Live-Tweeting Services in a Multi-site Church Environment

In the past 3 years of being on staff at Park we’ve grown from 3 campuses to 5 campuses in Chicago. Over those years I’ve learned some valuable lessons in how to do social media in a mult-site environment. We’ve moved from a central social media presence, to a combination of a decentralized and centralized presence. I’ll talk more about that in future posts, but today I’d like to talk about how we’ve addressed the challenges that come while running 8 services over the course of a weekend.

image credit to deanroberts.net

image credit to deanroberts.net

Our people have really grasped the concept of live-tweeting our services and sermons. It serves as both a way for people to catch good quotes from the sermon, and in return that serves as a discovery tool to us for the people that follow them on Twitter.

So how do I live-tweet 8 services from 5 campuses over the course of one weekend? I’m so glad you asked :)

Challenges:
1. Context – Social media is very contextual, so when your church revolves around context, it can be difficult to manage a social media presence for each context. One campus may be in a completely different context than another campus. One campus may be receiving completely different teaching from another one. It all depends on the type of mult-site model your church functions within, but regardless this ‘context challenge’ can pose difficulty.

This doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to be in 5 locations at one time though. I can only physically be at one campus at one time. What is great about social media though is that the community can participate and get involved. For those campuses where I’m not physically present, many times people are tweeting, or posting pictures and tagging us. So I’m then able to interact with them, or even retweet them. When this isn’t the case though, I try to have very ‘loose’ volunteers at each campus. I say ‘loose’ because this isn’t true for each campus. Some campuses are more social media savvy than others, but it still helps to have a couple key people churchwide to help with this.

2. Content – The content of the services can often be a challenge, especially if you’re live-tweeting your services. How do you live-tweet 4 or more services simultaneously that are all receiving different teaching and different sermons? This is a tough challenge, and one that isn’t necessarily full-proof, but there are some processes that can be setup.

Like I said, some weekends we can have up to 5 different pastors teaching simultaneously, so I have asked each of our pastors to send me their teaching notes the day before they are scheduled teach. This serves two purposes: 1. We use YouVersion Live during our services, so I upload their teaching notes for each campus for people to follow along. 2. I am able to schedule tweets (using Hootsuite) to be posted at the times they will be teaching.

3. Service Times & Campuses – So how do I schedule this many tweets for different services, different campuses, and different sermons? We have adopted a multi-site model when it comes to social media. We have a corporate presence that we promote to our whole church, but we also have campus specific Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is how we live-tweet services from each campus without flooding everyone’s Twitter stream with all of these different tweets from different campuses.

If you’re a multi-site church or you’re planning on going multi-site these are just some of the challenges you may face. Not everyone live-tweets services, so you may not run into this specific challenge, but there are many other challenges that come along with running social media for a multi-site church.

What are some challenges you have encountered while doing multi-site social media?

If your chuch is not yet multi-site, what are some challenges you foresee?

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