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Have you ever felt like you’re straddling two different markets? Are you fearful of choosing one market over another?

Basically, do you feel like if you do choose one you are going to miss out on another market?

The reality is most of us only have the ability to focus on one market at a time. One niche at a time. And if we don’t, we lose out on “old mo,” AKA momentum. Not losing out on old mo’ is something my football coach always talked about. Of course, I mostly just sat on the bench, but I still remember him saying that nonetheless. Because it so often applies to life and to business.

At Think Digital, we’ve been experiencing the tension between being in the church market and wanting to move into the entrepreneur/small business market. I used to believe that church folk would buy from business people, but business people wouldn’t buy from church folk. I no longer believe that.

As it is, we have two client bases. One is the product side, the other is the services side. The services side is where a lot of our agency work is; where we do social media management, social media content creation, blog post creation, website development, graphic design. All of the things you associate with an agency are done on the services side.

This side of the business is open to all who come! We specialize in book launches and working with publishers and also with large non-profits. It also includes small businesses, educational institutions, anybody and everybody comes through the services side.

Our other side is the product side. Our brand for churches specifically is known as Social Church. This brand was created off of the message of my book. We use that brand to serve churches specifically on the digital products side. This product side has served small businesses also, but we have reassessed.

We’ve made a decision that we are going to focus the product side of our business, the Social Church side, on churches for the rest of 2015. There is huge opportunity here because there is huge need here.

We want as much momentum in business as possible. So Think Digital is focusing on services, but digital products are being focused under Social Church. We aren’t abandoning everyone, though. We’re pulling a Taylor Swift.

How is That Like Taylor Swift?!

Taylor Swift was the belle of the country music ball. She started her career in 2006. She dominated the charts, quickly rose to fame; everybody loved T Swift. Eventually, you could not step into the country music circle and not see or hear Taylor or her influence.

She won every award that you could win, completely dominated the country music charts, and seemingly had no where else to go in country music.

And so, in 2014, she made the decision to become a crossover artist, moving completely from country to pop. She switched genres, much to the delight and to the dismay of many country music fans.

Since switching genres she has done much the same in the pop world as she did in country; dominating charts, snagging scores of raging fans (Swifties as they’re known), selling out stadiums and generally doing whatever in the world she wants to do when it comes to music.

How Crossovers Succeed

Now the switch was successful for one main reason: she had a system.

Taylor Swift had a music system that she developed in the country music world. That was, to put it in a relational metaphor, her first true love.

As is true with most first true loves, the audience was much more forgiving and open to the flaws, faults, and foibles that she brought to the table. So she could hone her craft, she could become comfortable with who she was, she could get to know her strengths and weaknesses and correct them and really put together an operating system of sorts that was untouchable in the world of music.

When she had completely exhausted what she felt was her potential in the country music world, she could have either:

  1. A) Chosen to be a big fish in a little pond.
  2. B) Taken a risk, capitalize on the momentum of her country music system, and catapult it into the much larger niche of pop music.

Obviously the latter is what she did, but it wasn’t without first perfecting her system which allowed her to get a standard set of blueprints for operation. She took what she learned in the country music world and applied it to the pop music world and the rest, as they say, is history.

Moral of the Story

Things are working for Taylor Swift. The same system that worked in country music is now working for her in the pop world. There’s a lot to learn from this.

We as a business are choosing to hone our craft in the industry that we know best: churches. Now, I firmly believe that the systems and processes and blueprints that we’re putting into place business-wise are definitely working in the church world. But I also believe that they will work in the larger niche of entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Remember, Taylor Swift did not go straight to pop. We have no way of saying what would have happened if she would have, but, I doubt she would’ve found the same success. Would she have been successful? Probably. She’s talented, she’s hungry, and people love her.

She would likely have succeeded. But I don’t think she would’ve been as successful as she is now simply because of all of the other voices and noise in pop music. She could really hone her craft in a tighter knit community that knew her and loved her and was way more forgiving than the pop world would have been.

The same holds true for us. My desire and goal is to take what we’re learning as a business and teach it to entrepreneurs of all sorts and shapes and sizes. In order to do that, first we need to ground ourselves in rock solid principles.

Because of the network and skillset and opportunities that surround us, specifically in the faith-based space, we are choosing to start there and really serve that market well. To really understand who they are and what their needs are and to develop a system specifically for them.

