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Viewing entries tagged with 'content'
People often point to Facebook and wonder why the church would even need the Table. Facebook is ideal for outreach, but it falls short at building community. That's what the Table is all about. We encourage churches to use Facebook and the Table together. But the fact is there are things you can't do on Facebook that the Table is designed to do.
Like content control.
Social networks are built on content. People sharing stuff, posting comments, photos and more. But sometimes that content isn't appropriate. People can be troublesome that way. And it means churches need to be especially careful with social networks.
Content Control on the Table
The Table gives churches two major tools to control content:
Flagging: Any user can flag content as inappropriate and it's immediately removed, pending approval by a church admin. This means offensive content comes down instantly, protecting your church community. But there's also a human layer to check and make sure that content actually needed to be removed.
Approval: Alternately, churches can require that all content be approved prior to posting. We don't recommend this option as it discourages active community, but it is available for churches that are especially concerned about policing content.
Read more about how content flagging and approval works on the Table.
Content Control on Facebook
Facebook doesn't give you as much control when it comes to content. If your church has a page on Facebook, you can turn posting on or off and you can also moderate posts. There's also a profanity and blacklist filter to moderate posts as well. That all sounds pretty good.
But Facebook pages are kind of tricky. As an admin, you can mark a post or a comment as spam and remove it, but it's still visible to the person who posted it and their friends! It seems that Facebook doesn't even give you total control of your own page.
Here's another example of your loss of control, straight from Facebook: "Page admins won't see posts about their Page that people haven't shared publicly even though people visiting the Page might see them if they're part of the audience the post was shared with." So if someone makes a negative comment about your church, your might never see it, but that person's friends will see it when they visit your page? Whoa. Not cool.
Your users can also mark content as spam and hide it, but it doesn't do much good. It gets hidden for that individual user on that specific visit. Everybody else can still see it. And that user will see it the next time they visit. Page admins aren't even notified that someone thinks content on their page is offensive.
In general, it seems that Facebook wants to leave content policing up to the user. If you don't like something, you can remove it or block it—but that won't have any effect on what everybody else sees.
That's all kind of disappointing considering that Facebook is worldwide. You expect global content would need a little more policing and a little more control. But Facebook seems to take a hands-off approach. That's not very reassuring for churches who want to protect their members from spam and abuse.
A little less confusion would also help. Sorting all these rules and scenarios out to even understand them enough to write this post took a while. Hope your pastor has time for that.
You Can Do That on the Table
The bottomline is you can't really control content on your Facebook page while still allowing interaction. But the Table puts you in control in a simple, straightforward manner.
The What's New App is live and ready for action! What is it you ask? Well, it's What's New! This application, which has been added to all areas of the platform by default, creates a whole new interface to interact with content on the Table. Instead of having to go looking for new content, the What's New App aggregates it all into one live stream.
View prayers, events, photos, service opportunities, shared items and discussions in one place. It doesn't just change the way you view content, but also how you interact with it. Intrigued? Watch the quick demo video and view some of the highlights below.
RSVP to an event, pray for someone, volunteer to serve or keep a discussion rolling. All from one interface.
The "Post" dropdown allows you to quickly navigate to any posting screen within the Table. Just choose the type of content you want to post and away you go.
Comment on any piece of content right from the What's New App. Once you comment, the content gets bumped to the top, so the most popular content gets seen more often.
No need to refresh, the What's New App will notify you when there is new content to see. Just click the blue bar and boom...hello new stuff.
Afraid of getting important items lost in the stream? No worries. As an admin, you can promote content and it will automatically bump to the top every 4 hours. We know, we haven't sent you a super hero cape yet, but we still think you're special.
And in all its glory
One of the flaws of social networks is people. They're notoriously troublesome. Of course that's also what puts the social in social networks and makes them so wonderfully fun. Social networks give power to the people and that can create some delightful results: a new ministry launched, volunteers recruited and people lifted up in prayer in their time of need. Of course it can also create some not-so-delightful results: gossip, rudeness and spam.
That's why you have the ability to flag content on the Table.
Every piece of user-submitted content on the Table, including prayers, Serve items, discussion topics, photos and comments, can all be flagged. If you see something that shouldn't be there, you can flag it.
Here's what happens when something gets flagged:
- It's automatically removed. No questions asked.
- It goes into the content queue for an Admin at your church to review it.
- The Admin will review the content and decide whether or not it should stay removed. This is a decision made by your church based on their own parameters, not us here at the Table. We let local churches do the content policing.
- If they opt to keep the content removed, it can be deleted. If they decide the content is actually OK, they can restore it to the Table.
Content flagging is an added level of security that keeps the conversations, interactions and community safe for everyone. Churches can also choose to require that any content posted is approved by an Admin before it goes live, but that often creates a lot of work and slows down the community interaction. Flagging is a way to keep the content flowing and the community happening, but still have a way to police inappropriate content if it pops up.
