With many work positions moving online, and recent recognition that online can be much more efficient for so many things that we thought HAD to be in person, a lot of businesses, churches, and organizations are growing to realize the importance of connecting with their social media followers online.
While I would emphasize the importance of getting it done rather than getting it perfect (now is not the time for perfectionism – never is), is it true that increasing the quality of your video to a minimum standard does result in longer viewing time and more engagement (likes, comments, and shares).
Here are 7 ways to improve your next live video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter
Be in a quiet space
This may seem obvious, but it’s increasingly difficult from home. Sometimes your co-workers (ie. kids and pets) can’t just move to another space or know how to keep it down while you’re making a live video from the kitchen table.
Trying to address your audience while the dog barks in the background or your kids ask you to put new batteries in their favorite toy siren is just plain distracting, making your viewers switch away or keep scrolling.
It’s not always possible to be in a silent space (if an ambulance drives by with sirens, there’s nothing you can do about that), but be intentional about going live during your kids nap time, while on a walk, in the evening after bedtime, or in your own space.
The less obvious distractions are fans, vents, or wind noise if you’re outside. As much as possible, get into a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and you can focus on connecting with people watching your video.
Use a microphone
This doesn’t mean you have to jump on Amazon and wait a few weeks before your mic arrives. Using the headset that came in the box with your phone or Bluetooth headphones with a built-in mic can reduce the ambient noise around you and make your voice clearer.
Your goal is not to sound like a radio announcer but to bring clarity to your voice so viewers can understand what you’re saying without distraction.
No shame: I’ve gone live from the kitchen with a table lamp behind my laptop with the shade off. Don’t hurt your eyes stating into a 100-watt bulb (the squinting won’t translate well on video anyway) but be in a room with ambient light from the sun, open the curtains if the window is beside you or in front of you, and turn on ALL of the lights in the room as long as they’re not behind you.
Be sure light sources are in front of you, not behind you. Light sources behind you (like open windows or lamps) will cause your camera to adjust to the brightness from the window and turn you into a silhouette.
In these 2 shots below from the webcam built into my laptop, the only difference is that the patio door’s blinds are open on the left and closed on the right. The room lighting is the same in both cases.
On the left, the camera adjusts to the brightest point on the screen (the sun outside) and on the right, it adjusts to the brightest point (probably my forehead glare?)
Side note: I haven’t shaved for a few days… I’ll get that done once I’m done this blog post…
Ask for engagement
Every 4-5 minutes of your video, ask for engagement from your viewers. Engagement drives the organic reach of your post so more people will have a chance to see your video. Ask your viewers to like your post, or ask them a question so they can respond in the comments.
Good starter questions could be:
Leave a comment to let me know where you’re watching from today
I’m here enjoying my morning coffee. I take mine black. Leave a comment about how you like your coffee!
An A/B question that has 2 options: We’re talking about getting up early or staying up late. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Tell us in the comments.
Starter questions are purely meant to drive engagement. Don’t start out with something controversial or in-depth – just a simple question that’s easy to answer.
The longer the video, the more times you’ll want to ask for engagement. Some people will tune in late. Some people will watch later in the day, and some people will be happy to respond multiple times during your broadcast, so ask an engagement question at the beginning, and at the end, and every 4-5 minutes in the middle.
Middle engagement questions would be open-ended questions about your topic:
Do you have a question about our organization or service?
What would you like to see change with this topic moving forward?
How can we better serve you in this area?
Ending engagement questions could be about the next broadcast:
Next time we’re talking about that topic. What questions can we answer for you?
Respond to engagement as it’s happening
When someone responds to your question, read it out during the broadcast and respond back. Ask them a follow-up question. Answer a question they put in the comments about your topic. Create a conversation in your video with the comments rather than just a monologue.
Aim for longer than 10 minutes
In this article from VidYard, they notice that it takes at least 10 minutes for your online viewers to find out you’re doing a live video:
Don’t draw our a 60-second announcement to 10 minutes to hit this metric, but instead of 2 or 3 videos at 4 minutes each, for example, go longer on a single video with multiple topics.
