Monday, June 11, 2012

Can Church Learn from Secular Social Media Mavericks?

Regina Heater (@reckshowTumblr, Pinterest), podcast producer and prayer leader at A Nun’s Life Ministry will be moderating our #ChSocM chat on Tuesday, June 12 at 9:00PM ET.  Enjoy her interview with Richard Simms (@howrudeareyou), zoom in on her questions for us at the end of the interview, and let’s chat!

Regina Heater: Imagine a world where people were as passionate about sharing their faith as they are about talking about Doctor Who or Justin Bieber or Game of Thrones?  This is the world I long for, where the passion for faith is the same as our passion for fictional characters on TV and pop stars we love to hate.

One genre of television exhibiting this level of passion and commitment is the soap opera. Despite declines in viewer ratings and cancellations of four shows in the last three years, soap opera fans are still committed to their shows and increasingly using social media to show support (and express displeasure!) 

My friend, Richard Simms, the Executive Editor of Soaps In Depth magazine (@soapsindepthabc, @soapsindepthcbs) has embraced social media to connect with subscribers and fans. Richard was kind enough to share some of his insights about using social media.  I pose some question to you, ChSocM-ers, at the end of this interview.

How did you get started using social media?

Richard Simms: MySpace was sort of my gateway drug. It led to Facebook and Twitter and my own blog (HowRudeAreYou), although I've so far managed to avoid things like Foursquare, Tumblr and Pinterest. So far.

RH: You host a weekly podcast on BlogTalkRadio called Tune In Tomorrow.  How did you get the idea for it?

RS: I just wanted to take our magazine into some new venues, and it seemed like podcasting might be fun.  When I started looking for a title, "Tune In Tomorrow” seemed like a natural since we’d be talking about soaps. At heart, that’s what all good soaps try to do: get you to tune in the next day.

RH: What’s the advantage to using BlogTalkRadio versus another podcasting service like UStream?

RS: I don’t know! When I decided to podcast, BlogTalkRadio was just sort of... there. I don't even know if I was aware of other options. I'd listened to one or two podcasts, including one that was sort of everything I didn’t want mine to be. BTR seemed easy to use and, for the most part, has proven to be. But I have actually considered seeing what else is available.

RH: Share with us some of the process behind starting to use Twitter to connect with soap fans via an official account for your magazines. 

RS: One day, I simply got the idea in my head that we should be on Twitter. I created the accounts and the rest, as they say, is history! At least 95%  of what you read on the two Soaps In Depth accounts is from me. Occasionally, one of our news editors will post a link, but all the live-tweeting of shows, the not-so-live tweeting, the interaction, the snark — that’s me.

At one point, we talked about having each show’s editor tweet during their show. But here’s the thing about Twitter: It’s real easy to say the wrong thing or have something taken out of context. I do it all the time, so it seemed smart idea to limit the number of people sending out messages on behalf of the magazine.

RH: Soap fans are notorious for the passion they have for their shows and are not afraid to be vocal about their preferences for plotlines and couples.  How does this both help and hinder you as you use social media?

RS: It really helps us because, in a weird way, we’ve become another soap opera to them. They know me and some followers love me, others hate me. I’m talking to them every day about something they love, and they know I share that love.

Every now and then the soap fans’ passion can lead to “difficulties.” Some people love their favorite couples to the point where they can be extremely nasty if the story doesn’t go the way they want.
I used to let some of those people push my buttons, but then realized I just needed a new policy.

I basically warn people when they start to cross the line. And every now and then, I break out my Twitter philosophy: “Embrace the madness, block the cray-cray.” I don’t have to actually block people all that often.

RH: What brands do you think are doing social media right?

RS: I've not seen a lot of brands that have done as good a job as we have! Too many businesses want to use Twitter to promote without actually interacting with people. To me, that’s just advertising. Sure, I want people to know what’s on our next cover or what exciting interview we might be featuring, but it’s just important to use Twitter to give the magazine a “face” and a “personality.”

I read every tweet we get, or try to.  We have nearly 26,000 followers, so every now and then, one might slip past! I've visited Twitter feeds for other magazines and don’t know of any that have this level of interaction.

As for brands or companies, I don’t really follow many, so it’s hard to say who does it well. I guess it says a lot because I’m incredibly active on Twitter and am also a consumer,  but can’t think of any brands I enjoy interacting with.  My must-follows tend to be people. And not even celebrities, but people whose conversations on Twitter I enjoy.  

RH:  So, what do you think, #ChSocM-ers?  
What can we learn about doing social media “right” from non-church personalities and brands?  
Which brands and personalities do you like best?  
Is my dream for a world of people who Pin and Tweet their faith with abandon a non-starter?  

I hope you’ll give that some thought for when we gather for our next #ChSocm chat on Tuesday, June 13 at 9pm ET.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heart @soapsindepthabc! Live tweeting during GH is my favorite part of the day. It's an hour long love/snark fest. The joys of working freelance from home!!