What's in this session?

  • #1: It’s unusual to get this type of insight into a social media algorithm (2:30)
  • #2: What about those who say you shouldn’t be on TikTok because it’s not safe for kids? (4:00)
  • #3: TikTok starts with algorithms instead of friends (6:40)
  • #4: Each video gets pushed out to a small batch of users and then based on the results, it moves the medium batch test, gets a video integrity rating, large batch goes for about four days if it reaches that spot, then an account review team looks at the content and decides does this need to go super viral on FYP or expire (14:00)
  • #5: Each account has an authority ranking (17:45)
  • #6: Delayed Explosion (23:50)
  • #7: Limit your accounts login to one cell phone (28:00)
  • #8: Element of verticality (28:00)
  • #9: Life.Church thinks they’re probably going to go off-brand with this platform - and they already have permission to do that (29:30)
  • Top 5 (37:00)
  • Q&A (54:50)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Brady Shearer: Well hey there, and welcome to the inaugural episode, the debut episode of the Pro Church Tools Show. I’m joined, as always, to my right, your left, it’s Alex Mills.

Alex Mills: Hey.

Brady Shearer: And today we’re debuting a very new format for our video podcast.

Alex Mills: Sure are.

Brady Shearer: Now I’ve been podcasting, at this point, for about six years. Published more than 600 episodes. But we felt that we needed to give a new format, a little refresh to our weekly show. So of course, as always, you can subscribe wherever you get your podcast, Apple Podcast, Spotify. Just search for Pro Church Tools, in your podcast app of choice.

Or you can also watch the video version of this podcast on YouTube. YouTube.com/prochurchtools is the place to find that. And if you are watching on YouTube, leave a comment below this video. Let us know what you think of the new format. It’s going to be a little bit more longer form than in the past.

We’re introducing some new segments, Top Five, more on that later. We’ll do some Q&A, of course make sure you like the video as well. Subscribe on YouTube if you haven’t already.

With that all being said, we’re talking about the TikTok algorithm today, Alex.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: This all started. I got a direct message from my friend Beau Coffron. Beau is the social media director at Life Church.

Alex Mills: Beau is big time.

Brady Shearer: Big time.

Alex Mills: Big time.

Brady Shearer: Big time Warriors fan as well.

Alex Mills: Well, we don’t need to get into that. Maybe we’ll get into that later.

Brady Shearer: It’s a long form show. We can get into whatever we want now.

Alex Mills: Right off the top. No, but Beau is big time at Life Church, and he’s got his own thing called Lunchbox Dad. Is that what it’s called?

Brady Shearer: That’s correct.

Alex Mills: He’s got way more followers than I could ever imagine. And he makes lunches for his kids. You’d have to see it to understand what it’s about. But he makes curated lunches for his kids, and the internet loves it.

Brady Shearer: They absolutely do. Beau and I, we were able to put our differences aside from what happened in June with the NBA finals, and he told me. He’s like, “We just had a one-on-one discussion with one of the engineers at TikTok, and they pulled back the curtains and gave us a complete behind-the-scenes look into the TikTok algorithm. Brady, we need to talk about it because Pro Church Nation needs to hear about this because the time is now to jump onto TikTok.”

Let’s start by saying this behavior be TikTok, to reveal anything about their algorithm is completely unlike what normal social platforms will do, because notoriously, Instagram, Facebook, they’re incredibly secretive about the algorithm. There are so many different podcasts and YouTube videos, and blog posts trying to reverse engineer based on behavioral data, what the algorithm is actually doing.

But TikTok was basically like, “No, no. We want you to know how we’re making this all happen so that you can use our platform properly.”

Alex Mills: Yeah, even when Instagram or Facebook comes out to talk about their algorithm, which they do every once in a while. It’s like they say everything to say nothing. It’s the most vague thing you could-

Brady Shearer: We have an algorithm.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Okay, thanks. So we parse through that information trying to figure out what it means. By the time we think we figured it out, the algorithm has changed in that time that has elapsed. And so it’s like, “Okay, I don’t know anything more than I did before.”

But for TikTok to pull back the curtain and say, “Yeah, this is how it works.” But to also do it with somebody like Beau, in the church space. That’s an amazing opportunity, not just for Beau at Life Church. We’re going to talk more about what Life Church is doing on TikTok, one of the biggest churches in the world, I would assume Life Church is, definitely in America.

This is an incredible opportunity. So really cool that we get the opportunity to talk about some real specifics about what’s going on at TikTok, and how ti works.

Brady Shearer: Before we jump into the specifics, the big five takeaways of the TikTok algorithm. I just wanted to briefly address the idea that maybe your church shouldn’t be on TikTok at all because these teenagers, these youths, they’re up to no good.

Alex Mills: I’ve seen lots of talk about that online.

Brady Shearer: Yes, absolutely. So let’s talk about that really briefly, before we get into the algorithm. Because if your church is asking that question, “Should we be on TikTok to begin with?” I don’t know, I opened up this platform and I saw some stuff I wasn’t so certain about.

Alex Mills: I heard some stuff that I was not prepared to hear.

Brady Shearer: I will tell you, when I first joined TikTok, the things that I saw, they were a little bit scary. Because what I saw was memes about Toronto slang, and rural Canadian boys out for a rip in their souped up trucks.

Alex Mills: Yes, lots of hockey talk-

Brady Shearer: And the reason that I saw that … Yeah, so much hockey. What is happening? The reason I saw that is because when I first joined TikTok, all the information they had on me was my geography.

Alex Mills: Sure.

Brady Shearer: So they knew where I was located, and so they said, “Okay, people around Brady are watching this type of content. So let’s show him that, before we can get some actual behavioral data on him. All we have is this single data point geography. Let’s start here.”

Alex Mills: I have a question for you. When you started your TikTok account, did you natively integrate your Instagram account as well?

Brady Shearer: I did.

Alex Mills: Right from the top?

Brady Shearer: I’m not certain about that.

Alex Mills: Because I did that right from the top. It’s actually a really cool feature where there’s a field where you can insert your Instagram username, and then there’s a call to action in your bible. Your Instagram button to funnel traffic to another social platform, which is very cool. Now I did that right off the top, and the reason I ask you that question is because the content I was seeing on TikTok.

When I first started was totally different than what you were seeing. I didn’t see any Toronto, Canadianism stuff. Not a whole lot of hockey guys. It was all teenage kids, deep meme culture.

Brady Shearer: They just thrust you right into the meme culture.

Alex Mills: Right into it. And I had no idea what was going on. We talked about this on previous podcast episodes. Just totally disoriented by what I was seeing, and hearing. Like, “I don’t know what to do with this.” But I find it interesting, because we’re both similar age, from the same place, but we were both served two totally different types of content when we started on a platform.

Brady Shearer: And the nice thing about TikTok is that it doesn’t really matter where you’re starting from, because TikTok is essentially, as I think the engineer told Life Church, a puppy that needs to be trained.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Because unlike all the other social platforms, you don’t start on TikTok with your circle of friends. You don’t start by connecting to your parents, and your family, and those close to you, and then see a feed of their content.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: What’s the starting point for TikTok is the algorithm. It’s going to look at what you’re doing, and then give you more of what you want. So, going back to is TikTok safe for your church? If you are seeing the type of content that you don’t want to see on TikTok, all it’s going to take is one 10 minute session of you actually liking the stuff you want to see more of, and just swiping past the stuff you want to see less of. For TikTok and it’s algorithm to understand and to adjust.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Because you’re not connected to as many friends on TikTok, because that’s not the basis for the platform. It is so imperative that TikTok’s algorithm works like it should. Because otherwise, you’re going to be seeing the type of content that you don’t want to see. You will spend less time on the platform, and then the platform cannot achieve critical mass. It won’t be able to bring in the big ad money that it’s searching for.

