What's in this session?

  • Social Media Trend #1 (01:45)
  • Social Media Trend #2 (06:25)
  • Social Media Trend #3 (11:30)
  • Social Media Trend #4 (18:20)
  • Social Media Trend #5 (27:50)
  • Social Media Trend #6 (32:05)
  • Social Media Trend #7 (40:10)
  • TOP 5 (49:10)
  • Q&A (1:02:55)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Church Announcements Script Bundle – this free download includes 8 pre-written announcement scripts that you can swipe and start using in your church

The Transcript

Brady Shearer: Well, hey there and welcome to the Pro Church Tools Show, the show that helps your church navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m Brady Shearer joined as always to my right, your left, it’s Alex Mills.

Alex Mills: Hello. Hello.

Brady Shearer: You can subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcast, whatever podcast player of choice you prefer, and you could watch the video version on YouTube, YouTube.com/prochurchtools. Make sure to subscribe wherever you prefer to listen, whether that’s the video version or audio version. If you are watching on YouTube, do us a favor, hit the thumbs up button, subscribe and hit that church bell, so you get notifications and never miss a future video because we do publish other videos on the YouTube channel beyond this long form Pro Church Tools Show.

In this episode, the very first episode of a new decade-

Alex Mills: Happy New Year.

Brady Shearer: … 2020, we are going to project the most important social media trends for your church this year. The social media landscape is always changing, always evolving. So, we need to be on top of things. We need to be practitioners. We need to be in the trenches but, hopefully, this episode will give you a good look into what’s to come in our mind, and we’ll dive right in if you’re okay with that. You want to say anything? Precursor?

Alex Mills: No. I was thinking, you know those articles? It’s like, “Best snowblower of 2019, best snowblower of 2020,” it’s like, right. It’s always the same snowblower, but with social, things change so quickly that we could put up one of these videos every quarter and be like, “Yup. Everything that we said last time we did the social trends has changed. So, here’s an update.”

So, this episode, social trends of 2020, it’s timely, it’s important, and there are actually some things in here that have changed since the last time we talked about them.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. We got seven trends for you. The first one, publishing fewer posts to the feed per week. As YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, in particular, continue to become more and more saturated, we saw this a ton with Instagram in 2019, the level of quality that you are going to want to reach for with your posts within the feed, not talking about stories here, feed posts, needs to increase as saturation increases or otherwise, you’re just not going to break through in the clutter and complexity of a user’s feed.

This will most likely for most of us necessitate a lower quantity of posts. I’m speaking personally here for Pro Church Tools, and all of my accounts. One of my benchmarks for the year of 2020 is to not stress about posting every single day because that, up until this point, has always been the best practice.

It’s like, “Oh, you got to post every single day,” but now with the algorithms the way that they are, I published a post yesterday, I woke up this morning more than 24 hours later, and it’s still getting a ton of engagement and a ton of traction because the algorithmic feed is making sure that stuff shows up now and again even after the day that you published it.

I’ve noticed that within the folks that I follow on Instagram, there are some that I never see anymore. I think the reason for that is because I stopped engaging with their content, and Instagram just decided, “You never need to see this person’s stuff again,” and then I’ve gone out of my way to search for them, “They’re still on Instagram.”

Alex Mills: They’ve been posting the whole time, yeah.”

Brady Shearer: “They’re still here.” People are engaging with them. It’s not like they’ve been banned or shadow banned or whatever, but for some reason, I’m not seeing their content at all. We don’t want that to happen with our audience. So, one way to work against that is to publish less, but make sure that the quality of what you’re publishing is better. There’s reports that are coming out that this is something we’re beginning to see on mass, again, because of the saturation. So, this comes from Later, which is a scheduling platform for social media.

Alex Mills: Their blog, can I just say? Their blog is so, so good. Most of the social research that I do usually starts at the Later blog. I’m subscribed to their email list. One of the only emails that whenever it comes through, I stop what I’m doing. It’s like, “Okay. I need to read what they’re talking about.” So, we’re going to reference the blog a handful of times during this episode. The Later blog, so, so good.

Brady Shearer: So, in 2016, the average number of feed posts per week on Instagram was 3.3. so, that’s four years ago. The average was 3.3 feed posts per week. It went down or stayed stagnant for each of the subsequent years, 2017, 2018, 2019, and what they’re projecting for 2020 is 2.3 posts per week on average.

So, from 3.3 to 2.3, and there is a continuous decline or stagnation for one of the years in all of the years in between. So, this is something that is happening across the board, so you don’t need to feel guilty if you’re publishing less frequently. I always think that it’s a balancing act between quality and quantity.

Ideally, it’s like sliders on a soundboard, both are going up equally at the identical same time, but that’s not possible. It’s not truly realistic. Throughout the history of using social, I have always prioritized one over the other. So, if you’re on TikTok right now, this does not apply.

Alex Mills: I was just going to say that. This only applies to platforms that are saturated with people and with content. TikTok is not that. TikTok is on a steady rise with downloads, users, and content. I follow people who post five to 10 times a day, and the growth that they’re experiencing as creators is just rapidly increasing because it’s like there’s always an influx of new eyes to that platform, and to have more content on there is super important, but that’s not true for these platforms that are coming in to like a mature stage.

We talk about … What’s that phrase you use? Critical mass, these platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, but totally not true on TikTok.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. All of these social platform have had their moment. Instagram, there was a while that you want to post quality, but if you have to overindex on one of those two metrics, it’s quantity, and that’s where TikTok is right now. It’s not where some of these more mature platforms are currently. Social media trend number one, bottom line, as platforms become more and more saturated, the importance, ensuring that every piece of content you publish is high quality is that an all-time high. If these results in fewer posts overall, that’s okay.

Alex Mills: That’s okay.

Brady Shearer: Social media trend for 2020, for church, for gen Z, millennials, and everyone in between.

Alex Mills: Everybody.

Brady Shearer: Number two, for the average church, images have taken back the WWE title from videos.

Alex Mills: Can you believe it?

Brady Shearer: After working with hundreds of churches and studying their engagement and the results of the content we’re sending them over the last 18 months, we have found that images are outperforming videos on average. There’s a lot of times on social that you don’t truly know why something is the way that it is. So, I want to give a couple of ideas as to why I suspected this was happening.

The first thing that ran through my mind was that, “Okay. The demographic of the average church, not these massive influential churches that have millions of followers from folks that are millennials or gen Z, we’re just talking about the average everyday church, couple hundred people, wherever that location maybe.

Alex Mills: Been around for 30-40 years.

Brady Shearer: The demographic likely skews a bit older, and maybe for that demographic engaging with images is more familiar than engaging with video. The second thought I had was that most of the videos that we send out to our churches that use Nucleus Social, they’re graphically based, right? They’re like a countdown video with a countdown timer ticking down or they’re quote posts that we’ve animated in a fun way. Maybe if the videos we were publishing and comparing with were videos of a pastor’s face or videos of people within the church, those would dramatically outperform images because we’ve been hearing for years, “It’s video, it’s all videos. Just make the pivot to video.”

Alex Mills: That might have even have more to do with the content than the medium, right? When people see other people, when you see your pastor’s face or you see the face of the kids at youth group, as a human, you connect with that regardless of what the meme is. So, I think that plays into it as well.

Brady Shearer: Apparently, it doesn’t because those are my two initial thoughts, but then after we had prepared this episode, I was listening to a Gary Vaynerchuk piece of content, and he said, he’s like, “Look. Images are back in a big way, and they are now outperforming our video content.”

If there is anyone whose face and personality and presence through video would gain attention and keep attention, it would be Gary V. Yet, him and his team are creating these almost comic-based posts that are still images to take the same content he’s putting into video and repurpose it into graphics because graphics, still images are outperforming video, even though the majority almost entirety of his video content is him being filmed on mirrorless cameras, on DSLRs, on his phone.

