With Micah House, I outlined the story first, then went to take the shots I knew I needed. This was much simpler.
  2. It’s nice not to be rushed – Deadlines are a helpful motivator, but putting together a photo essay is not something to be rushed. Give yourself a few weeks. With Mexico, all the photos were taken in one day. With Micah House I had 6 photo shoots over 3 weeks. Taking the photos is only the beginning. Plan on spending at least twice that amount on the rest of the project.
  3. Don’t be afraid to partner – You don’t have to take all the pictures yourself. With Mexico there were two of us that entered the contest. With Micah House I was aware of photos that I wanted to include to make the story stronger. Ask permission and give them photo credit. Most people will be happy to help you.
  4.  Sometimes you need to direct the shot you want to take – A photos essay isn’t necessarily photojournalism where you are just documenting what you see. You have flexibility to direct the outcome to get what you need.
  5. Editing is where the real work happens –  This is can be a time consuming process. With both essays, we had over 1,000 photos to sort through to end up with about 20. Always be thinking, which photos are “strongest” and which photos will help you tell the story.
  6. Color correct for consistency – When you have multiple cameras, locations and times of day, etc., it’s easy to have your essay look disjointed. You don’t want the change to be a distraction. One person should be in charge of color correcting so there is a similar look for the entire essay.
  7. Have people who are passionate about your topic help write the essay – Typically the photographer takes the lead on a photo essay. But don’t forget the essay part. A photo essay is BOTH show and tell. For Mexico I enlisted Jeff & Kathi McNair, friends and nationally known leaders in disability ministries. For Micah House, I had Program Coordinator Dianna Lawson help me by sharing her favorite parts about the people and program. In both cases we sat down for several hours reviewing the photos and writing down potential captions.
  8. Editors are your friend – Like any involved project, at some point you will stop looking at it objectively. Remember, editing is a team sport. You need outside help to give you perspective and to insure you tell the best story possible. Grammar, spelling, sentence structure and narrative all count to the judges.
  9. Know your deadlines – I had assumed the 4th quarter deadline ended at the end of June. It wasn’t until I re-read the contest application, that I realized it was due a few days earlier! Fortunately, I had worked ahead and had most things ready. I would have felt terrible to have gone through all that work to have missed the chance to submit my entry.
  10. Have fun and know (regardless of the results) you have made a helpful contribution – I have found that most churches and nonprofits do not have many good photos of their people and programs. The worst case scenario of making a photo essay is you will have quality photos to share that they can use on the web, annual reports, giving appeals, public seminars etc. Best case scenario you might win and give your organization some additional well deserved attention.

FOLLOW ME: Components Of An All Church Campaign

Recently our church did a 7-week focus using the Follow Me material by David Platt. For those of you who are not familiar with David Platt, he is is an impassioned speaker who has a passion for making disciples…and seeing others share their faith.

The goal was to get get the entire church involved…everyone from our upper elementary (4th grade) to our Senior Adults. In addition to the Sunday morning message, we wanted to start new small groups, Sunday morning and Sunday evening classes for people to watch the DVDs and interact with the material.

Oh, did I mention people had to buy their own study material?

People watch what you DO as much as what you SAY.  As I wrote in Sometimes Volume Speaks Volume, if you want to let  people know something is important, sometimes you have to over emphasize. If you don’t go out of your way to make something a big deal, why should they?

Here is a list of the some of areas that the Communications Department contributed to help support this all church campaign.

Branded Graphics

The series came well branded with the spotted cross and tan background. While we considered it, rather than developing our own look, we went with what came in the Follow Me Church Kit. For added flexibility we did trace the graphic so we had an vector Adobe Illustrator file.

FollowMePlatt_web graphic

Signage

To help brand the campus and let people immediately know that something was different from the moment they drove on campus, we printed large signs that were hung at all of the entrances. These stayed up for 7 weeks. I was pleased how they held up under the sprinklers and UV sunlight. We did have to clean off the bird poop once a week.

