What's in this session?

  • Who is Alex Dion Wilson? (01:34)
  • The “before TikTok” grind. (02:50)
  • What are you doing that is so different from others? (08:45)
  • What is the average length for your TikTok videos? (12:00)
  • Incorporating sounds and music on TikTok? (15:00)
  • Alex Wilson’s camera gear. (18:45)
  • Stopping the scroll on TikTok. (19:10)
  • Mistakes to avoid on TikTok. (24:35)
  • How his TikTok followers are responding. (34:45)
  • TOP 5 (42:55)
  • Q&A (58:45)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

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

Alex Mills: Holla.

Brady Shearer: You can subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts, Apple Podcasts, perhaps Spotify. You can also watch the video version on YouTube, youtube.com/prochurchtools. If you’re watching the video version, make sure to hit that like button.

Alex Mills: You’ve got to hit it hard. Sometimes I find if it’s a tender touch with the button, it doesn’t work. So you’ve got to smash the like button.

Brady Shearer: Smash it, hit subscribe, turn on that church bell so you never miss another video, and leave a comment below. Let us know what you think of this episode because in this episode, we are interviewing Christian content creator, Alex Dion Wilson. Alex, we’ve had you on shows before. You have done a great job for us springboarding a ton of different content that [crosstalk 00:00:51]-

Alex Mills: We’ve talked about you a lot.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. We wanted to bring Alex back on the Pro Church Tools show because he has become somewhat of a Tik Tok sensation. And you know that phrase “overnight success” and how everyone pushes back and says, “There’s no such thing,” This might be one of the times where…

Alex Mills: This is a rapid success. My wife and I were actually just talking about Alex last night at dinner and I was telling her like, “I can’t remember the last time I saw this kind of organic rapid growth on social profiles like what we’re seeing with Alex right now.”

Brady Shearer: That’s what Tik Tok allows for. So Alex, could you re-introduce yourself to Pro Church Nation and tell us a little bit about you and the work that you’re up to?

Alex Dion W.: What’s up, guys? Yeah, I love Pro Church Tools Nation. So what’s up, y’all? I’m Alex. I’m a husband, dad. I live here in Hawaii with my family. My wife’s Hawaiian, so we have some connects here. That’s been really fun. I actually met Brady in Hawaii, so that’s a big part of our story too. Yeah, I make Tik Toks, I make YouTube videos. I think I’ve heard Alex say this before. Tik Tok is so much fun. I just do Tik Tok most of my time now. It’s super, super fun. So yeah, I’m excited to be here.

Brady Shearer: And prior to going full time as a Christian content creator, you have a history within vocational ministry as a youth pastor. When we were hanging out in Hawaii and met you for the first time on a filming trip, you were a youth pastor at that point. And now you’ve transitioned to creating content full time online, not too dissimilar from what we’re doing. Can you paint a picture, Alex, for Pro Church Nation of what your work was like before Tik Tok came around and you made the jump onto that platform? Because I remember you were creating YouTube content, creating Instagram content. Paint a picture of the before.

Alex Dion W.: Yeah. It all started, I was a youth pastor and I realized what you guys preach. It was before I even heard you guys, but I realized that 167 hours outside of church was just oversaturated with content that didn’t point kids to Christ. So I started making videos a while ago. Then some guys were really talking about vertical video. So I was like, “What’s vertical video?” And they were just talking about making exclusive content for social media to be watched on a phone. That was like two years ago. And I was like, “Okay, well, I’m going to try to do that.” So I took a break from YouTube, and turned my camera sideways and I only filmed vertical content.

Then after that, I was like, “You know what, I really want to make money. So I’ll just start doing YouTube on the side, but I’ll still stick with my vertical content.” And so, I have hundreds and hundreds of videos that are all filmed vertical to be watched on a phone. Then I was at a zoo with my kids, and my phone had died, and there was this like 12-year-old girl in the sandpit next to my kids, not playing the sandpit. She was on Tik Tok. And for like 30 minutes straight did not pull up her head from her phone. I told myself right then and there, I was like, “As soon as I get home and charge my phone, I’m going to upload one of my videos onto that app.” The very first video I uploaded got 200,000 views. And I thought the app was broken.

I started googling it. I was like, “What is this app?” And there’s like, Tik Tok bought Musical.ly, and Musical.ly bought whatever. I was like, “Okay, is it real? Is it legit? Is this broken?” Then sure enough, every video I posted after that I got over 10,000, 20,000 views, sometimes over 50, 100,000. So yeah, after that, I was like, “Oh, I’m just going to post here at times,” because I was already posting too much on Instagram. People were super annoyed at me. Yeah, so the jump has been good. I don’t know if I answered the question or not but…

Brady Shearer: Yeah. That’s amazing. Just this morning I was looking at your Tik Tok page again and your videos collectively have amassed over seven and a half million views, which is incredible.

Alex Dion W.: Yeah, it’s crazy. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: But I think it’s hilarious what you just said about you thought that the app was broken because, how do you get that kind of reach without having any followers, right? You had no audience, but 200,000 people saw your content. And that’s what’s so incredible about Tik Tok specifically. We talked about it a few episodes ago and we were talking about how the algorithm works. Tik Tok is basically pushing your content in front of people that don’t follow you just to test and see how it performs. And your content, Alex, performs really well with kids who are on Tik Tok. Kids are responding to what you’re posting and saying, “Hey, this is really meaningful to me. This is really touching to me.”

Kids who don’t have a relationship with Jesus yet are interacting with your content, which is what we think is so special about it. And to us, that’s what using social media for ministry looks like. You used to work vocationally in church. You were a youth pastor doing that thing. And what you’re doing now, I don’t think is any less ministry. I think this is a great kind of personification of what it looks like to use social media as a ministry.

Alex Dion W.: I didn’t even know that stuff until you talked about the small batch, medium batch, large batch thing in one of the last episodes, the algorithm secrets, that was huge. And so, listening to that episode, I actually watched it. Then thinking back on my growth, I’m like, “Oh, that completely makes sense,” why I was able to grow so fast because of the secrets that you guys shared. So guys, if you haven’t watched that episode or listened to it, you’ve got to listen to those Tik Tok secrets. That’s incredible.

Brady Shearer: One thing you said, Alex, that stood out to me was that there are these 167 hours beyond Sunday. We always talk to churches and we say to these churches, “You need to start creating content for that because that’s how you reach people in your congregation and community. And Alex has taken that same approach, but he’s applied it more universally, to the entire world. And he’s like, “There are so many platforms and so much content, but how much of that content is created from a Christ-centered worldview?

Disney Plus and Apple TV PLus came out in the last month. And those were already on top of Hulu and Netflix and HBO and every single sport. We’ve all had that feeling of, “Man, there’s no way I could ever watch all the TV that I would like to watch, like, “Hey, could you check out this series?”

Alex Mills: No, I literally-

Brady Shearer: I have eight other series that I need to watch this week. And so there’s so much content, but how much of it, if any, is created with that Christ-centered worldview? And so Alex is kind of filling this need that hasn’t been served and saying, “Okay, I can create content, but it needs to be created in a place that connects to people in a way that connects them to Jesus.”

Alex Dion W.: Right. Totally.

Brady Shearer: Alex, I wanted to ask you about your content creation strategy, because as much as Tik Tok does allow for crazy organic growth, and it wants that. Virality is not just possible but probable on Tik Tok. What goes into you creating a piece of content? So someone’s listening to this and they see all the success that you’ve got, 200,000 views in your first video. At the time of this recording, you’re hovering around 350,000 followers.

Alex Mills: Yes, and just rapidly ascending.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, because every time we make a video and say, “He has amassed this many followers.” By the time the video goes out, it is now incorrect. So we’re recording this video. He’s got 350,000-ish followers. In the title of this, I put 500,000 because I was like, four couple weeks out, it is only a matter of time, and it’s still probably going to be out of date. So someone’s listening to this. They see what you’re doing and you’re creating. You’re doing something specific that is still different than others. What is that?

Alex Dion W.: Yeah, so I have a three-part formula.

Brady Shearer: I love it.

Alex Dion W.: And it’s similar to a formula that you guys shared a while ago. I think you guys talked about, like it was content creation or sermon prep or whatever. So it’s similar. Mine starts off with an illustration or a story. Then the middle part is a verse or some type of truth from scripture. And the last part is an application. And so, I typically go out and or I’ll pray first, obviously, and then I’ll think of some type of illustration or a story first. That’s like my inspiration point. I did a lot of videos with popular restaurants in the States. We don’t have any of those restaurants here in Hawaii.

