Archives For Social Media

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Before we got married, my wife and I broke up four times. FOUR. TIMES.

To be more precise, I broke up with her four times because I was petrified of commitment. Not only that, she was the first woman I ever dated where I thought, “I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t with her.”

To a commitment-phobe, that’s like pushing the gas pedal to the floor with one foot while slamming the breaks with the other.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s a paradox. It’s complicated. It’s L-O-V-E, yo.

Long story short, she stuck with me (thankfully) and, seven years and two kids later, we’re happy as clams.

I am so thankful to look back and see the amazing people who helped me see:

  • How big of a doofus I was being
  • What I would have missed out on if I didn’t get a grip
  • The problem wasn’t with Kerry, the problem was with me!

See, I wanted the emotional connection to her without the commitment. I was afraid of committing–of truly putting someone else’s needs before my own–but still wanted all the benefits that come from it:

  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Security
  • Happiness
  • Love

In short, I was painfully selfish and completely unaware. (Not a good combo.) The only person I was concerned about in the relationship was me. What I could get out of the deal. How I could my needs met. Anyone who’s been in a one-sided relationship before knows how exhausting this can be. Relationships are two-way streets.

A good relationship is always give-and-take, share-and-listen, love-and-be-loved. Always.

Why am I telling you about my past relational issues? Because just as I had a commitment phobia in my relationship with Kerry (and it showed), many of us have commitment issues with our online communities (and it shows).

We want the connection to our community without the commitment. We want the benefits without the work. We want the reward without the risk.

We take more than we give. We share more than we listen. We want to be loved more than we love.

Buy this…
Click this…
Go here…
Volunteer for this…
Attend this…
Come now…
Share, Like, Comment…
Now, now, now…

This can work for a short amount of time, but sooner or later even the most patient person gets tired of the Me Monster. We’re all human, after all.

If it sounds funny to think about our online communities this way, it shouldn’t.

We live in an opt-in world. Seth Godin calls it “the connection economy,” and he’s right. Moving forward, all you have is relationships. Everything else is a distraction.

Your brand, your business, your church, your nonprofit–they will rise and fall on your ability to cultivate goodwill and build strong relationships online.

Read that last line again. Go ahead. Let it sink in.

You might be wondering what changed on the fourth break-up with my wife. The answer is simple: I knew that if I couldn’t get my act together, I’d lose her forever. I knew if I didn’t start investing in her like she had so faithfully invested in me, the kindest, smartest, sassiest woman I’d ever known was going to walk out the door for good. (And she would have had every right to do so.)

Things worked out and, slowly but surely, I learned to put her first.

Wise Family

Don’t lose your community because you couldn’t stop thinking about yourself. They’re the best thing you have going for you right now—your most valuable asset. Start treating them like it.


Are you having trouble getting people interested in your social media content? There’s a reason no one cares.

Do you know what it is? Gather in close. I will tell you.

If no one cares about your social media content, it’s because you aren’t responding to them. You aren’t listening. The secret to social media success is this: Responsiveness.

That’s right. Responsiveness. In other words, when your online community tweets, comments, or messages you, you respond back.

It’s not timing (oh, how I loathe “timing” studies). It’s not post length (although that can help). It’s not the tools you use. It’s not any factor that lives “out there,” just beyond our grasp.

It boils down to being a living, breathing human being connecting on a one-to-one level with other living, breathing human beings. That’s responsiveness.

The people who understand the need for responsiveness are the ones who see results. It’s the great differentiator. You can’t easily “scale” responsiveness, which is why it’s so precious. The brands and business who respond will win. The ones that do not (or will not), won’t.

My thinking on this has shifted through the years, but I have people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Jon Acuff to look at as role models. They have audiences much larger than mine and somehow, they find a way to respond. If they can do it, I can do it.


When faced with the responsiveness question, many organizations will give excuses like:

  1. But Justin, we don’t have enough time to be responsive.
  2. But Justin, we don’t know what to say–what if someone says something bad about us?
  3. But Justin, there’s no one on staff who can do that right now.
  4. But Justin, won’t that take a lot of time (short answer: YES).