Alex Mills: Well, and this is one of those trends that you would have asked us in 2018 or even back in 2019 like, “Hey, what kind of content should we be posting really?” Well, video dominates as far as … I mean, we’re always taking shots in the dark as how the algorithm works, but it seems like the algorithm responds to video content and prioritizes it over still images. So, you should post more videos, and that was true, but it’s not longer true.

Brady Shearer: Well, this was happening in the second two quarters of 2019 where I’m looking at the analytics and I’m like, “What? Are we reverting back to where things were before?” Because generally, we know that for the social media giants, Facebook, Instagram, their algorithms are mysteries. So, anytime they come out and publicly state something, you generally want to do what they say they’re asking you to do.

So, when Facebook came out and was like, “Video is the new thing,” we’re like, “Well, Facebook said we got to do it.”

Alex Mills: Yeah, and we all did it though.

Brady Shearer: Then Facebook is in court and they’re like, “Yeah. We may have inflated those views. That wasn’t really true.” We’re all like, “What?” This didn’t happen to us. Likely, it didn’t happen to your church. Entire newspapers shut down because they couldn’t make the paper to video. Journalists, talented writers let go, fired, forced to find new jobs because, “We hired a new intern to make video.” All because publishing companies are like, “Well, Facebook says everything is video. We need to value that over the written word.” Wild. Wild.

Alex Mills: So, images are back.

Brady Shearer: My takeaway here is that every industry is unique, and every church is unique as well. You need to know your numbers, and what your church responds to online. So, this is why we talk about the engagement divided by reach, easy metric that you can do and apply to all of your posts to see which ones are performing best, and then you can get actual data on what your audience is responding to. All of these grand trends are helpful in giving you a good picture of what’s happening overall, the landscape as a whole.

When it comes to your individual dot of real estate on that landscape, you need to know about the unique tendencies and preferences of your audience. So, bottom line for social media trend number two, my best guess based on the many hundreds of churches using Nucleus Social and are done-for-you social media posts, still images will outperform videos on most social platforms in 2020.

Alex Mills: Until next month. You hate to say it, though.

Brady Shearer: Number three, DMs will become the most valued social metric. That was actually a prediction we made in 2019 about a year ago. My new prediction, slightly different, but along the same vein, organizations will create content with DMs in mind as the main call to action response.

Alex Mills: So, this is like when the prophet Isaiah says something, and then the prophet Micah comes along and says the same thing, just tweaks a couple of words.

Brady Shearer: In this case, I’m both prophets, but past Brady and current Brady.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Just like when the prophecy hasn’t come to fulfillment yet. It’s like, “Well, I still think it’s close. I’m just going to tweak it a little bit, throw it out, see what happens.”

Brady Shearer: Interesting. This comes from Hootsuite, “Nearly two-thirds of people say messaging apps are where they feel most comfortable sharing, and half of the senior marketers Hootsuite polled say they’re rethinking their content strategy to make the most of private channels.”

Last year, we published a video, and it was basically your prerogative to publish this video talking about how to do pastoral ministry through DMs. Back when we were in high school and social media was brand new, you would just publish anything and everything because you didn’t necessarily understand or grasp the nature of social, one because you are in high school and your brain is like half a brain, and secondly because social media was brand new. We didn’t realize how big and massive these platforms would become. We just thought we were talking to our friends.

Now, we understand how public these platforms are, and we’ve begun adjusting our behavior. Now, we’re a lot less comfortable sharing on public platforms. What we would be comfortable sharing through private platforms and DMs offer your church the ability to speak with people that may not necessarily be able to speak that candidly even one-on-one in-person, what we see with Keyboard Warriors is like the mean comments come in, and it’s some anonymous username.

That can be actually used for good on social at times when we have the ability to maybe speak our mind, and we don’t necessarily have some of those same social skills in-person. Those will be the type of people that would fall through the cracks if you could only speak to them one-on-one in-person having the ability to speak with people that aren’t maybe connected to a church. They might not even come on a Sunday but they can speak to you privately through these channels, through these DMs where otherwise they wouldn’t be able to.

Alex Mills: Well, and this is the avenue. This is how you can see social not just being a medium for media, but a medium for ministry.

Brady Shearer: Relationship.

Alex Mills: Yeah. You can open that door whether it’s on Facebook Messenger or Instagram, and the DMs, open that door for private conversations that carry some weight. You can have all kinds of fun engagement or even something like real engagement in the comment section, but the stuff of life that people need, and this is a throwback to the episode that you just mentioned about doing pastoral care online. Some of the stuff that people are dealing with on Tuesday night when you’re posting a really hopeful scripture, it’s like they can’t really engage with that in the comment.

So, making sure that that virtual door is open on Facebook and on Instagram, and having someone responsible with those accounts connected to their phones to be present for when somebody does reach out, you can engage in real life ministry online. Surely, that kind of interaction is going to translate if that person belongs to your church to an in-person interaction pickup on Sunday where you left off or maybe set up a time to go for coffee and really dig in to that kind of stuff.

I’ve seen it happen, and we’re just a small local church out here in the country in the Niagara region. It’s happened for us on public posts, on private posts, on all platforms, where we’ve had really meaningful interactions through these private conversations. Just last week, we had an ice storm. Yeah, we have those here. I don’t know if you can see the windows in the background. We’re having a snowstorm right now. This was an ice storm. So, we actually had to shut down church, which is pretty rare for us here.

I thought I took our own advice, and I thought, “You know what? It’s the first Sunday of Advent. I don’t want to miss a step here in the Advent season. I’m going to preach what I was planning on preaching. I’m going to bring it to Facebook live.” So, I did. Later on that day, somebody commented on the Facebook live. We were talking about hope, and he said, “Hey, I’m watching here from the UK. This really met me where I’m at. I’m laying here waiting for a heart transplant.”

So, I commented back to this gentleman, and I said, “Thanks so much for watching. We’re hoping and believing for you, too.” Then I took the opportunity to send him a DM and say-

Brady Shearer: You initiated the DM.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and because he made that step towards us and opened the door a little bit, shared a little bit about where he was, I responded and said, “Hey, thanks so much for sharing. Thanks for watching. I would love to hear more about your situation because we’re going to be praying for you, and I want you to keep us updated in the future.” I could tell, we chatted for a bit, he was so encouraged by that. Now, I really do believe that we’re going to be praying for him, and he’s going to be able to keep us posted on that progress.

This guy will never come to our church. He lives across the ocean. He’s not associated with our church at all online. I did some digging. No mutual friends, nothing, but he found us somehow because we were present, and we had that door open, and that was a really meaningful way to engage in ministry online.

Brady Shearer: One of the ways I’ve done this with my Instagram account is we … There’s more than 10,000 followers on the @BradyShearer Instagram, so I have a swipe up. So, a lot of the times when we want someone to take an action and get a resource or take the next step, we’ll have a swipe up feature. Sometimes when I really want people to take a series next step, I’ll make it where the only way that I’ll send them the link is not through a swipe up, but they have to DM me.

So, I say, “Hey, do you want this downloadable resource? Just shoot me a DM and I’ll send you the link right away.” It’s amazing how many people respond in that way because it’s like the burden for them is a lot higher, and so when I get … It’s like there’s a bit of a commitment on their end. So, when I send them this resource, they’re going to take it more seriously than if they just swiped up and like, “Whatever,” exit and back to my feed.