Then and only then, once we feel like it is not only helpful to the faith based community but can also provide value to the larger entrepreneurial community, will we make that transition.

Lesson Learned?

As you are growing your business, embrace the opportunities and the network that are sitting right in front of you.

Instead of aspiring to be something else, be who you are right now. Certainly plot a path towards your future and build yourself a roadmap. But don’t make the mistake I was in danger of making! Do not overlook the overwhelming abundance of opportunities that are staring you in the face.


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Two years ago, I had a dream of writing a book to help churches tackle the “Why-to?” of social media.

I’ll explain…

See, there were plenty of amazing resources showing church leaders HOW to use social media, but none of them focused on the WHY –

…as in “WHY is social media so important for local churches?”

Simply put, I saw many churches putting the cart before the social media horse.

Having been a pastor for years, I knew the importance of connecting ministry activity to ministry goals. Social media is no different.

You need to know WHY you are doing social before you can do the HOW.

Thus, The Social Church was born out of a desire to increase digital fluency in local churches.

The book gives churches the strategic “above-the-neck” social media thinking they needed to make their “below-the-neck” tactics 10, 100, or even 1,000 times more effective.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been six months since the book launched.

In the months since then, I’ve heard from so many folks who share their story of when the WHY clicked after reading The Social Church.

Hunches have been validated.

Suspicions confirmed.

Paths made straight.

It’s all been a little overwhelming, to be honest.

After folks read the book, I’ll sometimes get a call asking if I can come and consult with their church.

Leaders wanted help connecting the dots between social media and tangible ministry goals.

So we created the Social Church Strategy Session.

The Strategy Session is a full day of on-site strategic processing designed to help local churches connect their social media content to Kingdom-minded results. We also include follow-up coaching and progress reports to chart growth.

I’ve been fortunate enough to serve 53 churches with this process. It’s been a thrill to watch church leaders get the WHY behind social media and digital marketing.

It’s a even bigger thrill to watch so many people move into the digital missions field, armed with clarity of purpose and the right tools to get the job done.

Our focus for each session is to develop a plan for three key areas of ministry results:

  1. Attracting new visitors with social media
  2. Increasing community engagement and participation with social media
  3. Increasing giving with social media

After a strategy session, it’s typical to see the churches we’ve worked with:

  • Hire new staff members for social media and communications
  • Make adjustments to their budgets
  • Finally GET why social media is so vital to their long-term growth and survival
  • Best of all…start seeing REAL results from their social media content

I believe in this book. I believe in the process the book birthed.

To celebrate the half-year anniversary of The Social Church, we’re doing a half-off special for our strategy sessions.

That means for a limited time, you can get 100% of the value of a strategy session for 50% of the price.

Here’s the kicker: We’re only working with seven churches. Our team is still small, so we want to make sure the churches we partner with get the attention they deserve.

Click Here Set Up A Discovery Call

This offer runs until Tuesday, September 30, so you have less than a week to take set up your discovery call.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to generate real social media traction for your church.


It’s time. My first book, The Social Church, launches today!

ALL PURCHASING LINKS point to the book’s official website. I’m not sure what sites have stock on any given day, so you can choose from the purchasing options on the site.
UPDATE 1 [2/3/14]: Amazon is showing the physical book as sold out, but is offering free two-day delivery if you purchase today.
UPDATE 2 [2/3/14]: We are almost at the top! If you can, please buy the Kindle version!

15 months ago, I told you about the journey that was about to start. We’ve come full circle. All the hard work is done. The book is officially here!

I’ll share some details on how you can help in a second, but first I’ll let you in on a funny story…

See this photo? This is from Saturday morning around 10:30 AM. It’s the Amazon listing for The Social Church and, as you can see, it’s clearly sold out:

Social Church sold out!

We were visiting some friends for an early lunch and my phone started buzzing. And buzzing. And buzzing. I was getting tweets, texts—heck, smoke signals—from people telling me the book was available and, subsequently, unavailable.

After talking with my editor, Randall, it became clear Amazon just kind of does what they want, when they want. So pre-orderers of the book got it nice and early and I got a taste of what today will be like, the “official” launch date.

Buy The Social Church Here

Never in a million years did I think pre-orders would wipe out the entire stock of (physical) books. Obviously the message of The Social Church resonates deeply with me, but it must mean something to you as well.

Why Another Book on Social Media and the Church?

