Discover the Discovery Era

4 weeks ago

BY Field Day

Discover the Discovery Era

Taylor Swift is, simply stated, an icon. There is no denying it.  Most of us have observed her meteoric rise from a teenage country sensation to a global pop star. It has been nothing short of extraordinary. Since bursting onto the scene at the tender age of 16, Swift has blown away her young audiences with her undeniable talent, authenticity, and relentless drive. Neither gender, socio-economic situation, or age prevent you from knowing, and now, at the pinnacle of her career, Swift stands as a towering figure in the music industry, with accolades ranging from billionaire status (that’s right…BILLIONAIRE) to being named Time’s Person of the Year.

But amidst the whirlwind of her professional success, Swift found solace in her personal life, particularly in her relationship with NFL star Travis Kelce. Their romance captured headlines and hearts alike, with Swift finding comfort and support in Kelce’s arms as she navigated the demands of her hectic schedule. Yet, Swift’s relationship with Kelce didn’t just affect her personal life; it also had ripple effects in the world of sports. As Kelce’s performances on the football field garnered increased scrutiny in light of his high-profile romance with the pop superstar, their blossoming romance became a topic of conversation…actually OBSESSION for Swifties and fantasy football fanatics alike. Taylor Swift’s attendance at games not only correlated with boosted viewership (particularly with the female audience), but also led to an influx of interest in the NFL’s social media. Because of the “Swift Effect”, the NFL sponsorship revenue was $2.35bn, 15 percent higher than last season. WILD!

That’s not the only thing that may shock you about T Swift’s amazing career this past year. Her recent Eras Tour was so big it affected the economy. The actual economy! It is one of the most successful concert tours in music history. Miss Swift’s empire has continued to grow, being fueled by what we can only say is her unwavering commitment to constantly reinvent herself. Taylor Swift’s career can be divided into several distinct “eras”, each marked by a unique sound, style, and thematic focus.

Just as Swift’s career can be divided into distinct seasons of change, the evolution of social media has similarly undergone various times of transformation. From the early days of platforms like MySpace and Friendster to the rise of Facebook (whoops, I mean Meta), Twitter (Dang it! I mean X. Sheesh, it’s hard to keep up.), Instagram and most recently TikTok, social media has reshaped how we connect, communicate, and consume content in the digital age. Even the way we use social media has continually reshaped itself and evolved. When we first used Insta, we saw what was happening in our friend’s lives instantly. It was meant to keep up with the people we knew in real time. That’s where the idea of FOMO came from. If we saw a friend doing something in that moment that we were not a part of, we had an instant fear that we were missing out on something. Now you barely see what your friends are doing. When you do, it will be days to weeks later. In fact, most of who is on your feed is not your friend at all. You’ll scroll through an assortment of meme accounts and influencers you’ve never met in your life. 

As we delve deeper into 2024, we find ourselves in what is being termed the “Discover Era” of social media, where platforms have evolved, algorithms have become more sophisticated, AI leads the way, and strategies will have to take on new forms in order to be engaging at all. With all of this change, how do you leverage the “new social media” to have the most impact on the most people for the kingdom? Great question. Here are some ways to navigate and leverage social media’s newest iteration.

Embrace Platform Diversity

Just as no two congregants are the same, no two social media platforms are identical. Each platform has its own unique demographics, features, and best practices. From the visual appeal of Instagram to the conversational nature of Twitter (Doh! X) and the community-building potential of Meta groups (got that one ;), embracing diversity across platforms allows churches to reach a broader audience. But, you need to tailor your message accordingly.

Content Is King, But Context Is Key

Compelling content remains at the heart of successful social media engagement. However, in the Discover Era, context plays an equally vital role. Find out what kind of content gets posted on which platform. Gone are the days of reposting the same video in the same way to many different apps. You will find out quickly, that is not the road to big reach or even virality. Understanding the algorithmic nuances of each platform is essential for optimizing reach and engagement. Whether it’s leveraging trending hashtags, utilizing live video features, using a trending song or crafting content that sparks meaningful conversations, church leaders must adapt their strategies to fit the ever-changing digital landscape.

