Published: 8 years ago

Information Overload

I’m sure I’m not the first one to ponder this or postulate the question, but since I’m new to the Twitter scene, it’s been on my mind.  And yep, it’s probably poor form to use a social media outlet for less than a week and begin to criticize it.  Or perhaps I should say “Cwittercize it.”

Editor’s Note: You definitely should NOT say that.  That’s just stupid.  Move on.

Regardless, this is my question: does our various social media outlets reinforce our message, or distract people from it?

Does all of our Facebooking and Twittering and blogging and artfully crafted web pages and e-mail blasts and any other media that will be invented by the time I reach the end of this paragraph…do all of those things add to or take away from what we’re trying to accomplish?

Example #1: on our staff alone, we have no fewer than 23 Twitter accounts and at least 10 blogs…and those are just the ones I know about.  (Some of you won’t let me be your Twitter friends…jerks!) True, some of them are personal accounts, but all of them broadcast news from the Summit at least part of the time.

Example #2: last week we had an all-campus prayer gathering to pray for our annual community outreach project called Week of Hope.  In the course of my drive to work, an announcement for that meeting was tweeted and retweeted at least eight times, and I’ll admit that I was one of the retweeting twits.  (“Honestly officer, I was swerving because I’m encouraging people to pray.”)

Do these things clarify the message, or muddy the message?  Were people more prone to know about and take action on the prayer meeting, or was the information-to-application link lost among so many bite-sized chunks to choose from?

This is an even bigger question for the multi-site church.  When several campuses rally around a central cause (and therefore, some central events) there will be overlap, repeats, and retweets, because the nature of social media is not to keep the circles small, but to grow the tribes ever larger.  Heck, I follow people on Twitter that I haven’t attended church with in months, because I have an insatiable desire to know what’s going on in the small groups that are specific to their campus.

Please understand: this truly is not me being critical.  I thank God for the great tools that we have to get the message out.  And I’ll confess that I’m actually enjoying this Twitter thing…the very creation that I vowed to loathe from the moment I heard about it.  But the question remains: is there a point where it’s too much, or is my 35-year-old, out-of-touch-with-pop-culture brain simply convincing me that it is, much like it’s convincing me that I really need to rethink my fiber intake?

I’m curious as to what you think.  Specifically, there are three or four of you social media geniuses out there that I’d really like to hear from (Brad O’, Josh D, Mike M, just to name a few).  This is the time, dear readers, when I want you to stand up and be counted.  How does this question strike you as a typical church member?  As a church staff member?  As part of a multi-site (and therefore, multi-Twitter) church?  Am I tweeting up the wrong tree, or is there more to this than meets the eye?

How much is too much?

Is there a saturation point?

Or have we just begun to scratch the surface of the greatest worldwide coverage the gospel has ever known?

Tweet away, or comment below…

6 Comments.
  1. Josh D says:

    Assuming I’m the Josh D you wanted to hear from (I don’t know many others…) I’ll give you my $.02. Put your wallet away, it’s just an expression. Fine, I’ll take your pennies.

    One small thing to keep in mind is that some of us (myself included) are tied to a lot of the people doing the re-tweeting. Some of us are social media junkies. Some of us, in some way, are involved in leading our church. Naturally, we see a lot more of the messages repeated than would a slightly less connected (read: possibly more sane) member. So, perhaps to some degree it’s a question of perspective. That is to say, an average member might see a couple tweets and a Facebook announcement when you and I see 30 of each.

    I think another part of what you’re experiencing is that the Summit is, in general language, an organization that tweets. It’s also a group of individuals who tweet. What this means is that, as an organization, the Summit will need to consider and regulate how it uses twitter (just as it would for snail mail, email, web presence, etc).

    What you might want to do is look into tools like CoTweet (http://cotweet.com/) to better organize your twittering, and put some communication guidelines in place for the staff.

