RE-Think Social Media and Raising Support

How many people read your newsletters or open your ministry emails? Do you wish you could ask a professional how to best communicate with ministry partners online? I’m blessed to have not only a social media professional, but a long-time supporter of multiple staff members spend a few minutes sharing  how social media improves your relationships and communication. Steve is the President of IOV Media which “consults individuals and businesses in helping them navigate and succeed in social media/networking. This includes providing social media education, strategic consulting, application develop and more.” He was involved in CCC as a student and has maintained relationships and involvement in CCC since graduation. How awesome is this?

I wanted to hear from Steve because he is on the edge of social media and can help us work on things now that will become commonplace in a few years. Let’s not wait until we are behind to begin leveraging the power of social media to connect more personally with those who invest in us so significantly!

Please share your questions and thoughts in the comments! My guess is that Steve will be happy to respond in the comments.

the video starts at the 20 second mark (sorry!)

note: this post is obviously geared for those in full-time ministry that have to raise their own financial support. however i believe what Steve shares has applications across the board.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

  • Doug Leppard

    Thanks for this blog. I have struggled with what to do. My supporters are very much older than even your “older set”. But I do know that some are on FB but most don’t live there.

    I know I should do something.

    Question and I know people have this problem in business. Do I have a different place in Facebook for a ministry page, possibly use the fan page? Do I form a group? Or do I use a special name and just have my supporters as friends with this new name?

    • steve raquel

      Doug –

      Great questions. I hope to help in answering them.

      At this point, Fan Pages are much more vibrant that group pages. Group pages work in a closed environment, meaning that you can share all the great info with people in the group, but members of the group have to go into the group page to learn about it.

      Fan Pages are easy to set up, have analytics built in and when you post something on it, it shows up on their news feeds immediately. They aren’t as tied into the system.

      I tell people don’t create a organization as a personal profile. It is truly limiting. Individual profiles have a cap of 5,000 friends, while fan pages can group to the millions if need be.

      Also, you can’t send all fans messages at one time through a personal account, however, it can be via a fan page.

      I hope that helps!

  • Darren Holland

    Really helpful to hear from Steve. Liked his thoughts about taking time to find your voice, the value of being able to communicate/engage in real time, and the importance of engagement. “Facebook is such an extension of yourself. That’s what people [supporters/etc.] want to hear.” It does seem like social media, when used wisely, can be one of the most powerful tools we have for ministry partner development. I bet younger staff have a lot to offer us on this front; new staff coming on the last year or so didn’t even experience college without facebook, right? I wonder: could/should social media practices make it in to our formal training in some form or another?

    • steve raquel

      I personally think it should. If the red cross can raise more than $25 million using twitter and texting for Haiti, what do you think crusade staff could do with new technology.

      I sometimes feel that staff has yet embraced using email as a communication medium and the current set of communicating with their support team is via printed newsletters.

      Staff should embrace new technology because while scary to use, this is the same technology that we should know to share the gospel message. Know it, use it, leverage it.

      If not, I think we are missing a great opportunity that others will leverage soon.

  • Scott D

    Hey Brian! I think you’ve indirectly influenced me in using social media to develop/maintain support via Dan Birch. It has been exciting & the most interaction with supporters & potential supporters since joining staff 9 yrs ago.

    MailChimp, a free service, has been a great advantage. I use it to direct others to our personal website ( to view any updates/giving/etc. It tracks how many people open & subscribe to getting your updates through email vs. paper mail.

    Creating & MAINTAINING, the key ingredient, a ministry website has been a huge success with MPD. For me, I’ve noticed that 3/4’s of my traffic have got to our website from facebook. Twitter is still lagging with the older & some younger generation, but will pick up as more & more people get smartphones, using the Internet on their mobile device as normal daily living.

    I’ve created a Facebook Fanpage & then invited my supporters & others. I’m not sure how to fully utilize the fanpage, but the purpose it serves right now (thus my high facebook traffic) is to send an “update” message to all my members on my Fanpage.

    This will be the way of communication NOW, but not doubt in the near future! Utilizing social media to gain maintain & develop ministry partners will be necessary for every generation on staff.

    Any more suggestions would be welcome!! I often visit or

    thanks Brian for ALL you are doing.

    • Brian Barela

      thanks so much scott! appreciate the encouragement.

      i’m sure there are a lot of people reading that are intimidated by the changes facebook continues to make and the fan page/group page can be confusing.

      for those of you wondering what the main differences are:

      #1 group page pros
      –the ability to send a msg to every member’s inbox (which in my opinion is the most sacred place within fb

      #1 group page con
      –not optimized for “branding” outside of fb–meaning it’s meant for internal, one to many communication.