So this was happening to me. I was seeing the type of content that I didn’t want. But what I was doing, this was my mistake, is I was just being a lurker.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: I was like, “I’m just here to observe, and see what’s happening.”

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: And then I realized, “Oh, I need to like the stuff I think is good, and just disengage with the stuff I don’t like.” And literally, within one session, 10 minutes, all of the good stuff had come in. That’s what’s different with TikTok, compared to maybe other social platforms that you should perhaps avoid.

TikTok is not going to shove any inappropriate content in your face. It will only show you the things that you want. So if you’re seeing stuff that you don’t like, it’s because you haven’t yet trained it to give you the stuff that is good.

TikTok, at this point, has reached a certain level of critical mass. It’s not just a small group of teenagers that are doing innapropriate things. The majority of users are 18 to 24 years old. TikTok is really trying to reach that point where they can bring in big ad money. The big ad giants are not going to serve ads on a platform that’s only showing inappropriate content.

So again, TikTok wants to show the type of content that you want to see, but you need to train it, and it’s really easy to train, so that’s the good news.

Alex Mills: Yeah, you and I have both proved this anecdotally. After your … I was frustrated with TikTok because I was seeing so much stuff I didn’t want to see, I didn’t interact with it. I would go on there to post, and then close the app like, “I’m out. I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

Brady Shearer: Lurker.

Alex Mills: To post another video, and then I’m like, I’m gone. This is not safe.” But after your conversation with Beau, you’re like, “Hey, watch this.” And because you were getting a bunch of hockey content. You’re not a hockey boy. You’re all about that ball. So you need to see more Raptors content, and not leafs content. So after your conversation with Beau, you did what you just said you did. You trained the algorithm, and boom, you’re seeing what you want to see.

Brady Shearer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alex Mills: And so now, I’ve done the same thing, and sure enough, we’ve proven it. It’s like a 2019 version of            Tamagotchi. You remember those things?

Brady Shearer: Of course, 90s boy.

Alex Mills: I never got to have one.

Brady Shearer: Wow.

Alex Mills: I know. My parents didn’t let me have video games.

Brady Shearer: See whether you’re obstaining from TikTok, or Tamagotchis. We Christians have been doing this for years.

Alex Mills: Yeah, this is not new. Were you allowed to have video games growing up?

Brady Shearer: No.

Alex Mills: No? Did you ever have a gaming system?

Brady Shearer: I had a Game Boy for one 24 hour period. I played for 23 hours, and my parents said, “Well, you failed this test.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And I was like, “Pokemon blue, let’s go.”

Alex Mills: So I was never … video games were, I just wasn’t allowed to have them. It’s not like that they were the devil, but they were a waste of time, I guess-

Brady Shearer: [inaudible 00:09:18] as number ones, and are addictive, obsessive behavior. Our parents recognized. It’s not healthy.

Alex Mills: Except, except if we would have been allowed to have video games, you and I could probably be making a lot more money playing Fortnite right now. So, thanks mom.

Brady Shearer: But can I just say one more thing about Fortnite?

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: This is an aside. This is literally why we changed the podcast.

Alex Mills: So we can have asides.

Brady Shearer: All of my cousins are so good at dancing.

Alex Mills: Because of that video game?

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: We grew up, our generation, millennials, we cannot dance.

Brady Shearer: No.

Alex Mills: Because the generation before us, they were still trained a little bit in some traditional dancing. They wouldn’t make fools of themselves.

Brady Shearer: They could … You ever … Sorry to interrupt you again with another aside. But we’ve all seen it at a wedding, where your aunt and uncle get on the dance floor. It’s like, “How do you know how to do the shag, or whatever? Who taught you that?”

Alex Mills: Exactly. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And so millennials we’re like, “Dancing is not cool. We’re not going to do any of it.” We also, I grew up in a 98% white farming town.

Alex Mills: Yeah, we can’t dance.

Brady Shearer: So there was no hip-hop culture that was teaching us to dance. So my entire age group, just no dance moves. And then all of the people younger than me … I am very upset about this, because we are now going to be this group of people that people older than us can dance. The people that young … I’m seriously considering taking dance classes because [crosstalk 00:10:38]

Alex Mills: Or learning how to play Fortnite.

Brady Shearer: Well there’s that option as well. So okay.

Alex Mills: So it’s a Tamagotchi, basically. All of that to say, this is your digital pet. If you want to see hockey stuff, find some hockey accounts or whatever, and just start double tapping.

Brady Shearer: You don’t even have to find them.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Just like the things in your feed.

Alex Mills: Yeah, whatever comes through. And it doesn’t take long, like you said, one or two sessions of doing that, and all of that stuff that you don’t want to see, whether it’s kids that are too young to be doing what they’re doing, or songs you don’t want to hear, whatever it is. Because that stuff is on there. That stuff is on every platform.

But TikTok is amazing because the algorithm is so responsive. Once you tell it what you want to see, it will respond.

Brady Shearer: Well that’s the thing. It’s not going to shove, again, bottom line. It’s not going to shove inappropriate content in your face. So you got to think of it almost like the internet as a whole. Are there bad things that you can search out and find?

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Yes.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Does that mean that we should reject the platform altogether? No. And you might be thinking, “Well Brady, the internet, well that’s unavoidable. That’s part of our culture now. It’s just one of those necessary things.” I would say, I agree with you, and that if you want to reach people 25 and younger, TikTok is just as big of a deal for those of that age.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: It is part of young person culture. So for you to completely just get rid of it, means you’re essentially giving up the opportunity to reach people on that platform.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Our friend Alex joined the platform three months ago, two months ago, six weeks ago. He’s got a quarter of a million followers, creating content that is just entirely gospel. And I’m so glad that Alex didn’t say, “You know what, there are some people doing inappropriate things on a platform that is neutral, and I’m going to avoid it.” When you get teenagers together anywhere, they’re going to do inappropriate things.

Alex Mills: Oh my gosh.

Brady Shearer: That’s what student ministry is.

Alex Mills: It’s literally what it is.

Brady Shearer: So don’t get rid of it.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You’re going to miss so much of Nan opportunity to do so.

Alex Mills: Well and here’s the thing, your kids, your youth are on this platform. TikTok was downloaded more times last year than Instagram. The attention on TikTok is incredible.

Brady Shearer: It’s real.

Alex Mills: And so here’s the opportunity we have as churches, and Alex Wilson has proved this. Create good content. Create wholesome content, and because this algorithm is so trainable, when your youth start to interact with your church stuff, and maybe they double tap it. Your youth are … TikTok is going to respond, and start showing them more wholesome content.

So now, just because your church is on TikTok, and your youth are following along, they’re going to be getting served more wholesome content because they like what you’re posting. So if you’re not there, they’re going to be in this echo chamber, this dumpster fire of hot trash. Until you get there, they start interacting with your content, and TikTok is going to start serving them more of that. So you can affect real change. You can help your kids see better things when they’re on TikTok, just by being there.

Brady Shearer: So we’ve already established that TikTok is unique in that the algorithm is the driving force of what you see, not your circle of friends. That’s the most important thing to understand before we can talk about the specifics of the algorithm. Now when it comes to the specifics, here’s how it works. No matter how many followers you have, when you publish a video, it gets pushed out to a small batch of users for about two hours.

So you could be a brand new account with zero followers. You could be Alex Wilson, with a quarter of a million followers.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: When you publish a new video, there’s this two hour-ish period, where the TikTok algorithm takes this video, and it shows it to this small group of users-

Alex Mills: I’ve seen this to be absolutely true. Whenever I post, for the first about two hours, steadily, my video will get more views, to about the first few hundred. And then it falls off, indefinitely. And we’re about to learn why.

Brady Shearer: After those first two hours, TikTok will move your video from the small batch bucket to the medium batch bucket. Here, you’re getting your video test stress test again. And the things that TikTok is looking for is of course, how many views, how many likes, but also, how many replays is this video getting? What’s the completion rate?