Go live with someone else
For me, going live is about connection and conversation. Also, knowing that we want to hit a metric of 10 minutes in a best-case scenario, having a partner can really help the conversation feel more like a conversation, and less like a monologue for 10 minutes.
It’s also helpful if one person is ‘interviewing’ the other – asking questions, watching comments for more questions, and introducing the topic.
My personal favorite tool for this is Be.Live because there is no software to download so it’s always ready to go, you can ‘produce’ on the fly (meaning switching from shared screen to full-screen of you or your guest) and you can see comments in real-time and put them up on the screen like a lower third.
You can also add subtitles (like your website address) and now media to show during your broadcast.
Have an idea about going live on Social Media that didn’t make this list? Share it below so we can learn together:
We all have bad days, but is it time to quit your job?
I have regular conversations with people who are considering quitting their church job (side note: email@example.com if you want to talk). I’m glad that I’m trusted to be a sounding board for people who, in many cases, want me to talk them out of quitting.
(For clarification, this situation looks very different if everything is good and you’re taking a new job or moving to a new city, but this post is for someone who is at the end of their rope and ready to throw in the towel.)
In most cases, the people who contact me thinking they’re ready to quit really love their church, and they really love some major components of what they get to do – the people they work with, or the work they get to do, or the results they’re seeing – but something has come up along the way and they’re not sure how else to address it besides quit.
Often something has changed:
‘Part-time’ requirements and salary have started to creep into full-time hours
They took the job at a lower pay structure because that’s what their church could afford, they wanted to help, and suddenly their spouse has been downsized at work and lost their accompanying income
They were promised a decision-making seat at the table, but restructuring the organization leaves them reporting to someone who doesn’t understand their work
“Other work as assigned” has become so broad and inclusive that they no longer have time to do the things they love and were hired to do.
This list has infinite possibilities, but usually boils down to X (expectation) has turned into Y (reality) and now you’re not sure you’re still a fit.
5 conversations, Adam? I’m ready to give my notice today.
Hold up. In most cases, you took your job at your church because you love serving your church, wanted to help make a difference in your community, and had an excitement unlike any other job you’ve taken before – you saw this as way more than a job – so, before you jump to a decision, let’s see what conversations can be had to bring that excitement back for you and your church.
When I was getting ready to move on from my church communications job, it came with about 6 months of conversations and I gave 10 weeks’ notice. I wanted to do everything possible to position our church to succeed as we were transitioning, rather than create a void.
After a culmination of discussions with many people in many positions at many churches, I’ve discovered 5 conversations that need to be had before you quit your church job.
A conversation with your spouse / close friend
Someone who has known you for a while can help you see where you have repeating patterns in your life. Maybe the conversation looks like,
“You change jobs every 3 years. It’s been 2 and a half years. Is this something you need to mature out of?”
“You had the same complaints in your last two jobs. If you decide to move on, make sure you ask questions during the next interview process to find out if you’re going to run into this same complaint again.”
It’s possible – more than possible – that the problem isn’t the job, but that you’re the one who needs to learn and grow through this situation. If the problem is “My managers always have their thumb on me,” or “I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” then maybe it’s time to evaluate whether or not the job, or the manager, or the co-workers are really the problem.
Your spouse or friend will also help you recognize if the stressor looks like A, but may actually be B. Is it possible…
The issue is not your salary, but an issue of not having a budget at home.
The issue is not that you’ve got too much to do at work, but you’re distracted because a family member is sick.
The issue is not that your manager is putting too much on your plate, but that he or she has an idea and you’re not willing to have a conversation about saying no, or asking what could be dropped in order to take on that new piece.
A conversation with a mentor
Hopefully, you have a mentor in your life who is not your boss. Use this framework for a conversation with them: “I’m feeling __________, and I think it’s because of ____________. Would you help me think through ways to make a change?”