      #1 fan page pro
      –highly optimized for external branding–you can get a custom url (, statistics (how often people view your page, percentage of male/female, age breakdown)–these are not features on the group page

      if you are using a fb group:
      be careful about sending too many group messages–if you send more than 2 a month i would say that’s too much–you should be utilizing your personal wall, the group wall, and engaging supporters on their wall as well.

      if you are using a fan page:
      scott–love that you have a fan page! the updates are not as easily seen by people as messages. people have to intentionally look for them, rather than a message that is pushed to them. i recommend being more intentional about posting updates on your own wall, creating a user-list of supporters that you can monitor more closely than your feed, and engaging supporters on their wall, or even sending personal messages infrequently and when appropriate.

      we have created a page dedicated to facebook training here:

      • Scott D

        Nice, I actually just created a “supporter” list right before I checked this blog! It’s already helped & I’ve commented on many people’s status. Oh, it feels good to be connected to ministry partners. It’s how they stay with us in the long run. Being in touch = having continual support….okay, that’s usually!

    • steve raquel

      Love mailchimp. I use it myself, so way togo! Check out my comments under Rich Street’s entry below on some other ways to leverage your FB. Install the FBML application and you can create some great tabs to help your fb page grow!

  • Scott D

    FYI: trying to retweet & it says, “URL points to the wrong story.”

    • Brian Barela

      i know dude. that button has been sketchy all week. i’ll add it to the list of things to refine for next year.

  • Jeff West

    Great video and very helpful (though a little too late for me personally). Another benefit of MPD via social media is that for the first time in 20 years, I am getting information about the lives of my ministry partners. Like Steve said, my information via prayer letters was always late in arriving, but it is very rare that a ministry partner shares what is going on in their lives with us via letters or them initiating phone calls.

    I discovered that ministry partners who where dealing with infertility were able to get pregnant via a FB announcement. Consequently, I was able to call with and congratulate them within hours of their announcement. This indeed builds the basis for deeper levels of partnership in ministry by interpersonal connection.

    • steve raquel

      That’s what I’m talking about!

  • Russ Martin

    Thanks Brian for helping us re-think connecting in more meaningful ways with our partners.

    This is a very healthy discussion. My wife and I met yesterday to map out long-term strategy in MPD and focus for this summer as we concentrate on it for about 8 weeks.

    We want to experiment more with digital tools for this important aspect of our ministry – some ideas so far
    – consider getting an iPad to make presentations with partners
    – create a website to serve our personal brand and act as a home base – we would then have various outposts like Chris Brogan describes
    – increase use of our twitter feed
    – consider creating a FB fan page (just thought of that this morning… not sold on it though)
    – do more personal touches and thank-yous through social media
    – explore use of social CRM for communication with donors while continue using TntMPD for mechanics of analyzing/tracking the financials

    Something we’ve found really effective is short, crisp changed-life stories that are almost in real-time. We’ve found sending these out gets more engagement and connects with donors better than relying on a laggy newsletter. (Keith is really good at this through his email list.) We’ll continue to experiment with the best mediums of sharing these stories
    ex. I talked with someone on campus today and the conversation went like this…. can you believe we get to be a part of this person’s journey?! Here’s a photo.

    We still think a consistent newsletter can serve a good purpose, but want to move towards much more real-time communication.

    My hesitation on this is that MPD could easily become overwhelming with so many tools and outposts to manage. We need to communicate and engage but also do what our supporters are empowering us to do (share the gospel). I think it’s unrealistic to think that I can keep in touch well with 800 people in my database. Can I monitor a feed of all their joint social activity for 10 minutes a day – yes, but otherwise I need to guard my time. As someone who also supports people, I don’t expect them to be my friend, facebook me everytime I have a birthday or a new haircut, I just want some sort of consistent update on the cool things God is doing in them and through their ministry.

    • Brian Barela

      as per your last paragraph:

      every staff member should create a list of their supporters. here’s how for those that are wondering:
      –after you login, click on the “friends” link near the top left of the homepage
      –then click “create a list” at the top/center of the page
      –enter the name of your list, and then go crazy adding your supporters

      to also save time on facebook hide people you don’t connect with (like all your high school friends :) )
      –after you login, select “most recent” at the top of the page, near the right–this will you will see more of your friends than top news
      –scroll the list of news looking for people that you wouldn’t mind not seeing their updates, and drag your cursor anywhere on their update
      –this will bring up a “hide” box on the right side of their update, click on that
      –it will ask you if you are sure you want to do it, so don’t worry about losing their updates forever
      –you are not UN-friending this person–merely hiding their updates from your homepage

      both of these tactics have saved me HOURS of time on facebook!

      if you want to dig a little further into this i made a short screencast so you can see how to do it:

      let’s be honest–the young staff are on facebook all day, especially if they have a droid or iphone. at this point for many of them it’s integrating these things, not adopting.