Alex Mills: That’s a huge one for TikTok.

Brady Shearer: And also, how many shares. And to me, the one that stands out there is the repetitiveness. How many times are you rewatchign a video? Because for me, the TikTok videos that I like the most-

Alex Mills: Are hilarious.

Brady Shearer: And you just need to watch them two, three, four, five times-

Alex Mills: Can’t stop, yes.

Brady Shearer: I’ve seen a lot of videos that are doing really well on TikTok. I don’t personally prefer these types, that there’s almost something hidden in it like, “Oh wow. When you see it you’re going to lose your mind.”

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Because the creator, the publisher knows that for you to interact with that video means you’re going to have to watch it three, four, five times. They’re almost gaming the algorithm a bit. Which is something that you can do on TikTok, because they’re giving us all this information.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So there’s the small batch test, two hours. There’s the medium batch test, looking at replays, likes, views, shares, completion rates-

Alex Mills: Which is where most of mine are falling off.

Brady Shearer: And then, if your video has performed well enough there, it can move to the large batch. But after that media batch, it’s going to get what they call an integrity rating as well. This is where TikTok is looking, and saying, “Okay, is there any hateful speech here? Is there anything here that is obviously breaking our terms of service?”

Then it goes to the large batch, which is, if it makes it there, a four day period. This is what TikTok told Life Church when they told me. It’s a four day period. And then after that, there’s even a further option, where a real person at TikTok, will look at your specific video-

Alex Mills: This is incredible.

Brady Shearer: Review it, and then decide, does this need to go super viral, or expire?

Alex Mills: Right. Wow.

Brady Shearer: So small batch for two hours. Medium batch, where it’s looking at the key metrics. Large batch, after it gets the integrity rating, and it shows, “Hey, we’re a top 5% video. Or a top 1% video.” And then an individual person will decide essentially, is this a super viral-

Alex Mills: That’s somebody’s job.

Brady Shearer: A .1%?

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Yes, that’s their job.

Alex Mills: I have a hard enough time explaining when people ask what I do, because we do so many things here, and I’m also a pastor, and also a coffee blogger. When people ask me what I do, I have a hard enough time explaining, “Yeah, so this is what we do at Pro Church Tools.” Could you imagine, “So what do you do for a living?”

Brady Shearer: I’m a super viral tester.

Alex Mills: Yeah, you’ve heard of TikTok? “No.” “Okay. Well, so there’s videos, and once they get … You heard of small batch testing?” “No” “Okay, what about medium. No, never heard of that? Okay. Anyways, I look at videos to determine if they’re worthy of going viral. You know what that means?” “No.” “Okay, so that’s what I do.”

Brady Shearer: So you make money on the internet, or?

Alex Mills: Yeah, I get that question all the time like, “How do you make money?”

Brady Shearer: So that’s how the algorithm works with individual videos. But there’s also important things you need to know about how the algorithm grades, and views your specific account.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: This was also tremendously insightful. You’re going to want to listen carefully to this. Each account on TikTok has an authority ranking. Basically determines how awesome are your videos?

Alex Mills: I love that phrase, authority ranks.

Brady Shearer: Authority ranking. Are you an influencer, or are you not?

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The first few videos that you create, basically your first five to 10. Your first five being the most important. Those are the videos that will determine your authority ranking. So if you are creating a new account on TikTok for your church, it is highly important that you curate those first five videos, because those first five videos are going to determine, are you a tier one account, are you a tier two account, which is most people. That’s where you fall in the average user. Or are you a tier three account, where your first five videos are getting on average 10 to 20,000 views. Being on a tier three account is going to make sure that you have a higher authority ranking, which will serve you better in the long run.

Another important thing to consider is the types of videos that you’re creating. TikTok wants you essentially, to create types of videos that stay in the same vertical. So if you are making meme videos in your first five, TikTok will basically say, “This is a meme account.”

Alex Mills: So it’s like a categorization.

Brady Shearer: And your authority ranking is directly tied to the verticals, the buckets that you’ve chosen to make your videos in.

So if you’re a church, let’s say, and the first couple of videos that you make are funny memes with your youth, and then you transition to sermon clips, you have to start the authority ranking process all over again. Because you had secured an authority ranking for a certain type of video.

But it’s like when a person that has served their entire life in movies, moves over to politics, let’s say, you’re moving over completely. It’s not like you get to carry your cache completely, you got to start again in a lot of ways. This is a new industry. These are new buckets. You were making meme videos, now you’re making sermon motivational videos. Those are different things.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So that’s how the authority ranking works. Life Church told me that the reason they had [inaudible 00:19:15] held off this long to publish videos on TikTok, when we spoke to them, was because they wanted to make sure those first five were as good as they could be.

Alex Mills: Yeah, so don’t use your first few videos as a testing ground.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: Make sure you are confident that what you’re posting, you’re going to want to last.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. These types of videos are the types of videos you’re going to be creating long term. And these types of videos need to be your best. This is kind of similar to the way launching a podcast works. At least in Apple Podcast. You generally want to launch five podcasts right away. Because you want people to listen, not just to one, but then listen to another, and another, and another.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: When we first launched this podcast six years ago, I think, we launched five episodes one day after another. Even though we were going to publish weekly episodes going forward. We published on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, because that boosted our listen time considerably, and it gave us a higher chance of being put into the new and noteworthy section in Apple Podcasts, which is, at least it was, the best thing that you could do when you launched a new podcast.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Because that would give you the chance to be discovered by people that weren’t already connected to you. Apple Podcast basically putting you right there saying, “Hey, here’s a new podcast we like.” And they were using the data of how many people were listening at the very beginning.

TikTok’s doing something similar here, where what you do at the beginning will determine how your account fairs in the long term. If you do it right at the beginning, this is going to bode well for you in the future. Not to say that if you screw it up you’ve already published a bunch of videos, it’s somehow going to be irreversible. That’s not the case.

And another question that I asked Beau was, I said, “Okay, so those first five videos are super important. Do you need to publish them all one day after another, like a podcast? Or is it just the first five, whenever they come out?” And he wasn’t super confident, but he did say, he was like, “I don’t think it matters, super, if you do all five at once. They’re just looking at the first five.”

So don’t feel like you need to create all five before publishing. That might be advantageous a bit. But it’s not going to be so detrimental if you’re taking your time one by one by one.

Alex Mills: Yeah, those first few videos that you post, maybe you try some different types of content. Maybe you try some sermon clips. Maybe you try some memes from your youth. Maybe you try a question and answer from your pastor, or what have you. Whatever one takes off is going to give you some really valuable insight into what kind of content you’re going to be posting in the future.

Brady Shearer: Yes.

Alex Mills: So for me, I thought that maybe there was an opportunity on TikTok for coffee brewing tutorials. Turns out I was wrong, because everyone on TikTok is 14, and is not allowed to drink coffee yet. So I posted a coffee, an educational piece. I thought it was really good. It did fine. I posted the outtakes, bloopers from that, as another video, went completely viral. And I was like, “Okay, well I guess I’m a blooper account now.”

That video just keeps getting watched. People keep commenting. And I’m like, “This is not what I thought was going to happen here. But I guess I got to figure out how to make this content.” So you are going to get some really valuable insights from how TikTok users respond to those first few pieces of content that you put out.

Brady Shearer: Another weird thing about TikTok. Have you ever seen this behavior on Instagram where if you have a post that doesn’t do super well, you’ll go back in and delete it, so it doesn’t look like that one time where we got 1/5 the likes we normally do.

Alex Mills: Yeah, I haven’t personally done that.

Brady Shearer: You can admit it. It’s okay.

Alex Mills: No, I haven’t. But I definitely … I mean that’s a pervasive thing that goes on in the influencer world. It’s like if this picture doesn’t get ex amount of likes, I got to get rid of it because I need that cache. Now Instagram removing the number of likes feature is liberating some people probably. But I do know people who are like, “Yep, that post didn’t do well enough. I’m just going to delete it, maybe rework that caption. Maybe post it at a different time. I’ll just try again.”