Alex Mills: How many times have you noticed that when you do that, when you open the door and invite people into your DMs, they respond to that call to action, that was their first interaction with you in your DMs, how many times have you noticed that a few weeks later, they’ll just send you a DM out of the blue and ask you a question? I see that all the time on my personal account. I see it on the church account as well. I think it’s because when you responded to that first one, they realized, “Oh, Brady is accessible.” So, in a few weeks, when they have a question about social, they know that if they walk through that virtual door, you’re going to be there and respond.

Brady Shearer: Excellent point. 100% true. Bottom line, private messaging continues to rise. Users feel more comfortable sharing personal information through direct messages than on public platforms. Churches have the unique opportunity here to engage with pastoral ministry through direct messages online, a place where people feel safe and secure to share when they may not otherwise.

Trend number four, the return of Instagram hashtags.

Alex Mills: Let’s go.

Brady Shearer: IG hashtags, they had a big run in 2018. Dipped off a bit in 2019. I stopped paying too much attention to them. Then IG retweaked their algorithm. Now, hashtags are back, baby.

Alex Mills: Oh, they’re back.

Brady Shearer: Let’s talk about some examples. This is from me. On a recent post with hashtags, the post reached more than 9,000 unique accounts. 15% of those accounts were not following me. 8% of the impressions I got from this post were from hashtags. So, 9,000 unique accounts, 15% of those accounts not following me, and about 10% of the impressions were from hashtags.

A week earlier, I published a post, no hashtags, whatsoever, it reached just 7,000 unique accounts, only 2% were following me or were not. Pardon me.

Alex Mills: How are they going to find you?

Brady Shearer: Right. Only 2% were not following me of those 7,000, and 0% of the impressions were from hashtags. Well, there were no hashtags.

Alex Mills: Of course. I’ve been using hashtags.

Brady Shearer: You never stopped.

Alex Mills: Hashtags have been disparaged, rightly or wrongly, I’m not sure, but I’ve been using hashtags forever. I’m on a niche where I run a coffee blog. So, I’m on a niche where I really want to be discoverable, which is the same situation your church is in.

Brady Shearer: You just stayed loyal to hashtags. I turned my back.

Alex Mills: I did. I did. I stayed loyal.

Brady Shearer: You were like, “You know what? I’m sticking in this relationship. I don’t care if it gets hard. I’m here for the long haul.”

Alex Mills: If you’re like my wife and you just have a personal account, it’s like you don’t need people who don’t know you discovering you, but for someone like me, someone like you, and definitely for your church, you want to be discoverable especially in your local community. I’ve been using hashtags forever. I had a recent post last week, get some pretty good traffic. These are the numbers.

I used with hashtags, of course, and you can DM me for my personal hashtag strategy. I’ll share it with you. I reached-

Brady Shearer: Intuitive.

Alex Mills: I reached 18,653 unique accounts, but here’s the kicker. 90% weren’t following me. This post had-

Brady Shearer: I was so proud of my 8%. I was like, “8%. What amazing on the margin increase.”

Alex Mills: 90% weren’t following me. So, this is what that looks like. This post had 21,000 total impressions. 19,000 of those came from hashtags.

Brady Shearer: What kind of world is that?

Alex Mills: Just a clean 90% of impressions from hashtags. That was a post that performed exceptionally well, but I would say on an average post, I get at least twice the traffic from hashtags than I get from just organic avenue. So, I’ll reach about 2,000 to 3,000 people organically with an average post, and I’ll usually see about double that from hashtags.

Brady Shearer: What a great representation of the difference in audiences and accounts. So, how many followers do you have?

Alex Mills: 4,400.

Brady Shearer: Okay. So, I have let’s say five times as many followers in a much smaller niche. So, you have a smaller account in a massive audience of craft coffee versus me church media and more followers. So, your ability to reach people is drastically different than mine, but we can see hashtags for me adding a marginal increase. For you, reaching twice as many people as you would otherwise reach.

So, your church, it might be closer to Alex than mine. It might be closer to mine than Alex or it might be somewhere in between, but hashtags are back. So, how do we use them? This comes from Later again, “For a safe middle ground, aim for hashtags with between 10,000 to 200,000 posts.”

So, when you’re choosing your hashtags, you want to look at how many total posts are within this hashtag because you don’t want to choose one that’s so low, that adding it is almost a waste, but you also don’t want to choose one with a reach so high that it gets lost in the clutter. So, 10,000 to 200,000 is the sweet spot, the nice, safe middle ground it seems.

Alex Mills: Right. This is imperative that you do a little bit of hashtag research. You can’t just put #church on there, and expect to get any sort of meaningful traffic from there. I don’t ever use the #coffee because there’s hundreds of millions of posts, and it’s just irrelevant to me, even though I run a coffee blog. So, you do have to do a little bit of work. The way you do this is you just search the hashtag on Instagram, and when you click on the hashtag, it will show you how many posts have been tagged with that post. That’s where you’re going to find that number. So, you’re aiming for between 10,000 and 200,000 posts.

Brady Shearer: Instagram will allow you up to 30 total hashtags that you can put in the caption or in the first comment, but the stress here is that they all need to be relevant. So, I generally include between six and 10. Do you do all 30?

Alex Mills: I don’t. I used to. Right now, it’s about between 20 and 25.

Brady Shearer: You’re constantly looking at the performances of each hashtag and making sure if one isn’t performing, see you later.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and I actually have different sets, different sets of 20 that I will post on different photos, so I’m not using the same set every time.

Brady Shearer: Oh, interesting. So, they’re almost more post-specific than account-specific.

Alex Mills: Right. So, I cycle those through posts and see how they perform. In that way, it doesn’t … because some people have said this online. It hasn’t been proved at all, but some people will say if you use the exact same set of hashtags on every post, that does send a signal to the algorithm that, “This might be spam.” That’s just conjecture. It hasn’t been … Instagram hasn’t confirmed that, but I would say that’s probably a safe assumption.

Brady Shearer: Again, from Later, and I quote, “It’s important to make sure that every hashtag you use is relevant to your content, your audience or your business. Adding random hashtags, even high traffic ones like #coffee can seriously backfire on your account. Not only will people feel duped by your content, damaging their trust in your brand, but they may also select the don’t show for this hashtag option, which is a way where users can report back and give feedback to Instagram to basically tail on you, to snitch on you. That could in turn lead to Instagram hiding your content under that hashtag.”

According to Instagram also, you can add the hashtags at the post caption or the comments. It doesn’t seem to matter according to them, but it’s the same company that said, “Video is the future.”

Here’s how I will break up my six to 10 hashtags, three different categories. There’s the brand category, the audience category, the location category. There are some hashtags, usually one to two that I will include. I encourage churches to use that’s unique to your church.

So, Transformation Church, Mike Todd, they have crazy faith. If you click on the crazy faith hashtag, it’s all Transformation Church. That’s the name of the sermon series they’ve been in to close to the last past six months. For us, it’s Pro Church Tools. It’s Pro Church Nation. You’re not going to get 20,000, 10,000 accounts or posts with this hashtag. That’s okay. These ones are specific to you.

Alex Mills: Can I share a quick story?

Brady Shearer: For sure.

Alex Mills: So, our church, Life Abundant Niagara, on every post, I hashtag Life Abundant Niagara, the name of our church, so that every post we post is associated with our church and also #YourLifeStory. Yesterday, a girl who’s been coming to our youth group who doesn’t attend our church sent a picture to the youth group, a DM thread on Instagram.

Brady Shearer: Ooh, a private message.

Alex Mills: Yes, another conversation for another time, with a picture from four years ago from somebody from our church who she does not know, sent it to the thread and said, “Wow! You guys look different.” It was a picture of me and some of our youth leaders. “Wow! You guys look so different.”

