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Around 1,000 people attended the 2013 State Evangelism Conference at First Baptist Church, Trussville, Feb. 25–26, which is not unusual. What is a little different, though, is the number of people not inside the building who benefited from the inspirational music and preaching. For the second year, the conference was streamed live online, an option that seemed to resonate with viewers.

Per session viewership of the conference online ranged from a low of 273 people to a high of 502. Average time spent viewing per session ranged from almost 14 minutes to just over 27 minutes. The conference was seen in places as far away as the Philippines, where an international missionary logged on to participate.

Sammy Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM), noted that online streaming and social media are particularly effective ways to reach younger pastors, bivocational pastors and laypeople.

“The large number of those online proves we have enlarged our evangelism efforts in a day when most say that cannot be done,” he said. “This will become a major emphasis in the future.”

The Internet also played a large role in advance promotion of the conference. A 10-day Facebook ad campaign designed to increase the number of followers to the SBOM Facebook page was seen by 131,307 people and netted 735 new followers.

A second campaign, focused on Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter, reached 36,153 people, with 428 people clicking the ad for more information and 64 of those people indicating that they would attend the conference. A third campaign was focused on the State Evangelism Conference event as a whole. This campaign reached 36,729 people. Of those, 275 people clicked the ad for more information and 41 of those people indicated that they would attend the conference.

In the end, 149 people indicated via Facebook that they were coming to the event. Another 28 people indicated that they might come.

The SBOM’s social media platforms were promoted at the conference through both a card handed out and on screens in the sanctuary, encouraging those in attendance to make use of the hashtag #alsec13. The hashtag was used at least 107 times, and 71 messages were retweeted to others, some multiple times. During the two days, the SBOM gained 22 new followers to its Twitter account. In addition, photos of the conference were posted at www.flickr.com/alsbom and were viewed by 900 people on Tuesday.

State Missionary Brian Harris, who manages the SBOM’s website and social media efforts, noted that such online advertising efforts are very cost-effective in a day where funds are tight. For instance, the Facebook ads cost about $3 per person who said they would attend the event. Online streaming ended up costing around 30 cents per online viewer, based on a per-session average.

“This represents a new avenue of being able to reach people who might not have come to these events before, connect with them and provide them with resources made possible by their Cooperative Program gifts,” Harris said.

He also praised First, Trussville,for its role in making the online streaming possible and for partnering with the SBOM in this effort.
To learn more about how your church or ministry can partner with the SBOM to enhance your social media, email bharris@alsbom.org.

Doug Rogers – Director of Communications and Technology

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