IMG_6571 (Medium)
Yes,  I accidentally installed this sign upside-down. Yes, I fixed it right after we snapped this picture : )

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T-Shirts

There is no better way to help get people to share your message and “buy in” to your cause, than selling T-Shirts. To save money (and up the cool factor) we went with two colors on a black shirt.

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Stage Design

We made a custom GOBO to shine behind the preacher and worship band.

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gobo 2 (Medium)

Special Sundays

To keep things interesting, and to help make the weeks different and fun, we added some special elements to help people get involved at a different level than a normal Sunday.

Selfie Sunday  – Let people show they are participating in the Follow Me study in a fun way. To help encourage participation we offered prizes for the top three selfies and had our high schoolers available to help people work their camera phones. We also had a special email (selfie@trinityonline.org ) so people could send us their photo or they could use the #TrinityFollowMe hashtag on Facebook or Instagram.

Selfie Sunday was a certifiable hit! Keep 'em coming…3 prizes handed out Sunday! #trinityfollowme #selfiesunday

A post shared by Trinity Church – Redlands, CA (@trinityredlands) on

Suit-up Sunday – We are a very casually dressed Southern California church. To mix things up we decided to dress up for Mother’s Day!

Suit Up Sunday was a hit! You all look so good dressed up for Mother's Day! #suitupsunday #mothersday

A post shared by Trinity Church – Redlands, CA (@trinityredlands) on

Selfless Sunday – To balance out Selfie Sunday and to think beyond our church walls, we partnered with YouthHope and collected “backpack food” for at-risk teens.

On Selfless Sunday we also commissioned all our summer short term mission trips.

Sundae Sunday – In celebration of the completion of the Follow Me series, we enjoyed ice cream sundaes between services!SS

Social Media #TrinityFollowMe

From the get go, we settled on the hashtag #TrinityFollowMe. We preloaded Facebook  (which automatically feeds our Twitter account) to post a quote from the days reading. On Sunday we we posted the bible verse.

Spanish

Even our Spanish ministry, Fuente de Vida, joined us on our Follow Me journey. Since the graphics that came with the church kit were only in English, we needed to come up with our own Spanish graphic.

FollowMePlatt_WFCov_SPANISH - square - Copy (Medium)

Spotify Playlist

spotifyTo help us focus and worship, Worship Ministries created this Follow Me playlist. People could download the songs individually on iTunes or listen for free on Spotify!

Let’s Be Beautiful by Tim Timmons
All That I Am by Rend Collective (n/a on Spotify)
Gladly Would I Leave Behind Me by Sovereign Grace
This Changes Everything by Matt Papa
Lift High the Name of Jesus by Keith & Kristyn Getty
Christ is Enough by Hillsong Live
Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin
Follow You by Leeland & Brandon Heath
You’re Worth it All by Gateway Worship
I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin
My Life is an Offering by Sovereign Grace Music
Come What May by Matt Boswell (n/a on Spotify)
Now is the Time for Us by Worship Central
Like Incense/Sometimes by Step by Hillsong Live
Hear the Call of the Kingdom by Keith & Kristyn Getty

Digital Wall Paper

photo 4 - webWe created these FREE Follow Me wallpapers for computer, phone and tablet.

Mac/PC Wallpaper

iPhone/iPad (best used as a graphic for your lock screen)

Android

Memory Verse Bookmark

To help encourage people to memorize the scripture that went with each lesson, we passed out bookmarks with all the verses.

Follow Me Verse BookMark

Blank Check

One of the examples David Platt uses is offering God a “blank check”, symbolizing your willingness to surrender your life to Him. To help drive this point home, on the last Sunday we gave everyone a blank check that they could sign and put somewhere that would remind them of their commitment.

FollowMe-DavidPlatt-BlankCheck

Recap Video

Created with Animoto, we showed this video the last Sunday of the study.