Brady Shearer: So that series is over.

Alex Dion W.: Yeah, that series is long gone. So I do animals that I see on the island, or certain trees that have cool facts about them, or different plants, different beaches, Hawaiian words, and stuff like that. And so I’ll take illustration. There’s a guitar here next to me, and so I’ll say something like, “This is a guitar,” and that usually grabs people because they’re like, “D’oh, idiot. I know it’s a guitar.”

Brady Shearer: Yes, this is a guitar.

Alex Dion W.: Yeah. So I’ll say, “We use it to make sweet sounds for the people we love,” or whatever. And then I’ll say something like, “There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about how God loves to hear our prayers,” something like that. And then I’ll finish with an application like, don’t be afraid to talk to God. He wants to hear from you, something like that. Yeah, they’re really simple. The one thing people always say in the comments, “I love how you take everyday objects and connect them to God.” Or kids will say something like… I love when people say this. “I learn more from this guy in 30 seconds than I have in church in 13 years.”

Brady Shearer: Stop. What?

Alex Dion W.: No, it’s the best. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, it’s so bad.”

Brady Shearer: Like, “This is a Bible.” Like, Oh, finally, it makes sense now.

Alex Dion W.: Oh my God.

Brady Shearer: Breakthrough.

Alex Dion W.: I know. Dude, totally. Some kid was like, “I love going to church now after I followed you on Tik Tok. I’m like, “Wait, what? You couldn’t understand church until you started watching my videos?”

Alex Mills: Yeah. It’s amazing.

Brady Shearer: Alex, not to devalue what you do, but that’s a pretty simple framework, right?

Alex Dion W.: Yes, it is.

Brady Shearer: Anyone listening could apply that to the content they’re creating, whether it’s a sermon, a YouTube video, Tik Tok, Instagram. And we talk about it at length, like storytelling just being the fundamental of how we share the story of Jesus. And so it’s incredibly simple and I’m convinced anyone can do it. But it’s the same way that Jesus shared the most important truths about the kingdom when he-

Alex Mills: This is a mustard seed.

Brady Shearer: Yes. Like, you-

Alex Mills: Oh.

Alex Dion W.: Exactly. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: No, but really, that’s what he did. He applied the truths of the kingdom to specific context. And a lot of the context we read in the Scripture is agricultural because he was speaking in an agricultural age. You’re right. He said, this is a mustard seed. Faith is like this thing. He’s like-

Alex Mills: This is a wineskin. Yes.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, so it’s kind of this principle that it’s not too hard to figure out, but it’s proven time and time again to stand the test of time. This is the most effective way to share the story of Jesus. And you’re just living proof that kids can resonate with this as well. Let’s get into some of the nitty gritty, Alex. You talked about length. What is the average length of a video you’re publishing on Tik Tok?

Alex Dion W.: Yep. 30 seconds. Around 30 seconds is the longest, and then the shortest will probably be like 15 seconds.

Brady Shearer: Have you noticed the 15-second ones outperforming the 30, or is it awash?

Alex Dion W.: If it is something that’s really attention-grabbing… One of the videos that just hit a million was one about a monk seal, which is like a… It’s a type of animal that is native to Hawaii. That one is particularly attention-grabbing because you really never see a monk seal unless you’re here in Hawaii. That was about 30 seconds, and so it performed really good. But the 15-second ones, they loop better. And so, because they loop better, they perform better as you guys talked about in your Tik Tok algorithm secrets.

Brady Shearer: The importance of replays on Tik Tok.

Alex Dion W.: Yeah. It just depends. What I typically try to do is I do try to loop them. So I’ll try to do some type of transition at the beginning and the end. And then I’ll cut that transition from the beginning so it just starts with me talking. And I’ll paste it at the end so it’s essentially at the beginning, but it’s actually at the end of the video.

Brady Shearer: Right. So you’re rewatching it and you may not even realize it.

Alex Dion W.: Right. Exactly.

Brady Shearer: Smart.

Alex Dion W.: Exactly, exactly. So I try to incorporate more loop transitions into it. That could be as simple as the video starts with a picture of like a papaya, and I start talking. And the video ends with a picture of a papaya. And so it looks like it never ended because it loops back to the papaya at the beginning. So stuff like that can give you little tricks if you’re-

Brady Shearer: That’s smart. Yeah, just like God love. It’s never ending.

Alex Dion W.: Yeah, exactly.

Alex Mills: Oh my gosh.

Alex Dion W.: And writing that down right now.

Alex Mills: Oh no, no.

Brady Shearer: Yes. You know what, Alex, that resonates with me, the length of your videos, because last night I was on Tik Tok and I was posting some content that I’d created for Instagram. I was just going to post it on Tik Tok. And the content I was posting was 56 seconds. So I was looking for a sound to add to that content. Well over 90% of the sounds built into Tik Tok that I was looking at maxed out at 30 seconds. There was only a handful that were a minute long. And so, I kind of got that cue. It’s like, “Oh, Tik Tok is showing me shorter sounds. And so I can infer that they’re telling me like, “This is the length of content we’d prefer to see posted here.”

It was interesting. When I first started using Tik Tok, I thought that there was a very short time limit being enforced by Tik Tok, because all of the videos that I saw were so short. And then I remember seeing one. It was like a minute long. And I was like, “I’ve never seen a video like this. I’ve seen 150 videos. I’ve never seen one this long.” It’s just that the culture values the shorter pieces of content, even though there isn’t a limit that’s being enforced.”

But you mentioned sounds. And Alex, I wanted to ask you about that. We know that the sounds and the music backdrops are a foundational piece of Tik Tok. How do you incorporate those in your videos?

Alex Dion W.: I go back and forth on this. There’s two ways you can approach it. The first way is you find a sound that complements your video. It doesn’t necessarily have to be popular. Almost every sound on Tik Tok will have a lot of listens. And so, I don’t really look for popular sounds unless it’s a song that I really feel like will fit. There’s a song by Kanye called Wolves. We use it for a levitate challenge, is the sound that it’s connected to on Tik Tok. But it’s a really cool instrumental voices in the background. It has a real spiritual tone to it already. So I’ve used that on a video about how Jesus would befriend strippers. That video did really well.

Again, it was attention-grabbing, but that song complemented that video really well. Now, sounds, sometimes they can actually take away from your content. And it makes your content not able to become a sound. So if Alex Mills were to do a video about coffee, like I saw a video he did. It was called Coffee Without Commentary. If he were to make his own sound or music with that video, other people can click that sound and use it as well. And everyone who uses that video, they’ll all go back to that sound and see that Alex’s video was the original video.

I’ve seen content creators on Tik Tok really build a lot of audience because they make their own sound. And then people replay their sound and duet their sound, and do different things with that sound, which also makes their original video get more views in the end. And so the approach I’m taking now is I’m not using anyone’s sounds anymore. I’m just using just my straight up voice. Also, there’s a part of us, because so many people use sounds on Tik Tok and it’s such a musical central app, when you just hear someone straight up talking, it stops your scroll.

Casey Neistat does this in his vlogs. He’ll have music playing and then he’ll just abruptly stop the music, and then he’ll go on a monologue, because in the brain, it’s almost like a jump cut in the inner ears, jump cut for the ears. It just makes you just stop and be like, “Hey, wait, what’s happening?” And so if a person is on the For You page and they’re like, “Oh, Roxanne, Roxanne, which is a popular song-

Alex Mills: [inaudible 00:17:28].

Alex Dion W.: So good. It sounds amazing.

Alex Mills: We sing that to Roxanne all the time. She likes it a lot better than the-

Alex Dion W.: Well, I love that song.

Alex Mills: …what is it, the police song?

Brady Shearer: Yes, whatever that old [crosstalk 00:17:34]-

Alex Mills: You don’t want to turn off the red light.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. Oh, it’s so good.

Alex Dion W.: But they’re hearing that, and they hear that, and all of a sudden they come across mine, and I’m like, “This is a guitar,” and there’s no music going on.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: Have you ever seen a monk seal?

Alex Mills: This is a monk seal.

Alex Dion W.: This is a monk seal.

Alex Mills: It is monk seal.

Alex Dion W.: But, with that said, I have I think part… Some of my views have come from using popular sounds. But the approach I’m taking now, and maybe this is just because I have a big enough audience I can do this now, the approach I’m taking now is no sounds, just my own original sounds, to stop people scroll.