Here are some examples:
“I’m feeling overwhelmed and I think it’s because our staff’s expectation is that any project they come up with should be completed “By this Sunday.” Would you help me think through ways to make a change?”
“I’m feeling frustrated, and I think it’s because the volunteer team I lead was built without clear expectations by the last person, so they don’t feel a need to show up on time, or sometimes at all. Would you help me think through ways to make a change?”
“I’m feeling distracted at work and I think it’s because when I took this job we agreed to part-time hours and salary, but the workload is more like full-time hours. Would you help me think through ways to make a change?”
“I’m feeling exhausted, and I think it’s because I want every sermon to be perfect and I’m staying up late, getting up early, and losing sleep that my sermon isn’t perfect. Would you help me think through ways to make a change?”
“I’m feeling undervalued because I have creative ideas on how to do my work, but my manager is telling me what to do and how to do it, which isn’t what I was expecting when I was hired. Would you help me think through ways to make a change?”
Often, there’s a solution that’s right in front of your nose: a change in perspective or a new piece of software to help you with your tasks or a conversation worth having with your team or the person you report to.
Set a clear action and a “by when?” date.
“By next Thursday, I will find a piece of software to help me get organized.” or “By our volunteer meeting, I will prepare notes to help our volunteers understand the impact we’re making and the importance of showing up on time.”
An exploration conversation with the person you report to
Hopefully, you’re having regular conversations with the person you report to – maybe weekly or monthly – and this is the first of 3 conversations you’ll start with them during this process. The conversation may take multiple sessions, involve other people, and at times leave you with more questions to come back and discuss later.
This exploration conversation is about my expectations and your expectations.
The framework for this conversation looks like “When I started, I was expecting _________, and it seems like your expectation is _______________. Could we evaluate and clarify the expectations for my position in writing?”
Let me jump in and say that most of this confusion is often caused by not having a job description. How is this possible? I’m not exactly sure, but it seems to be a common trend in churches. It starts with “We’d like to bring someone on to do X. Would you be interested?” and the X turns into X & Y, and then eventually X, Y & Z, and the kitchen sink, and the dishes, and then… well, you get the picture.
It could look like:
When I started, I was expecting to run digital marketing – social media, website, email newsletter, and it seems like your expection is that I’ll be doing all marketing, like printing, graphic design, and video editting. Could we evaluate amd clarify the expectations for my position in writing?
When I started, I was expecting part time hours, and it seems like your expecation is full-time hours in order to accomplish X, Y, Z, kitchen sink. Could we evaluate and clarify the expectations for my position in writing?
This conversation could also happen in the context of something you took on in a pinch.
When I was asked to take on running the nursery, I was expecting that it would be temporary for 3-6 months until we found someone who is passionate about doing that, and it seems like there hasn’t been any progress in finding someone to do that. Could we evaluate and clarify the expectations for my involvement in leading the nursery?
The follow up to this conversation could be that the expectations are reduced to match your hours, or your salary is increased to match your workload, or part of the expectations are outsourced to someone who specializes in that area.
Again, I’m saying this purely for the sake of redundancy: Expectations are way better addressed BEFORE you accept a job. If you’re about to start working at a church or haven’t created a job description, here’s a post I wrote about creating a church communications job description.
A conversation with God
This isn’t just thrown in for the sake of saying it. It’s actually really important to pray about this decision at THIS POINT in the conversation.
Take the conversation you’ve had with your spouse, mentor, and the person you report to, and pray about those conversations. Pray, listen, trust God.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
A ‘To-The-Point’ conversation with the person you report to
This has the risk of coming across as an ultimatum, so you need to be very clear that’s not how it comes across to the person you report to.
It could look like “This isn’t an ultimatum, and I want to be sure that I’m clear with you that after our last conversation, I’m still wrestling with ___________ (my salary, my hours, my workload, my temporary project that seems to have turned permanent, my relationship with a co-worker, etc) and I may have to make a different decision about where I work if we can’t find a way to resolve that. Can we discuss how to resolve that?”
