Today I read an great article written on the Christian Post called “Google, Twitter, and Facebook Leaders Tell Christian Media to Embrace Tech Giants“. It was written by my friend Alex Murashko. In the article it talks about how Christian media, including Christian internet media should embrace these so called giants. Honestly, my blood boiled at the hubris! After being a part of Christian media now for the last 2 years I can honestly say that my experience with 2 of the 3 so called tech giants has left a very foul taste in my mouth.
So allow me if you will, to share my experience with these 3 so called tech giants and see if maybe there was a little bit of hubris involved in their request for the faith community to embrace them.
My Efforts To Embrace Google, Facebook, and Twitter
Google – The Fickle Bride That Never Meets You At The Altar
When I first started blogging I didn’t even realize that I had become part of what is called Christian Media. I wasn’t even sure what blogging was. I was just publishing the articles I was writing for my local newspaper on the internet. What I was writing was being well received by those that knew me and knew of the ministry I had out here in Pine Haven. However I received almost no search traffic from any of the search engines. I knew that if I was going to be successful I had to learn how to get Google to notice my writings and list them on their first page.
So I set out to learn what Google considered important when they look at websites and articles in ranking them in their search results. I started making changes to my website design and how I wrote. All of this was reminiscent of relationships where the woman tells the man the things he needs to change before she will marry him. I made those changes, and for a season I was rewarded with good search rankings. However in March of last year that all changed. Google, through a series of algorithm changes, has decimated the amount of traffic that my website gets from them although the amount of quality content presented in the way that Google says it wants has tripled.
Now before you think that I am just a lone complainer and that I must have done something wrong, these changes affected a majority of all the Christian bloggers. It is not a singular case. Google has made a shift and now rewards brand names, superstars, and mega-websites that happen to include religion like About.com and Wikipedia rather than the smaller websites that specifically geared towards the community of faith.
After spending hundreds if not thousands of hours trying to adjust to Google’s new focus, I finally gave up. Google will never meet me and the thousands of fans I have at the altar. They left my community of faith in the dust. So when Google says for me to embrace them, my reaction is “stick it in your ear Google!”
Facebook’s False Promises And Religious Censorship
After walking away from Google and their “new and more relevant search”, I decided to engage people directly by focusing on Facebook. I already had a fan page.I had a couple of thousand fans at the time. I started to engage my fans daily with Christian pictures and quotes along with posting the articles that were published on Taber’s Truths. At first this worked great and even caused me to do some Facebook advertising so I could reach more people with our message of faith. The page went viral in October. It went from 3500 fans to 50,000 fans in 2 months. I was ecstatic. Finally we were getting somewhere. Then all of a sudden I started to notice that my posts, pictures, and quotes were not reaching all my fans. I started getting complaints from people that were not my fans about pictures of things like 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. And some of my posts went missing. Pretty soon only 10% of my fans were getting my posts. Then Facebook introduced “promoted posts”. All of a sudden I had to pay for my fans to see my posts.
Now understand this correctly. Facebook charges you to advertise for fans. You pay them to help you build a fan base. Then they charge you to show your posts to your fans that you already paid for? That is like you buying a car and then having to pay a fee for every mile you drive that car! Then to top it off, every time somebody complains about how you drive that car, they then limit the amount of miles you drive that car, even if you did nothing wrong!
Again this is not something that just has happened to me. This is happening to every Christian fan page out there. They are limiting the amount of fans that see your posts. They are “losing” posts from Christians and Christian fan pages, and they are letting people who are not even your fans but are friends of fans or friends of friends of fans, complain about the posts and pictures you are posting and then using that information to effect your fan pages reputation negatively.
So I ask you again? Facebook wants the faith community to embrace them? I think it needs to be the other way around! How about Facebook take a look at what it is doing and how it is ripping off the faith based community!
It was because of this behavior and because Facebook does not abide by it’s own standards concerning profanity and semi-pornographic pictures that I finally decided to just go around them. I started Christian Faithbook. Not only am I able to keep offensive material off the site, but I am able to engage with all the people on my friends list, and that every group that is started has its material seen and available by it’s members. If they won’t work with you, then go around them is my motto!
Twitter Seems To Keep It’s Nose Clean
Twitter, has up to this point, seemed to keep it’s nose clean. Your tweets go out to all your followers. Whether they read them is another thing, but at least they are not limiting who gets your tweets. They do not lose tweets for no apparent reason. They do not charge you for tweets. They still have a problem with profanity and pornographic material but at least they are not censoring religious speech.
The biggest problem I have with twitter is the response rate you get from followers. I have over 6000 followers on twitter and I am lucky to get a couple of people respond to a tweet or click on a link. Twitter holds true to what it does, I am just not sure yet that you get enough bang for your effort in using their service. Time will tell.
How Can The Tech Giants Embrace The Faith Community?
Google – Quit considering Bible quotes as duplicate content. Stop expecting thousands of pages of content before you will consider something authoritative. Stop preferring brands and superstars over reputable authorities in the faith niche.
Facebook - Stop double dipping in your advertising. Either allow all the fans to see the posts or stop selling advertising to fan pages. Stop “losing” posts that are of a controversial nature. Stop allowing those that are not fans of a fan page to complain about a picture that was not sent to them by the fan page.
Twitter - Clean up the profanity and material shown on profile pages and in tweets.
A Charge To The Faith Community
Back when I first became a believer, Christian Rock and Roll was still controversial. I remember a song that made the older Christian generation cringe. It was by Larry Norman and it was called “Why should the devil have all the good music?” So I ask the faith community today. Why should Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all the social engagement? Why are you using websites that are behaving in ways that hurt Christian media? Are there not Christians that are smart enough and capable enough to develop a Christian search engine? Is there not a way for us to take the lead rather than follow the mob in the ways we communicate our message?
Why should the so called tech giants have all the social engagement?