What's in this session?

  • #StopTheScroll (1:56)
  • Example #1: The Standing Camera (4:44)
  • Example #2: The Text Message (5:41)
  • Example #3: The Camera Roll (6:51)
  • Example #4: The FaceTime (7:56)
  • Study. Observe. Get creative. (9:19)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily. This is the show where in 10 minutes or less you get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills. I’m joined as always by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer. And today we’re asking, Why is Elevation Church so good at social media?

Brady Shearer: A lot of times I get a question, Alex, from people in Pro Church nation or people I’m just meeting online and they’ll say something like, You talk a lot about church and social media. Who are some churches who are doing this so exceptionally well? And right now I really don’t think there’s anyone that is doing more good on social media than Elevation Church. And regardless of what you think about Elevation Church and perhaps their theology or any of like that, we not really talking about that so much as we’re talking about their aptitude and skill of taking their message and the message of Jesus, and putting it into social media in exceptionally skilled and truly groundbreaking territory.

A side note before we jump into this is to know that Elevation – and last time I checked and last time I heard – which was about a year, year and a half ago, had, I believe, 12 full-time individual on their social media video team. So they have a lot of people that are working on this which is why they can be so skilled at it. But I still think, knowing that and recognizing that no other church in the world probably has that, or at least not many, we can still take away the principles that they are applying and apply that to our own social media usage with our own churches.

Another thing to say before we jump into this is I don’t want this episode of Pro Church Daily to be about copying tactics so much as it is about understanding the principles behind social media usage and doing it well. Fundamentally what Elevation does better than almost any church I’ve ever seen online is they understand the principle of stop the scroll. Attention is the most valuable commodity your church can possess. Before you can share a message with an individual you need to have their attention. And on social media the action that you need to trigger to get an individual’s attention is stop the scroll. We all use social media very unconsciously where we open up our app and we just start scrolling endlessly. The whole point of engaging with someone is first you need to get them to stop scrolling and then you can engage them with the actual message you want to share with them.

Alex Mills: You and I were traveling, we were at Thrive Conference just recently in California, and we were in the airport waiting for our flight. And I like to people watch. I hope this doesn’t sound creepy. I can hear it coming out of my mouth. It’s going to sound creepy.

Brady Shearer: It’s too late. You’ve committed. Let’s go.

Alex Mills: I know. I love people watching and so I was observing people and what they were doing in the airport. And I was honestly shocked with how fast I was seeing people scroll through social feeds whether it was Facebook on their phone or Instagram on their phone. I could not believe the speed at which people were scrolling. It was almost strange. And I do notice this tendency in myself, too. Is that they were scrolling so fast there was not possible way that they were able intake anything that they were seeing.

Brady Shearer: It’s like a race to the end, but there is no end.

Alex Mills: It’s like this habitual thumb motion. They weren’t consuming any content. They surely weren’t stopping. And this is the environment that we’re getting into as churches on social whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. People are scrolling. And they’re scrolling really quickly. So if you’re hiding a bunch of great content in your caption like we do on your personal Instagram account, nobody’s ever going to read that if you first can’t stop their scroll with your image and get them to click that ‘Read More’ button.

Brady Shearer: So we’re going to walk through a number of individual examples that I have gathered just over the last week from Elevation Church. They are constantly innovating in new ways, doing things that are unusual on social when it comes to just the general nuances, leveraging the native mediums themselves to stop the scroll. It’s going to be very easy for you, viewer, listener, to engage with these examples and want to copy the direct tactics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But you can’t do that indefinitely. You need to understand the principles if you want to actually create a strategy that’s going to work longterm in your own church.

With those disclaimers being made, let’s jump into a number of different examples. If you are watching this episode of Pro Church Daily, you will be able to see the examples on the screen. If you’re listening and you want to see the examples – I’m going to do my best to describe them. If you do want to see them go to ProChurchDaily.com, click the link there for the YouTube channel, and watch this episode with your own two eyes.

Example number one: the standing camera. What’s fascinating is recently Elevation Church has been giving someone a hand-help camera, maybe with a shoulder mount, and putting them standing in the congregation, and shooting video of the service. Kind of like a POV, first person, shot. And using that for all of their video on social. They don’t want you to feel like a fly on the wall watching their service from the perfectly stable tripod cam-

Alex Mills: Or the crane.