We were chatting and no one else on the thread cared how she found the picture, but I did. So, I clicked on it, and it’s tagged with #LifeAbundantNiagara. So, this girl is on Instagram. She’s grade seven, doesn’t come to our church, for some reason clicked on the Life Abundant Niagara hashtag, scrolled through the images to four years ago, so any image that I had tagged with that or anyone else. This image was just from someone who came to our church was in that now curated collection for her. So, just like a very cool, very practical way about how hashtags and the brand-specific ones can work for your church.

Brady Shearer: As an aside, this is now the second example of a small rural Canadian church of about 100 using social to connect with people and engage in real ministry. We have this false belief that unless you’re Steven Furtick, Mike Todd, Chad Veach, Rich Wilkerson Jr., unless you’re one of these massive accounts, you’re a usually influential individual, it could never happen for you. Yet, that is 100% not the case.

So, let’s say you’re doing 10 total hashtags, one to two are brand-specific, then two to four I choose to be audience-specific. So, this would be specific to the Christian faith. You can find hashtags that pertain to the Christian faith as a whole. These will help you connect to the people that are already in your audience that believe in faith, but they’re not necessarily location-specific.

With the remaining two to four, that’s when I will go with location-specific. So, for us, it’s finding ones that are within the Niagara region, specifically. So, with those three verticals, brand-specific, audience-specific, and location-specific, that’s how I would build out your hashtags, 10 to 30, somewhere in that spot.

Bottom line, with the recently tweaked Instagram algorithm hashtags, once again have the ability to boost your overall post reach.

Alex Mills: Let’s go.

Brady Shearer: Make sure to now overdo it, though, and only choose hashtags that are indeed relevant, aiming for an audience of more than 10,000, less than 200,000 for each individual hashtag. Moving on to social trend 2020 number five. Where is TikTok taking us?

Alex Mills: Nobody knows. I’m not sure I want to go there.

Brady Shearer: Where are we going? What gives TikTok the right?

Alex Mills: The kids are taking us somewhere and they’re taking us there quickly.

Brady Shearer: This is from Hootsuite, “TikTok now, more than 800 million monthly active users that are now spending,” my Lord, “an average of 46 minutes per day on the app.”

Alex Mills: That is so much time.

Brady Shearer: That’s like an entire episode of Lost. That’s like one and a half episodes of The Mandalorian.

Alex Mills: That’s the average. So, there’s people spending hours a day on the platform because people are posting so much content.

Brady Shearer: What’s astonishing is that it’s not like YouTube when you’re watching a video like this one, and it’s a long form video.

Alex Mills: Right. You’re going to be here for an hour.

Brady Shearer: You’re watching your favorite vlogger, they’re doing 10-minute vlogs. You watch a few, it’s an hour. The average video length of TikTok is 15 seconds. So, four videos per minute-

Alex Mills: That’s 120 pieces of content.

Brady Shearer: It’s 200 videos. It’s just a lot.

Alex Mills: That’s a lot.

Brady Shearer: It’s a lot of videos. That in and of itself showing the behavioral changes of a platform like TikTok, but it also, that’s why there’s this meme on TikTok. It just birthed the meme of, “Oh, went to bed watching TikTok,” and then the sun comes up and you’re like, “Mr. Sun? What are you doing here?”

“It’s morning.”

“I have to get to class.”

Much like Vine before it, TikTok makes videos easily exportable and shareable across other social platforms, making cross-platform promotions extremely easy. I’ve seen this on Twitter a ton where someone will take a TikTok video, and they’ll post it on Twitter, and that tweet will go viral, and this is one of the ways that TikTok is growing, making their content easily shareable. They’re not locking it down within the app because-

Alex Mills: There’s buttons to natively share it to your Instagram story if you want.

Brady Shearer: They know, “Okay. If we’re going to ever play in the same league as the Facebook, Instagram, YouTube giants, we need to make our content so easily shareable to where people already are.”

Alex Mills: They put the little TikTok watermarks, so you know where it came from.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, little watermark.

Alex Mills: It’s like, “Yeah. If we can make a path to get our content on other platforms, why not?”

Brady Shearer: So, the big question is, will the hype last, and where is it going? This comes from Hootsuite again, “TikTok recently experienced its first ever growth slow down on a quarterly basis, and with over 60% of its user base living in China, TikTok still needs to gain some serious global steam. Instagram has set it sites on TikTok with the release of reels. Reels allows Instagram users to set 15-second video clips to music and share them as stories. There’s a new top reels section of the explore tab. The reels feature is sure to attract users who prefer not to leave Instagram to create the type of content that TikTok has made so popular.”

Where have we seen this before? This is completely foreign. I’ve never seen this happened before. Snapchat.

“Even though the future of TikTok is uncertain, ignoring it would be a mistake. TikTok can be a great way to reach very specific demos since 69% of users are 16 to 24 years old.”

Here’s the bottom line with this trend. Like Snapchat before with stories, TikTok is popularizing a new content format on social media. Short, fun, and often performance-based videos are considerably different than any other mainstream social content format. Whether or not TikTok reaches the heights of others social giants, you can bet that this new content format will be adopted by other platforms. We saw this with Snapchat stories. Snapchat, not as big as we thought it might be, and yet stories have become one of the staples of how we engage with social.

So, what does that mean? If you don’t learn how to create content like this on TikTok, whether or not TikTok lives on forever, you’ll be at risk of falling behind when it becomes mainstream in 2020 in beyond. It’s just about storytelling. This is a new way of storytelling. If you don’t learn how to storytell like this, it doesn’t matter if TikTok becomes the next Facebook or the next Snapchat or the next MySpace, the next Vine.

Alex Mills: Yeah, it doesn’t matter where it is.

Brady Shearer: This is now a new way of storytelling, the same way that live video is, the same way that YouTube videos are, the same way that stories are, the same way that feed posts are. If you don’t know how to story tell this way, you will be in trouble. It’s not about TikTok, it’s about this new format of storytelling.

Alex Mills: There you go.

Brady Shearer: Trend number six, “ugly posts” aren’t going anywhere. Wow! I could not be more proud of a trend in 2020.

Alex Mills: It’s such a shame.

Brady Shearer: I’m so here for it. Alex hates it, I love it. I love it so much. To quote from Later again, “Bloggers and influencers continue taking to the hashtag no filter trend. You know a design trend is huge when it happens to the influencers. Only applying subtle filters or edits to their photos at being influencer photos to create an in the moment and unedited look into their lives. Instagram influencer Rohini Mauk, who has mastered the in the moment shot predicts that the days of a perfectly manicured feet are slowly dying out.”

Alex Mills: Now, I’m here for that as far as image like photos are concerned. So, less photo manipulation, less curated scenes, I’m good with that. It’s brutalism in design that I’m like-

Brady Shearer: You love to see it.

Alex Mills: … “Come Lord Jesus in 2020,” lest we continue this into 2021.

Brady Shearer: You know you’re just an old man.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You’re so old.

Alex Mills: I know.

Brady Shearer: You’re younger than me, and yet somehow in this respect, old.

Alex Mills: If TikTok has not taught me that, I have learned nothing.

Brady Shearer: So, I think it’s important to define what’s happening because from the outset, it could just be considered, “Ugh! What is this?” It’s just the hacking of the system. It’s something that’s a lot bigger that’s happening.

So, for years and for generations prior to us, the way that young people dress, their unique fashion aesthetic, and the types of music they listen to and created, that was the way, the primary ways to subvert authority and the status quo, right? So, my parents’ generation, all the guys in the ’70s, tight high pants, long hair. Their parents, which had the tight cut thought this was crazy, but that was the way they subverted the status quo because there’s nothing they could do. They have no money. They have no status in the world. So, they do these things to subvert, “We’re going to listen to crazy music, Zeppelin.”

Alex Mills: Yeah, and it’s just like anything, right? It’s just a pendulum swinging. So, our parents were on one side and the pendulum swings. We find ourselves on the other side.

