March 31, 2014
By Darby Jones
Due to the popularity of last issue's article Cultural Trends You May Have Missed, we decided to dig a little deeper to uncover and inspire even more progression.
Peer-to-Peer Economy Increases
Peer-to-peer (P2P) business models have been around for a long time. Five years ago, MyCom published a story called “Rethink your couch: a new spin on mission.” It is about Couchsurfing.org, a site that allows users (mostly in the 18-34 demographic) to find free lodging with locals all over the world. AirBnB is a similar concept. Because it is a paid site, it usually provides more comfortable and flexible accommodations. Each host decides his or her own fee, but prices are usually much lower than hotels.
Though sites like these have been around for awhile, 2013 saw how this collaborative economy could truly disrupt the travel industry. New technologies and smartphone apps are making it easy for participants in the P2P movement to connect with each other. Subsequently, new sites are popping up, offering peer-to-peer guided tours, on-demand ride-sharing and even home-cooked meals.
Would your church like to meet young people? What if someone in your congregation gives the guided tour, provides the ride or shares his or her couch? Users may want to know about local churches, activities for their children or spiritual issues. If people are open to talking about spiritual matters, share your faith in an open non-dogmatic way.
The P2P movement could introduce your church’s community activities to young people who are already community-minded. Keep the global community in mind as well and become a Couchsurfing.org or AirBnB host. The earth becomes much smaller when you invite people from around the world into your home. Break bread together. Dispel cultural stereotypes and build relationships!
People are relying less on brands and more on community. Do you want your church to be an outdated brand or an active, thriving community?
Young users jump ship to Twitter and Instagram.
Facebook has 1.18 billion users, 58 percent of whom are active for an average 20 minutes a day. However, a plateau and even decreased activity in the younger generation, ages 13-17, is evident. According to Pew research, some are even jumping ship to Twitter and Instagram “because there is less drama.” It is easier to escape unwanted eyes and maintain privacy.
How can your church benefit? 2014 could be the year of Twitter. Twitter is planning to become a public company. The whole world will be watching a little more closely. Inactive users may come back to find more of their friends tweeting and become active again.
Consider adding Twitter and Instagram to your social media channels and slowly work your way toward having a production calendar that fully promotes your church on both networks.
Short Videos are the Cat’s Pajamas!
Real-time videos will continue their ascent to the top of the social media mountain. Applications such as Vine, with a six-second-video feature, and Instagram, with a 15-second video feature, are making micro videos the latest rage. Cool filters and integration with Facebook complete the package. If you create longer videos on your smartphone, be sure to use an app that allows you to trim scenes to the cream of the cream.
How can your church benefit? Churches should embrace short videos as a quick and inexpensive way to tell their story. Excellent short videos that are well-done could positively show your church’s involvement in the community, perhaps better than any other medium you have tried. Keep a running list of interesting church video ideas. Then create and share these videos from your smartphone.
Three- to five-minute videos require a lot of production time and resources. Your content creators probably also serve in other church roles. They may not have time for a big video project. So let micro videos be the solution. Give it a shot!
Content Creators Get Credit
In 2013, Google added “author rank” to its algorithms arsenal. Author rank does a better job validating excellent content and recognizing creators. No longer will deserving content creators drown in a deep-sea of search results. Learn more about how Google’s Penguin brings you better search results.
How can your church benefit? If “awesome” consistently follows your byline, you may be able to find your content in future search results, along with others who are seeking a good church in your community. Pair your fresh content ideas with excellent church SEO practices, share the content with the right audience and you will be on top of search results.
Information & Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D)
Mobile phones, solar power, and batteries are now making it possible for people in developing countries to have access to the Internet and other technologies. This new trend and potential ministry is transforming communications across The United Methodist Church and within communities in the developing world that previously were disconnected. United Methodist Communications provides technology, training and best practices to help your program become successful and sustainable. Learn more about ICT4D at www.umcom.org