How do I flag content?
- Click the "Flag" text or the flag icon next to any piece of content.
- Explain why you think something needs to be flagged. It might be as simple as "This is gossip," or "This is an item for sale."
- Click ‘flag' and your church's Admin will take care of it.
People are the heart of your church and the heart of any social network. That means things can get a little messy, but that's OK. Features like content flagging are designed to keep it from getting out of hand. That means less of the troublesome downside, and more of the wonderfully fun upside.
Empty amusement parks are creepy. You can't hear the squeals of joy or echoes of laughter. You don't see throngs of people or smell that buttery popcorn. You just hear crickets. You see an empty roller coaster, waiting for riders. There's no activity, no movement, no energy. Every little noise is magnified in the silence and you can't keep from looking over your shoulder wondering who's watching. A piece of trash tumbles through the street, blown by the wind. Yeah, creepy.
That's how the Table can feel when there's nobody in it. OK, maybe not that creepy, but it is pretty boring to log on to the Table for the first time and find it empty. Much like an amusement park, the Table wasn't designed to sit there empty. The Table was designed to be populated with people. That's when it's at its best. Until you get some people in the Table it's going to be an empty amusement park—more creepy than inviting.
That's why we encourage you to get your church leadership on board before you jump in and launch the Table. We also think you should come up with a launch plan to roll the Table out to your church. Use content as a carrot to draw people in.
Avoid the empty amusement park when you launch the Table by greasing the wheels and pre-populating it with people and content:
1. Set a precedent. Be sure that the first few members lay a foundation by completely filling out their profiles. A silent profile and a blank face aren't welcoming. But with faces and details it's suddenly not so lonely.
2. Set up groups. Give people something to join. You don't have to go nuts, but it'd be nice if you could have some of the obvious groups set up: The worship team, the prayer team, the staff, the leadership board, children's ministry, etc. Now you've given people something to do when they visit the Table. Here's a quick video to walk you through it.
3. Create initial content. Post some prayers, add some items to the Serve App, post a question to the discussion board, add a photo. Not only will a little content keep things from being empty, but you'll show people how it's done.
4. Invite people. In our launch plan we recommend setting up some key groups and having those leaders invite their group members. Get those people on the Table and using it before you roll out to your entire church. Suddenly the map view in the directory is peppered with people instead of a lonely one or two.
Now when you launch and people start coming in they won't find a virtual tumbleweed blowing down empty streets. Instead they'll see conversation, interaction, life.
(photo by Keo101)
Offering unique content as a carrot can be an easy way to bring people to the Table and help you gain traction when you launch. If people can only get the content on the Table, that's one more reason to check it out.
Some examples of unique content that will bring people to the Table:
Pre-Sermon Sneak Peek
Offer your congregation a sneak peek of the upcoming sermon in the discussion board. Share the books you're reading, what's inspiring you, what's challenging you or the questions you're struggling with. A little pre-sermon discussion and feedback might even make your sermon better.
After the sermon post some follow-up questions to the discussion board and try to generate some on-going discussion. This can be a helpful way to make your sermon go deeper. As people think it over and respond, you're getting more out of it. Suddenly it's not forgotten by Sunday afternoon.
Be sure you're making the most of the Prayer Wall. Consider posting some proactive prayers requests. Not only is this consistent content you're not offering anywhere else, but it's encouraging people to pray. Everybody wins.
Another way to pull people into the Table is with the communications tools. You can use the Quicknotes feature to send quick notifications to your entire church that can be received as email or text message, however people choose. That can be huge for things like service cancellations, daylight savings reminders, mobilizing folks to respond to emergencies, etc. You can also display targeted notifications in the tip bar based on age, gender, location and interest.
The Serve App is a great source of unique content and we've been sharing loads of suggestions for how to use it. But you can bring even more people to the Table by using it as the place to post your church volunteer needs.
Using the discussion board to make files available is another great carrot. It works especially well for groups, like the worship team sharing MP3s or your leadership team sharing PDFs.
Encouraging your church ministries to use the groups function of the Table is a prime carrot. In many cases this will give your ministries a level of organization, community and consistency they've never had before. One better: They can run it all themselves.
What Not To Use as a Carrot
These are all examples of things that work well to draw people into the Table because you can't get them anywhere else. There are other things you could only post to the Table, but they might not work as well.
For example, a pastor's blog that's only on the Table would be a bad idea. Why? That's content you can share with the world. That's content that might bring people closer to faith. Don't gate it off so only your church can access it.
As much as we value privacy and close-knit community at the Table, we're not in favor of gated communities. Sometimes we call them ghettos. You should still share this great content publicly, either on your website, Facebook or somewhere else. Save the Table for content that might work better in the context of a community.
That's why we didn't build our own blog, podcast or video app. Instead we built tools that allow you to import blogs, podcasts and videos from other sources. So you can share them with the world and bring them into the Table. That content should be freely given, not used as a carrot.