Brady Shearer: And the reason is because the life cycle of a post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram is however long, shorter on Twitter than let’s say Instagram. But maybe it’s 48 hours on Instagram.

Alex Mills: Maybe.

Brady Shearer: And then it’s not like people are rediscovering it. TikTok, again, doing something different.

Alex Mills: Totally different.

Brady Shearer: They have a thing called a delayed explosion. This is why you should never delete old content, no matter how well, or how poorly it does on TikTok. This comes directly from them. They have this thing where periodically, they will test your older content and just restart the video cycle.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So a piece of content you published three months ago, no one’s been watching it. It hasn’t been showing up in the feed because it was a long time ago. TikTok will just say, “We nominate this video as tribute.”-

Alex Mills: Just pump it back out.

Brady Shearer: And it goes out, and the process just starts over again.

Alex Mills: And it doesn’t matter. It’s going to appear to that new audience as new content, because you can’t see when videos were posted on TikTok.

Brady Shearer: There’s no dates.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: And so you may have a video that didn’t do so well, and then three months later, it’s getting 10x the original views.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: It was nominated for a delayed explosion.

Alex Mills: Yeah. I’m thinking about how that could revolutionize how Instagram works. If Instagram started doing that, that could be super helpful for someone like me. But like you said, there’s a finite life cycle on content on Instagram. It’s like 24 hours, maybe 48 hours, and if somebody didn’t see it during that time, unless I repost it to my story, [inaudible 00:24:38]it just gets buried in the feed and it’s gone forever.

But on TikTok, it can live on.

Brady Shearer: And that’s interesting because we were in Iceland this summer. One of the things that we were doing was following some prolific Icelandic photography accounts.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Because they would often take these aerial shots, and we’d have to reverse engineer where they were, because there’s this culture of never saying.

Alex Mills: Yeah, it’s a secret.

Brady Shearer: Because you know, you don’t want to get there and there’s all these Instagramers.

Alex Mills: But did we find them all?

Brady Shearer: Yes, of course. Nice try though.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Prolific Instagram Icelandic photographers. Point being, I started noticing how often these Instagram accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers. Would repost the identical photo, maybe a month after it was first posted. Because I’m going back in their feed saying, “Okay, are there any locations that while we’re here we need to hit?” And I’d be like, “You already posted this exact photo.”

Alex Mills: Not the same place, and I revisited it. It’s the literal same photo.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: And just posting to … posting sometimes to a new audience. If your account is steadily growing-

Brady Shearer: It’s grown by several thousand, maybe 10,000 or more-

Alex Mills: Yeah, post again.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: I’m not a fan. As a photography purist-

Brady Shearer: You’re a little purist over here, yeah. You’re an idealist, because this is Instagram’s fault.

Alex Mills: Yeah, surely.

Brady Shearer: That’s not that photographer’s fault. They’re basically doing, and following best practices based on what Instagram has created, their culture. TikTok is avoiding that specific problematic thing by eliminating the date, and this delayed explosion.

Alex Mills: This happened to me once in real life. So I got malaria. I’ve had malaria three times. I got it twice in Uganda, and then I came home. I had been home for months. I got home in July. This was October. I got really sick, fever of 105 degrees. I thought I was dying.

Brady Shearer: Malaria delayed explosion.

Alex Mills: The next day, I was totally fine. The third day, worst than the first day. Fourth day, better. Fifth day, worse than all the other days. And I remember hearing a story from a friend of mine who had malaria come back, and this is how he told me it happened. So I thought … I was in South Carolina when this happened, visiting-

Brady Shearer: America.

Alex Mills: Visiting my girlfriend, who is now my wife, for the first time. I’m in the states, and I’m like, “I think I’ve got malaria.” Long story short, we go to the hospital, there’s an infectious disease doctor there-

Brady Shearer: [crosstalk 00:26:57] and you’ve been in debt ever since.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Takes pictures of my blood and he’s like, “Yeah, you’ve got malaria.” What he said happened was I didn’t treat the malaria well enough in Uganda, so it was still stored up in my spleen a little bit.

Brady Shearer: That’ll preach.

Alex Mills: Your spleen  [inaudible 00:27:12] preach. Your spleen recycles your blood after a while. So a few months later it just pumped that parasite back into my blood. Spent four days in the hospital. And by hospital I mean hotel, because those American hospitals are amazing.

Brady Shearer: That’s good. I insulted them, and then you compliment them.

Alex Mills: Yeah, so I also too experienced a delayed explosion.

Brady Shearer: In the spleen.

Alex Mills: Yes, my spleen.

Brady Shearer: See, and in the spleen of TikTok, I lost it there [inaudible 00:27:37] another couple of tips to consider on TikTok. Limit … This one’s so … this is why it’s so cool. We got to speak to an actual employee of TikTok.

Alex Mills: Right, you would never know this. You would never think of this. But we got the goods.

Brady Shearer: Instagram, Facebook, they’re so inaccessible. Someone stole my account and they’re selling bad things on my church’s Facebook page. And they’re like, “That’s a shame.[inaudible 00:27:59]

Alex Mills: Try again.

Brady Shearer: Limit your account’s login to one cell phone. Because multiple logins will flag your account as a business account. And like most platforms, TikTok knows that personal accounts are what they want to prioritize over business accounts. Why? Well because people want to deal with people. But also, if voyeur a business account, TikTok wants you to pay.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: They’re not just going to give you a ton of free, organic reach. So, you can hide this a bit. Just don’t be logging in to that same TikTok account on your youth pastor’s phone, and on your lead pastor’s phone. That’s one way to avoid being flagged as a business account.

Alex Mills: So that will present a little bit of an inconvenience for some larger churches, maybe a little bit of a challenge to navigate, because-

Brady Shearer: This comes from Life Church. So if they can figure it out with their 872 campuses.

Alex Mills: So maybe you need a TikTok device, whether it’s your youth pastor’s phone.

Brady Shearer: Burner phone for TikTok.

Alex Mills: Wow. Or just a TikTok device. If your youth group is running your TikTok account, it stays in church, and that’s the device that we run TikTok off of, but that’s definitely something for larger churches to be conscious of.

Brady Shearer: Another thing that stood out to me in my conversation with Beau, and also shout out to Nicholas Prince, who was the one who had documented most of this data from TikTok. They said that they’re probably going to go off-brand with this platform.

Alex Mills: Very unlike Life Church.

Brady Shearer: And they already have permission to do it. So I followed up and I was like, “Wait, wait, wait, okay. Before we move onto something else. What does that mean?” What Beau said was, “At Life Church, they’re very specific about the face of the church in a public manner.” And this is not anything new for churches of their size, whether it be Elevation, or Zoe, or VOUS or Life Church.

Craig Roswell is obviously going to be the face, the public face on most content platforms. Maybe a campus pastor, they said. But on TikTok, they want to empower a demo that’s younger than that, again, those 18 to 24 year olds, which is the majority of TikTok users. That’s off-brand in the sense that the polish will probably be nonexistent as well, because it’s just going to be shot on the phone.

Alex Mills: Yeah, the TikTok phone.

Brady Shearer: And we’ve … The burner. We’ve been talking for the last year on social about forgetting the polish, and being perfectly on brand, perfectly curated. Everything manicured to the enth degree when it comes to your brand colors, and logos, and mock ups, and lockups. That not being as important because you’re likely going to sacrifice attention long term, and attention is the most valuable commodity.

If you go on TikTok, and this is the best example that we have so far, and it’s only going to trend more in this direction. If you go on TikTok, and try to create your perfectly manicured videos, they’re not going to perform that well.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And what I love that Life Church has done … They actually had a youth event switch, where part of the night was groups just recording TikTok videos-

Alex Mills: Love this.