Brady Shearer: And swapping back and forth. They want you to feel like you’re standing right in the service, and they’ve been dedicating a camera. It’s fascinating. It’s very guerrilla. You can see through the crowd and sometimes your view becomes obstructed because that’s what would happen if you were standing there.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: This has been fascinating to see. Just one way that they’re stopping the scroll for me. Yes, I’ve seen the beautiful crane shot of every big church. I see Pastor Steven and he’s preaching. I’m trying to see through the crowd and, What is this? Now I’m stopping and I’m listening to his amazing, pithy statements.

Alex Mills: Yep. I love that one.

Brady Shearer: Example number two: the text message. This is something that Elevation has done a little bit recently. What they’ll do is in an Instagram story, you’ll receive a text and it’ll say something like, Check out this video of the most recent message. And then they’ll send you another text of a video and then the video will open up, as if you clicked the link in the text message thread, and now what you’re doing is you’re watching the video.

And what I think that they’re actually doing with this subconsciously is they’re conditioning viewers to share Pastor Steven’s content through text. And they’re showing you exactly what it looks like when you actually take a message and share it with your friend in a text thread. And it’s so weird because you’re in Instagram stories and you’re seeing people hold the camera and suddenly it’s like you’ve been transported into your text message app and you’re in i-message and now again, Steven’s hitting me with some amazing statement, the one-liner. And I’m going, Bless, bless up. All because he got me with some unusual, attention grabbing social media behavior.

Alex Mills: It’s so meta. But I think it’s really, really working.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. Example number three: the camera roll. I had not seen this before until this week. The camera roll is essentially a vertical video, again, let’s say, Pastor Steven preaching or worship, or really anything in the Elevation Church universe. But it’s put in a frame as if it was a saved video in your iPhone’s camera roll. So there’s a bar at the top and a bar at the bottom as if you were swiping through the photos on your phone. And it’s, again, as if that video was saved on your phone.

And when you’re in the middle of Instagram stories and you see this, you’re like, What? Did I open up the camera app? And, again, you’re watching Pastor Steven. And this is another example of stopping the scroll, whether it’s a horizontal scroll within Instagram stories and I’m just passively clicking through, or the vertical scroll where suddenly I’m in my camera roll but I thought I was in the middle of Instagram.

It’s stopping the scroll. And that is the only way you can share a message with someone. You’ve got to grab their attention. That’s the commodity. Stop the scroll and then, again, you’re sharing the message which Elevation is very, very good at.

Alex Mills: So creative.

Brady Shearer: Final example. As a side note, this was all this week. Elevation is constantly mixing things up. This is perhaps the most ridiculous one I saw this week. And it got me again. It was what I’m calling, The Face Time. Essentially it was an Instagram story. And it said, Elevation Church is face timing you. And I was like, Elevation is face timing me? And then suddenly the face time accepts scroll, slides across and Pastor Steven is right there and he’s preaching at me. I’m like, Bless up, again.

They got me again. They keep doing these ridiculous things that are so unusual but so native to the medium of vertical video, of scrolling. All our behaviors on social. So much with churches we’re rebroadcasting content that was made for another medium. Elevation is the best example that I have seen of using the mediums that are native to Instagram, the nuances that are native to Facebook, and stories, and vertical video, and all these new ways of communicating. And using them in unusual ways. To #stopthescroll, to gain my attention, and then they have the ability to share the message of Jesus with me.

Alex Mills: And here’s the thing. These four examples, which are all really, really great and super creative, are four wins that we see from Elevation. But they’ve probably gone through a whole bunch of other stuff that they’ve tried – out of the box stuff that has just fallen flat. And based off how people are interacting, they’re choosing to go with what’s working.

And so your church is probably going to go through the same thing. If you choose to step outside of that conventional box and start trying some new and creative ways to communicate this message with these new mediums that we have, maybe some of the things that you try fall flat. And that’s okay, because you’re going to stumble across something that hits, that works really well for you. You can double down on that and convert that into engagement online.

And that’s what we’re seeing from Elevation. And that’s just the process. And it’s okay.

Brady Shearer: Main take away from this video: If you want to create a motion graphic of Hope Church face timing someone on Instagram stories in a ridiculous way, go ahead. That’s a fun tactic to try. You’re only going to be able to do that once or twice, right? The main takeaway is this principle that Elevation is embodying better than any other church I’ve even seen on social. Stop the scroll. You need that attention. It’s the first step to sharing the message of Jesus and your church. You’ve got to stop the scroll. You’ve got to gain that attention. Do something unusual. If you want inspiration and see how other churches are doing this – No one’s doing it better than Elevation.

That will do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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