Here’s a little lesson on hype for all my wanna-be self-promoter friends.
If you hype something you’ve got a vested interest in it’ll come off as fake.
If someone else hypes it for you, even if you lose some level of control, it’ll go a lot better.
- I follow hundreds of pastors on Twitter and Facebook. (Totally guilty as charged) They are all excited about what they are teaching and think hundreds of people should invite their friends to come hear them speak. Their band is gonna melt your face. Their preaching is going to be super cool. They’ve got an illustration that’ll make every knee bow and tongue declare that Jesus is Lord.
- Lots of people I know have written books or created a product you can buy. (Again, guilty as charged) There’s a fine line for an author between being accessible as an author and overhyping your product.
- Each day I write a blog post. If I post a link more than twice, the click through rate on that to my blog goes straight to zero. Knowing that it drives me nuts to see bloggers post a link, 8-10 times per day to their blog.
You need recommendations
Times have changed. It used to be that having access to an author or a speaker somehow validated their message. But now, since everyone is instantly accessible that is no longer the case. In many case the best way to hype something is to limit access to the creation process. (Apple is the master of this, all the hype is in the speculation)
Think about your actual decision-making process. Take a few minutes to do some self-examination. I think what you’ll see is the power of recommendation. A recommendation is infinitely more powerful in my day-to-day life than hype.
- I rarely go to a restaurant for the first time without checking Yelp or asking about a place… unless I want to discover something so I can recommend it.
- Wander through the maze of a bookstore. The average Borders will have 100,000+ titles. You wouldn’t have a clue what to read if it weren’t for recommendations.
- Think about the products over $100 you buy. Or the places you take your kids. Or the things you try at work. Now think about how you heard about those things or knew it was worth putting your name behind.
Right now, it’s all about recommendations.
If you want to (or need to) hype something, focus all your energy on recommendations. And stop with the self-hype.
A lot, LOT, of churches consider Easter to be a day for growth. For church marketing types, it is Super Bowl Sunday. With the highest attendance of the year the attitude seems to be “Since lots of people are coming let’s do something awesome and maybe those visitors will come back!”
And boy do churches go all out. They alter the schedule. They plan a special service. The kids ministry is amped up. There are meetings about the big day. There is a special marketing plan for the day. There are mailers and prizes and flowers and bands and rehearsals and... then it’s over.
Somehow in the middle of this we try to be somber and remember that Our Lord was crucified and three days later resurrected! But the truth is that staff at those churches are hyped up on adrenaline and hope that this is the year that they will reach a new attendance record.
Easter mayhem is the 2000s version of Vacation Bible School which was the 1980s version of Sunday School
I don’t know how it all got started. But somehow Easter went from a holiday we solemnly celebrated to a day where people can win a car for showing up to church.
Easter, in some churches, has become less a religious holiday and more a church growth opportunity.
Easter is the highest attended weekend of the year in most churches. But the weekend after Easter is one of the lowest attended weekends of the year. Followed by the month of May– where church attendance and program enthusiasm typically murmurs out as the school year comes to an end.
What’s the point?
The point is exactly my point. While attendance is typically at an all-time high engagement is at an all-time low.
And when you look at the return on that investment– Easter mayhem is as effective at reaching people as Vacation Bible School. There may be a whole lot of people there for the event, but does it translate to long-term attendees?
Not in my experience.
What translates to long-term attendees?
Neighbors loving neighbors. Finding a community where you belong. Community service. And other things that aren’t as sexy as giving people a car on Easter Sunday or shaving a pastors head on the last day of VBS.
The youth ministry world has seen a decline in the quantity and quality of youth ministry blogs. I don’t have any research to back that statement up, but as a person who spends his life blogging the world of youth ministry I can say that I find it harder and harder to find great blog posts about youth ministry. The known bloggers have gotten better, and there are plenty of youth groups who have a blog as their groups website. But by and large I find it harder and harder to find the middle of the road youth worker who is just blogging about day-to-day challenges.
The flip side is that I see a huge increase in the number of Facebook users and Twitter users in the youth ministry world.
– Does this represent a change from the personal website to mass microblogging?
– Is it that blogging, as a fad, is fading?
– Is it that I’m just stuck up and I don’t see some new bloggers out there who are doing a great job?
– Or has Twitter provided a more immediate outlet for youth workers to connect? Is it just faster and easier?