Brady Shearer: High and tight.

Alex Mills: Then it swings back. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: What’s interesting, though, is because of social media, often dominated and definitely driven by young people, visual design has become another vertical where young people can subvert the status quo and the norm. That’s what we’re seeing with brutalism in design. Awwwards describes it this way, “Brutalism in design laughs in the face of rationalism and functionality. In the world of design, it can be defined as freestyle, ugly, irreverent, raw, and superficially decorative.” It laughs in your face, Alex.

Alex Mills: It does.

Brady Shearer: “You as a rational and functional human, “Hahaha. LOL. Lols.”

Alex Mills: It does remind me of the counterculture like subversiveness of Christ our Lord. So, maybe I should get onboard.

Brady Shearer: Wow! You’re so washed. You can’t even see through the clutter that this is actually inspired by Christ. Now, you might be thinking, “Well, how does this actually affect the church world? This sounds like really ethereal.”

Alex Mills: Sure.

Brady Shearer: It’s not. Let’s take a look at one of the biggest social media accounts in church history. That’s @StevenFurtick on Instagram.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: So, we’ve got a series of IGTV video posts that he’s published in the last few weeks. By far, right now, IGTV posts are the ones that are most frequently published on Steven Furtick’s Instagram. So, we’re not cherry picking a bizarre obscure type of post. Most of the videos that Furtick publishes or pardon me, most of the posts that he publishes are IGTV videos. Why? Because he is doing so much public stage communication.

Alex Mills: Got a lot of content.

Brady Shearer: It’s a great way to repurpose them. So, I’ve got a number of different examples here. I would say that almost all of these designs would fall under the category, the broad scope of “brutalism”. Yet, there is still something to be taken away from these.

So, the first one, a preaching video, nicely designed. It’s got 103,000 views. Second view, nicely designed, 262,000 views. The third video, nicely designed, 289,000. The fourth video, 301,000. So, these are all right around the same spot, 100,000 to 300,000 views. It is Pastor Steven Furtick communicating. They take the video of him recorded, video of him, and they create a 9×16 canvass, IGTV ready-to-go, and they take the video, they put it in there, they add some captions, and they make a nice little cool design.

You’ll notice in those four videos there is no Elevation branding. There is no orange logo, there’s no logo watermark, and this is the whole stop the scroll mentality. You might be thinking, “Wow! Elevation is really doing it right.” Let’s take it to a whole another level.

We’ve got a fifth and final video. These were all published within the same few weeks. Not 100,000 views, not 200 or 300, not four, not five, not six.

Alex Mills: Casually, almost a million.

Brady Shearer: 711,000 views on this video. It is a 9×16 canvass. It is a video of Pastor Steven preaching. It is the most basic design you could ever make.

Alex Mills: It’s like all the other ones. You can tell when you see them like, “Oh, a designer has had their hands on these?” Then you get to this post, and it’s like, “Oh, somebody styled this in Microsoft Paint?”

Brady Shearer: It’s a plain white canvass with black text, Arial font.

Alex Mills: Arial font.

Brady Shearer: Seven words, The Truth About Your Bible Verse, and then a video of him communicating. This is brutalism to its extreme. This is Gary Vaynerchuk Instagram style brutalism. When we were designing our IGTV templates, we had designed out a couple that looked like the first few.

Alex Mills: Beautiful.

Brady Shearer: I was like, “Way to go, guys.” No Pro Church Tools branding. We’re going to stop the scroll with these.

Alex Mills: It’s so good.

Brady Shearer: They are clearly living within the realm of brutalism design. Then I just was like, “You know what? Before we publish these,” I went back and I looked at some church-specific accounts, and I came across this, and I was like, “The most ridiculous design has two and a half to almost, in some cases, seven times as many views as the other.” I looked internally and I said, “Do I have shame?” The answer was no.

Alex Mills: So, you said to our designers, “Really great work, but if you deleted everything? So, just bring it down on a white background and a little bit of black text, and hit the export button. Let’s give that a try.”

Brady Shearer: If you go to my Instagram feed, you will find an IGTV post called How To Use The Countdown Social Media Template At Your Church. It didn’t get quite as many as seven times the views, but it got 30% more views than the previous seven videos that we had done. The reason I think is because it stopped the scroll, and it just lived in this brutalism world, and it’s not going anywhere.

Alex Mills: So, you think brutalism is here for a while, here to stay.

Brady Shearer: I think we’ve got another year. It seems like it’s becoming more brutal. The ism is increasing.

Alex Mills: Oh, God. Bless me.

Brady Shearer: It’s just like brutalees. It’s brutalesk. It’s just a lot.

Alex Mills: In the same way that I stuck with hashtags when they weren’t popular, I’m going to resist brutalism as much as I am capable, and we’ll see on the other side in 2021.

Brady Shearer: The bottom line is this. Brutalism design will continue to drive massive engagement on social media. In a world where brands and churches in particular feel the need to present themselves in a way that appears professional and esteemed, ministries and Brady Shearers that are able to embrace brutalism in their designs will reap the benefits of increased reach and engagement. Sorry to this, man.

Finally, social trend number seven, better, wider, and deeper.

Alex Mills: Is that a Kanye West song?

Brady Shearer: We wanted to include this as shush you.

Alex Mills: It should be if it’s not.

Brady Shearer: I said better, and then two more words. You didn’t even know what they were. You’re like, “Better, deeper, wider? What is that? I am not familiar with those two words.” I wasn’t even going to make that joke, and then you, you provoked me.

Alex Mills: It’s okay.

Brady Shearer: Better, deeper, wider, this is the Pro Church Tools content strategy for 2020. We wanted to share it with you to give an inside glimpse into the changes, adjustments, and tweaks that we’re making with our own content strategy in hopes that it can be helpful for you and your church.

So, for years, we have pushed ourselves to publish more content, increase the volume, increase the quantity. While this new vision for 2020 of better, deeper, wider may sound like literally-

Alex Mills: Everything?

Brady Shearer: … all the things that you need to do, I mean-

Alex Mills: It’s not.

Brady Shearer: Well, I mean, you’ve hit every vertical. The one that’s notably missing is more. We’re not aiming to publish any more content in 2020. In fact, you’ll probably see us pull back slightly on the number of pieces of content as a whole published across all of our platforms.

So, let’s do a deep dive quickly into each of these individual stanzas. Better. What have we don’t to increase the quality and make our content better? Here are a number of things. We’ve hired a paid audio engineer. We used to do our audio internally. We now send it out to this audio engineer for this show for all of the pieces of content that we produce, where people are talking.

We have also acquired a new camera setup not for these videos, these long form ones, but for our short-term ones. We’ve started publishing Instagram stories that are shot with a mirrorless camera. It’s the Canon EOS R. We’ve bought a very nice lens with it. It’s the RF 15-35mm F2.8. We got a Rode VideoMic Pro Plus to go on top of it. It’s our favorite camera setup right now because it raises the level of quality with types of content that we had been just been, “Okay. Just shoot it with this camera,” not that there was anything wrong with that camera, but it wasn’t the best tool for the job. So, we invested in the right tool for the job in hopes of making our content better.

What else have we done? We’ve got a new design hire for our social post. We just talked about me saying, “Not good enough, start over.” That’s with the new hire. We also have a content calendar that’s planning out content in advance, months in advance because if we’re going to make this higher quality, we need more people to be involved to improve the level of content.

It used to be I could just create stuff on the fly, but I can only do so much. There are others that are going to do certain elements of content creation better than I, but if we bring them in on the projects, well, we can’t just the day off me saying, “We need to make this.” No, no, no. We need to plan out in advance. That’s better.

