What is YouTube?

When it comes to social media, I often get the question of where YouTube fits. Well, I see YouTube having 3 core purposes:

  1. A Video Library
  2. A Search Engine
  3. A Social Network

First, I see YouTube as a video library for anyone who creates video to host their videos On-Demand. YouTube offers seemingly endless amounts of storage for your video content as well as making them available on seemingly every device in a very user friendly way. 

Second, I see YouTube as a search engine. Owned by Google and has for a long time been the #2 search engine on the internet. It seems that as you talk to someone in my generation (Gen X) or older when we look for info we Google it, but if you ask a Millennial or younger they YouTube it. YouTube has become a powerful place for people to search for just about anything and find the answers or content that they are looking for.  

Finally, it’s also a social network. There’s an opportunity to subscribe, comment, and like videos. Those are all aspects of a social network and YouTube has a very vibrant and engaged community. 

 I would describe it as a social network + in that it is so much more. Beginning to understand the aspects of YouTube as a great place to host your video content is a great investment. Also as important is taking the time to most effectively title, tag and create searchable descriptions for your videos optimizing them for search. Don’t forget to engage socially with those who comment on your videos as well as posting new content consistently to keep your subscribers engaged. 

We’re Hiring a Social Media Ministry Leader

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Do you love social media and have a passion for ministry? Are you highly detailed and love working with people and managing process? We might just have the job for you!
 
I joined Dunham+Company now almost 7 months ago as the Global Director of Social Media+Innovation and it has been an unbelievable ride. We were starting a new division and honestly didn’t know how it would be received or how long it would take to gain traction. As it turns out this social media thing seems to be much more than a fad and a very legitimate ministry opportunity! We’ve had such a response to this offering that we are needing to grow our team to better manage all of the people and processes. 
 
The Social Media Ministry leader would work in our Dallas office coordinating between our Digital Team in Dallas, our Creative Department and our Social Media Team that is spread out throughout the world. Not only would you work with a global team, but you would also work with a global client base with ministries focused in a very local context and a very global context.
 
We need an individual who can move fast, learn fast, have high attention to detail, loves working with people and likes to have fun! If you’re interested click the link below to learn more about the position and apply.  

What I’m Learning about Drones

If we’re connected on social media or if you listen to either of my podcasts (Social Media Church  and Awesome Marriage Podcast) you know that I’m a big fan of drones. For Christmas about 3 years ago I received a remote control helicopter and my inner child went nuts. It was pretty weak and maybe lasted about 3 months and could only fly in the house. I was hooked though and became fascinated by the potential usefulness of this technology.

Last year for my birthday, my wife took it to the next level and bought me my first actual drone. It was a  UDI U818 Wifi FPV  with a camera and could even be viewed live through a Virtual Reality headset while flying the drone. I was excited about it, but had no experience and trying to find space in New York City to fly it was next to impossible. I even tried flying it in our apartment, but 700 square feet isn’t nearly enough.

Once we moved to Texas I quickly found space and quickly saw how much fun this drone was and blown away by what it could do. It took me a week or 2  or 5 to get a handle on the controls as they are so reactive and the drone can take off so fast. I started flying the drone almost daily in our backyard until one day I lost the drone. I was flying it in our front yard this time when I lost site of the drone in the sun and my reaction was to go higher when a wind gust seemed to just grab it and take it away like a kite. I watched it fly away into a cow pasture (yes, I have a cow pasture across the street from my townhome… because Texas) never to be seen again.

After losing my first drone that my wife got me I wasn’t ready to give up yet, but I couldn’t quite justify this expense for something I so quickly and easily lost. My next step was to find the cheapest drone I could on Amazon, so I got the Syma X12 Nano.  It’s smaller than the palm of my hand, but I was blown away by how well it worked when I got it. I was able to have fun flying it around my house for about 2 weeks, but after a couple of crashes it never would fly straight and I was droneless once again.

I finally broke down about 3 months ago and bought 1 more at a price point of $50 this time and bought the UDI U818A-HD. It’s basically the same as my first drone without a high quality camera or the VR capabilities. It flies great though and I’ve learned to take far fewer risks. I’m having a blast and it seems to never gets old! It’s also been so fun to teach others including my kids how to fly it.

Now that I’ve shared my long history with drones, here’s what I’m learning:

  • They’re Fun – they’re seriously ridiculously fun! You get to control something that’s flying through the air!
  • They’re Affordable – I bought a drone that flies for less than $20! I have a very functional drone that I bought for $50. The price point continues to drop and the value that you can get for that price increases on a daily basis.
  • They’re Powerful – whether you want a racing drone that can go fast or a photography drone that can shoot 4K video, there’s a drone for that. There’s even a drone that can carry a person: watch this.
  • They’re Useful – these are no longer just toys, but have useful functions that are being developed for them daily. The delivery opportunities around these in the future will be very interesting to watch develop.

If you don’t have a drone yet, I’m just going to assume you don’t really care about enjoying life. Just kidding, but seriously, go get a drone and start having fun. You won’t likely find a functional use for it anytime soon (other than photos and videos), but having fun is useful enough for now from my perspective.