Real Trumps Real Professional

In an era inundated with curated feeds and polished images, authenticity reigns supreme. That’s a significant shift churches are not catching on to. Congregants crave genuine connections and relatable content. Churches are so used to aiming for high quality and super polished aesthetics. Church leaders should strive to showcase the raw, unfiltered moments of faith, vulnerability, and community that make their community unique. Whether it’s sharing personal testimonies, behind-the-scenes glimpses of church life, or candid reflections on current events, being your “real self” fosters deeper engagement and fosters a sense of belonging.

Engage, Don't Broadcast

Social media is no longer a one-way megaphone; it’s a dynamic, two way conversation. Albeit, sometimes an aggressive digital exchange, but an exchange nonetheless. Church leaders must shift their mindset from broadcasting messages to engaging in meaningful dialogue with their audience. Simply using your channel or thread as a digital billboard is no longer a good use of your online presence. Electronic newsletters are not effective. Give folks something of value in your posts, then follow up with those who engage with your content. Responding to comments, initiating polls, hosting Q&A sessions, and creating opportunities for user-generated content all contribute to a successful post. By actively listening and responding to the needs of their followers, church leaders can cultivate a digital space that reflects the values and mission of their faith community. It’s also a way to connect with folks on the fringe who are considering attendance. It’s a great opportunity for a first impression. 

Harness the Power of Storytelling

The ability to effectively share our faith is rooted in the power of storytelling. The best stories happen to those who can tell them. Ministers are often the best storytellers. Social media provides a platform to amplify these stories and share the transformative power of faith in an emotional and inspirational way. For years, Whether it’s highlighting acts of service, sharing personal testimonies, or showcasing the impact of community outreach programs, storytelling humanizes the message of Christ and inspires others to join in the mission. If you want to move people to action, tell impactful stories. Preachers, leverage your gift of gab!

Stay Agile and Experiment

The only real constant in the evolution of social media is change. Sometimes noticeable. Sometimes subtle. Sometimes a complete transformation of the landscape. Church leaders must remain agile and willing to experiment with new strategies, platforms, and formats. What works today may not work tomorrow. Shoot, the algorithm seems to change from hour to hour.  Being adaptable is key to staying relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape. By embracing a spirit of experimentation and innovation, church leaders can uncover new ways to connect with their congregation and fulfill their mission in the digital age.

Prioritize Accessibility and Inclusivity

In the Discover Era, accessibility and inclusivity are paramount considerations for church leaders. Ensuring that content is accessible to individuals of all abilities, languages, and backgrounds is essential for reaching a diverse audience and fostering an inclusive digital community. Providing captions for videos, utilizing alt text for images, and offering translations for written content are simple yet impactful ways to prioritize accessibility on social media.

Use Artificial Intelligence To Grow Authentic Community

Artificial Intelligence is here and it ain’t goin nowhere. In fact, it is only growing exponentially. You will either be an early adopter by leaning into and experimenting with it or choose to be a late adapter who will always be playing catch up. Church leaders will get on the bus or get run over by it. You can already use AI to create new images and expand on current images. You can even use AI programs that will create video based on text prompts. Imagine one app having the capability to replace an entire team of graphic artists and videographers. In many respects you don’t have to imagine it, because it’s already here.

Incorporating AI into the creation of images and video content for social media can significantly enhance the visual appeal, engagement, and effectiveness of church leaders’ online presence. By leveraging these innovative tools and techniques, ministries can elevate their storytelling capabilities, connect with their digital communities on a deeper level, and ultimately fulfill their mission of spreading the message of faith.

The most recent evolution of social media presents both challenges and opportunities for church leaders. However, this Discover Era can be your Evolution Era if you embrace the reality that change is the norm. Adapting is key if you want to make the most of the moment. You’ll be able to cultivate community beyond the screen, and navigate this new season with confidence. All the while maximizing the potential of social media to further

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