This isn’t the time to express your feelings about the situation, but to give factual information: Basically, my ability to continue to work here is based on _________. Not “Here is the emotional reason why I’m a victim or under-appreciated or so mad that I’m justifying this decision.”
If your part-time salary isn’t sufficient for the full-time expectations, then that’s the fact. Being angry, or annoyed, or sad, or disappointed doesn’t change the fact that your salary is insufficient, so do your best to leave your emotion out of the conversation.
Don’t leave any facts out of this conversation. If your concerns are your hours AND a specific co-worker, then don’t just mention hours. You’ll put yourself in a predicament if your hours get address, but in 2 months you need to start these conversations over about that co-worker.
As careful as you may be in this conversation, it’s possible that this is the last conversation you’ll have. It may simply be perceived as an ultimatum, which leads to the person you report to saying “It’s not going to change, so I guess you’ll be moving on.”
To be as careful as possible to avoid this, be sure to frame your conversation as above with “Can we discuss how to resolve that?”
A conversation with yourself
Yep, I’m that guy who talks to himself. Late night walks are my friend, both for praying, and also for self-reflection.
This is where you’ll need to make your decision based on all of your other conversations. If your “To The Point” the conversation ends with, “Sorry, nothing can change right now,” then you need to decide what your priorities need to be, or are there external ways for you to continue to make this work.
A conversation where you give your notice
In my case, I gave 10-weeks notice. This not only showed goodwill toward the organization, but also positioned them to find a replacement, decide how they were going to address the decision with the staff, my volunteer team and the church (depending on your position, this may not be necessary), and gave me the time necessary to organize my passwords, put some pending systems in writing, make a list of services, clear up pending expense reports, etc.
Make sure you request a meeting with whoever you think needs to hear this conversation at the same time. This may be the person you report to and your Lead Pastor, or you and your spouse might meet with your Pastor, or it may be one-on-one.
This may be a difficult conversation to keep emotion away from but try your best – not that we deny the emotions that God has given us, but don’t treat emotion as the reason for your decision.
This needs to be a factual conversation, not driven by disappointments, blaming or a flippant attitude.
“We’ve had conversations about X. I understand that’s not going to change, so I need to make a personal change that includes finding somewhere else to work. My last day will be X. I want to thank you for the opportunity to be part of this team and learn here.”
There will typically be a few follow up questions, and it’s important to answer those as clearly and factually as possible.
Just to be clear: I did this wrong
I wasn’t emotional, and I wasn’t mad, and we didn’t have a blowup, but I was so unclear in what could have been a clear conversation that someone had to ask “Are you saying you’re leaving?”
Yeah, that’s embarrassing, and I shake my head just thinking about it, and even more so I basically had to resign twice, once without clarity, and once with clarity in the same meeting.
I started with “I love this team, and we’ve been learning about growing into our calling, and I would love to continue to be part of the team, and I want to maintain our friendship, and I think my next season is in business, and ….”
After I was asked, “Are you saying you’re leaving?” then I was able to create a helpful conversation.
For your benefit, the benefit or your church, and what they could learn for when they hire the next person to replace you, clarity is the best approach.
These aren’t always easy conversations, but you started working at your church for a reason. Don’t let a bad day, or a conversation left unsaid be your tipping point to walk away from something you love.
The 2 categories of your church’s social media content:
We’re past the point of needing to have a discussion about the value of using Social Media to reach your community. Hey, if your church is still having that discussion, that’s cool, but most of us are on social media so much that we’re using it like skip button on our PVR.
For most of us, it would be like discussing whether or not to have the name of your church on your building or signage outside your portable church to let people know where to find you. Social Media has become second nature to most of us, and with the simplicity of setting up an managing an account, it should be taken for granted that your church is using Social Media to connect and engage with people in your community.