Brady Shearer: What gear are you using to create these videos, Alex? I’m sure people are curious about that. Is it just your phone? You got a camera?

Alex Dion W.: I very rarely use my phone. I use my camera so much. It’s easier to use my camera. So I use a Canon M50, and I have a small rig cage on it so it’s always vertical. It’s on top of my JOBY GorillaPod, but it’s always in vertical mode no matter what. Then I will use my phone, and I do encourage people to use their phone. But at this point, it’s just it’s a lot easier for me to use my camera because I know how to prop it up. I know how the audio works, and everything works quicker.

Brady Shearer: What lens are you putting on that M50?

Alex Dion W.: Yeah. I have the widest lens that that body makes. The M50, they have their own set of lenses. And I have the 11 to 22 millimeter, which is the widest one that comes with that. Any wider than that, you have to buy the adapter mount and then throw a different lens on it so.

Brady Shearer: Will you often shoot at 11 millimeters?

Alex Dion W.: Yep, yep. Always at 11.

Brady Shearer: I think that’s really important, because it’s kind of like how I feel about Alex Mills here and his iPhone 11 Pro S Max, Pro X Mass, Mass.

Alex Mills: Who knows?

Brady Shearer: Sure. Mine is not here yet. It’ll be here in a few days. But this new phone has the ability to shoot that ultra wide. There is a moment in time that exists right now where you did it yesterday, when you publish an Instagram story using that ultra wide lens, it will stop a scroll because it is a perspective with a compression in a lens that you almost never see on Instagram. And I think that, it sounds like Alex Wilson is leveraging something similar here on Tik Tok. He’s shooting in an ultra wide format that you cannot see on a normal phone.

So when you’re going through Tik Tok where most people are creating content with their phones and you see this weird perspective and compression that you don’t normally see, stop the scroll. And that’s what, the third or fourth time Alex has now brought up a stop-the-scroll technique whether it be with the jump cut for the ears, I love that verbiage using different perspective. He’s holding up something, so there’s a prop. That’s youth pastor, children’s pastor 101, right?

Alex Mills: Yes. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: All these things on the margins working to stop the scroll so that he can gain attention, so that then he can share his message with his audience.

Alex Mills: Yeah. The type of content when it comes to what Alex is posting is often really similar. It usually follows this three-step framework that we talked about earlier, so that the type of content is often the same. But using these smaller variables and working with them in really creative ways to help stop the scroll is proving to be really effective for Alex.

Brady Shearer: Let me just say, if you’re listening to this, if you’re watching this, these type of on-the-margin strategies, these types of things that are just the icing on the cake, they really can make all the difference. The only really way to learn them, though, is to actually be creating. Because I was talking to one of our employees this morning, and he was asking me, “So when we set out the social program with Nucleus Social, do you send out a countdown post on one day, and then a quote post on another day?

I told him, I was like, “There’s really no framework for that. I have these rough guidelines, but it changes every single month, because every month as I create, as I do, in the trenches, in the dirt, I pick up things, just slight little things on the margins that I realize, oh, if I apply this, it will be 6% more likely to get a comment.”

When you do enough of these things over time, they make a considerable difference. But the price for admission is making mistakes and actually creating something to begin with. That’s what all three of us are doing that most that are listening and watching won’t, will listen to people teach us about doing things, but we can’t actually do it. And until you can take that step, you’re missing in on so much.

Alex Mills: Yeah. A lot of those little things are not things that you can just take down notes and just immediately apply to your content, be like, “This is going to work.” You have to, like you said, do the work in the trenches and figure it out for yourself.”

Alex Dion W.: Yeah, I wanted to say about the iPhone thing. You guys are so right with that, because the Tik Tok videos, 99% of them, are all iPhone videos. And I’ve had kids tell me in my comments, “Alex, I thought that your video was an ad,” because I’m using an actual camera and it looks just a little bit better quality than a iPhone video. And so, some kids have told me like, “I swiped past this because I thought it was an ad.” And so if you’re using iPhone, or if you’re listening to this, you’re like, “I have to get a camera like Alex,” do not do that.

Another thing is my video has a crop sensor. And so it’s 11 millimeters times two. So it’s really like 22 millimeter, which is just a little bit wider than an iPhone because iPhone shoots at like 24 millimeter. And so it’s a little wider enough to stop people’s scroll. But at the same time, if you’re shooting on iPhone, especially the new iPhone, the quality… It sounds weird. But the quality of the iPhone, when it’s uploaded, is low enough that people really like it. Because the good cinematography and good Tik Toks are the Tik Toks that make you forget the iPhone’s there.

And so if a kid feels like this is too overproduced, or he tried too hard on this, kids are going to be like, “No, I’m not into it.” But if they feel like it’s more or less a FaceTime call to them… That’s one frame of thought that I always have when I film. I think, is a kid going to stop on this and feel like it’s a FaceTime call to them? Because it’s extremely personal, that they pull up on my video and they’re like, “Oh, yeah. It’s Alex.” I want them to feel like I just called them on their phone and I’m talking to them. So use your iPhone. Don’t feel like you have to buy a new camera, whatever. iPhone’s perfect.

Brady Shearer: We’ve seen that so much like personal overproduced. We’ve seen with brutalism design. We’ve seen it with Gen Z’s just complete rejection for anything that looks or sounds good. We see it on Instagram. We see it on Tik Tok. It’s actually a form of rebellion within the form of aesthetics. We see this with fashion all the time, right? You’ll see new trends come out of… A lot of times this happens in non-White communities where trends will come out of places where they were wearing clothing in a certain way to subjugate, to subvert the culture that exists. And we’re seeing that with not just clothing aesthetics, but with design aesthetics as well.

Alex, what are some things that you will never do on Tik Tok not to do with morality or ethics? But you know that this is a thing that people do on Tik Tok and you’re like, “No, no.” Really you’re just overlooking that. That’s a big mistake. And you never do those things.

Alex Dion W.: I will never do dances.

Brady Shearer: But you taught us to dance, Alex. I couldn’t even shoot until I met you.

Alex Dion W.: No. No way, dude. Brady is already naturally a really good dancer.

Alex Mills: Wow, this is the compliment you’ve been fishing for your entire life.

Brady Shearer: I brought him on just for this. I sent him that ahead of time.

Alex Dion W.: No, I’m for sure, I know Brady is like 5% Black.

Brady Shearer: Okay, Alex. You need to stop.

Alex Dion W.: No, I’m serious. Guys, this will probably never happen for everyone listening.

Brady Shearer: Just because we don’t see it, Alex is Black. Just in case you’re not seeing this or like…

Alex Dion W.: Yes. I’m Black, but I went to private school so I have a White-sounding voice. No, guys, you’ll never see this, but Brady’s buff.

Alex Mills: That’s a fact.

Alex Dion W.: He is muscles. So I’m convinced he’s 5% Black because of his muscle tone and his dance skills.

Brady Shearer: We’ve got to delete this episode.

Alex Dion W.: Anyway, I never going to do dance videos just because it’s oversaturated. Everyone’s doing it. And so, I’m convinced you can build views by being trendy, but you can’t build an audience by being trendy.

Alex Mills: Wow, oh, stop. Oh my gosh.

Brady Shearer: Actually clip that and tattoo it on your chest or something.

Alex Dion W.: Yes. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Okay. Let’s make it a little bit of alliteration.

Alex Mills: Okay. Wind it back.

Brady Shearer: You can get attention with trends, you can’t get audience with trends. I’m going to take that and make it my own and not give him credit.

Alex Dion W.: No, you just made it better, but it’s true, and I’ll see this on my For You page. A kid will be dancing or doing some type of trend, some type of Tik Tok trend. I’ll go to their page and they’ll have like 500 followers. But that one video got like two million views. It’s because no one’s going to follow you because you just did what everyone else is doing. They might like it. They might show it to a friend, but they won’t follow you because of it. They’re going to follow you for original content that brings value to their lives.

So if you love coffee, and this is why I’m convinced Alex, if he stays down this road and continues to hone this craft, Alex is going to build a huge audience on Tik Tok because for people love coffee, and they love coffee culture, they’re going to follow him because he’s adding value and that he’s adding a viewpoint that people aren’t giving in the coffee realm. And so, make content that’s original and valuable. So I’ll never do trends. I’ll never do stuff like that at all.

Brady Shearer: That was really insightful.

Alex Mills: Yeah, it makes sense.

