Beware Social Media Snake Oil

That was the title of an article written by Stephen Baker this week in BusinessWeek.  The subtitle sums up the article nicely.

Hords of marketing “experts” are promoting the value of wikis, social networks, and blogs.  All the hype may obscure the real potential of these online tools.

One of the big things we have learned at Unifyer in the last 18 months, is that you can not just “Build it and They Will Come.”  You have to ask yourself why are you desiring and online community for your church or organization?  Unifyer was built as a communication platform first and foremost.  In the article Stephen says,

A Forrester Research study shows that despite buzz around Enterprise 2.0, less than 15% of the knowledge workforce makes use of internal blogs, wikis, and other collaborative tools.   “Email is still dominant,” says Ted Schadler, author of the report.

I find this quote interesting as some of our churches have told the same thing.  We can not get our ministry leaders to leave their email and communicate inside Unifyer.  How will they know that they are communicating with the correct people?  There seems to be a distrust with these tools as they do not provide the same level of assurance that our communication has landed at the correct destination.  The problem is that we are now limited with who we can communicate with and our conversations are fragmented in many different email inbox’s spread over the city.

However, the churches that are intentional about using Unifyer for all internal church communication are seeing 25% of their weekend attendance sign in each day and 55% every week.  They have focused on using Unifyer for its original purpose, as a communication tool.  A place where each church member can connect to their ministry of choosing.  This only works when every ministry is posting updates and helping create the destination Unifyer needs to be.

We have one church that has shared with us how their church members are turning off their email notifications because their Unifyer site is becoming a destination site that is checked each day.  That is pretty cool.

What is your purpose for using social media or web 2.0 community tools for your church?

New Unifyer Features

We have just updated Unifyer with a couple new features and one big upgrade to the file upload size limit.  Each user is now free to upload files with a 100mb size limit.  WooHoo!

The videos below are both a little over two minutes long and will show you how to utilize each new feature the best.

The first Video shows you how to turn on and off your friends blog notifications.

The second video shows you how to manage the new Unifyer Inbox.

10 Commandments of Online Communities.

I recently came across this video from Julius Solaris on vimeo. †I like his approach to building community online and this video describes some of the different things he has gone through that have help build one of the largest online communities for event planners. †There are a few of his commandments we need to work on here at Unifyer, like integrating with other social networks. †You will see our FaceBook application shortly. †And there a few things that Unifyer does really well for the organizations using Unifyer. †Taking your community offline is one of them. †This is partly due to the fact that most of our organizations using Unifyer are already meeting offline. †They are using Unifyer to strengthen those relationships by connecting in areas of interest they previously did not know existed. †Then they are able to take those connections offline. †I would like to hear your thoughts on Julius’s 10 commandments.

Unifyer Integrates with ACS Technologies

With our feature release next week, Unifyer will integrate with ACS Technologies database software. †ACS Technologies develops outstanding software products specifically for faith-based organizations. ACS Technologies designed all of their products to work together, integrated to increase efficiency and reduce redundancies for the churches benefit.

Through the integration of ACS and Unifyer, churches will be able to seemlessly tie their existing database of church members directly into their communication/social network platform. †We are excited about the possiblities this gives the local church.

Unifyer will have a presence at the 2009 ACS Technologies National Convention, and if you will be in attendance, we would love to visit with you there.

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit with Sally Grantham, R&D Project Manager for ACS Technologies. †Below is a quick video from our chat.

How are You Communicating with Your Audience?

This video is a great conversation around audience. †The new audience are the people that are conversing with each other. †They are no longer just recieving content, but also engaging with others about your brand, church, organization. †

We are waking up and linking to each other.We are watching. But we†are not waiting. – Cluetrain Manifesto

If your audience is in conversation with each other, what are you doing to reach them? †Or, how are you reaching them? †Are you leveraging this new way of conversation to get your message out and engage with your audience. †Are you making it easy for your audience/membership to engage with each other and with you around your content/messaging?

Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They established the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them.

- Seth Godin – Tribes

Al Jennings at Summit Church explains RSS & More

This video is of Al Jennings at Summit Church in Fort Wayne, IN. †He is using his blog inside Unifyer to explain a couple of the new features released on Wednesday. †This is a great example on how to use a quick video to share information within Unifyer. †Great Job Al! †Thank you for letting us share this.

Al Jennings at Summit Church from on Vimeo.

New Feature Release – RSS

RSS from on Vimeo.

Elim Hope Packs

We ran into an incredible ministry while in Chicago last week for Willow Creek’s Shift conference. †I was so blessed to be able to meet the folks from Elim Hope Packs. †Elim Hope Packs is a ministry that packs school supply bags for children in third world countries. †They employ adults with disablilties to help pack the bags. †Please read more of the story on their website, or follow them on twitter.

This ministry was really cool to see in person. †With the help of conference attendees, they were able to pack 1500 bags. †They also had 47 churches sign up to help with school supply drives. †Now that is cool! †Here is a couple videos from the evening.

Packing Bags with Troy Murphy, Adam Durso, & Dr. Bill Lodewyk from on Vimeo.

Elim Hope Pack Tour from on Vimeo.

Troy Murphy w/Shift asks Jenna Hania a few Questions from on Vimeo.

While in Chicago…

We have decided Portillo’s is the best place to eat! †You can go with the Deep Dish pizza from various establishments, but the Italian Beef from Portillo’s is the best! †You then top that off with a Chocolate Cake Shake. †Enough Said!

†† † ††

Willow Creek & Shift Conference Launch Kurrent

We are at the Shift Conference Wednesday through Friday this week. †This is a great conference for youth leaders all over the globe. †Some of the speakers include, Francis Chan, Mark Matlock, Marcus Buckingham and Kara Powell.

The reason we are in Chicago at this awesome conference is to assist with the launch of Kurrent! †A global youth ministry network. †Think of this community as an extension of the conference event and a place for daily information around youth ministry. †In addition to information, this community provides a great place for information sharing among youth pastors, and youth ministry leaders from around the globe.

If you are a youth leader at a church or ministry, this is the place for you to connect with others dealing with the same issues you are. †Help others like you and get help from some of the best youth leaders in the world.†

I have posted a couple screen shots from the community below.