So How Did We Do?

Only eternity will truly tell the impact this series had on our church. That said, to try and translate Follow Me into numbers:

  • We sold over 670 Follow Me Study Books
  • 140 T-Shirts (SOLD OUT)
  • Over 50 Follow me DVD sets (that people would share with another group)
  • 140 participated in the Sunday Morning and Sunday Evening groups
  • Over 90 home small groups all over the Redlands, Highland and Yucaipa areas.

Making Square Videos For Instagram

Easter2014 - Facebook header

A few months ago in my post Seven Alternatives to Posting Photos on Instagram, I mentioned using a 15 second video trailer. While I had shot and edited Instagram videos on my iPhone, I had not actually made a video using off camera editing. Easter is always a good time to try new things…but where to begin?

I use Adobe’s Premier Pro as my video editing software and the tutorial Creating High Quality Instagram Videos Using Adobe Premiere Pro CC by  WhoIsMatt was extremely helpful. He has step-by-step instructions showing you exactly how to setup your computer for editing and export Instagram videos (for both iOS and Android).

Once the video is exported, just email it to yourself (15 seconds of 640×640 video is about 10MB), save it to your photo library and upload it to Instagram like normal. If you didn’t add Instagram like filters it in the editing process and want it, you can add them here before uploading.

I was pleased with how painless the process actually was. It’s just like editing a normal video…but square. Depending on the cropping, you can’t just use same HD video (which is very landscape) and expect it to work. This is especially true of text. You have to massage it. Sometimes you have to create something entirely new.

For example, I had created this short Easter teaser.

For Instagram, while I use use a similar idea, I couldn’t actually use us ANY of the same footage. I had to start from scratch.

Join us on Easter Sunday at 7:45, 9:30 or 11:15 am as we celebrate our risen Lord! #easter #inlandempire #redlands #jesus #heisalive

A post shared by Trinity Church – Redlands, CA (@trinityredlands) on

Now that I have the presets saved, in the future, making these will be even easier. Shooting and editing video is inherently time consuming. While you’re in “editing mode” and you have easy access to the files, you might as well make the most if it and include making a 15 second Instagram video part of the routine.

PS. Here is another Instagram video that I had done earlier of a caravan of  white vans leaving on a short term mission trip to Mexico. For this video I needed to speed things up so it would fit in the allotted 15 seconds. It reminds me of the stream of circus clowns that keep climbing out of an itty-bitty car.

Paper Critique

For the last few days I’ve been trying out the new Facebook Paper App. Paper uses an all new user interface that changes the scrolling from mostly up and down to mostly left and right. You can view posts in a “full page mode, or a smaller thumbnail view. It’s A little too small for my taste…seems like this would really encourage post skimming.  (This could be bad for churches and business trying to gain awareness and build brands.)

The app is MUCH cleaner. Compared to the Facebook app that shows 13 icons, Paper shows only 3. Paper uses a Flipboard “page fold” effect to seamlessly link to external web content that is seamless. If you get browsing, it’s easy to forget you are using Paper.

Paper introduces a  unique new “autopan” function to view photos. I couldn’t exactly figure out when this effect takes place. As far as I can tell, it is when you have a single landscape photo that was originally included in a Facebook post. It doesn’t seem to kick in with photos that are linked to a separate web pages, when you upload multiple photos or view photo albums. It also seems to cap the number of photos you can see to 10.

Paper also added news, tech, business, entertainment and other curated content that you can add in addition to your normal Facebook feed. These feeds are kept in their own section and don’t clutter your traditional Facebook feed. You really don’t need to go anywhere for news, etc. (I’m sure that was the idea.) I didn’t see any ads yet, but I have no doubt they will come.

paper appCurrently there is no “edit” function and you have to switch to the traditional Facebook app to edit text after it’s been posted. I think they have the dumbest looking app icon ever…zero Facebook branding. It looks like they pulled the graphic from stock clip art.