Brady Shearer: Final thing I want to hit on, Alex. And this, I think, is so important and encouraging to every single person listening, watching this, is that we’re in a moment right now. And this is like the seventh or eighth moment on social that we’ve lived through this like this, where there is all of this prime real estate that can be grabbed up on Tik Tok. And not only will it make a big difference for you on Tik Tok, but it can start to seep out of Tik Tok onto other platforms.

First, I want to make sure that… I have this assertion that I want to make sure is correct because, when you started creating on Tik Tok, the content wasn’t necessarily so different from what you had been previously doing on Instagram or YouTube, but we know those platforms are so heavily saturated. And it seems like you were creating on there and seeing growth but struggling to see any really true momentum. Is that true?

Alex Dion W.: True? Very true.

Brady Shearer: Okay. Here’s what’s fascinating because I found this data using a platform called Social Blade, which will show you analytics and engagement and follower counts on people’s YouTube channels, Instagram profiles. On September 22nd, Alex Dion Wilson, which is his handle on all platforms, make sure you go follow him, on September 22 of 2019 on YouTube, Alex had 749 subscribers. Fast forward to November 11th, which was yesterday.

Alex Mills: So less than two months later.

Brady Shearer: Less than two months, from 749 subscribers to 5,070 subscribers.

Alex Mills: Good luck trying to do that anywhere else.

Brady Shearer: And not just YouTube, also on Instagram. August 31st, 2019, 5,394 followers. Fast forward to November 11, again, two months, doubled, 12,017 followers.

Alex Mills: That number specifically right there is literally what Rebecca and I were talking about at dinner last night. I said to her, I said, “Rebecca, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen organic growth like this on Instagram before. No paid ads, nothing. Just organic growth.” What’s we’re trying to hit on here is this cross-platform traffic that you’re getting. Your audience on Tik Tok, Alex, is growing so quickly, so aggressively.

Tik Tok actually has, and we’ve talked about it before, has a spot where you can put your Instagram handle. They will include a button on your bio directing traffic to your Instagram. So it’s a one-click cross-platform move for people to get from your Tik Tok to your Instagram. So you’re pushing 400,000 followers on Tik Tok, and it’s very clear that a lot of these kids are clicking through and now engaging with you on Instagram. And it’s not the same content anymore that you’re posting on these two platforms. So they can now engage with you in two different places in two different ways.

Alex Dion W.: Yep. I post exclusively to Tik Tok all my content. And then if something performs really, really, really well, I’ll post that video on Instagram. But Instagram gets probably a 10th, or not even a 10th. Maybe even sometimes a fifteenth or a twentieth of amount of videos-

Brady Shearer: It’s so sad. The way you’re talking about Instagram is the way we spoke about Facebook 18 months ago.

Alex Mills: RIP. Let’s put it to bed.

Alex Dion W.: It’s sad.

Brady Shearer: RIP the Gram.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Alex Dion W.: Yes. Whoever’s listening to this, if you can get comfortable talking on camera, and if you can make it your goal to listen to Brady and Alex’s videos about public speaking, and really hone your ability to talk on camera, and fluctuate your voice and watch YouTube videos about it…

Tik Tok as a full-video app. And so even if you make really nice compilations of nature or some type of cool musical, you vlogs or whatever, use Tik Tok. It’s a video app. People are going there with the sound all the way up. They’re ready to engage. It’s a vertical version of YouTube. Try to make something there, and do it now. Because by the time this episode comes out, it’ll be almost fall break. So think about how many Tik Tok downloads is going to happen over fall break, and then again, over Christmas break. And so, if you’re listening to this and you don’t act now, you’re going to be missing out in 2020.

Alex Mills: Well, I think what we’re seeing is history repeating itself. So if you’re watching this in 2019, 2020, 2025, whenever it is, we have seen what’s happening with Tik Tok. It happened with Instagram. And it happened with Facebook.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, they all have [crosstalk 00:31:52]-

Alex Mills: And before that it happened with blogging, and then with Google search. Whatever comes next, it’s going to happen again. History will repeat itself over and over again. It happened with the West Coast with gold mining. You went over there and Malibu wasn’t Malibu, and people just were like, “I live here now.” And now that property is so, so valuable. It’s so valuable that once you have property like that, it can bring in revenue that then improves other areas of your life. And you can build an entire business monopoly on top of a single smart move.

That same philosophy applies to audience and attention on social. You make this move on Tik Tok, we’re looking at the data right here struggling to get true momentum on other platforms, does what he should be doing on Tik Tok because nobody else is willing to take that risk, the risk not being moving to the West Coast and starting a new life. The risk of just spending a little bit of time figuring out a platform and publishing on it.

Now the gains that’s happening on Tik Tok are filtering over to these other platforms, where he was struggling before. And this is why attention is the most valuable commodity your church can possess. We’re living through a moment right now with Tik Tok, if you miss it, don’t worry. It’s going to come again because these first 25 years of social, this is going to keep happening until eventually every single city is the new future of startups because we’ve oversaturated the places on the West, because e can’t live there anymore. So Chattanooga is the next big startup city. It’s just going to keep repeating. But you have to take the risk to spend your time with no guarantee on a return. It’s the only way that it works.

When I was creating blog posts and YouTube content eight years ago, and no one was watching, but I was building a strong foundation for the future and I was sending out emails and capturing emails, that was a risk. It took a ton of time and even some money to start that business. Now it’s paying off where I can get started on a platform. And people will follow me there because we have a baked in attention with our audience. But this is, for me, the biggest takeaway from everything that I’ve seen Alex doing because it’s literally happening right now. We’ve seen it happen before it’s going to happen again. So just what are you waiting for? Dive in.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. Hey, Alex-

Alex Dion W.: Go for it.

Brady Shearer: Before we go, we’ve talked about a lot of numbers here and how your platforms are growing and your audience size. Now, we talk about numbers when we talk about church attendance. When we talk about church attendance here at Pro Church Tools, we often say like, “Hey, that’s a bit of a vanity metric. Stop evaluating your growth by how many people are in your church service on a Sunday.” And if we were to look at just your follower count alone, that in itself would be very similar, a vanity metric. Can you share with us a story or two about how these kids that are following you, these kids that are showing up for you on social, what kind of next steps they’re taking in their life with Jesus? Because you do such a great job, especially on Instagram of posting these kind of testimonials.

And so, for folks who are listening who don’t yet follow you, they may be wondering, “Okay, so these kids are watching these videos. But what does that mean for those kids’ actual lives? Can you share with us a story or two about how this kind of content is really and quantifiably changing kids’ lives?

Alex Dion W.: Yeah, yeah. There’s two big ways. One is we do a church service, a 10-minute church service. Me and my wife play guitar, and we sing one song and we do a message. We call it church because there’s a lot of kids who either don’t go to church or they want to go to church, but they’re not ready, or their parents are atheists. There’s a lot of kids that follow me, their parents will not let them go to church. Even there’s some kids who send me messages, they’re Muslim and they want to be Christian, but their parents won’t let them. And so, I do a service on Sunday. We’ll get up to anywhere between 1,000, 2,000 people to watch the live stream.

Through the comments, I’ll do a invitation to salvation. And I’ll say, “Hey, if you really believe this whole sermon and you want to take next steps with the Lord, this is how you do that.” And I talked about repentance. I talk about the Holy Spirit’s going to convict you to let go of some things, you need to let go those things. That’s what solidifies your faith. And so, a lot of kids will take that step during the live stream and we’ll record all the people who digitally raise their hands.

Another big way is I get almost like 100 DMs a week, and I’m sure that number will go up. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes I get mad. I’m like, “I don’t want to reply to all these people.” But they’re genuine questions like, how do I get closer to God? Can you pray for my friend? She has cancer. My dad and my mom are getting divorced, what do I do? Is it wrong to cuss? Is it wrong to drink alcohol? Stuff like that, stuff that I could totally make YouTube videos about.

But going back to what we said about being personal overproduced, these kids want to hear my voice. And so, I’ll use the voice record option on Instagram, and kids love this because it’s so personal. They hear my voice in the videos all the time and then to hear my voice talking straight to them like, “Hey, Sarah. I’m really sorry to hear that your cat died. Let me say a prayer for your cat.” To hear that, it makes her feel like I’m really reaching out to her. And it’s also a lot easier than typing out a long message.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. That’s a good point. I need to start using this.