Brady Shearer: And then publishing them to the life.church global TikTok channel. And your church did this as well, I think you had a youth group night where you were just creating TikTok videos.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: A lot of the time we make this mistake as churches, because we’ve done this with Facebook and Instagram. We look at these new emerging platforms, TikTok, YouTube in the last couple of years and we’re like, “Well what type of content are we going to make on these platforms?”

And we need to not think of those platforms as additional streams where we need to create more content for. You’ve got to almost look at them as ministry activities, because every kid wants to be TikTok famous. And then for those who don’t want to be TikTok famous, that’s because they want to be YouTubers.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Between those two platforms, you can have empowered young people in your church creating content for you, if you can swallow this idea that you’re going to have to ditch the polish, and not have the public face be your lead pastor, the person that’s always doing the quotes on Instagram.

And if Life Church can do it, if they can lead the way, with one of the most prolific, and well-known pastors in the world, with Craig Roswell, then I think our churches should be able to do it also.

Alex Mills: It’s interesting thinking about different social platforms as different areas of ministry. As you were saying that, I was thinking about how they almost function like small groups. Facebook would be your middle age small group demographic. Instagram is-

Brady Shearer: I resent that term.

Alex Mills: Is your young adults group. And TikTok is your youth group. It’s just like having small groups. We cater our small group curriculums to different interests, or age groups, or demographics, or what have you. It’s the same thing with these social platforms.

The thing about curating content on TikTok, according to your brand guidelines is, on TikTok it’s going to appear foreign. It’s going to appear corporate, or business-like, or it may even appear like an ad. And we’re not seeing a lot of that stuff right now on TikTok, and that’s definitely not what TikTok users want to be seeing.

So if it appears that way, it’s just going to get swiped right past. And we know, as we’ve talked at length about the algorithm, that’s going to send a very important signal to the algorithm that say, “This person does not want to see more stuff from Life Church, or more stuff about this type of content, and that’s dangerous, because it’s so responsive.

So we want to make sure that the content we’re posting on TikTok looks like TikTok content. So put this TikTok phone, the TikTok tele, as I’ve trademarked it, put it into-

Brady Shearer: Lord help us.

Alex Mills: Put it into the hands of your youth, and let it look like content they would be creating on their own. It’s okay. And not only is it just okay, it’s what this platform requires.

Brady Shearer: Final thing I want to say about TikTok, as we discuss the algorithm, is, and you’ve already said this twice now. So this is me rebuking you, is that what TikTok told Life Church that told me, is that 70 to 75% of users on TikTok are 18 to 24 years old.

Alex Mills: Yes. Yeah, you’re right.

Brady Shearer: And so I think the stigma is, as has been with Snapchat, as was with Instagram, as was with Facebook when we joined in the 10th grade. Is that, oh that’s just all the 14 year olds. But the reason we’re talking about TikTok now, is because it has reached a critical mass. This is not vero, or whatever the last social platform craze was, where-

Alex Mills: Vines, [crosstalk 00:34:08] yeah.

Brady Shearer: This is going to be it. No, this platform is massive. It has arrived. Now is the time to join. A lot of people ask us frequently, what’s the next platform we need to consider? And we always say don’t worry about next. Worry about now. Because if you make the leap when now happens, you will have time, because everyone is slow to move.

Now is the time to move. This is the platform. This is the next platform. But it’s happening right now. You’re joining a platform that is already mature to the point that you don’t need to worry about creating a ton of content, and then it disappearing in a week like vero.

Does that mean it will become the next Instagram? Not necessarily, but it actually has a chance. And we know, because Facebook/Instagram, they’re trying to replicate TikTok’s features within their own platform to siphon off that attention and keep it there. We saw this happening with Instagram. Facebook just bought them.

That’s probably not going to happen because Byte Dance, which owns TikTok is a Chinese company, which is also an interesting swerve with this whole ordeal is that this is the first time a foreign social platform has come and reached the platform size of the others like Instagram, Facebook-

Alex Mills: That is interesting.

Brady Shearer: These are American entities. And China has not really allowed them at all, to come into their country. And then Byte Dance acquires Musical.ly, merges it with TikTok, and is now creating a platform that we’re all on.

We’re not here to talk about geo politics. I do not want to pull a Daryl Morey.

Alex Mills: I thought that’s where we were going.

Brady Shearer: But that is an interesting thing to consider. Make the move now. You have the chance to grab up on this prime real estate. Our friend Alex Wilson is the perfect example.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: He was publishing almost identical content on Instagram and YouTube, and seeing very slow gains, because those platforms are highly saturated. We did a recent video talking about the decline in organic reach on Instagram. What do you do? Where do you go? Well if you’re me, maybe not TikTok because everyone is too young to be in the Pro Church Tools world. But for your church, it is the prime real estate, and prime demo.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Make the move now. Follow the tips that we’ve laid out here, when it comes to the algorithm, and you’ll be in good shape. We’re going to be back in just a moment. We’re going to do our first top five segment.

Alex Mills: Top five.

Brady Shearer: Top five segment. Top five. Come back, just a sec.

Brady Shearer: Okay, we’re introducing a new segment. It’s called top five. It’s very simple. The power rankings-

Alex Mills: Of things.

Brady Shearer: And that’s the thing, it’s things. These may be church related. But will likely, more than not-

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Be not church related. And the reason we included this segment Alex, is because I need to get my old man rants off.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And if we put them in the form of a ranking, they’ll be more intriguing.

Alex Mills: Well and here’s what’s going to be especially fun about this segment, is we’re going to alternate. So we have not collaborated on this. The first top five is your list.

Brady Shearer: Correct.

Alex Mills: You’ve assembled top five of some certain things. And we have not collaborated on this. So it’s very likely we’re not going to be in agreement, and-

Brady Shearer: As you will be wrong.

Alex Mills: We’ll see what happens next week when it’s my turn.

Brady Shearer: I like that. That was a good little tease. Another tease just before we get into top five, is if you are a Nucleus user, or a Storytape user, we have a substantive  … Strike that. A massive announcement coming in the next couple of weeks that will greatly benefit you. Again, if you are a Storytape user, or a Nucleus user, it’s coming in the next couple of weeks. So stay tuned for that announcement.

It will greatly benefit you. And if you’ve been on the sidelines to this point, not a Storytape user, not a Nucleus user, which is our two biggest products here at Pro Church Tools, this is likely going to be your best chance to jump on in with those as well.

Alex Mills: This is going to be one of those things. You know when you talk … My dad just said it this Sunday at church, talking about the love of God. He’s like, “That sounds too good to be true.” It’s like, “Yeah, it is too good to be true.” This is one of those things. People are going to be like, “Are you sure?” Like, “This sounds a little too good to be true.” Be like, “Yeah, I mean it’s true.”

Brady Shearer: It’s something we’ve been working towards for most of the year. It’s going to be our biggest announcement of the year, and it’s coming soon. So stay tuned. Let’s make a hard right, and do the top five rankings.

Alex Mills: Top five.

Brady Shearer: For soup. Now you might be asking, “Why soup?” Well because it’s fall, and fall is amazing for a number of reasons.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Jacket weather is one of them.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Sports. We’ve got MLB playoffs. Basketball is back. Hockey is back.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Football is in full swing.

Alex Mills: October is-

Brady Shearer: Well aside from April/March, where you’ve got March madness, basketball, hockey, baseball starting, Masters-

Alex Mills: Yeah, October, as far as top two sports months go. October is … I mean it would be number one for me, but number two for most sports.

Brady Shearer: This is my ranking. You’re already … You see what you’re doing there. Okay. What are the top two-

Alex Mills: What about fall colors? How about that?

Brady Shearer: Sure. We live in a great place to enjoy fall colors.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: But another amazing thing about fall is that it’s #soupseason

Alex Mills: Soup season.