Overall, I’d say it’s a great “reboot” of the Facebook app. It will be curious to see if it gets traction, how much of the UI others companies “borrow” and how the category feeds will be integrated into the desktop Facebook experience.

Seven Alternatives to Posting Photos On Instagram

Everyone knows Instagram was built for photos. But if you are slammed at work or it’s a slow week and you don’t have many photo opportunities, what do you post the rest of the week?

Seven ideas to try…

I1 1. Photos Of Something Printed – OK. Technically this IS a photo…but not in the traditional sense of a person or a landscape. Think posters, tickets, brochures, handouts, etc. One nice thing is you can take it anytime during the week.
i2 2. Photos with Text – Over is the easiest (and classiest) app to add text over your photos. Their font selection ensures you don’t look like a dweeb and their user interface is easy to use.
i3 3. Re-purpose Graphics – You can re-purpose a sermon series graphic, a logo…or try what we do and take the original graphics we make for Pinterest and make a square version, just for Instagram.
i4 4. Video – We all know that Instagram can post 15 second videos, but how often do you do it? Mix things up when you have something fun to show. There is some traction gaining with people creating 15 second video trailers customized for Instagram. 15 second square sermon trailers can’t be too far behind.
i5 5. Moving Photo Montage – Frametastic is my Favorite App to make a quick and easy 15 second video photo montage. It’s an extra in-app purchase, but totally worth it.
i6 6. Screen Shot – Get your favorite Bible app, highlight a verse, take a screenshot and post.
i7 7. Repost Your Favorites – Social Media is about sharing, right? Either screenshot, crop and repost, or use an app like Repost, that ads a bar with the username of the place you got it. It’s good etiquette to use the @name of the original poster and to put a #repost or #repostinstagram as a tag to reafirm this isn’t an original post from you.

Christian Media Magazine put together a great list with even more ideas to try. More>>

Increase Your Social Media Engagement 603%

Here is a sure-fire way GUARANTEED to increase your social media engagement stats.

Step One: Have a HUGE Halloween Bash
Step Two: Invite the entire community
Step Three: Post lots of pictures on Facebook

All kidding aside, the importance of posting photos from your large events can’t be overstated. Camps, Retreats, Easter, Christmas…you name it, people like to see themselves and their friends having a good time. When people start tagging others in the photos you post, the power of social media kicks in.

While I recommend and use both, this is why I prefer PHOTOS (50 to 100) over VIDEO for Facebook. With photos you have more opportunities for tagging, commenting, sharing, etc. People will help spread the word for you. Do this on a consistent basis and Facebook’s algorithms will start to identify you as a content provider worth passing on other posts to your followers newsfeed.

Does it work? Take a look at these stats, and you tell me.

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Nice spike in our reach stats!

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Ol’ Timey Roundographs

roundogifDid you know that photos from the first consumer camera, the Kodak No.1, were round? I had no idea! Back in the day, the film was locked in the camera. When you send it back to Kodak for development, you would get back 2.5″ sepia circles, and your camera back with more film.

Photojojo put together a simple 4 step instruction manual on how you can recreate this “Ol’ Timey” look digitally…perfect for Instagram!

  1. Crop your photo into a circle. We used PicFrame.
  2. Run it through a black and white Instagram filter but don’t post it. Put your phone in airplane mode before you hit “share” and when the upload fails, just X it out. (It’ll save the filtered photo to your phone.*)
  3. Run the photo you just saved through Instagram one more time. This time, use a filter with a brownish tint for that ol’ timey feel. (We like Hefe and Sutro best).
  4. Turn off airplane mode and share away!

Click Here for a fascinating look back at the Kodak No.1 and some of the images taken back in the late 1800’s.

* This was a very helpful tip. By putting your phone in airplane mode you can get your photo ready on Instagram, then use an app like Over to put text on your photo before sharing.