    As for the laytweeters (yes, I am having fun with this), well, you can’t expect that they’ll conform to any predictable patterns whatsoever. Luckily, twitter is not email and you don’t have to read it all 😉

  2. Thommarson says:

    I would have to agree with Josh D. I also follow a lot of people from the Summit and get re-tweets all of the time about the same things. Sometimes it feels like an overload, but it is because of all of the Summit leaders that I follow on Twitter. People have to evaluate what circles they are in before they consider it an overload. I seriously thought to myself the other day “enough about the new series on Sunday!” then I was like “you follow half of the staff on Twitter so you are going to hear about it.” Yep, I served myself.

    In a normal situation, I think that it would grab the interest of someone if they saw a tweet or Facebook message about a prayer time or other event. I think that raises awareness and could lead to more people participating.

    And now that Twitter is blocked @ work and I am not cool enough to have an iPhone, I guess I will be a laytweeter.

  3. Blake says:

    Danny,

    Piper had an interesting blog on this, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2009/3951_Why_and_How_I_Am_Tweeting/ His response is that it has to be God centered. I think that is the issue. But all of the questions that you raised really need to be critically thought about and worked through because we want to be as biblically based as possible. I honestly don’t know where I come down on all of this because the Scripture is silent. I guess if I believed the Regulative principle on everything it would be easier but, call me crazy, I think it is good to sing about Jesus. For me, more information as a church member is a good thing. However, there is so much stuff going at the church that one could feel overwhelmed when they try to do everything. I know people who think that they have to do everything the church is doing and never take a break. With so much media letting them know what is going they could feel overwhelmed. Also, it could lead people to say there is so much going on what do I get involved with? They end up doing nothing. I know that this shouldn’t guide everything that is done but it is an important issue. My opinion is: I have twitter account because someone said If I followed someone I could get something free. That is enough for me to do just about anything, but I am not using it. I don’t think I will. Media already dominates to much of my time and this is just another trap to take me away from reading.

  4. Whitney S says:

    Hey Danny,
    Thanks for the blog. I’ll weigh in as well from a layperson/not on staff at summit person. As a twitter person myself, I actually find it slightly annoying with the multiple retweets going on. However, as said earlier – it’s who I follow so I should expect it. There is now a ton of social media information available for normal people like you and me to take a look at and learn from. Many businesses (including mine) are getting their feet wet with twitter, facebook, delicious and digg as a very important marketing tools. Take a look at http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ and he has a great blog about social media stuff and how to use it appropriately. I do think maybe some rules need to be instituted in it. He provides some good guidelines for businesses and also for personal use of facebook and twitter. Most say that past about 6-8 tweets a day by a person (RT’s included) – people will not stay interested. Keep this as a guideline for all those who are tempted to tweet every thought and picture and retweet others throughout the day. People on my following list who abuse this (and yes – I have to admit – some summit staff are definitely guilty of this) seriously have me consider not following them cause I’m so annoyed that they tweet so often. So, all that to say, as stated earlier it can be used for the glory of God. However – it needs to be used responsibilty and not like a raging bull out of control just b/c people enjoy sending in photos from their iphones. I’ll keep following you and the staff though – so no worries my friend. I’m in for the long haul. Thanks for the blog and for approaching this idea! It needs to be talked about more.

  5. Nicole says:

    Hi,

    I twitter, and I follow a lot of pastors from the summit on Twitter, but I just wanted to say that I was at the Starting point Luncheon, and a woman at my table decided to come to The Summit that Sunday because she saw an ad for the week of hope on Facebook. I thought that was pretty cool, being a college student, I spend a great deal of time on Facebook,and I like when it has a bearing on actual everyday life. I know that doesn’t have much to do with Twitter, but it does speak to the fact, that we are only over saturated for the people already a part of The Summit, already part of the culture. The people that should expect to hear about the same things over and over again. That is basically re-stating what everyone else who has commented has already said, but it’s also my opinion.

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