What about deeper? Well, that’s what this show is for, the Pro Church Tools Show. It’s a long form show that is less formal, shows off more of our personality. We’ve introduced segments that are not necessarily church digital-related like top five.

Alex Mills: … or helpful.

Brady Shearer: They’re entertaining because that’s an element of content that we’ve never explored before, and we want to go deeper with the smaller group that wants to go deeper with us. So, maybe there are a hundred thousand churches within our realm of influence, and maybe one to 5,000 of them really want to go deep with us as individuals.

Alex Mills: Let’s do it.

Brady Shearer: The longer form show allows for greater depth and introspection on single levels of content. Then finally, wider. We’ve been analyzing our widest reach in content doing more of that. We’re doubling down on an ad strategy that reaches a wider audience, and we’re creating content specifically for the purpose of reaching wide.

So, a lot of the time we will get stuck talking about topics that are very familiar to us. Social media would be one of them, but we know that not as many churches care about social as we think should. To reach those churches, we need to create a type of content around an individual topic that will get them into Pro Church Nation, and then we can help them with social.

So, one of the pieces of content we’ve done this with is our anatomy of insert preacher here breakdown. So, we looked at the way Steven Furtick preaches. We looked at the way Mike Todd preaches, and we have a list of pastors that we’re going to be continuing to look at, probably one a month for the duration of 2020 because Pro Church Nation, one, was like, “Oh, we love this content. Create more of it,” and it also gets organically indexed in search for YouTube and Google because people want to learn from these amazing communicators.

So, if we can create content around that, where there’s a lack of content, we can bring people into our audience, and then they’ll find our content on the social trends for 2020. So, that’s all about creating specific content to reach a wider audience.

Alex Mills: What’s so great about this strategy and these three specific elements of it is that I think you see them all reflected in the previous six trends that we’ve talked about. You see elements of doing things better, not more, but doing them better, right? Post less on Instagram and Facebook, and that enables you to do what you’re doing better, making sure those posts are better.

You see elements of going deeper and wider reflected in these other social trends. So, this isn’t just something for Pro Church Tools or an example of how we’re doing it. I think that this specific strategy really applies to every church who’s listening to this. Really sit down with these three phrases, these three words and evaluate in your own ministry, in your own social strategy, “How does this flush itself out in our content and how can we be doing social with a little bit more intention?” Because we now have the margin. There’s not that anxiety to get something out everyday, right? We can take a breath on these platforms that are saturated.

Brady Shearer: Not TikTok.

Alex Mills: Right. Yeah. You need to start posting 20 times a day on TikTok, but you have some more margin to maybe be a little bit more intentional with what you’re doing on social, and that’s when you’ll really start to see social look like ministry at your church.

Brady Shearer: Bottom line for social media trend number seven, looking at the 2020 landscape for Pro Church Tools publishing more is no longer the mandate, but instead, to assess our content strategy on the planes of better, deeper, wider, to serve our audience with greater depth and excellence while also expanding that audience to welcome more people into Pro Church Nation.

Alex Mills: So good.

Brady Shearer: If anything, this episode has demonstrated how much social media is always evolving, it’s always changing, and if you are working within a church, serving in a church, it is certainly tough to keep up with all of these changes. That’s why we’ve created Nucleus Social, which is one of the products within the Nucleus family, the Nucleus universe of products.

We take everything that we’re always learning from social media as we create content for hundreds of churches, and we analyze, and we dive deep, and we look at the engagement, and the results, and what people are responding to, and what they’re not responding to, and then we make adjustments and tweaks on the fly, and we experiment with new formats of content, but then we double down on the types of content that are excelling, and working with churches.

So, we think this is the absolute best place for you to start in 2020 as your baseline for social media. It’s a great resource to fall back on knowing that every day, you have a post that Brady in his office by himself created and imagined, and then the entire Pro Church Tools team, the Nucleus team brought that post to life through design and animation. There’s a pre-written caption.

We will send you the project files within Photoshop, and after effects, if you want to take the post and make it uniquely yours because you have the skills, and if you don’t have the skills, we’ve got unlimited customizations as an optional add-on, where we will make any customizations to oppose that you need, that are within the realm of possibility, so that every post, again, is uniquely yours. You can do that yourself if you got the skills. If you don’t or you don’t have the time, we can do it for you.

Alex Mills: Well, I have a lot of people asked me like, “Hey, where can I see those posts?” It’s like, “Well, instead of just seeing them, you can have them.” So, we’ve put together a pack of 30 posts that not only can you look at. If you sign up for a free trial of Nucleus, just name and email required-

Brady Shearer: No credit card.

Alex Mills: Nothing. We’ll just give you 30 posts that you can have, you can post and use, and see how this social strategy that we have adopted over the last few years, but that as you can see in this episode is constantly evolving as social evolves, see how it’s going to work for you and your church.

Brady Shearer: Nucleus.church is the URL to find that, www.nucleus.church. Sign up for your free trial. Download those posts. Experiment with them, and tell us how it goes from there. We’ll be back in just a moment with the aforementioned top five.

Back again with top five. Alex is in charge of the top five ranking this week. So, take it away, Alex.

Alex Mills: This is your kid’s favorite segment, the segment in which we tackle top five of something.

Brady Shearer: Whatever we want.

Alex Mills: Yes, and it is a new year, the dawn of a new decade.

Brady Shearer: Wow!

Alex Mills: We’re into the roaring 20s as they say.

Brady Shearer: Carpe diem.

Alex Mills: I think they say that. Yes, actually, it is time to seize the day because I’m sure that some of us have made New Year’s resolutions.

Brady Shearer: Of course.

Alex Mills: I’m here to say that New Year’s resolutions, for the most part, are crock. They’re just not good, and I’m going to give you … There’s a survey done of about 2,000 people of the most common New Year’s resolutions. I want to read them off to read how bad they are, and I want to give you a suggestion. This year’s top five New Year’s resolutions, okay?

Last year, here’s a survey, a survey of 2,000 people. Of course, in the one spot, 71% of people said, “No. Diet.”

Brady Shearer: Yeah, yeah. I just saw it, man. Just lose weight.

Alex Mills: Well, number two is exercise more.

Brady Shearer: Oh, they distinguished the two.

Alex Mills: Yeah. So, first one is diet. We all know, especially on Christmas time, it’s a bad time to say, “I’m going to have a new diet,” because-

Brady Shearer: If you’re eating so much, flipping honey ham, try a lean meat turkey breast.

Alex Mills: Number two, 65% of people polled exercise more. Number three, 54% of people, lose weight.

Brady Shearer: Okay. These are the same.

Alex Mills: I know.

Brady Shearer: These aren’t different so far.

Alex Mills: Okay. Switch it up at number four, save more and spend less.

Brady Shearer: Sure.

Alex Mills: About 32% of people-

Brady Shearer: You’re looking at your Christmas bills and you’re like, “Well, we’re in trouble.”

Alex Mills: We’re literally going to have to do this or else we’re in trouble. Number five, learn a new skill, 26%.

Brady Shearer: Learn a new skill.

Alex Mills: Here’s what I want to say about those New Year’s resolutions and most New Year’s resolutions. They’re too generic.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely.

Alex Mills: You can’t just say, “I’m going to do a diet.” It’s like, “What does that mean?”

Brady Shearer: You’re already on a diet. It’s called what you eat.

Alex Mills: Right, or like, “I’m going to exercise more.” It’s like, “Okay. What are you going to do?” So, here are the top five, and my suggestion. I’m pretty proud of these. I might actually do some of these. Top five New Year’s resolutions for 2020, in descending order. So, in the five spot, take the stairs. So, here’s what I mean by that. You surely, on many occasions, are going to come to an opportunity to make a choice, “Am I going to take the escalator at the mall or am I going to take the stairs?” You’re in a hotel, “Am I going to take the elevator two floors or am I going to take the stairs?”