That being said, we’re now moving into a world where Social Media is getting noisy – there are facebook ads, pop-ups, event reminders, notification, friend request, DMs and way more than I can handle listing here, so like social media has evolved, your strategy around social media has to evolve as well.
There are 2 categories to consider when posting on your church’s social media accounts.
Internal or External:
Think of a big brand – Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Hilton, Disney – imagine they used Facebook on Tuesday to let their customers know about a new product, then used their facebook page on Wednesday to remind their staff that there’s a mandatory staff meeting on Monday morning.
Whatever engagement they garnered from their new product promotion would be crushed by very few people in their followers finding any value in a reminder about a staff meeting on Monday.
Consider your church members like the front line of your church making it all happen – the cashiers, shelf stockers, maintenance, customer service, guest relations, chefs in the kitchen.
Too many times when I’m stalking a church’s social media channel (side note: Yes, I do this in my spare time) I see an all-too-familiar mix of internal memos and external promotions which is taking your audience on a confusing roller coaster of “Cool, I’ll like and share this” to “What does that have to do with me?”
I’ve been guilty of this myself, both in business and with churches I’ve worked with. It’s possible for all of us to fall into this trap.
Ultimately, too many posts that are irrelevant to the end-user is going to cause them to unfollow your account – Maybe not the first or second time, but eventually seeing what could be considered “ads” for irrelevant products is going to find it’s limit.
The litmus test for internal and external content:
If I don’t yet go to your church, do I care or could it affect me?
Pretty simple: If I know nothing about your church, other than it’s in the same city as me, do I care about what you’re going to post.
We have to move away from using our facebook page, twitter account, snap chat and Instagram (or whatever else you’re on this week) to communicate things to our church members and focus that content on content for our community to engage with.
Men’s Breakfast Invitation: External. We need people to bring eggs to the Men’s breakfast: Internal.
Family circus day: External. We need someone to work in the nursery this Sunday since our teacher is sick: Internal.
Here is a sermon clip with some tips from Pastor Bob on parenting: External. In future services, we’re asking parents to please take your kids to the foyer to watch service if they’re causing a distraction: Internal.
We’re looking for community volunteers to help with our Christmas Dinner for our city. External. Sister so and so just got home from the hospital. Click this link to volunteer to bring her a meal. Internal.
Just imagine for a second a billboard in a city that says “Mary is sick this weekend. Please call the office if you know someone who can fill in the nursery on Sunday.”
BUT, what about the children?!
Ok, maybe not “the children” but what about the people in our church? This is the pushback I get all the time as if your facebook page is the only way to communicate with your church during the week.
(side note: if announcements are the “Holy Grail” of communication at church, then a social media post is perceived as the “Holy Grail” during the week.)
Tools that are perfect for internal communication:
Email Newsletter segmented to specific audiences (ie. men/women, parents of kids/parents of youth, singles, young married couples, middle-aged couples, retired couples – you get the idea. Many people will fall into more than one category).
Facebook Group – Build facebook groups for your small groups, or demographics of people at your church, or areas of the city where they live, etc. Groups are perfect for connecting and having conversations, plus great for mentioning a need or encouraging an internal effort without promoting it to your community audience.
Text message services, like Text In Church, allow you to build multiple segmented lists so you can get the right information to the right people. Text beats out an email for urgent needs, or reminders (ie. Thanks for volunteering to help at the family fun day tomorrow. Setup starts at 4 pm! See you there!)
Provide a 2-3 sentence announcement for your small group leaders to announce to their groups. Be sure the information matches the people represented in the small group.
Internal Communication goal: Right information to the right people at the right time.
Forget telling your retired couples about the singles night, or your young parents about youth retreat, or your campus 1 families about a campus 2 event in another town. Get the right information to the right people at the right time – including information you provide to your community.
To sum it up; Tools for Internal or External communication
Signage in your church
Social Media pages
External Advertising – billboards, radio ads, mailers
How have you seen this working for your church? Leave a comment below so we can all learn together!