Let’s Talk About Youth, Social Media, and the United Methodist and Episcopal Churches

In the wake of my analysis of UMC annual conferences and TEC dioceses, I’ve been working to compile one brand new spreadsheet (and massively update another) to collect social media data on annual conference/diocesan youth organizations across the United States. Titled “The United Methodist Church in the US – Social Media Presence (Youth)” and “The Episcopal Church in the US – Social Media Presence (Youth)” respectively, I’m hoping to draw more conclusions on how the church is communicating with youth and connecting them to youth-centric events and conference/youth campaigns.

As with my UMC annual conference and TEC diocese spreadsheets, I am tracking social media presences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each social network has two sheets, one based on the number of likes/followers for the account and one based on membership in the church (the latter being based on either line 16 “CF YOUTH” of each annual conference’s Table I Statistical Report for the United Methodist Church or an estimate based on a combination of the 2016 Table of Statistics and the 2014 “New FACTS” report for the Episcopal Church). Having finished with my compilation of both datasets, I would like to talk about my thoughts on the data, social media outreach, and general engagement of youth by annual conferences.

In the vein of the posts that started it all, I’ll be covering the analysis of the data itself first by denomination. After that, I’ll discuss the differences in how this data can be interpreted as compared to the annual conference/diocesan data.

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Why Do I Analyze Data From Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

One of the questions that I’ve gotten the most after my latest post is why I choose to focus on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when talking about the best ways that annual conferences or dioceses can engage with social media. I recognize that this is a very fair question to pose, given two key points that have been given to back up the question:

  1. It can be incredibly difficult for small groups to maintain three social media presences effectively
  2. There’s a clear disparity in the percentage of users using Twitter as compared to Facebook and Instagram

So today, I’d like to explain briefly why I focus on each network, and why I don’t focus on two other key social media networks, Snapchat and Pinterest.
Continue reading Why Do I Analyze Data From Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

Thoughts On TEC Dioceses and Their Usage of Social Media

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called Some Thoughts On UMC Annual Conferences and Their Usage of Social Media, in which I analyzed a data set that I had been collecting that I called “UMC in the US – Social Media Presence“. Well, at one point, I had the idea that I was going to create a project at Hendrix for both my major and minor that analyzed both UMC annual conferences and Episcopal Church dioceses and did some comparisons and such on the resulting collection of data. However, while I started the Episcopal spreadsheet, I wasn’t able to get the project off the ground, and so I only continued to update the UMC spreadsheet (haphazardly, I will admit). However, I recently revisited the TEC spreadsheet after an email conversation I had with an Episcopalian communicator, and now having just updated the data tonight, I thought I would revisit that UMC post, and a couple of posts that I wrote for UMTOOS, and apply that analysis to the diocesan spreadsheet. So, without further ado…
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A (Slightly) Longer New Year’s Analysis

EDIT: To see the most recent version of the data that I’ve been collecting (and reference in this post), please click here.

For around a year and a half now, I’ve been collecting social media statistics on United Methodist conferences to see the sort of outreach and growth that conferences were experiencing on social media platforms, one of the fastest growing methods of communication. Today, I’d like to briefly look back on the data for 2017.

Continue reading A (Slightly) Longer New Year’s Analysis

Alabama Proves It: We Can (And Need To) Make Change Happen Anywhere

I have to say, I don’t think I’ve watched a Senate race more than I have with Alabama’s recent special election between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. You could not have had two more polar-opposite candidates, and sickeningly, Roy Moore survived politically, with party support, and got a considerable number of votes despite the horrendous and numerous allegations made against him. But it’s not just the fact that a Democrat won a historically conservative state like Alabama, it’s who turned out and what’s so important about him winning. Continue reading Alabama Proves It: We Can (And Need To) Make Change Happen Anywhere

You Can Never Pay Too Much Attention To The Facts

You’ll never have to hear the word “no”
If you keep all your friends on the payroll

—Death Cab for Cutie,
“Good Help (Is So Hard To Find)”

I start with this lyric from a Death Cab for Cutie song because if you ask me, it perfectly captures the current state of politics in our country. And you don’t have to look any further than Thursday night, when I stayed up just a little past my bed time (midnight Denver time) to watch CNN rebroadcast C-SPAN, of all things. Now, while you might find this to not be a shock at all, it really isn’t something that I do on a regular basis (or that CNN does, for that matter). However, what was going on was the final vote on another attempt to fix the healthcare system in the United States. And what many considered to be the last-ditch, no-holds-barred attempt to repeal/replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) failed in what was less of a vote and more of a spectacle now commonplace in our American political system, with a party-line-ish photo finish final tally after months, nay, years of closed-door wranglings and politicking that you’d normally find in a House of Cards episode.