Alex Dion W.: And so, yeah, all types of people just wanting to know what their next steps are. The main response that I always get, or the main thing that I always give is, Hey, if you want to grow closer to God, you need to make time in your schedule for Him. I probably say that like 15 times a day, just because kids are always like, “I want to be like you. I want to be closer to God.” And I always tell them, “Look, I’m not honestly any closer to God than you are. I just look like I am because I’m always talking about God. But if you want to be closer to Him, you need to make a date with Him every day. You need to set time in your schedule to spend time with Him.” And so just giving kids real answers for their questions. Yep.

Alex Mills: And using social as a springboard to get into those personal conversations. And this is what people don’t see on the front end, and they’ll think, “What is social?” You’re just asking a fun question. You’re just making a 30-second video with a sound behind it, yeah, that’s the springboard for real conversation.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, that’s the open door. Yeah.

Alex Mills: Absolutely. Yeah.

Alex Dion W.: This person, she posted… You know the cards at church that say, “What did you learn from today,” or prayer requests, or praise reports or whatever, some lady wrote out, “My son came to church today because of Kanye West’s new album.” I posted it on one of my social pages. I thought, that is exactly what’s happening with the type of content that I make, the type of content Pro Church Tools makes. Some people are coming across these vlogs, these YouTube videos that you guys make, Tik Toks that I make, and they’re stepping back into church because of our content, and that’s the whole point.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, you’re so right. To quote Alex Dion Wilson, #bringbackgodculture.

Alex Mills: Let’s go.

Brady Shearer: @alexdionwilson on Tik Tok, on Instagram, on YouTube, give this man a follow. He’s worth your time, and watch what he’s doing and what he’s creating. And look for those little things that maybe stand out is different than what others are doing. It’s almost certainly intentional on his part. Alex, thanks so much for making the time. We know it is like 6:00 AM your time because you are five hours behind us over in Hawaii. Hope to see you soon, my man.

Alex Dion W.: Yes, can’t wait. Thank you, guys.

Brady Shearer: It’s really cool hearing Alex’s origin story, and especially this big breakthrough moment for him because he’s been creating content for so long. And now he’s really starting to see a momentum, which is awesome. I was in the recording booth recording video announcements last week, which we’ve been doing at Pro Church Tools for seven, eight years. We still do it every single week for the churches that we serve in that way. I remember reading announcements two, three, four years ago, and these churches are sending in these scripts to us. And they’ve done their very best to craft the script in such a way that it would compel you to take a next step.

These churches have spent so much time and effort and money creating these events, and these services, and these programs because they want to get people involved because they know that involvement and next steps is what leads to life change. That was what originally spurred on this idea for Nucleus, because I was seeing churches say, “Okay, we want you to sign up and volunteer, or you can call this person, you could email this person. You can go to the lobby, you can go to our website, download our app. You can check the bulletin.” They were trying to do everything and anything that they could-

Alex Mills: I’m reading the announcement, I don’t even know what to do next.

Brady Shearer: Because yeah, the thought is, the more options they have, the easier it’ll be to take a next step. And so we were like, “Okay, we’re going to create this platform. It’s called Nucleus. It’s a central hub website builder. So instead of sending people to six different locations, and then working to maintain all six different ones, it’s just going to be one singular location.

Alex Mills: Makes sense.

Brady Shearer: So it was from those church announcements that we were doing for real churches that spawned the idea for Nucleus. Then after building Nucleus for two to three years, we realized that next steps need to be taking place across every area of ministry. And having a singular destination where everyone can go is really the first step to making that happen. But then, what you’re doing with your sermons, and what you’re doing with your social, what you’re doing with your giving, what you’re doing with the creative pieces that you’re making within church, they’re all contributing to this next steps culture, and that’s where Nucleus Social came about, Nucleus Media, Nucleus Giving, Nucleus sermons. And it’s just crazy to think that it all started with basically a church announcement of me reading and being like, “Man, this is chaotic and confusing. It needs to be more clear.”

That’s led to now this new paradigm that we keep talking about. You could hear Alex bring it up as we were discussing it. He’s talking about creating content for the purpose to see kids take next steps, getting involved, becoming active participants, not passive spectators. And so the Nucleus platform, it’s evolving. It’s growing. We’ve recently combined our previous flagship platform of Storytape, which was our unlimited stock footage platform and our social media platform. It is now a part of Nucleus. The great thing is it’s at no extra cost.

Alex Mills: Yeah, just included.

Brady Shearer: Nucleus was $99 before. We added 23,000 stock video 4K clips made for churches, and daily done for your social media posts with after effects project files for photoshop and pre written captions.

Alex Mills: Still 99 bucks.

Brady Shearer: We didn’t raise the price at all.

Alex Mills: Yeah, we did it.

Brady Shearer: It’s good for you.

Alex Mills: Yes, it’s, yeah, good for everyone.

Brady Shearer: You can get a free trial for Nucleus with no credit card required. We’re not going to bill you unless you put in your credit card info. And you can get 30 free days of stock video downloads.

Alex Mills: First time ever free trials for the social program.

Brady Shearer: Website build, all of it, 30 days no credit card. We just need an email from you. You can go to nucleus.church to sign up for that. And now we’re going to do top five. Alex take it away.

Alex Mills: It’s time for your mother’s favorite segment, top five. This week, I kept my top five list in my private notebook. I didn’t add it to our shared note because-

Brady Shearer: I couldn’t peek.

Alex Mills: … I see this one going one of two ways.

Brady Shearer: Oh, great.

Alex Mills: And I’m not sure which way it’s going to go. Either we’re just going to be in resounding agreement here, or it’s going to be contentious. American Thanksgiving is in two days from this episode airing on YouTube. We just had a Friendsgiving meal with all of our friends, basically family at the office. We got together your place. We had a thanksgiving meal. Six weeks prior we had Canadian Thanksgiving. Yes, we do that here. So today, the top five Thanksgiving meal items. But first, some honorable mentions.

Brady Shearer: Oh no.

Alex Mills: You know what falls into the honorable mention category, turkey, because turkey kind of sucks. He’s gone. So I’m just going to take this opportunity to talk to you one-on-one. It’s you and me. Look, you know it. I know it. Turkey kind of sucks. It’s mostly dry. It’s large. It’s messy. You don’t love it. I don’t love it. So turkeys got to be there, but it’s an honorable mention like-

Brady Shearer: This is devastating.

Alex Mills: We could do without it, but this should be noted.

Brady Shearer: Thank you.

Alex Mills: The turkey that you made at Friendsgiving last week was the best turkey hands down I’ve ever had. But the caveat is you had to put a lot of work in. So Brady butchered the turkey before cooking it. Did a pre-sear, put each individual leg and wing and breast into individual vacuum-sealed bags, put them in a hot water bath for 24 hours, took them out one by one, dried them, seasoned them, seared them again. Your mom’s not doing that kind of work for your Thanksgiving turkey. So if you’re having Friendsgiving at Brady’s house, turkey’s falling somewhere in top five.

Brady Shearer: Okay, it is.

Alex Mills: But for the rest of us, turkey’s just not [crosstalk 00:45:04]-

Brady Shearer: Because I was devastated, because like four days ago, you said, “Greatest turkey I’ve ever had.”

Alex Mills: I literally.

Brady Shearer: And then I get an honorable mention.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: I’m not even on the top five.

Alex Mills: No. Your turkey specifically can have all top five spots. But for everyone else’s turkey, your mom’s turkey, sorry. It’s got to be there but-

Brady Shearer: It’s the third turkey that I’ve done for Thanksgiving or Christmas now, sous vide style.

Alex Mills: Oh, so good.

Brady Shearer: And it’s 24 hours of the legs in, 12 hours for the white meat in. What it does is it allows you to cook both the dark meat and the white meat perfectly for both because what you’re normally working with is dry white meat back and juicy dark meat. There’s a reason why my wife and brother-in-law are like, “It’s all about the dark meat.” They had never had white meat. And then I made a good for them like, “Oh this white meat’s actually better than the dark meat.” Yeah, because you’ve been eating dry-

Alex Mills: Honestly, what was so amazing about it, and I told you this was both types of meat, white and dark, had the same texture. They were just as tender so you could enjoy eating both of them and appreciate the different ways that they tasted because they’re different types of meat. Turkey’s honorable mention. Also I’ll blow through a couple more honorable mentions. Cranberry sauce, I’m not here for it but some people swear by it. Some people, who will remain nameless, at our Friendsgiving were just eating it on its own like it was jello.

No, if you’re going to go for cranberry sauce, at least put it on a vehicle like on turkey, on something else. Cranberry sauce, I’m not here for it, but I know some of you are.