Brady Shearer: Soup season. So I wanted to give a top five ranking. Soup is one of my absolute favorite dishes to get. But what soup do you want? Well I want to give a first … a little bit of honorable mentions.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Because this was agonizing for me.

Alex Mills: Even in the honorable mentions, there’s going to be hot takes. People are going to hear soups in the honorable mentions and be like, “How was that not in the top five?”

Brady Shearer: Mullgiatawny, an honorable mention. Probably mostly known because of Seinfeld, the soup Nazi episode. Mullgiatawny is almost like chicken noodle soup with a bunch of curry in it.

Alex Mills: Can you spell mulligatawny please?

Brady Shearer: Oh sure. M-U-L-L-I-G-I-A-T-A-W-N-Y.

Alex Mills: The w threw me off. I was not expecting it.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: Mulligatawny.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, excellent. It was one of the soups I made most last year at home. Don’t sleep on Mulligatawny.

Alex Mills: So it’s like chicken noodle but better.

Brady Shearer: Oh yeah, way better. If you’re trying to elevate your chicken noodle, which is not on the top five, duh. You want to go with Mulligatawny. Honorable mention to split pea, particularly the Habitant canned version that I have been eating since I was a young kid-

Alex Mills: Wow. Is it Canadian?

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And it comes in that giant yellow container that’s three times as big as any other soup can. It’s like 750ml, instead of 398.

Alex Mills: So it’s soup for three days. You open one of those cans, and it-

Brady Shearer: Not for me as a teenager it wasn’t.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And then final honorable mention goes to chili, which is not a soup.

Alex Mills: It’s a category.

Brady Shearer: It’s really its own category. You know. Shouts to chili.

Alex Mills: What about the question what is soup?

Brady Shearer: Well, mostly, well in this top five, it’s all cereal, because cereal is soup. It’s physical things in liquid, people.

Alex Mills: Yeah, soup is cereal-

Brady Shearer: Now we’re not going to get into definitions.

Alex Mills: Chili is not soup. What is stew?

Brady Shearer: Did stew make the top five? We’re going to find out. Number five on the top five list is a tomato bisque. So tomato belongs in the top five, just not regular Campbell’s tomato. Not that really limp, watery, half tomato-

Alex Mills: Yeah, it’s got to have some body to it. Get some cream involved.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. A bisque. A tomato bisque, excellent, warm. My wife loves any type of bisque. We had a corn bisque this weekend. We had a salmon bisque this weekend, all excellent.

Alex Mills: I’ve got no qualms with bisque. We had tomato bisque last night. You know what it’s complemented perfectly by? Grilled cheese.

Brady Shearer: A tomato bisque and grilled cheese.

Alex Mills: Yes, it’s like-

Brady Shearer: You’re sophisticated. You’re traditional. You’re a grown up. You’re a child.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: You’re dipping everything in ketchup.

Alex Mills: Some dipping action, yeah. And it’s good to be ketchup-

Brady Shearer: [crosstalk 00:41:38] ketchup, you have the tomato bisque. How foolish of me.

Alex Mills: Okay, here’s the thing with tomato soup in general. I struggle with soups that don’t have noodles, or meat, or substance.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: Because what happens, without fail, is I approach the bowl, I’m two to three spoonfuls deep, and then I ask myself the question, “Why am I not just drinking this from a mug?”

Brady Shearer: Because you’re not a barbarian.

Alex Mills: No, but honestly, tomato soup should be consumed probably from a mug. That’s where it’s a waste of time to eat it with a spoon. And so that’s where the sandwich comes in.

Brady Shearer: Well if it’s a bisque you’re not going to consume it from a mug.

Alex Mills: [crosstalk 00:42:13] Or, the premium plus salted crackers.

Brady Shearer: Premium plus soda crackers. I gave it to my daughter as a bedtime snack last night because they are absolutely the best. Now growing up I was only allowed the whole wheat version, which is an atrocity.

Alex Mills: Oh no. That’s offensive. That’s worse than no premium plus crackers.

Brady Shearer: Just terrible. There’s me, with my habitant 750ml, doesn’t fit in the bowl. When you take it from the can and put it in the bowl, it’s right at the top.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And you take it out of the microwave, and you’re like, your hands are shaking as you move, and your hands are burning, and then you just drop 800, a whole sleeve.

Alex Mills: We have a mutual friend who will not eat a bowl of soup without putting a literal whole sleeve of premium plus crackers.

Brady Shearer: hot take. I do not like when people crunch up the crackers and put it in the soup.

Alex Mills: Put them in whole?

Brady Shearer: No, you crunch them up-

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: And then you just drop it in the soup.

Alex Mills: What’s the other option?

Brady Shearer: Just keeping them separate, and dipping one at a time.

Alex Mills: I’m a cruncher.

Brady Shearer: I know, but then four gulps deep and it’s all soggy, and you’re like, “This bisque has been assaulted.”

Alex Mills: We’ll talk about soggy cereals on top five cereal week.

Brady Shearer: Oh gosh. The end of our friendship, probably.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Number four on the list, it’s a personal favorite. Probably isn’t going to be on most lists. Lentil soup. Red lentils, maybe again, Indian soup, a little Dal, which is an excellent lentil based Indian soup. I have been eating lentils, and lentil soup since I was a young boy, right next to my whole wheat premium plus soda crackers. And I have an affinity for lentils that cannot be explained, except for that they are awesome. They are extremely affordable, and they are-

Alex Mills: They are better than beans.

Brady Shearer: They are slept on.[inaudible 00:43:52]

Alex Mills: I was a newcomer to lentils. I think I owe it to my wife, because lentils, she’s the one [crosstalk 00:43:57] lentils in southern cooking culture. She exposed me to lentils. I’ve never been the same since. I would have not thought to put lentil soup on top five. But I’m happy it’s there.

Brady Shearer: Number three, the controversial one.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Beef stew-

Alex Mills: Please [crosstalk 00:44:14] with this.

Brady Shearer: I would qualify, classify beef stew as a soup, because I’m not talking about the stew that’s super thick with that’s not broth that’s gravy.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. I’m talking about, you’re starting with a beef broth.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You’re putting a little flour as you brown the stewing beef.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: You put it in the instapot, and then this is where the fall substance comes in. You’re adding some parsnips. You got carrots. You got potatoes. You got turnips. Find a root vegetable, put it in there. I don’t care. And then it comes out, it’s steaming. That beef is just falling apart because it’s been stewing. All the root vegetables have sucked in the juices from the broth, and the fat that has been rendered from the beef cubes. Bless the Lord.

Alex Mills: When have you ever been thinking about what you wanted for dinner, and sitting there and the thing that you landed on was, “You know what, tonight, I need a beef stew.”?

Brady Shearer: Dozens of times.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: Growing up, that-

Alex Mills: Beef stew is when you go to someone’s house, and you’re like, “What are we having?” They’re like, “Stew.” I’m going to be like, “Oh.” And you eat it, it’s like, “Okay.”

Brady Shearer: Okay, don’t invite Alex and Rebecca over for stew night, okay. Wow.

Alex Mills: I was going to say once you start eating it, it’s like, okay this is good.

Brady Shearer: It’s great. You know what it is? It’s hearty.

Alex Mills: That’s true.

Brady Shearer: It’s hearty.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Growing up, again, soup, sorry, stew from a can. The puritan can stew, and you could get the beef stew, or the meat stew, and the cubes in the meat stew … you didn’t know what it was, but it was so good.

Alex Mills: Wait. I was going to say, what’s this, mystery meat?

Brady Shearer: I don’t know what it was, man. It was good. Number two on the rankings, Cioppino. What is Cioppino? It is a fish soup.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: You’ve got that tomato broth base, a little bit of red wine, and then you can put in any type of fish that you want, maybe some mussels, maybe some scallops, a little bit of fish, some whitefish here and there. Cioppino. It’s hard to get, and I once tried to make it at home, and put in way too much wine, and it just turned into purple goo. It was the worst, most offensive thing. The whitefish was stained blue from how much wine I put in.