This is something I’ve seen my dad do for his whole life. This is a rhythm that you can adopt and it’s not generic as like, “I want to exercise more.” It’s like, “No.”

Brady Shearer: It’s highly specific.

Alex Mills: Anytime you have a choice, take the stairs, and it’s a marginal improvement.

Brady Shearer: Ah, but what did we learn from Atomic Habits this year, one of the bestselling books of 2019? Small changes, remarkable results.

Alex Mills: Yes. So, on a cellular level, this is going to help you make better decisions for your health, and I did read somewhere. I should have quoted this, but somebody was saying that taking the stairs actual results in a bigger energy boost than one and a half cans of Coke. So, you’re going to get a boost, too.

Brady Shearer: One and a half?

Alex Mills: Yeah. So, you might hate yourself while you’re taking the stairs because sometimes I do. I do this. Sometimes it’s like-

Brady Shearer: Well, we’re on a Nucleus media trip. We’ve got 18 bags of drones and camera gear.

Alex Mills: No. It’s like Rebecca is going up the elevator, and I think I’m so noble doing eight flights of stairs. I get to the top and regret it, but, no. This is a good rhythm for you. It’s hyperspecific. It’s not just, “I’m going to build muscles.” No. You’re going to take the stairs.

Brady Shearer: Like it.

Alex Mills: In a similar vein, in the four spot, I want you to eat more vegetables. This is something I don’t do a great job of.

Brady Shearer: Alexander.

Alex Mills: I know. I do like vegetables, but I really like things that aren’t vegetables.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, because you’re like, “Hey, let’s make a casserole and broccoli, not carrots.”

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: Just graceful.

Alex Mills: No. I like artisan sourdough. I like a really nice grass-fed beef. I like everything that’s not vegetables.

Brady Shearer: Red boy.

Alex Mills: So, I’ve been trying to do this visualizing my plate and having as much as vegetables as everything else.

Brady Shearer: That is a good rule of thumb.

Alex Mills: Right? So, eat more vegetables. You can do this. I can do this. Mix in some more raw veggies. Those are so good for you. Eat more vegetables, and that is going to help you get to your lame New Year’s resolution of be healthier. Eat more vegetables.

Brady Shearer: This is really just like a level of condescending myths on this top five. Normally, we’re a bit more jovial. Start of a new year, let me tell you why you suck.

Alex Mills: No, but the problem is every year, every year you read the article, “This is why you’re not hitting your New Year’s resolutions,” or it’s like, “99% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February 1st.” I’m tired of that. We can be better. I’m calling us up to a higher standard.

Brady Shearer: Maybe New Year’s resolution is just jump the shark 25 years ago. We need to move on.

Alex Mills: Also, I should have done research on the history of New Year’s resolutions, how long we’ve been doing it.

Brady Shearer: Excellent. Someone put it in the comments for all of our collective learning.

Alex Mills: Please do. In the three spot, I want you to read more books. I’ve been doing this the last couple of years. The beginning of every year, I’ve been making a book list of every book I want to read.

Brady Shearer: What if I just bought more books?

Alex Mills: I’m guilty of that, and that doesn’t work. Okay. I’m too guilty of that. I’m outing myself. I’m so guilty of that.

Brady Shearer: He’s the disgraceful one.

Alex Mills: So is your brother-in-law. He just admitted that this morning. He buys so many books.

Brady Shearer: Wow!

Alex Mills: The first year I did this, I set out to read 52 books. That was a lot of books. I failed miserably. So, the next year, revised. I sliced that in half, 26 books. That’s a book every two weeks. That’s reasonable. I just missed it this year.

Brady Shearer: Every two weeks? Oh, wow! Every two weeks? That’s still a lot.

Alex Mills: It is still a lot, but here’s something that somebody said on Twitter. This is Rich Villodas. He said, because he was talking about his reading list, he says, “If you had the opportunity to be mentored by someone you really respected, would you turn it down? Of course, you wouldn’t.” He says, “That’s one of the reasons I read books.”

In 2019, Rich read 42 books. His goal was 50.

Brady Shearer: So, he failed.

Alex Mills: He says, “I don’t think I’ll make it, but I’m so grateful for the writers. I’ve been mentored and encouraged by many through their books.” I think that’s such a great perspective. If you had the opportunity to be mentored by C.S. Lewis, would you turn that down? Of course not. So, you do have that opportunity. Read his books, read more books. So, I don’t know.

Brady Shearer: I will say this. It may come as a surprise to a lot of listeners. I have never one time for one minute had a business mentor. I did not go to business school. I have never once spoken with someone one-on-one and been like, “Hey, can I get business advice?” specifically. I have accountants, I have lawyers. Those don’t really count. The entire way that we have built Pro Church Tools that I have learned social media, that I have done all those is through podcasts, but mostly through books.

The biggest changes, the most monumental lessons I’ve learned pertaining to business have come from books because I recognized I don’t really know who to reach out to when it comes to building an online business for churches. I can read a bunch of books, though, because online businesses have been built by other people and other industries, and I’ll never meet them in person because they live in Portland or San Diego or Des Moines. I don’t know, but books were that replacement for me. So, I can highly advocate for that strategy.

Alex Mills: We’re all going to be better people if we do it. You know what? You can even listen to these books if you want to. I know you’re an advocate of listening to books. This is your rhythm of life.

Brady Shearer: Now, you’re slandering audiobooks.

Alex Mills: No. I just said you can listen to these books if you want to.

Brady Shearer: I’m going to read those book in audio version.

Alex Mills: No. There’s just one rule.

Brady Shearer: I’ll be reading those books in audiobook.

Alex Mills: If you listen to the book, don’t say that you read it.

Brady Shearer: I read the book.

Alex Mills: You can say, “I listened to it,” because that is what you did. Just don’t say that you read it.

Brady Shearer: I read the books.

Alex Mills: In the two spot, this one is a little bit of a hot topic, and it’s kind of a challenge. Don’t buy an article of new clothing in the next calendar year.

Brady Shearer: I can guarantee you, before this episode even goes up, I will have broken this rule.

Alex Mills: So, a friend of mine-

Brady Shearer: I am speaking in 2019 right now.

Alex Mills: Yeah. A friend of mine did this last year. When she told us she was going to do it, I had the similar reaction. I said, “Jess, you’re not going to be able to do this. First of all, why? Second of all, how? Third of all, why?”

She said, “No. I’m going to do this.”

So, she minimized her closet. She decided what … She got rid of stuff that she didn’t wear. She’s like, “These are the outfits I actually wear.” Then if she needed something, she would go out of her way to source it secondhand.

So, surely in your city, as there are in our city, some are really good secondhand clothing stores, where you can find some really nice stuff. I think it’s a noble effort.

Brady Shearer: So, buy new clothing.

Alex Mills: Yes, brand new clothing. So, if you need … I think underwear and socks shouldn’t count. How would you categorize GOAT clean because they’re technically not-

Brady Shearer: Those are used shoes.

Alex Mills: That’s true.

Brady Shearer: GOAT Clean. Look it up, folks.

Alex Mills: Yes. So, this is a lofty challenge, but I think we’ll all learn a little bit something about ourselves if we do it.

Brady Shearer: Are you going to do it?

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: Oh, okay.

Alex Mills: The Earth will be better for it.

Brady Shearer: It’s for someone.

Alex Mills: Yes. There’s a show on Netflix called Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. He just did an episode on fast fashion.

Brady Shearer: Yes, he did.

Alex Mills: He exposed a lot of our favorite stores, and he’s like-

Brady Shearer: First of all, don’t include me in this.