Brady Shearer: Just one small interjection. For me, cranberry sauce belongs as a small dollop in the center of the dish. I love the color that it brings. You almost never have a plate that colorful throughout the year. So for me it’s integral because visually it signifies this is a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. And it plays so perfectly with the gravy and the turkey or the gravy and the potatoes. It’s sweet. It matches nice with the savory.

Alex Mills: Yeah. It’s the sweet element to the salty, to the savory. You’re right. I’m just not personally here for it. Stuffing, also an honorable mention. Hit or miss, can be good. Can be absolutely trash. I know stuffing’s on your table. It’s fine that it’s there, but not on the top five.

Brady Shearer: I hate stuffing so I’m with you on that.

Alex Mills: Perfect, and last, a general category, anything healthy. I know there’s got to be healthy stuff on the table, but that’s not what we’re here for.

Brady Shearer: What are we doing here. This is not-

Alex Mills: Take the turnips. Get them out of here. So, in the five spot, here we go, the top five Thanksgiving meal items in the five spot, mashed potatoes with gravy. I don’t need to roast potatoes at Thanksgiving.

Brady Shearer: If you’re not giving mashed potatoes, I’m not coming to your house.

Alex Mills: They’ve got to be there. They’ve got to be creamy. How do you feel about chunky mashed potatoes?

Brady Shearer: No.

Alex Mills: Because you can do the same thing with peanut butter, right? It’s like smooth or, what is it, crunchy?

Brady Shearer: Oh, team crunchy peanut butter.

Alex Mills: Whatever. But mashed potatoes, they’ve got to be smooth, right?

Brady Shearer: Got to be smooth.

Alex Mills: And they’ve got to have gravy.

Brady Shearer: And they must not have peels. If you’re putting your peels in your mashed potatoes, you are lazy. You don’t deserve to host Thanksgiving.

Alex Mills: Right? It’s not like some artisan thing like “Oh yeah, you can tell that these are the Yukon Golds from the color of the peel.”

Brady Shearer: It’s a deconstructed mashed potato. How do you deconstruct a mashed potato?

Alex Mills: Peel them, please. So mashed potato’s in the five spot with gravy. In the four spot, I credit this to my Southern wife who is born and raised in South Carolina. Southern mac and cheese has got to be on the Thanksgiving table. To those of us in Canada, super foreign, right?

Brady Shearer: Not a thing.

Alex Mills: When you hear them mac and cheese is coming to Thanksgiving, immediate red flags go up. “It’s like, What am I going to be…” You’re expecting Kraft Dinner. Your daughter, Lily, who loves Kraft Dinner, she heard there was mac and cheese, was so excited. I took her up to the table. I was like, “Lily, here you go.” She saw it, she’s like, “No.”

Brady Shearer: Bamboozled.

Alex Mills: She’s like, “I want my mac and cheese.” No, honey, this is artisan mac and cheese.

Brady Shearer: Let us try.

Alex Mills: This is special. She’s like, “No.” She didn’t even go for it. So, for Americans, I know it’s going to be super common. You’re with me. It’s got to be in the top five.

Brady Shearer: It’s got to be KD.

Alex Mills: For the Canadians listening, you need to either marry a Southerner, find one, befriend one.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, befriend one.

Alex Mills: Get on the internet. There’s probably like southernbelle.com. They’ll probably teach you how to make it. I don’t know. Probably don’t go to that website.

Brady Shearer: [crosstalk 00:49:02] that website.

Alex Mills: Southernbellecooking.com and learn how to make Southern mac and cheese in the fore spot. I’m not here to be contentious with this particular item because, again, didn’t grow up with it. Rebecca brought it to Friendsgiving. It was delightful.

Brady Shearer: So good, right.

Alex Mills: In the three spot. I’m nervous about this one. If this was up to me, I might have put this in the one spot. I love this dish so much and it’s broccoli casserole.

Brady Shearer: My gosh.

Alex Mills: Look, I’m usually a pretty healthy person.

Brady Shearer: But why?

Alex Mills: I’m usually a pretty healthy person. When it comes to Thanksgiving and broccoli casserole, any preconceived ideas I have about health are just like, “See you later. Give me the most offensive portion of broccoli casserole and give it to me now.

Brady Shearer: Okay, no, no. Okay. I have some questions. First of all-

Alex Mills: It’s a vegetable.

Brady Shearer: I’m going to need you to define broccoli casserole.

Alex Mills: Okay. I’ve never really made it so I’m not sure. But I know that there’s a bunch of broccoli in there. I know there’s a bunch of cheese.

Brady Shearer: Okay. Those two mixed in some breadcrumbs?

Alex Mills: Like whole milk or heavy cream. I don’t know what’s in there. And then there’s some sort of substance. I don’t know if it’s bread crumbs or stuffing. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something. And then it’s just baked.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, that’s terrible. First of all, you said, “I don’t want anything healthy, and then lead with something that started with broccoli.

Alex Mills: But it’s a red herring. It’s not healthy.

Brady Shearer: So, congratulations, you’ve played yourself. Also-

Alex Mills: It’s a way to get vegetables.

Brady Shearer: … when we were basically distributing the dishes amongst Friendsgiving and saying, “Okay, who’s going to bring the cranberries? Who’s going to bring the mashed potatoes? Who’s going to do the turkey? Rebecca, your wife had sent over a list of things that she thought would be a good idea. And broccoli casserole was on there. First, not a single person stepped up and said, “I will do this.

Alex Mills: God bless her.

Brady Shearer: Secondly, it became a running joke of Who would ever eat such a horrid dish, such an offensive to the palate-serving opportunity? Just terrible.

Alex Mills: That’d be me.

Brady Shearer: So, no. The fact that you even considered it for the one, it’s not a thing. You’re just making up-

Alex Mills: Oh, I can’t stop thinking about it. When Thanksgiving rolls around and my Aunt Mary Ellen shows up to my mom’s place, I’m just like, “Aunt Mary Ellen, you bring the broccoli casseroles? She’s like, “Yep.” Then she knows when it gets served, like when we’re serving the plates, who’s the first person get broccoli casserole? This guy. In the three spot

Brady Shearer: Okay. I will say one thing. My family has a dish that is ours. And it shares some similar traits to broccoli casserole. We call it company carrots. It is steams carrots that are sliced on diagonals and it has-

Alex Mills: So far no resemblance.

Brady Shearer: … some type of breadcrumbs and some type of heavy cream that makes it like somewhat casseroley. But it’s more of just like a really thick sauce.

Alex Mills: With cheese?

Brady Shearer: Yeah, and then it has a bit of a bake. And the secret ingredient that ties it all together, an underrated seasoning/sauce that needs to be used more. Horseradish. It is like-

Alex Mills: Horseradish in it or horseradish like you portion horseradish onto your plate and you use it-

Brady Shearer: No, it’s part of the bake.

Alex Mills: It’s in it.

Brady Shearer: It’s in the bake.

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, and then some parsley on top.

Alex Mills: How do you feel about this dish then?

Brady Shearer: Company carrots? That’s like my family’s legacy.

Alex Mills: And you’re into it?

Brady Shearer: Very much so.

Alex Mills: So just swap out the carrots-

Brady Shearer: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, because it doesn’t have horseradish.

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: What is the flavor? Because broccoli is a flavor that I care for, but a lot of people don’t like.

Alex Mills: Yeah, I think it’s just cheese and milk and bread.

Brady Shearer: Oh, okay. See, this is why it’s offensive. It’s just using a vegetable as a conduit for cheese and bread and cream. It’s Thanksgiving. You don’t need a conduit. Why are you trying to dress it up?

Alex Mills: Look, I’m unashamed about this. I am not going to defend this other than saying it’s in the three spot, should have been in the one spot and-

Brady Shearer: [inaudible 00:52:56], please obliterate this man. Whose man is this? It’s not my man.

Alex Mills: Maybe around Christmas time, I would like to try company carrots.

Brady Shearer: Oh, okay.

Alex Mills: If you can make that happen-

Brady Shearer: I don’t know why I’m not making them because I need to carry that mantle.

Alex Mills: Oh, so you know how to make them?

Brady Shearer: Yeah. My family passed on the recipe-

Alex Mills: You have it.

Brady Shearer: … because I demanded it.

Alex Mills: Okay, so I’m going to need to try that.

Brady Shearer: Company carrots.

