Doing Christmas on Social Media

Unsurprisingly, Christmas is one of the things churches do best, and there’s also a really great opportunity to do a brilliant job of Christmas on social media.  Social media is a fantastic place to get people thinking about the real meaning of Christmas as there are so many ways to communicate it. I’ve put pen to paper (or more accurately fingers to keyboard) and pulled together a few ideas to inspire you in your Christmas social media strategy.

Telling the Story
Throughout the Christmas season, try and find interesting ways to tell the story.  It could be through photos, graphics, videos or even gifs. Try and be as creative as possible, the more unusual and unique the better. For example: why not turn the church into a giant Advent calendar, revealing the next bit of the story each day? It would be perfect for the community to get involved in but also a great thing to share each day on social media.

One of the easiest things to do is to share relevant Bible verses (don’t forget that they’ll need to fit into 140 characters on Twitter). This is a great reminder for people that Christmas is about more than presents and food. Go one step further and turn the Bible verses into graphics. Not only will you be able to fit longer verses onto a graphic but they should be more engaging. As people scroll, they’ll stop to take a look at images. I’ve shared some resources on other posts which will make it incredibly easy to make quote graphics.

Promoting the Services
This might seem obvious, but don’t forget to promote your service times. Create a clean, simple and easy to understand Christmas timetable graphic and share it regularly. Don’t forget to post it at different times of day to reach different groups of people. It’s also worth tweeting individual service times and reminding people how welcome they are to come. It’s not always easy to ask someone face to face if they’d like to come to church, but retweeting or sharing a post about the Christmas service times isn’t nearly as daunting and is a great way to to invite friends to church for the first time.

Don’t forget to make the Christmas service times prominent on your website; if people have to search for them, they’ll probably just give up.

Getting Ready
There’s so much you can share on Twitter and Facebook in the run up to Christmas. Churches can look really magical at Christmas time with candles and decorations, so use that to make people want to visit your church: share photos of the christmas decorations going up, the stages of the nativity crib scene being put into place or a video of music being practised. It builds up the anticipation and excitement for the main event. Think about the things your church does to get ready for Christmas that people might not know you do, or look for the humorous side in the preparations. Take a photo of the tower of mince pie boxes you need for a service or how you get such a large tree into the church.

During/On the Day
Not tweeting during your Christmas Day service (or during other Christmas services) might be a missed opportunity. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Why not share photos of the church filling up and updates of how you’re celebrating in church – you could live tweet the whole thing!
  • Take a short video clip of the entire church saying Happy Christmas. Short means you can share the video on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Why not try vine also? An app from Twitter which lets you share 6 second videos
  • Share videos from individuals about what they think Christmas is, you could also do it with still photos and have them hold up their message (perfect for Twitter and Instagram!)
  • Take multiple photos throughout the service and create stop-motion style video of the service
  • Live-stream it: use an app like Periscope to live video stream the service around the world. You’ll need to plan ahead and know what’s happening where but it’s worth the effort.

Videos
A video is a perfect way to share the Christmas story. Not only can you tell the story in unique and creative ways, it will also be more engaging on social media than text or image posts (plus perfect to show in Church too!). Have a look at my list of best Christmas videos, including All Saints, Peckham who used the overground train running past their church to tell the Christmas Story. Read my blog on cheap and easy video ideas which prove you don’t need a big budget or a budding director in your church to make a video. If you do create a video and also plan to post it on Facebook, don’t forget to upload the video straight to Facebook rather than using a Youtube link as you will get a lot more people watching the video.

Got ideas of your own? Why not share them in the comments below.

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10 of the best Christmas videos 2015

This time last year I shared 10 of the best Christmas videos. After an extensive search,  I’ve found 10 more for you! They’re all new or less well known which will hopefully be entertaining, inspiring and useful in your Christmas social media strategy. 

1. Nativity on the Overground
This video won two awards at the recent Jerusalem awards, which was well deserved. The idea behind the video is really simple but very clever and shows off the church’s locale at the same time.

2. The Christmas Story
This is an animated telling of the Christmas story with children telling the story. It’s simple, short and sweet!

3. Anomaly
This might not work particularly well on social media, as at 40 minutes long it’s more of a short film. However, It’s absolutely beautifully shot and directed, so it’s well worth a watch. Why not show it at an evening service or at a home/youth group and then have a discussion about the film afterwards?

4. The Wise Men
Another simple but well made animation telling the story of the wise men.

5. With Love
It’s not until the end of this video that you understand the story it’s telling, but it’s clever and well put together as well as telling a great message.

6. Gold
Told from the perspective of the Wise Men and shot in the Mojave desert features stunning scenery, dramatic music and a reminder of what Christmas is really about.

7. Christmas Lights
A great use of stop motion which tells the Christmas story with a dash humour in the shape of lego figures 

8. Prince of Peace
Simple, pretty, powerful.

9. Mary – Spoken Word
The very talented Miriam Swaffield delivers a spoken word piece from Mary’s perspective that’ll get you thinking. If you liked it, have a watch of videos she’s done from the shepherds and wise men too.