Alex Mills: He said, “This is terrible for the environment,” and because fashion is so much more accessible now, we’re actually wearing our clothes for a lot shorter periods. He’s like, “We’re just getting rid of clothes, and so, so bad.”

So, lofty challenge, but maybe, hey, if this resonates with a handful of people and they want to do it, write a blog post about it. The internet will love it. It would be great.

Brady Shearer: Other options, designate a certain percentage of whatever you spend on clothes to be purchased with sustainable retailers who create clothing in your country or your region. So, I bought a pair of-

Alex Mills: You do a great job of that.

Brady Shearer: I bought a pair of crew necks this morning from one of my favorite Torontonian companies called Province of Canada. I bought some new gym wear yesterday from another Canadian company. This one is Vancouver-based called Reigning Champ. Guess what? I paid handsomely because when you are creating clothing in Vancouver and not Taiwan, it costs considerably more, and when you’re using fabrics that are sustainably sourced, it costs considerably more.

So, it may not be realistic to say, “This year, I’m only buying …” I can fall into that trap of being either 100% in one side or another. If I can’t do it fully, I won’t do it at all. Bring on the candy. It’s binge night. Wow! Dark, but you can set aside a percentage or a certain amount and say, “This is how much I will spend in this way.”

Another clothing-related practice that I installed at the end of this year and will continue into 2020 is I have a spreadsheet that goes through all of my cleaning, but on that spreadsheet, there’s also a quarterly task to donate what I’m no longer wearing.

I am very aggressive about not keeping something in my closet that I do not wear. It almost has nothing to do with the quality of fabric or how well the fabric has been maintained. I’ve usually only wore it once or twice, but usually what happens I realize, “This fit is not perfect,” and I always want the fit of my clothing to be perfect because side note, fit is all that matters, not brands, not style.

Alex Mills: Oh, yeah. If you’re not comfortable-

Brady Shearer: It needs to fit well. So, you try something on that you buy online and you want to keep it, and you lie to yourself. You’re deceived and bamboozled and lead yourself astray, and then you put it on the third time, and the newness has worn off, and you’re like, “This doesn’t even fit.”

Alex Mills: “Yeah. I don’t need this.”

Brady Shearer: Other options?

Alex Mills: Well, isn’t that what’s frustrating, though? A lot of us want to buy more sustainable clothing. We know where it’s made, we know what it’s made out of, but often, the price tag is just so unattainable. It’s like, “Okay. I’m going back to H&M,” right?

Brady Shearer: Well, that’s where companies like Everlane can come in. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from them, but they do claim, “Were affordable. We might be a bit more expensive than Zara or, sorry, than H&M, but we are affordable.” I bought a pair of track pants yesterday. They’re $125 track pants from Reigning Champ because it’s Vancouver. You ever tried to live in Vancouver? Try to wear some track pants in Vancouver.

Alex Mills: Yes. Exactly. So, hey, I want to hear it. If somebody chooses to do that, let us know because you are the reigning champ that this Earth deserves.

Brady Shearer: Ding, ding, ding.

Alex Mills: In the one spot and I feel so strongly about this one, and I was a little bit even convicted when I wrote it down is just volunteer more. I see it in the church. I see it outside of the church. I mean, our time is so thin, anyways, that to give it away is … I can’t just do something for free or do something that costs me for free, but I think we’ll all be better for it, but primarily, I think our communities will be better for it. So, find a local organization that maybe you volunteered with in the past, maybe that you’re church partners with or maybe a new organization that you’re not too familiar with.

Some people in our church are doing that right now. Just started volunteering at a soup kitchen. I just think that’s so awesome to serve our communities with our literal hands and feet. So, put it on your list to volunteer more this year.

Brady Shearer: Outstanding. We will close out this episode with Q&A. We got a question from a person in Pro Church Nation. They say, “Hey, we are Nucleus subscribers, and I got a question for you. When it comes to social strategy, I see the Nucleus Social posts you supply are once a day, and they’re really not my church-specific. I know your strategy that social is not just for advertising the church. When it comes to social look, do you think it would be helpful for a church to do some posts throughout the week that utilize photos of people and events from their church or is that not necessary? Also, is posting once a day more effective than twice a day? We currently do twice. Just wondering if I should completely switch strategy or not.”

A couple of thoughts. I thought this question was timely considering the episode’s subject matter we tackled. Firstly, Nucleus Social is daily done-for-you social. So, it can exist as your entire social media strategy. We know there are a number of churches that are small, they do not have the skillset, and as much as I’d like it to be different, all they can do is post the content we supply for Nucleus Social.

I make it with that in mind. There are church invitation posts for every Saturday, so that you can parlay social attention into a Sunday morning or Sunday evening, and it’s made in such a way where if that’s all that you can do, it would be fine.

In a perfect world, ideally, you would supplement Nucleus Social with content that is unique to your church. That may be a promotion here or there, as long as you are ascribing to the one in five rule. No more than one out of every five posts should be promotional in nature.

More importantly, photos of people from your church, the photo of the group that’s talking in the lobby and you snap the photo and people are smiling and laughing, and you use the caption to tell a story or you use that photo to be the promotional photo where you talk about small groups, so you’re not just using a graphic to promote something.

Ideally, you would supplement beyond Nucleus Social, but it does exist as a baseline, where if you cannot, it’s totally fine. You’ll still see massive engagement. That’s what we’re trying to do, right? There’s the ideal for all of us. I suppose, ideally, we wouldn’t post less frequently per week. That was our first social trend in this episode. We’re not going to post every single day. We don’t think that we have the bandwidth to reach the level of quality we want while maintaining daily posting.

Ideally, we would. Realistically, we don’t, and we don’t want to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity, and that leads into this individual second question. When it comes to posting frequency, obviously, we talked about that at great length in this episode. If you’re posting twice a day right now, that is, indeed, a lot. I would subtract that number, start with once a day, do it for 30 days, and then compare that 30 days engagement to the previous 30 days.

Again, your audience will be unique. We can talk about these grand philosophies, what we think are general best practices, but when it comes to specifics, that’s where you want to lean on the data. Use the engagement divided by reach calculation. “Oh, we reached 100 people, sorry, we engaged with 100 people. Our reach was 1,000. Oh, this post gets a score of 10, and the next post got a score of five.”

Track that number for 30 posts because on its own, that number will mean nothing, but in light of a full month’s worth of social content, it will mean a lot more. Compare that month to the month before, and then make informed decisions and informed changes.

Alex Mills: Also, if you go from posting twice a day to once a day, take that 50% that you’ve gained in bandwidth and start posting on TikTok.

Brady Shearer: Not a bad idea. Actually, that’s, yeah, very smart. That is it for this episode of the Pro Church Tools Show. We want to encourage you to subscribe. The video version on YouTube, YouTube.com/prochurchtools. Give it a thumbs up. It’s important for the algorithm, people. We just talked about algorithms for an hour. Don’t leave us out to dry. You lurker, you’re watching.

Alex Mills: I see you.

Brady Shearer: Hit the like button. Just do it. Subscribe. Church bell notifications or listen on audio platforms, Apple podcast, Spotify, wherever you prefer to listen to your podcasts. It means the world to us. We will talk soon in new episode of the Pro Church Tools Show every single Tuesday, and on YouTube, we drop videos on Thursday that are more small, digestible.

Alex Mills: … and shareable. Just send those right to your-

Brady Shearer: Put them on 1.5 speed.

Alex Mills: Send those right to your past.

Brady Shearer: Don’t put the Pro Church Tools Show on 1.5 speed.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: We were at a Christmas party. We put it on two times speed.

Alex Mills: Not good.

Brady Shearer: People left. That will do for this time. We’ll see you next time. We’ll talk soon.



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