Alex Mills: Company carrots, as an honorable mention. In the two spot, we find the desert which I know is going to be contentious already because we had dessert at Friendsgiving and we spent dessert talking about ranking these desserts. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.

Brady Shearer: It’s true.

Alex Mills: It’s not.

Brady Shearer: Not here to argue that.

Alex Mills: I spend time thinking about what pie was going to make it into this spot. I almost slit apple pie in here.

Brady Shearer: Well, now if you had done that…

Alex Mills: I know you would have been upset about that. At our Thanksgiving, there is always apple and pumpkin. It’s just those are the two pies-

Brady Shearer: Apple pie is not for the Thanksgiving.

Alex Mills: I have a slice of each. At our Friendsgiving, we had all sorts of pies.

Brady Shearer: Four pies.

Alex Mills: Thank you for including the pumpkin pie. But pumpkin pie is just synonymous with Thanksgiving, at least here in Canada. I think also in the States, it’s got to be there. It’s good. It’s different than-

Brady Shearer: It’s its own pie. It’s not like other pies.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Some people would probably call it maybe a custard-based pie. Like I don’t know what you know that. It’s different than chocolate pie. We all know chocolate pie is just pudding inside a pie crust. It’s not okay. Pumpkin pie is different. It’s special, and it deserves to be there in the one spot.

Brady Shearer: No. Oh, in the one spot.

Alex Mills: In the one spot.

Brady Shearer: Well, okay now. Just before you say, I’m trying to think of what we have left here, because we’ve got rid of the signature Thanksgiving dishes of stuffing, and chanberries and turkey and mashed potatoes, and we did a dessert. And we did a random side.

Alex Mills: This one was not at Friendsgiving.

Brady Shearer: Okay, so I’m overlooking maybe something off the board?

Alex Mills: It depends on what kind of tradition you come from. This item is always at my Thanksgiving dinners. It’s always at Rebecca’s Thanksgiving dinners. But I know some people who just neglect to include it. And I don’t know who hurt those people. I don’t know who failed you. But in the one spot, the meat that deserves to be there.

Brady Shearer: Oh, come on.

Alex Mills: It’s a honey ham. It’s a honey ham. The honey ham is in the one spot because it’s so good. It is so good. The honey ham. You can depend on a honey ham. You know that it’s not dry like that white breast meat that your mom has made for. You know that it’s not bland, it’s not flavorless because it’s glazed with honey. It is sweet. It’s savory. It’s tender. It’s questionable, like, “What kind of meat is this?” It’s almost mystery meat. It’s in bologna territory. But it is so good. It’s my guilty pleasure, and the honey ham is in the one spot. The most important Thanksgiving meal item on the table, that big old honey ham.

Brady Shearer: What type of degenerate family is serving a ham for Thanksgiving?

Alex Mills: If your family serves ham, just post a ham emoji.

Brady Shearer: Let me tell you this.

Alex Mills: Just post a pig emoji, shame this man.

Brady Shearer: Let me tell you a little story, okay? It’s called Every Thanksgiving Ever. My daughter is in junior kindergarten. You know when they send her home with a craft, it’s of a gobble gobble turkey. They’re not sending her home with a pig, “Happy Thanksgiving.” No. Lunacy. When she goes to Sunday school, what do they send her home?

Alex Mills: Yeah, turkey, because it’s easy. You make the little hands, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brady Shearer: Make little popsicle stick hand turkey. Why? Because Thanksgiving is for turkey.

Alex Mills: Tell me, when you’re at a Thanksgiving meal where both meats are served, a turkey and honey ham, when you’re taking leftovers home that you don’t want to eat, what-

Brady Shearer: You take the turkey-

Alex Mills: What are you taking home?

Brady Shearer: … to make the turkey sandwich.

Alex Mills: You’re taking turkey because it’s the only thing left over. There’s no honey ham leftover.

Brady Shearer: First of all, it’s really upsetting for you, that you grew up in a family that could not cook a turkey. I was handed a legacy of skill where my turkey-cooking grandparents, without sous vide, manual-

Alex Mills: I hope my mom doesn’t watch this episode.

Brady Shearer: We’re doing an expert job. You have been slandering turkey on this entire… You worry what your mom might think if she hears what I have to say. I cook you one turkey, one turkey, best turkey you’ve ever had.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Sorry, Kathy. 25 years of turkeys not good enough.

Alex Mills: You know what? This Sunday at family dinner, I told her about that Turkey, unashamed. I said. “Hey, mom, Brady just made the best turkey I’ve ever had.”

Brady Shearer: You had to come up with a different meat to put on the table because you couldn’t cook another meat properly. That’s not turkey’s fault. That’s your fault. Turkey undefeated.

Alex Mills: In the one spot, honey ham. I’m unashamed. Like I said, if honey ham’s on your Thanksgiving menu that you’re going to be having in two days, America.

Brady Shearer: Honey ham is a deli meat that you get thinly sliced, 300 grams.

Alex Mills: Give me the pork emoji and we’ll see you next week for Brady’s turn at top five.

Brady Shearer: We are going to now transition. This is what’s going to happen every week with top five.

Alex Mills: He gets so angry and it’s like-

Brady Shearer: I’m going to leave so worked up and then we have to make a hard left to into Q and A.

Alex Mills: Q and A where we’re actually trying to help somebody with something.

Brady Shearer: This question comes in and says, “Hey, Brady. I think you are incredible at writing good copy. Thank you. Is that something you studied or just learned by doing it as long and often as you have? Do you know of any good resources like books or courses that could help someone learn to write copy well? Thanks so much.

Alex Mills: Good question.

Brady Shearer: Firstly, prochurchtools.com does have a variety of episodes we’ve previously written on copywriting. Copywriting is just a fancy term for the actual words that you’re writing in a social post, in an email, in your website, like at the top of your page.

Alex Mills: An ad if you’re running Facebook ads.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. Basically, any time you’re trying to communicate your message, it will involve copywriting. There are a few things that I try to do and have learned to do that seem to make a big difference. The first, one that’s often overlooked, is the actual presentation, what the words look like on the page. So before I ever even consider the actual prose, before I consider the punctuation or the grammar, I’m asking myself, is this designed in a way that makes it scannable and enjoyable to read?

The obvious example of this would be an email that comes in that has proper paragraph and line breaks versus one that comes in as this blanket of texts with no breaks. One is actually just difficult to read. You’ll be reading a line, you’ll jump a line and you’ll forget where you are. And it feels like this marathon. You can’t take a break or take a pause.

Alex Mills: Right. You get lost.

Brady Shearer: So when we design prochurchtools.com for our blogging platform, I’m very intentional about the font size and the weight, the different options that I have when it comes to bold and italics, and making sure that everything is scannable, so you can read word for word. But you can also just scan through, skim through, and still get the message, get the gist of it. So that’s the first important thing.

We do this on platforms like Instagram. Before it was actually built in natively to include line breaks in your Instagram caption, we would include periods or underscores to create these manufactured breaks, so that we could share a large group of text. But it would be easily scannable for you the reader. We do this on Facebook with emojis sometimes at the beginning of paragraphs that just make reading it a little bit more engaging. That’s the first thing.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: The second thing is the most important part, which is identifying the problem you’re trying to solve and then creating a solution for it, and crafting your copy in a problem-solution framework because it doesn’t matter how amazing your words are, how eloquently they flow, the beautiful scannable design that you can create. If you’re not addressing a problem that actually exists, that people really are struggling with, your copy will never resonate as well.

We have done a number of different product launches in the eight years of running this company. And the ones that have resonated the most are the ones that I have found I’ve been able to truly identify a problem that people are dealing with. So this happened with Nucleus Social when we launched it last year. The big headline was Daily Done For You Social Media with guaranteed results.

The big problems that headline was addressing, and then when I got into the copy, I elaborated on was the idea that social is unforgiving and it is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately platform. That’s the daily part. The Done For You, meaning we know that you’re probably not someone who was formally trained in this.

Alex Mills: Yeah, we’ll do it for you. We’re going to take care of for you.

Brady Shearer: Oh, and you’re still worried that it might not actually perform because social sometimes feels like this endless trap that you cannot solve, guaranteed results. Yeah. So in that I identify three of the biggest problems churches have with social and solve them with the promise that I was making.