Continue reading You Can Never Pay Too Much Attention To The Facts

Where Regnat Populus Meets E Pluribus Unum

Regnat Populus: the people rule.
E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one.

This past week, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a group of young adults from the Arkansas Conference who went to Washington, DC to participate in the United Methodist Seminar program sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. The program focused on hunger and poverty in Arkansas and across the United States, and as the Arkansas Conference is currently working on the 200,000 Reasons Initiative, it was a perfect fit for us as we learned about our own state’s statistics on poverty and food insecurity, as well as what programs and ideas have worked in the DC area, and figured out how we can bring that into the initiative.

However, it was more than that. The trip, in and of itself, was an exercise of our collective rights as citizens, an opportunity to imagine new, creative, and innovative solutions to the problems we face in our state, and an adventure into our nation’s expansive and storied capital. And while I know I can’t do the trip justice as far as describing it in detail, I will certainly give it, as they say, “the old college try.”
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One Week In

For Americans, and truly anyone around the world, it’s been…quite a week, to put it nicely. Donald Trump has officially been President for a week and a day, and in that timespan, he has managed to:

  • focus a considerable amount of attention on his inaugural crowd size,
  • prevent several US government agencies from posting on social media, specifically after several of them posted about climate change,
  • sign several controversial executive orders, including ones to build the Mexico-US border wall, restart development of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, and limit refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations (unless they are Christian or another minority religious tradition),
  • and to quote Aziz Ansari, have “an entire gender [protest] against him.”

…and none of this gets into what has been happening with his Cabinet nominees. *cough*Betsy DeVos*cough*

These above points have caused a very wide range of reactions from all sides, but for me, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time unpacking it and thinking about the ramifications not just for our nation, but for our entire world. Therefore, I want to focus on two areas that have been affected most recently: religion and science.

Continue reading One Week In

Some Thoughts On UMC Annual Conferences and Their Usage of Social Media

Back in June of 2016, I made a little spreadsheet that I titled “UMC in the US – Social Media Presence“. It was a simple little spreadsheet that tracked every United Methodist annual conference and their social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, arguably the three most popular social networks in the United States (especially among the 18-29-year-old demographic), and it all stemmed from a backstage conversation at the Arkansas Annual Conference 2016 about who had the largest Facebook following in our jurisdiction (the answer was the Texas Conference, with Arkansas coming in second). Since that day, I’ve done my best to keep the statistics updated the past 6 months, adding and updating data along the way and letting everyone know about it. In doing so, and watching all of these pages and accounts, I’ve come across some interesting data and had a couple of thoughts on where things stand currently. So without further ado, here are my thoughts after 6 months of observation combined with my own personal opinions on social media.
Continue reading Some Thoughts On UMC Annual Conferences and Their Usage of Social Media

Stand

I finally woke up at 10:30am this morning, November 9th. I had ignored my normal alarms that I have set for Wednesdays, because I just wasn’t sure how to face the world, the challenges, the heartache, and the overwhelming sense of fear that so many of the American people face.

Now, to make this clear, my blog reflects my opinion, which is strongly liberal from a political standpoint. However, even with that said, all the issues that I took with Donald Trump were not always political in nature. Far from disagreeing with him on many of the issues, I took issue with his demeanor, his braggadocio, his lack of transparency, and his overall treatment of so many groups in our country.

That’s why it was hard to face the world this morning. It was hard to face the world knowing that the United States had elected someone who went against not our different political beliefs, but against the moral beliefs that we have tried so hard to instill in everyone.

I know, however, that any fear and doubts that I have are significantly eclipsed by those who have truly been affected by Trump’s words and actions. Those who are Latinx, Muslim, African-American, LGBTQIA, female, disabled, supporters of the right to free speech and expression, and so many others have been hurt mentally and sometimes physically by the whole of the campaign. And today, November 9th, they woke up to more than just “not wanting to get out of bed”.

Which leads me to the title of my post: “Stand”. Why this one word? Because it may just be the most important thing we do now. The President, Senate, and House of Representatives have all been elected now, and barring major controversies, they will stay constant for some time. So now it is time for us to stand with each other. To stand with those who feel shut out of America now, to stand against injustice, to stand up and say that we will treat all people, regardless of who they are, with the respect and dignity and love that they deserve, because those ideas throughout America’s lifespan have been the true cornerstone of greatness.

Today, November 9th, there are many Americans who have woken up wondering about what their future holds for them and their families. Let us stand with them.

Jacob