If you have a drone I would love for you to share which one you have and what you think. Also, if you have a good reason that I can convince my wife that I need the DJI Mavic Pro, please share that as well. I’m racking my brain here as I’m ready to take my drone flying to the next level!

What I’m Learning about 3D Printing

For Christmas this year I bought my daughters (4 and 7 years old) a 3D Printer.

Okay, maybe it was for me, but I saw it as a learning opportunity for them and something that I could create little toys for them on. I have wanted to purchase one for several years, but the price point has been too high up until now. About 2 years ago when I first became interested the cheapest version was more than $1,000 and about a year ago when I considered buying one I was looking at a minimum of $500. This time when I went looking on Amazon I could fine more than 10 3D printers that were under $250 and I went with the Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer.

Since purchasing the printer, I’m not sure that my girls have learned much, but I sure have. I’ve attempted printing about a dozen different items and successfully only printed 3: a cat, a dog and a shark ring. At this point, only one of my nieces is impressed.

Honestly, I bought a simple 3D printer and it was still hard to setup, hard to figure out and even when understanding the instructions, the attempted items I’ve tried to print have not turned out successful. Here are my learnings thus far:

  1.  It’s Complicated – I expected this to be easy for me as I normally pick up on things like this pretty easily. Everything is precise when it comes to the code, the settings, the filament, etc. and 1 thing out of place will ruin everything.
  2.  It’s Expensive – even though the printers themselves are dropping in price rapidly, it’s still not cheap when at best you can print little plastic items that are next to useless. In order to print things, you will have to spend $1,000 or more on a good printer. The additional cost of the filament (plastic) itself isn’t that cheap either.
  3.  It’s Tedious – because you must download the code, convert the code, adapt the code, establish the settings, etc. every item you print, it can feel very tedious to create anything. That’s just in the setup, most items take about 3-4 hours to print as well after you hit print.

You might think based on my learnings that I’ve changed my opinion on 3D printers being a big part of the future. I’m actually even more excited about them than before as I now understand them better and what they can do or should be able to do. While I have predicted them to be 2-3 years away from commonplace in homes and workplaces, I would now say that I think they are more like 4-6 years away.

Moving forward I think what needs to happen for 3D printing is for a common file format to be established for all printers (like a PDF file for posters) and for all printers to all have very standardized setting options. I also think the printers themselves will come a long way in the next few years with higher quality production for a lower cost and faster production time.

All that to say, if you’re interested in 3D printing, now is a great time to start learning and playing. If you are just interested in what it can create, but not interested in learning how it is created, I would just wait. 3D printers are not yet cost effective and the most expensive asset that we have is our time and it will currently cost you a significant amount of time to learn how to even print a useless little plastic cat.

If you are a 3D Printer owner I would love to hear what you are learning!

What I’m Learning about 360 Video and Virtual Reality

I’ve been obsessed with Virtual Reality (VR) since the first time I put on Oculus Rift VR Goggles for the first time about 2 years ago. Shortly after that Google released Google Cardboard and it seemed that VR would be here before we knew it. Adoption and development of this technology has been slower than I anticipated, but it makes sense as the ability to create VR experiences has been so challenging. More than ever I believe VR is going to be HUUUUGE (said with Donald Trump voice)! I just think it’s going to take longer than I anticipated.

I’ve purchased and given away several Google cardboard devices over the past 2 years and made my first big purchase with a 360 video camera in January. I bought the Insta360 nano from Amazon for 2 primary reasons:

  1. Simplicity – I love how it connected to my iPhone and could be uploaded easily from my mobile device and directly to Facebook or YouTube
  2. Affordability – not only was the device easy to use, it was also one of the least expensive devices on the market

Since buying the device I’ve helped Insta360 in their sales as I’ve had several friends see my pictures and videos asking where they can get one of these cool cameras. The quality of these videos has been much better than I expected and the simplicity to upload the videos to Facebook and YouTube has been even easier than I anticipated. I’ve yet to try and edit any videos, but the capturing and distributing has been awesome! The reception to the videos has also been pretty great.

Here are a few of the key things that I’m learning about this new technology:

  • 360 Video is Captivating – the wow factor of these videos has been incredible, especially when people view them through VR googles.
  • Anyone is now able to create 360 videos – as easy as it is to create 360 videos today, it will be even easier tomorrow.
  • Not All Video Should be shot in 360 – while it’s interesting for many experiences, it is not optimal for many if not most video experiences. With 360 video it is harder to control the focal point when you are trying to tell a story.
  • Shorter Videos are best for 360 viewing experiences – currently the VR viewing experiences can be nauseating for most and a long experience is not ideal. I think this will change for experiences like sporting events and even church services, but like mobile video, I’m finding that shorter is better when it comes to VR videos.

All in all, I am more excited than ever about this medium and think ministries need to be paying attention to this space. I believe in the next couple of years many churches will offer a VR worship experience both On-Demand and Live. Beyond worship experiences I believe VR will be an incredible opportunity for Bible reading, Holy Land tours, gospel presentations and more. It’s a consuming media engagement experience with seemingly limitless opportunities for creativity and innovation.