Alex Mills: Yeah, it’s interesting nowadays with so much content that we’re consuming. When I read something, whether it’s a lengthy email or a blog post or even longer captions on social, sometimes the question is, like, “Am I compelled enough to keep reading this like, to finish this marathon?” Even if it’s a caption on social that’s not more than 3, 400 words, like have you hooked me enough for me to get to the bottom? And that problem-solution framework really helps there because if I can identify with a problem and see that you’re working towards a solution, you’ve got me hooked. I’m going to keep reading because I’ve identified with it, and I can see the progression that you are going to give me an answer by the time I get to the end. So that’s a really helpful tool to, in your copy, retain your readers and have them read all the way to the bottom, not just a headline and start reading me like, “I’m not compelled enough,” and they just click away. That’s a really helpful tool to get them to read the whole thing.

Brady Shearer: Number one, scannability, the aesthetics of what the copy on the page actually looks like.

Alex Mills: That’s just formatting, nevermind-

Brady Shearer: Just formatting.

Alex Mills: … what the actual words are saying.

Brady Shearer: Number two, the problem and solution. And then number three, what I would call believability. And this is something that has been personally very meaningful to me, and has frankly been driving me a bit crazy lately with some of the copy that I’m seeing. So what I mean by believability is that when you’re writing copy, you are always going to be making a claim about what your solution is to the problem.

We’ve talked about churches doing this. They’ll say something like, “Don’t miss it.” To me that doesn’t have a strong believability score because I don’t think anything will happen if I miss this event or service. But your claim of, don’t miss it, implies that there will be a negative consequence if I do miss it. I don’t believe that.

If someone in an announcement will say, “This is going to be the highlight of your week, you don’t know what my week is going to be. And you’re like, “Tuesday morning, breakfast with the boys.” I don’t know if it’s believability that it’s actually going to be the highlight of my week.

Alex Mills: Like Purell when it says, “Kills 99.99% of germs.” I know that that’s a made up stat. I know what you’re trying to say is it kills most, like the majority, which is anything over 50. But that’s not a real number.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. And this is something that I see mistakes all the time. And the reason that’s been driving me a bit crazy is because I’m seeing it within the church space with peer companies of ours, friends of mine, who will create their headings on their websites and be like the leader in creative innovation in church.

Alex Mills: How can you quantify that?

Brady Shearer: It is unquantifiable? It is a subjective statement that I don’t think any company should ever make.

Alex Mills: Right, because you’re saying it about yourself.

Brady Shearer: Because there’s no way to prove it. And so, one, it comes off arrogant. And two, it is completely subjective so you can’t prove it. And already in your copy, I am already now highly suspect and my borders, my guard, is up real high, that BS meter is going off Because for you to craft something in that way, to me is telling on yourself like you don’t actually know the problem you’re solving. So you’re just going to say, “We are the best,” which you of course cannot prove.

There are ways to do this that are subtly different, that will not cause the BS meter to go off in people’s mind. Here’s how we’ve done it with a few of our platforms. With RebelGive, which was our new giving platform for churches, we made an objective claim that sounded highly audacious, “The most affordable church giving platform ever”. We could prove that with math, so that was a claim that we knew was objectively true. And so it wasn’t something that was subjective, that someone would say, “Well, that’s just a lie” or, “That’s a half truth.” No, no, no, or that’s something you believe about yourself. No, no. It is objectively true.

Alex Mills: To the point where we put a calculator on the website.

Brady Shearer: We did that and we showed our work 11th grade style in the calculators, because we were like, “We know that this is an audacious claim. And so we want to prove it to you.” Or we would say something like, “We’re setting a new standard in church giving.” Well, that is an objective truth because the standard was to take a percentage of every gift and keep it for yourself. We were saying, “We don’t believe in that model, so this is an objective truth. There’s a current standard. We’re setting a new standard.

Or with our Story Tape Program, the social program back in the day, we’d say something like, “Guaranteed results.” And then we’d outline, “Here are the results that you can expect, and if we don’t meet these, then you qualify for a refund.” But even with Nucleus, if you go to Nucleus, the headline will say, “See more next steps and more life change at your church.” We’ll never say something like, “The best church website builder.” How could anyone make that claim? You could say “the most popular” if you had all the numbers on everyone’s platforms, which I don’t think you could accurately have.

But we’re talking about a problem and solution that is true to us. And we’ll say things below that headline, things like, “We are the first platform that’s built on this paradigm of next steps.” And you might be thinking, “Well, Brady, how can you know?” Well, because I invented paradigm. No, it’s not that it didn’t exist before. It’s that I articulated it, and we created that language. That’s ours. We are the ones that mind that and articulated that message. So we, by necessity, have to be the first platform that was built on that paradigm because before us it didn’t exist.

Alex Mills: Right. So even if you believe you’re the best, which a lot of us do. Find something that it can be quantified. Find something that is objectively true. In our case, the first which we know is true, even if platforms copy our tactics or whatever, we’re always the first just to establish that believability, again to lock me into what you’re saying and not having me filter what you’re trying to communicate to me through a suspect lens, right, like trying to prove that audacious statement wrong. You know what I mean?

Brady Shearer: Everyone is coming into every sales messaging, every promotion with objections hot. And they’ve never been higher because of the amount of messages that we have to sort through every single day. And so, a lot of the times a single objection, not even necessarily a big objection, will automatically rule you out. If I go to someone’s website and go, “The leader in church creativity,” what? What does that even mean? Wouldn’t like that be like Hillsong? We’re talking about like… Oh, no, that’s you. Good to know. I’m convinced. There’s no believability there. The objection is high, it’s automatically thrown out.

In the same with church promotions, if you say, “Don’t miss it. This is going to be the highlight of your week.” Those are the types of things that aren’t true because you can’t know for sure that they’re true. And thus they actually hurt your messaging. People think if I make an audacious claim that’s really intense, it’s going to help. No, because it is not believable and thus you’ve undercut any of the power or persuasion, convincibility for your message.

Alex Mills: That’s a great point about objections because we know when it comes to marketing, things we’re seeing on TV or what have you, we have objections, we have suspicions. But that’s also true about your church. Especially if you’re trying to reach folks who either are unchurched or unfamiliar with your church, especially people who’ve been burned by the church, there’s a lot of objections that we have about claims that churches make. And so to have those objections in our minds when we’re writing copy about whatever it is, whether it’s an event, or a ministry, or who you are, or what you’re doing, have those objections. Consider them while you’re writing copy, and try and preemptively address them through what you’re writing and how you’re writing to let people know that what you’re saying is true and that they’re safe in your community.

Brady Shearer: One more example of this. It is November when we’re recording this. It is blockbuster season. It’s Oscar season. And there are different types of movie trailers. But there’s one type that comes out after the movie has already premiered in theaters, where they include certain reviews or metrics-

Alex Mills: Sure, like testimonials.

Brady Shearer: You’ll never see the Irishman or episode nine drop Frozen II and then be like, “The best superhero movie ever made.” What? Their entire industry is dedicated to arguing that fact. There’s no way you can make that statement. Instead Frozen II two weeks after it’s been in theaters will say, “Oh, and 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating.” It’s not out yet, if it bombed and doesn’t have 92%…” or it’ll come and be like, “The number one grossing movie in Canada.” Objective truths. They are set by a standard outside of what we are claiming of ourselves. And that adds incredible believability to their actual piece of work, their event, their program, their service, whatever it is, because there’s this standard that is separate from their own claim.

This is why in church, we always recommend you use story. Because if you tell a story about someone who attended the youth retreat, the Youth Winter Retreat, and their life was changed forever. Wow, that could be you as well, is what you’re thinking. If you say instead, “Your life is going to be changed forever when you come on this retreat,” Isn’t that the same thing? No, no, no, no, no. One is a claim, one is a story.

We can see ourselves in a story, that’s convincing. We do not see ourselves in a claim. And in fact, our guard is already up to object that claim to begin with.

Alex Mills: Good point.

Brady Shearer: That will do it for this episode of the Pro Church Tools show. If you want your question answered, send it in to hello@prochurchtools.com. Thanks for watching. Make sure you subscribe on YouTube so you never miss another episode. And if you want to listen to these, because they are a bit longer, you can find the Pro Church Tool show in any podcast player that you choose from, Spotify, Apple Podcasts.

Alex Mills: Can you imagine what some of our exclamations during this episode would sound like at two times speed? Or is-

Brady Shearer: We’re not going to do it because then they’ll hear it at 4X speed.

Alex Mills: … 0.5 speed.

Brady Shearer: Oh. If someone’s listening to us at 0.5 speed-

Alex Mills: Respect.

Brady Shearer: … they’re probably serving a honey ham at their Thanksgiving. And that’ll do it. We’ll talk soon.

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