Alex Mills: I don’t like that, yeah.

Brady Shearer: One of my worst mistakes in the kitchen of all time, and that’s why whenever I’m out and I see Cioppino, or I see some type of fish stew that I know, or fish soup that has some type of tomato broth, pull the trigger.

Jambalaya didn’t make this list. Not a soup. And the worst is when you get jambalaya, and it’s just 10 pounds of rice with, no, no, no.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Jambalaya, the best is the rice is swimming in the broth.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: That’s when you have capitalized.

Alex Mills: I am not a seafood lover. Seafood is one of your favorite types of food.

Brady Shearer: Bless.

Alex Mills: So you’ve influenced me to learn to try seafood soup. So we’ve had seafood soup together in Spain. I don’t remember if we had any in Scotland. But some of the most memorable seafood soups I’ve had, and I actually ordered one for myself, was in Iceland.

You and I were in Iceland together, at a seafood restaurant. The seafood soup was on the menu, and it wasn’t like … The reason I ordered it was because it wasn’t mussels, and clams and that kind of seafood.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: It was langistine, which is their native mini lobsters. I love langistine. So I was here for it. I ordered it, so good. So I’m here for a great seafood soup, but that’s the thing, it’s dangerous territory. If you get a average to below average seafood soup, you could get ill.

Brady Shearer: We were at a well-regarded restaurant in Barceloneta, on the ocean in Barcelona. They bring out the fish soup, and it tasted like the inside of a crusty mussel. It was one of the worst things ever. And I was so pining for fish soup.

Alex Mills: You were so excited.

Brady Shearer: I was talking, I was like, “You know what. It’s a bit fishy. A little ocean flavors, but again, it’s hearty.” And then you look back, and you [inaudible 00:48:08] now I’m just lying to myself, bro.

Alex Mills: No, no. It was dangerous. You’re rolling the dice.

Brady Shearer: Number one, the ultimate soup.

Alex Mills: Here we go.

Brady Shearer: The ultimate soup that I first ate in Hawaii of all places, and then secondly in San Diego, P-H-O, pronounced fuh. And this is undispusted as the number one soup.

Alex Mills: So good.

Brady Shearer: I will hear no other opinions, and I have a list of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven reasonns why it’s the number one soup.

Alex Mills: Okay, let’s go. Hit me.

Brady Shearer: First is availability. We live in Niagara Falls. Not a metropolis whatsoever, and probably region with one of the worst food scenes that’s ever existed in this country.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: And yet, within a one mile radius from this office-

Alex Mills: On every corner.

Brady Shearer: There are three pho spots that are one, opened every day from one am to one am, somehow. They never close. They’re always open.

Alex Mills: Yeah. They have [crosstalk 00:49:02] all the time.

Brady Shearer: What’s also awesome about them? The speed. You can go in to sit down. Which we will after recording this.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Or you can go, like you were in a rush. Yesterday I had to get home for a meeting. I walked in, I said, “Give me the 203 large size.” They come out-

Alex Mills: Got that right for you sir.

Brady Shearer: And this is the to go. They’ve got a broth set aside by its own.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: Then they’ve got the bowl that has the really finely shaved rare beef, with the rice noodles. And then they have another bag with the spicy sauces-

Alex Mills: It’s like  mies on plast.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: Yeah, put it together when you get home.

Brady Shearer: The bean sprouts. The Thai basil. I’m at home. I’m just whipping it up, just making it however I need it, and it’s amazing how fast they’re able to put it together. You ever go to an Asian restaurant, particularly a pho place, and they give you the 720 page menu? And you’re like, “Can I order 1211?” And they’re like, “Oh, you mean the first page of the menu?” There are so many options.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: You will never get bored with pho. The versatility. They will bring you-

Alex Mills: The biggest bowl of soup you’ve ever seen.

Brady Shearer: That bowl is for serving a family of six. And they’re like, “This is our large. It’s not the biggest size.” Like, yeah, $9, and you’re like, “But how?”

Alex Mills: Can we talk about the sizes? Small, medium, large, and extra large.

Brady Shearer: You get a venti pho? That’ll feed your family for the week.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: And then the nutritional profile is so good. You can eat pho every day, as I have been for soup season, guilt free.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The carbs are good carbs. The meat is good meat. Low fat. For the volume, I’m always full. It’s not like most soup. You know when you eat a soup and you’re like, “I’m so full because I just drank a liter of water. And hour later I’m starving.”

Alex Mills: Or my soup is over, I’m not quite full. Hence the grilled cheese.

Brady Shearer: Hence the sleeve of premium plus soda crackers. Now with pho, because of all the rice noodles, and the high quality protein you leave feeling full. And you look at your calories, you look at your macros, you’re like, “I’m in a great spot for the rest of the day.”

Alex Mills: [crosstalk 00:51:05] look at me go. Yeah. Speaking of the protein, honorable mention for one of the reasons that pho is amazing, the fact that the protein gets cooked by the temperature of the broth. They bring you this bowl, if you’re a meat eater, it’s thinly sliced beef, and it’s rare. It’s red. By the time you’ve mixed in you Thai basil, your bean sprouts, little squirt of lime, maybe some chili peppers.

Brady Shearer: Of course.

Alex Mills: You’ve got it all-

Brady Shearer: Sriracha.

Alex Mills: By the time you’re done, your beef has turned from rare red, to perfectly cooked, tender, not firm. It all happened-

Brady Shearer: You literally cooked it by yourself with broth.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and they enable you to do that even when you take it out, because they serve you the beef separately.

Brady Shearer: Wow, that’s magic. It’s magic.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: And then finally, the spice. This is the one thing lacking from most soups.

Alex Mills: Sure.

Brady Shearer: They don’t have high quality spice. Unless you’re chili, which again, did not make this list because it’s its own category.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: If you want to spice up chicken noodle. If you want to spice up tomato puree, you’ve got one option, ground pepper.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You’re not going to put-

Alex Mills: You’re not throwing chili peppers in there.

Brady Shearer: No. That would be weird. I love spicy food, and soup is one of those things that you just don’t get that much spice in, except for pho. Because if it’s not good enough already, it has that spice ability. You can just dollop how much you need in there, bud.

Alex Mills: Yes, and it almost has, at the risk of hyping this soup up to be something supernatural.

Brady Shearer: Impossible.

Alex Mills: It almost has healing properties.

Brady Shearer: Wow.

Alex Mills: Because it’s cooked with real beef bone. So you get that bone broth healing power.

Brady Shearer: But without having to eat bone broth that makes you puke, because it tastes disgusting.

Alex Mills: Yes. And then you get Thai basil, also known as holy basil, so good for you. You go into … It’s soup season, so you’ve got a cold. You go into a full restaurant in the middle of winter. You’re congested. You put those chili peppers in there. By the time you leave, your congestion has run for the hills because you’re cleaned out. You’ve blown your nose into too many napkins, but you’re cleaned out. You’re full. You’re satisfied. You’re healthy.

Brady Shearer: And it cost you $6.

Alex Mills: What more could you ask for? The best soup.

Brady Shearer: Top five, the inaugural.

Alex Mills: Let us know where we made a mistake. I’m open to hearing some-

Brady Shearer: At least don’t[inaudible 00:53:13] we’ve got real work to do.

Alex Mills: People are going to come in like, “What about broccoli cheddar?”

Brady Shearer: Yeah. What about cream of mushroom?

Alex Mills: If you say French Onion Soup, which is the worst soup. It’s so stupid. I hate French Onion Soup with a passion.

Brady Shearer: Let’s put crispy bread into the soup until it becomes soggy.

Alex Mills: It’s not soup. That’s like every level of cuisine has this. Where you take something that is just wildly unhealthy and you’re like, “What if we called it soup?”

