Let’s Talk More About Websites

As I previously mentioned in my “Does Your Conference (Or Church, For That Matter) Really Need A Mobile App?” post, I am a firm proponent of “responsive” web design. However, while I did highlight some excellent examples of some websites that look great on mobile devices from the Minnesota, New Mexico, and Pacific Northwest Conferences, I didn’t really go into my thoughts on what constitutes a good conference website. Now, “good” can be defined in a number of ways, so I decided to build a front page based on the following points:

  • For newcomers, it’s informative without being technical or overwhelming
  • For church members, it’s a one-stop shop that has everything that they need
  • For clergy, it has nothing they don’t already know, but everything they need to know
  • It has style and content that makes it feel unique and inviting

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Best Practices for Social Media Account Identification

In developing the “The United Methodist Church in the US – Social Media Presence” spreadsheet, one of the first things I had to do was find each annual conference’s social media account on either Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. However, this actually proved to be a bit of a time-consuming process (two hours, according to Google Sheets) because of the differences in social media account names and usernames across networks. So, I wanted to give a few tips and tricks on identifying your conference (or any organization, including churches) easily enough to where anyone can find you with a few quick keystrokes.

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Does Your Conference (Or Church, For That Matter) Really Need A Mobile App?

They seem to be all the rage nowadays: the mobile app. Mobiles apps exist for any and every company, service, or product you can imagine, from Netflix to the NCAA, Walmart to the Washington Post, and Bandsintown to the Bible itself. The iPhone even popularized the phrase “there’s an app for that,” which has become an answer to any question you can imagine. Need directions? “There’s an app for that.” Want to order something from *insert store here*?  “There’s an app for that.”

In keeping with that trend, annual conferences and churches have jumped aboard the mobile app train, releasing their own (often in conjunction with outside developers). By my personal (and very quick) count, close to a third (18 of 55) of all annual conferences have at least one app of some sort, and countless churches on top of that. However, I want to ask two questions about these church and conference apps that are the most important: what is the app accomplishing, and is it worth it? The short answers (in my opinion) are “nothing unique” and “no”, but let’s really look at these closely.

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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.
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Q: What’s Going On In My Life? (A: I’m Not Completely Sure Yet, But It’s Definitely The Right Thing)

For those of you who have read my “Interning With The ARUMC” blog/category (click here if you haven’t, it’s a really good read, or so I’ve been told), you know that this summer was a very influential one for me: I had the opportunity to discover how I could use my passion for technology in a way that both served God and served the world. However, it went much deeper than that for me, which is why I write for you all today.

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