Event Based Blogging

Every year our church Student Ministry sponsors two Beach Retreats for Junior High (South Padre, TX) and High School students (Gulf Shores, AL). This year we had record attendance at each Beach Retreat. At High School Beach Retreat we had 1,727 students and adult volunteers. At Junior High Beach retreat we had 1007 students and adult volunteers, a summer total of 2,734. The caravan of chartered busses alone was astounding.

In previous years, our creative media team would post daily videos, but this year we stepped it up and decided to do a blog just for the two weeks of retreats. This was out first attempt at event based blogging. Here is a summary of our event based blog initiative:

GOAL:
1. Show parents the spiritual significance of Beach Retreat.
2. Promote and encourage student and volunteer involvement in subsequent Beach Retreats.

PLAN:
Here was our ‘plan of attack‘ to ensure we gathered the needed content for each day’s posts. The plan included assigned responsibilities, list of equipment, etc. After delegating assignments and getting the needed equipment, we setup our blog and integrated it with our church fan page and designated beach retreat twitter account. Daily updates to the blog would automatically publish updates to our fan page and twitter accordingly.

RESULTS:

The BR09 Blog

Viewership
BR09 Results - Viewership

Feedback
BR09 Results - Parental Feedback

Download PDF of Blog Stats

Here is a list of technologies we used:

1. WordPress (self-hosted blog)
2. WordPress Theme: Typebased by WooThemes
3. WordPress Plugins: ShareThis, Scissors, Unfiltered MU, Countdown Timer, Flash Photo Gallery, My Category Order, NextGen Gallery, Twitter Tools, and WP-PageNavi.
4. Second Baptist Church Fan Page on Facebook
5. Simplaris Blogcast (WordPress/Facebook Integration)
6. CoverItLive.com – for live blogcasting during Worship services.
7. Google Analytics
8. FeedBurner – for subscribing to blog via email.
9. Twitter – SBCBR09 and SBCBR09# for hashtag.
10. Wufoo – Online Form for Parents to Send Notes from Home. These were show on the worship screens each night before worship.
11. Flip Ultra HD Video Cameras

Lessons Learned:

1. Make sure assignments are clear and daily deadlines are set for blog team to receive content from various content creators.
2. Take plenty of storage for digital media.
3. Test and Retest the WordPress plugins to ensure they function as intended for your particular blog theme and that they deliver the results you want.
4. Moderate comments on your blog and monitor and respond to any unwanted conversations that show up on your event hashtag on twitter.
5. Set and communicate specs for photos and videos to all content creators. You don’t want to be the one having to re-encode or reformat pics for the web, unless your content creators don’t have the needed skills.

All in all, it was a tremendous success and we will plan to do this again. Now we are wondering where and when does event based blogging work well….and when does it not. I believe it depends on your goals.

What do you think?

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