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: This is healthy. You just crusted cheese and put it all over a saucer and cup.

Alex Mills: So much cheese. Yeah, it’s literally melting over the sides. And they serve it to you as an appetizer. Be like, “Have this before your meal.”

Brady Shearer: I like Italian Wedding Soup.

Alex Mills: Oh yeah.

Brady Shearer: Honorable mention to that as well.

Alex Mills: What are those little rice balls even about? What even are those?

Brady Shearer: Wow. And the nice thing about pho is, it’s also represented, not completely, of other soups that are very similar. Ramen, it’s a relative of pho. Miso soup, relative of pho. All of those, not necessarily part of the pho family. But they’re so pho adjacent.

Alex Mills: Yeah. So good.

Brady Shearer: Close out. It’s lunch time.

Alex Mills: We have to go eat some soup.

Brady Shearer: We wanted to close out every session by doing a little bit of Q&A. So if you have a question that you want us to answer on the Pro Church Tools show, you can send it to hello@prochurchtools.com that’s the email where you can send in your questions. This email comes from an Instagram dm, so I’ve left it anonymous.

It says, “So I’m curious if you’ve ever noticed that younger people don’t engage with question posts on social. Like, “Name a worship song that’s helped you.” Or, “How can we pray for you?” Their response to me when I ask them why in person is, they’re worried their responses will be judged. I could ask about fries and pizza and still not get a response.

I run our youth social accounts, and I’m curious what else I can use for engagement other than getting them to comment back on posts. Or do you have any ideas on questions that you’ve seen work well with young people? I’ve definitely noticed a decline in activity on insta. I’m developing a plan for TikTok.” Smart. But I don’t want our inst to wane off too much. Thanks in advance for any help that you can give.

Alex Mills: Good question.

Brady Shearer: So there’s a couple elements here. First is understanding the uniqueness of each social platform. So if you ask a question post, which is probably the easiest way to earn engagement on social, in a good way. Ask a question, post on Facebook, like, “Hey, name a worship song that that ever helped you.” We have seen this question earn hundreds of comments for churches that see very little engagement on social. But Facebook, we know, is not going to be something that’s populated very heavily by those that are in student ministry, right now in 2019.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So that’s why, if you ask this question on Facebook, you wouldn’t see that. Now, what about insta? You ask that question in the insta feed, and you don’t get too many responses. The reason why is the insta feed, of all of the different social platforms, I would say is the least attuned to getting comments responding to questions. It’s just really not how culturally, the Instagram feed is used.

Alex Mills: We’re scrolling so fast, even if you can stop my scroll to get my attention to look at the post, the likelihood of me opening up a caption to read more, and then the likelihood of me taking the next step to comment, it’s pretty slim.

Brady Shearer: It’s just not that high trafficked when ti comes to comments. But does that mean Instagram is not good for engagement? Not at all. Instagram stories is where all of the engagement is happening. So you could try that same question in a question sticker, and two things would happen, one, you’d be using the platform where the engagement is the highest, on stories. Not on the feed. And in this individual’s case, you also would be getting answers privately, so you’d reduce that ability or fear that somehow their response would be judged. So that’s just understanding the unique behaviors and cultures of the different platforms. If you’re not seeing one in this area, maybe you’ll see more on this other area.

But there’s also an element to this question, and I responded to this individual privately, and I said, “This also sounds like there’s a culture issues that’s happening here.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: This is a sad reality in many of our churches, where there’s this aura of, you’ll be judged if you say your actual opinion. Culture doesn’t change overnight. In fact, it often takes months and years to undo. But if people are feeling and telling you explicitly, that they can’t respond on social to a fun question like, “Do you like fries more than pizza?” Or whatever that question was. If they can’t even respond to that, there’s a culture issue where authority is somehow in a downward direction, forcing this fear-based element that’s making people feel like they can’t share their thoughts.

Alex Mills: Yeah, when I read this question I was taken aback a little bit. I did not expect.

Brady Shearer: This is unusually, and that’s why we included it, because it’s troubleshooting, almost.

Alex Mills: Yeah, I didn’t expect a youth to respond to that, say be like, “Hey, I don’t respond to these because I feel like I would be judged.” And I was taken aback to that as a pastor, because we have this setup in churches, in most churches at least, where there’s a concert, and then a Ted talk. Where somebody gets up, whether a pastor, or an elder, or a teaching pastor, what have you. In the same way that a teacher does, or a professor does in school, they tell you things about our faith, about the scriptures, this and that.

I think, if we’re not careful with our culture, that can be perceived as, well this person knows ex amount this much, so that’s why they’re often literally exulted on a stage, on a platform, and able to talk about these things. You hit on it as well. In some church cultures there’s not a lot of freedom to either ask questions, admit that we don’t know something. It’s just like, “Yep, I’m going to sit here quietly during the service, and listen to what they have to say, and try and put it into practice this week.”

I think you hit the nail on the head here Brady. It sounds like there needs to be a culture shift, in the capital c church. Because we work with enough churches. I work with enough churches during the day to know that this kind of culture can be pervasive in a lot of church context. So we have to be very careful of this. This begins at the top down.

So we have to exalt younger voices in our churches so that they know that they’re heard. They know that their voice is valid. They know that it’s okay to be wrong, and make mistakes, because that’s how we learn. That’s how we all learn. So to exalt younger voices in that church context will be very helpful.

So if a youth sees their youth leader talking on stage, or another youth talking about whatever it is, just hearing those other voices and be like, “It’s okay for me to use my voice too.”

Something else I was thinking about here as well. Not only does maybe the culture in church need to change. But changing cultures on social is a patient work. If you have been posting, using social media, using Instagram let’s say, as a promotion tool, just talking about what’s going on at church. You’re interpreting … you’re seeing social as a ministry. So you’re making that transition to using it to engage people, have a back and forth conversation. That transition, that turning of that preverbal ship has to happen in a patient way.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: Not only do you have to be patient with yourself as you change the content. But you have to be patient with your audience as well. Because if they’re conditioned to receive one kind of content from your church, which is information coming out of a fire hose, when you flip the script all of a sudden, and start asking for their opinions, that’s going to be foreign to them. You have to build trust with the people that are in you audience. Turning this ship, and starting to use social to promote engagement may have a bit of a dry period, as you start to post that kind of content. So be patient with yourselves, but also be patient with your audience as well.

Brady Shearer: Another thing that you can do is if the leadership is not answering these question, there’s probably a little bit of hesitation on the rest of the congregation to jump in and answer questions. So if you’re not seeing people respond, ask yourself, is the leadership responding? Is the pastor going in and putting in the comments?

Alex Mills: Right. Is your worship team active on social.

Brady Shearer: If you’re asking a question like, “Are you one of those people that likes pineapple on pizza?” And then the pastor isn’t giving their answer, and the worship team isn’t giving theirs. It shouldn’t be up to the youth to jump in and give comments, when they probably don’t feel comfortable doing it onust random question like that, because the culture doesn’t exist from the top down. The leadership isn’t going ahead and doing it.

So that’s another thing that you can do. If you start getting your team, the leadership team, the people that we’re seeing on stage every week, to comment over and over and over again, that will lead the way and make it okay for all of the other people that are maybe hesitant to jump in to-

Alex Mills: [crosstalk 01:01:54] that’s the practical thing that you can start doing right now. That’ll do it for this inaugural episode of the Pro Church Tools show. Make sure you subscribe. If you want to watch the video version, YouTube.com/prochurchtools. Hit the like button, leave a comment, let us know what you thought of this new format. And then you can also listen on the go, the audio version is available in wherever you find your podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcast. Just search for Pro Church Tools, and you will find this.

Make sure you subscribe. And we haven’t got a podcast review in a little while because we haven’t. But you need to change that. Leave us a review, and let us know your thoughts. And that’ll do it. Talk soon.



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