What's in this session?

  • #1: Stories will surpass feeds (1:23)
  • #2: DMs will become the most valued social metric (5:15)
  • #3: Off-the-cuff content will out perform produced content (6:33)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: There are three new social media trends that I predict are going to be massively important to you and your church in 2019. It’s all part of the never ending evolution of social media, and if you ignore this next wave social, you’re putting your church’s online presence at risk. And so in this podcast, I’ll share what each of these three trends are, and how your church and leverage them this year.

Well hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’re gonna get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer.

Brady Shearer: We’re back Alex!

Alex Mills: We back!

Brady Shearer: It’s 2019.

Alex Mills: It is. 

Brady Shearer: We took a little time off, I got a sore throat. We relaxed, we recharged, and now we’re back.

Alex Mills: 2019.

Brady Shearer: Better than ever [crosstalk], 20 shineteen, 20 realigned teen, because we got some new social media predictions to make for 2019.

Alex Mills: Some bold ones.

Brady Shearer: They’re bold, but they’re also dated back, because we’re still the same people from 2018, not too bold.

Alex Mills: Yeah, we’re not …

Brady Shearer: Kind of a calculated boldness.

Alex Mills: Exactly. We’re not just throwing stuff at the wall here and just hoping that it sticks. These are all, that’s the best thing about these predictions, that they are backed by data and so they should be some predictions that maybe you can rely on and actually expect to see come to fruition in 20-Shineteen.

Brady Shearer: 20-Shineteen indeed. Prediction number one, stories will surpass the feed, as the primary way that we use social media. This comes directly from Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox. He showed a chart in a presentation he made and I quote, it said, “The stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year, and not only that, but according to consulting firm block party, stories are now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing. 

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: There’s surely a number of reasons for this. Firstly, as younger people, mainly Gen Z but also millennials grow older and more prominent, they much prefer one to one communications on social versus one to many, and that’s what makes stories so great. Even though it is one to many, it does feel more direct. It feels more intimate. It’s more off the cuff and also, this is something I found incredibly interesting. If you look at all the different social platforms, they’re all unique in their own ways, Snapchat, Insta, Facebook and then there’s YouTube. YouTube is like completely different but there’s now one single thing that ties these four major social platforms together, because YouTube stories are now a thing.

Alex Mills: Stories.

Brady Shearer: As well. If YouTube made the leap to jump onto stories when they have almost nothing else in common with the more traditional platforms, you know something’s up. And if Twitter stories drops within 2019, I’ll never get off Twitter because I love it so much.

Alex Mills: It’s all over. It’s all over.

Brady Shearer: But this is what we’re trying to say. It’s very important that you begin investing into stories, if you haven’t already. What I don’t want you to hear if you’re listening or watching this is, oh, stories are the new thing. Let’s stop investing in the feed and go to stories. No, no. Social is just going to continue to expand and become more pervasive in our lives. You need to keep doing what you’re already doing with the feed and invest even more into stories, invest beyond what you’re doing with your feed into stories because this is only going to keep growing.

Alex Mills: Yeah, I think we’ve seen the data support this trend as it’s been happening, so we can pretty much depend that this is going to come to fruition. This is going to be true in 2019 and beyond. I know for myself, like anecdotally, that’s how I engage, especially on Instagram with people, with followers, with people I know personally or even creatives that I don’t know at all. I much prefer to watch stories than to interact through the feed and just endlessly scrolling. 

We got a little bit of a sneak peak a few weeks ago in the end of 2018. Some of us, and I was one of them, got a preview of this new Instagram app update, where they actually took the horizontal swiping feature of stories and brought it into the grid. So no longer scrolling. You can’t even use that term anymore. Stop the scroll.

Brady Shearer: Stop the swipe.

Alex Mills: Because it’s stop the swipe. They’ve adapted how stories work and how we interact with stories, and bringing it to the feed. So it will be really interesting to see what all these different platforms and now like you said, YouTube, how we’re going to start incorporating stories into how we consume social media.

Brady Shearer: As a side note, I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but as a side note, this is what’s amazing about the evolution of social and how it comes in waves, and how this is just all brand new to everyone. At this point, although Snapchat has lost so much of its market share, their single innovations with stories has now completely changed all social media.