    • steve raquel

      Russ I hear you. I mention below how you can create a news feed just for your ministry partners on FB and when you want to find out more, you just click it.

      There are also other ways to streamline communication like linking your FB Fan page to your twitter feed or your twitter feed to your FB fan page and your personal page.

      However, the best streamlining is to determine where you want people to go (i.e. you home website) and have your other communication channels point them back to you.

      Also, Twitter has an “engagement” opportunity that you can use as well to follow people and talk to them and help them. It may not always be a listening device for people to just follow you.

      I hope that helps!

  • steve raquel

    Ah, keep in mind that the premise of Facebook was to share the things you care about with the people you care about. Initially, your first group of friends where truly friends, but now, it has extended to co-workers and aquaintances and random friends. However, the charge is still the same – to share what you want.

    Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. If you need to, set up a specific friend list on facebook for “ministry” and then when you want to see what is going on with that group, you can select it.

  • Jess Wynja

    I like the idea of creating a fan page or group & the idea of making a list of supporters in order to connect with them….though I’m still wary about all my supporters being facebook friends.

    • steve raquel

      The beauty of having a FB page is that your supporters can be your fans without having to be your friends. I know that sounds kind of callous, but I work with professional athletes who have the same issue.

      It takes the guilt off of them as well. If you create the page, then when you post something on that wall, you post as the fan page, not as your personal profile.

      I hope that helps!

  • Bob Fuhs

    Great comments everyone! Thanks for the input about setting up those friend lists…that will really help me tame the gorilla of so many friends.
    And thanks Steve for your thoughts and taking the time to do the video chat! We’ve come a long way since Comm Center 1991!

    And…why didn’t anyone comment, “I can’t believe that Fuhs guy is 40! he doesn’t look a day over 30!” C’mon people!!

    • Brian Barela

      it was my poor video editing skills that made you look older :)

      you sounded no older than 20 :)

    • steve raquel

      Uh, I have proof….and posted it. LOL!

  • Rich Street

    I was just messing around one day and decided to create a facebook fan page for our partners. One of the main reasons was to try to connect some of the people we minister to outside the US with our partners. I would love any feedback as well as if it helps anyone here is the URL:!/pages/The-Streets-Ministry/405869150577?ref=sgm

    • steve raquel

      Rich –

      Great fan page. I think you are doing a great job with it! You should learn or find someone who knows a little HTML and you can create some great stuff on this page including:

      * a welcome tab that all to-become fans can get a snapshot of your ministry.

      * a donation button that allows people to give directly to the ministry without going on the page.

      * video page (you can technically add it without much work) to showcase any videos, etc.

      However, you seem to have good engagement and responses from your fan base, which is great!

      Good luck!

      • Rich Street

        Good word!!! Thanks!!!

      • Rich Street

        Any chance you can “show” me an example of a fan page that has the welcome and donation feature? I can figure out how to do it if I “see” what you are talking about.

        Working on the video now!!!

        • steve raquel

          sorry for the delay. I’m not getting my follow up emails from these…. :)

  • Rich Street

    Another partial link :( The fan page is called “The Street’s Ministry”

  • Jimmy Williams

    Hey Brian,

    This is great stuff to think & chew on. Yeah, I’m a blogging novice but I’m starting to see the potential & the direction our communic’s are going. Just wondering: Will these blogs & replies still be up after the blog-ference? Hoping so but just wanna make sure.

    Also for Bob- I felt old myself until I heard you say you’re 40…you still got a few years on me, so I’m still just a young’n here. Thanks for that brotha, I feel better!

    (And for the record- you don’t look a day over 30, man)

    • Brian Barela

      jimmy thanks for commenting from down under!

      yes i’m working on an easy way to archive the content and make it easily searchable and readable (pray for the readable part esp w the comment threads).

      couple GREAT sites that produce regular content:

      Churchcrunch: they just launched a multi-site blog with resources on LOTS of stuff.

      Mediaforministry: myself and a few other stellar people are updating content regularly here–the site’s vision is to produce content that connects specifically w the needs on the field in relation to social media and minsitry.

      Crublogging: Jayson Whelpley and I started it–the content is not as fresh as it once was but there is some great stuff there.

      hope you and megan are well!

      • Jimmy Williams

        Thanks Brian, all great stuff. Much appreciated, mate.

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