This book is not a “how-to” book. It’s not going to show you how to create a Facebook page or open a Twitter account. It won’t tell you the “perfect” time to tweet (if there is such a thing).

What it will tell you is why your church needs to be paying attention to social media. It will help social media advocates make their case clearer, and convince social media holdouts to change their opinion.

I had a moment of clarity a few months ago and it came after doing this search:

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 7.45.15 AM

Do you want to know what the first result is? It’s this post. One that I wrote nearly two years ago. See for yourself:


(If you’re wondering, this is an incognito search, so Google has no idea who I am.)

I realized there was a lack of leadership in the Church when it comes to the WHY of social media. For better or worse, I find myself in that position by default.

Given my experience, passion, and background, I’m happy to take the baton and lead the charge forward. It must be done. This is a crucial moment in the history of the Church.

What Are Early Reviewers Are Saying?

Here’s a small snippet of the reviews that are coming in from the web:

Each passing technology jump makes it more difficult for the Church to communicate and Social Media might just be the most difficult medium to master to date. Justin’s book evens the playing field. – Jonathan Watson

The Social Church is a not just for the hippest guy on staff, nor is it a “how-to” on social media. It’s an inspiration for you to start, keep going, or be better in connecting with your church. Whether you’re a pastor, a leader, in charge of communications; whether you’re just starting out online, aren’t sure where to go next, or need a little reboot–this is a book you need to read with your team. – Jacqueline McGinnis

See For Yourself—Buy The Social Church Here

If your ministry has a voice (which it should), or if you have a voice in ministry (which you do), and want to continue to be heard above all of the noise out there today, you would be wise to read Justin’s book. He’s put together many thought provoking questions that will help you understand the voice your ministry already has, as well as help you realize what the next steps look like. This should be required reading for all ministry communication teammates. – Bruce Crews

While social media is constantly changing, Justin Wise has written an evergreen book. He lays down a foundation of theology on which to build your organization’s communication strategy for years to come. Justin skillfully connects the present to the past (e.g., Paul was using the latest technology when writing the epistles), while also contextualizing wisdom from contemporary thought leaders outside of the church (e.g., Chris Brogan). He also presents a compelling case for why church leaders should always be asking how new media can be used for Kingdom work. – Trina K. Lee

How Can I Help?

1. Buy the book.

If you have found value in the content I produce, please purchase this book and tell your friends, colleagues, and family members about it.

Get In On the Ground Level—Buy The Social Church Here

I try not to make a habit of pounding you (or even lightly striking you) with asks, but this is one ask I’m not bashful about making:

  1. Buy two copies and give one away. Get one for yourself and one for someone else in your ministry or church. You’ll love the book and they will love your generosity.
  2. Buy one even if you are not Christian. This may sound strange, but I believe the social media principles in the book are solid regardless of your faith background. If you dig practical social media teaching, and don’t mind reading about Jesus, you should buy this book.
  3. Buy in bulk. I think my love language might be bulk orders. Head to the Amazon page and go nuts. Buy a round for your pastor buddies, your church staff, or clients.

Books are going for less than $10 as of this writing, so hopefully anyone who wants a copy can afford to take part in the fun.

2. Join the Thunderclap or send out a tweet.

If you’re reading this before 9 AM CST on February 3rd, 2014, you can join the social tsunami that’s scheduled to go out on Thunderclap. Just click here and link up your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account for a one-time message set to go out today.

If you’re reading this after 9 AM, you can still participate. Just copy and paste the message below and send it out to your social circles:

Luther had the printing press. Billy Graham had television. We have social media. #SocialChurchBook releases today!

There’s power in unity, so let us unite, my brothers and sisters!

3. Pray for me (seriously).

In talking with family, friends, and my amazing Launch Team, I sense the message of the book is bigger than I first thought. Sure, I love this material, but over and over, I keep hearing how timely this book is for folks. It’s hitting at just the right time.

Obviously there are benefits to me if the book does well, but much more importantly, local churches win when this message wins. I’ve seen firsthand how churches change when social is taken seriously. It’s not just a methodological change, it’s a mindset change. That’s huge.

My prayer is this message would encounter as little friction as possible. That it would lance the boils in churches that have been festering for far too long. That God would be honored and churches would adapt their methods to share the Message of light, life, truth, and hope.

Even you’re not a pray-er, I’d covet your positive thoughts and well-wishes. Although this message is distinctly Christian, I hope you would feel welcome enough to enjoy this book without fear of being scolded or shamed if you’re not there yet.