10. Four Kinds of Christmas
A reliably high quality and clever spoken word video from Glen Scrivener to make people think about what kind of Christmas they are. 

 

Enjoyed these? Why not make your own Christmas video. Have a look at my simple video ideas and be inspired by this selection of videos. Your video could be on this list next Christmas!

 

10 of the Best: Christmas Videos

There are plenty of videos online, all with a different take on the Christmas story and all of them perfect for showing in church or posting to Facebook and Twitter. With so many good ones to choose from it’s hard to know which ones to use, so I’ve picked my favourites. Hopefully there’s something for everyone in this list.

1. Someone is Coming
A gorgeous animated film which fits the Christmas story into a much larger story.

2. Santa vs Jesus
One of many spoken word videos by Glen Scrivener (do check the others out). Once you’ve watched it once, you’ll want to play to again to take in all the clever wording.

3. GRYMG -Beat Convention
Combining rap, singing and a Cathedral choir performing the carol God Rest You Merry Gentleman, this is the ultimate combination of traditional and contemporary.

4. The Christmas Story, by the kids of St Paul’s Church, Auckland.
Another high quality video, this one full of cute children dressed up telling the Christmas Story which is perfect for showing at a crib service (a similar video with more cute children can be found here: http://vimeo.com/33388642)

5. InstaChristmas
A completely unique telling of the Christmas story, this one using hundreds of instagram photos, definitely one which will get people talking.

6. The Magi: Advent & Christmas Unit — Holy Moly Sunday School
Perfect for Epiphany – a simple animation telling the story of the magi which children will love. (Do see the other videos in the series which may also be useful)

7. O Little Town of Bethlehem
A powerful video of the story of the birth of Jesus told by the people of Bethlehem. Made by St Paul’s Church, Auckland.

8. The Earth Stood Still
The nativity using miniature figurines and music. A simple video which makes a great starting off point for any Christmas services.

9. Unto Us
A short modernised telling of the Christmas story with proves you don’t need words to be powerful

10. The Christmas Chord.
Another spoken word piece about the one chord which holds all of Christmas together – very clever’s written and produced.

Let me know what your favourite video is in the comments below.

Social Media Time Savers

It is often the case that you only have a couple of days a week or less to commit to your church’s social media channels, and it takes time to not only keep an eye on what’s happening but also to find, create and post new content on a regular basis, time which you don’t always have. I’ve put together 6 simple ideas which should help you make the most out of the time you do have:

1. Create a backbone
What I mean by this is create 20-30 tweets that work as the structure to which everything else you do on social media fits around. These tweets explain who you are, what you do, where they can find more information, direct people to different sections of your website. The basics.

You can then schedule these to be posted over a month or more and be safe in the knowledge that something will be tweeted even when you are too busy to log in. When you do have time, you can supplement the account with live tweets and retweets.

What you can do when you are running out of tweets, is rewrite them slightly, add a few new ones in and then start scheduling again.

The same can be done with Facebook by scheduling in 8-15 posts over the same time period, leave you time to work on finding new and interesting content.

2. Follow the right people
Make sure you’re following the people that are going to give you interesting and useful things to retweet. If you don’t have time to create content, find things to retweet. A quick check of the feed (or columns in Tweetdeck) should give you something good.

3. Plan Ahead
Know what’s in the church calendar. Letting people know what’s happening that day or week in the church makes for quick and easy content. If you have a big event coming up, schedule in tweets which slowly build up momentum for the event, tweet during the event itself and then afterwards, a look back with any photos or video you may have.

Don’t forget about national days and events. How can you play into a human rights day or even a national cupcake day. It’s also easy to plan ahead for the major dates such as Easter, Harvest and Christmas. Work out on a piece of paper, what you will be posting on Twitter and Facebook and at exactly what day and time which you can then schedule all ready to go (This especially useful over times like Christmas when you want to seem active but you also want to enjoy the festivities)

4. ICYMI
(a.k.a In Case You Missed It) There’s nothing wrong with repeat tweets as long as you don’t overdo it. Have you created a great video or have a fantastic collection of photos on Facebook? Tweet about it on a Friday evening, a Sunday afternoon and a Tuesday morning. You can either slightly reword each tweet or simply tweet it again, adding: In case you missed this the first time……

5. Use Tweetdeck/Hootsuite
Not only can you schedule your tweets, months in advance, you can also filter the tweets and divide it into more manageable chunks – all on one screen. This means you don’t have to spend hours trawling through timelines or be constantly checking for new tweets.

6. Store the good stuff up
If you find a website with a load of great content, or stumble across a good Youtube channel, you don’t have to post all the you find in one go, try and keep a store of videos, pictures, websites and more so you don’t have to spend time looking for something good every single time you need to post something. You can also encourage the church staff team and the congregation to send you good content which will save you time too.