You know what that is? Bullsh*t. All of it. (And many of you need strong language like that to shake the cobwebs off. Did it work? Do I have your attention now?)

If you are too busy to respond to your online audience, you are too busy to see results. Period.

Look at these folks being responsive:


Jon Acuff


Delta Airlines

Gary Vaynerchuk


Ann Curry


If you don’t respond to your audience, you’re no better than telemarketers—you want the results without building the relationship.

Social media is not a “free” marketing channel to endlessly blast your poor, tired, marketing-weary audience. It is a living, breathing connection to the people who have chosen to be a part of your community.

Give them the respect they deserve. Start responding. If no one is tweeting at you or commenting on your stuff, go out and find some people to talk to (they’re out there).

The social media of the future will be responsive. Don’t get left behind!

UPDATE: The original version of this post had the curse word spelled out. I changed it because, even though I believe what I wrote, it made folks I trust ask questions. I’m super passionate about this topic, thus the strong language. The edited version still makes a strong point while being a little more palatable. I am sorry if I offended you.

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I was talking with a client recently who said something that felt like a cold glass of water on a hot Iowa summer day.

We were looking at a social media report from another agency and he said:

All these likes, retweets, reach metrics, whatever—they don’t mean anything. At the end of the day, it looks great, but how did it help us accomplish our goal?

He’s right.

Likes, hashtag reach, and even comments do a poor job at reflecting the true value of social. They make the content creator(s) feel good, but it’s a small step in the overall social media metric journey.

Truthfully, the metrics of social media deal with intangibles: Trust, Authority, Affinity, and Loyalty. These are squishy relational terms that defy categorization. But to get down to the real-deal-value of social, you need to be able to put numbers to online relationships.

We do this already, though. It’s not a new way of thinking. Think about it: when you go to a conference or a networking event, what’s the “metric” we use to evaluate if it was worth our time?

How many new relationships we formed. That’s what. How do we “measure” that? With business cards. That’s how.

Social media is no different. For instance, one of the ways we measure Trust with our clients is by looking at how many times their content gets shared on Facebook. More than likes or comments, a share signifies a different level of relationship a fan has with your business.

A share is a proactive recommendation of an organization’s content. The sharer says to his or her community, “I agree with what they are saying. I place my seal of approval with this content piece and, thereby, the issuer of the content.”

Essentially, when someone shares your content, they are saying they Trust you to speak for them. Wow. What an amazing privilege!

[Tweet “When someone shares your content, they are saying they trust you to speak for them.”]

A ginormous (technical term) relational dynamic (TRUST) wrapped up in that one little share on Facebook. Huge.

Oftentimes, determining the value of your social media content takes stepping back from the big picture (results) and asking, “when someone shares/likes/RTs/views our content, what does that mean from a relationship perspective?”

When you know the answer to those questions, well, that’s when things start to get fun.

Interested in Social Media Consulting? Click Here »


We need to start thinking differently about social media in our churches.

Social media has been vilified, championed, and everything in between in our churches, and with good reason. It’s new, and anything new–especially substantially new–is usually feared at first.

But I believe it’s time to start thinking (and talking) differently about social media in our churches. My guess is you feel this pain as well. With Facebook turning 10 recently, social is maturing. Our attitudes and approach to it must mature as well.

If you need a starting point for social media in your church, start with the following list. Print it out at and give it to your staff. Send it to your lead pastor. Let’s take a look at how we can start thinking differently about our churches and social media.

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Blog - 12-27-13

It’s all about MORE. Like it or not, when an organization decides to use social media, it’s to see an increase in something—money, attendees, sales, happiness.

Social media is an investment, which is why social media return on investment/ROI is the keyword we all love and know.

Recently, I was doing some online digging into social media ROI. The top result was an old post from my blog and it forced me to see how I haven’t been bringing up this side of social media enough recently, especially when it comes to my church friends and clients.

It’s a crucial discussion that churches need to be having, and it starts with the question: “How do we determine if we are being successful with our social media efforts?”

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