Wrapping Up On Launch Day

When I was a pastor, I used to preside over communion. Now, if that sounds like a foreign language to you, it basically means I was the guy at the front of the room, wearing a robe, telling people what to do during communion.

One of my favorite parts of the liturgy (communion instructions) was right before people started coming up to receive the elements. The servers took their places, the music would die down, and I’d stop and say to the congregation: “The table is set, all is ready, come and eat.” At that point, there was nothing left to do but come and receive the grace God promises us each and every day.

I’d echo that statement to you, dear reader. The book has been written. It’s been edited, re-edited, re-written, designed, typeset, packaged, and sent out. The marketing plan is laid out. The system has been set into motion. There’s nothing left to do but wait and watch how the Church responds to message of The Social Church.

The table is set. All is ready. Come and eat.

Get a Copy of The Social Church

This festive piñata will make more sense in a minute.

[Short on time? Skip ahead to see how you can win!]

Do you know what Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter all have in common?

Not technology.
Not billionaire buy-out founders.
Not the location of their company headquarters.

They all run on the same currency: social proof.

The more reviews a book gets, the more shares a post gets, the more retweets a *ahem* tweet gets, the higher up the chain the content goes.

And that’s how the social web works.

Making iTunes happy as a clam.

Want to know a little secret? That’s how the podcast rankings on iTunes work as well. It’s like a game, really:

  • A subscription to a podcast garners a certain amount of points.
  • Ratings (1-5 stars) get a few more.
  • And reviews? Reviews are like the turtle-shell-on-the-castle-stairs trick in Super Mario Bros.: Unlimited points!

The more points you win, the higher your podcast goes in the magical iTunes rankings. The higher your ranking, the more exposure you get. The more exposure, well, there’s always benefits to more exposure. (Unless it’s indecent. That’s always bad.)

Break the piñata! Olé!

That’s where you come in.

I’m throwing an all-out comment party for my social media marketing podcast, #THINKDIGITAL, and YOU are invited. Hooray!

But I’m not just asking you to do this out of the goodness of your heart. That’s lame. (And, frankly, there are better recipients for the goodness in your heart.) There’s a door prizes at this here party and everyone’s got a shot at the loot.

What’s in the piñata? I’m glad you asked. I’ll be giving away a brand new FitBit Flex to one lucky party-goer.

If you’re wondering, the FitBit Flex is an amazing piece of technology that measures your activity level and sleep quality, all from the comfort of your FREAKING WRIST. It’s pretty much like an EKG machine, a Unisom pill, and Al’s handlink device from Quantum Leap all wrapped into one.


Your wrist is judging you.

That’s a $99 piece of technology that could be yours. For free.

How do I win?

Good question. It’s remarkably easy. Follow these steps and you’re in it to win it:

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Subscribe to #THINKDIGITAL either on iTunes or via RSS.

3. Leave a rating and review on iTunes for the latest episode of #THINKDIGITAL (it’s the one with Gary Vaynerchuck). To be eligible to win, you must do both. Them’s the rules!

4. Fill out this SHORT survey. In the last line, you’ll be asked to fill in the screen name you used to leave the review. THIS IS HOW I’LL PICK THE WINNER! Don’t miss this last step. (Here’s an example of a screen name.)

5. Sit back, have a milkshake, and follow your dreams. (But remember, you must do each one of the steps to win!)

When will the winner be chosen?

I’ll pick a winner at random using on May 31, 2013. You have a full week to get on board. Don’t miss out!

A few tips:

  • If you’ve already left a review and rating, you can still enter. Just enter the review screen name you used into the last line of the survey.
  • You don’t have to listen to the whole episode. It might help you leave a better review, but it’s not necessary. Give it the old college try. Then go about your merry way.
  • From start to finish, this whole process takes around 4-5 minutes. If you win, that’s like earning $1,118/hour. What a deal!

Go get ‘em….

It's my signature signature.

P.S. – If you win and aren’t feeling the FitBit, you can opt for a $100 Amazon gift card. Oh yeah, these geese are big jerks.


They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. If that’s true, let me introduce you to SOME Company for the first time.

SOME Company—or SOME Co. for short—is a social media marketing agency I founded with Tim Schraeder and Justin Lathrop. We’re a little less than two months old and the train, as they say, is starting to pick up steam.

Continue Reading…