Alex Mills: Everything.

Brady Shearer: Forever. I don’t want that to be forgotten or overlooked in all of this because it’s also pointing to the future of what can and will happen. These types of evolutions will continue to come along, where a new app will come. They’ll introduce a new feature and yeah, sure maybe the big guys will copy it, but now we’ve gone beyond just copying feature. We’ve gotten to the point where that singular feature has become the vast majority of what social media is today.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Which is remarkable.

Alex Mills: Hit me with your second bold prediction for 2019.

Brady Shearer: Bold prediction, 20-grindteen. Number two, DMs will become the most valued social metric for churches, not likes or shares or even comments. DMs, why? Because a DM is not corruptible whatsoever by vanity. A DM represents a one-to-one interaction with another human in a private message and with stories becoming that much more saturated within all of what we’re doing on social, what’s the main or really only singular call to action that exists within a story?

Alex Mills: Interact with me.

Brady Shearer: Respond through the DM. If you’re watching my story on Instagram, at the bottom of that screen, there’s an add a message feature where you respond directly to me. I spend the vast majority of my time on social in the DMs. None of you see it unless I’m responding directly to you.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Another important thing to consider here is as social evolves churches, we’re not going to be able to automate and schedule every single thing. In fact, more and more, the important elements of social, you cannot automate. That’s because we have become tired with all of this kind of pre-scheduled, pre-managed interactions

Alex Mills: You can spot it from a mile away, yeah.

Brady Shearer: We want it to be real. We want it to be now, and that leads me to prediction number three, off the cuff content will outperform produced content. One of the big trends that we identified in 2018 with social was that brutalism design and stop the scroll techniques, where you basically purposefully look bad with your designs, it became really popular. Why? Well because we have become wise to the overproduced, pre-scheduled, pre-managed type of content. It’s happening subconsciously but we have this kind of built in BS meter that says, you know what? That church scheduled that a long time ago, or that doesn’t feel authentic. That doesn’t feel real. That’s not to say that posts within the feed will ever become something that we shouldn’t be doing. It’s not to say produced content doesn’t have its place. I’m not saying that whatsoever.

Everything I’m saying here is on top of what you already know with social. I don’t want you again to hear any of this as, oh this is what used to work. Now this is what works. No, no. It’s what, this is what used to work and now here’s what also is going to work. This is building upon the layers that already exist on social. Off the cuff content is going to be outperforming produced content going forward, and this is why again, you’re going to have to, as a church, begin thinking about who is going to be in charge of social full time? Who is going to dedicate their 20 hours a week to social? Because either you just resolve yourself to recognizing you know what? We’re not going to be doing social the way it’s meant to be done, or you say look, there’s no way we can automate this. We can’t schedule this. The DMs, the off the cuff stories, they need to be here and now and the only way to accomplish that is with a real human.

Alex Mills: Yeah. I think all three of these predictions, you know stories, and DMs and off the cuff content creation, they all kind of lend towards this common theme of like real interaction with real people online. If that’s not how we’re using social, then I think we’re missing it. You know for too long, as churches, we viewed social to advertise our Sunday service. Hey check out what we did last Sunday and come and visit us this Sunday. But, there are real people in your real city living real life on Wednesday evening and all they want is an open DM to chat with somebody. All they want is to see a realtime photo, not some carefully curated image that you spend weeks designing. They just want to have real interaction with people online.

That’s how I love to use social media. I’m on social media all the time for work here, for my personal work and for a little bit of pleasure, and most of the time that I’m spending on there, I’m interacting with people in DMs and building relationships that are going to last so much longer than any of these platforms ever will.

Brady Shearer: Now because most of us that are listening and watching this are churches, I think as a brand it is okay to have more produced content than if you are an individual like Alex or I on Instagram and on social. So the produced content within the feeds, it’s definitely still a thing that I recommend, still something you should have, especially for when visitors come by, and for also just engaging and provoking spiritual practice with the people already in your church.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: But beyond that, how can you invest more into DMs, more into off the cuff content and most importantly more into stories in 2019 across all platforms. These are the predictions because this is the next wave of social. So time to ride the wave. That will do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time.

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