TagJews and Judaism

Facebook – the Ultimate Word-of-Mouth Tool

In a recent survey on synagogue marketing that I conducted, Jewish leaders said word-of-mouth is their most effective marketing technique. In the same survey, they admitted that while they have Facebook pages, they mostly can’t say whether Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild is worth their effort.

Word-of-mouth is successful because it’s a marketing message from the most trusted source: someone you know. (Admittedly, not everyone I know carries the same amount of trust.)

Facebook, with its extensive friend networks and ability to communicate personally and honestly, ought to be the ultimate word-of-mouth tool.

If you’re a synagogue executive director or a leader of any non-profit, some of these ideas might help you get more out of Facebook. (Feel free to ask me for help!)

Make Facebook more effective in a synagogue, membership organization or non-profit
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Marketing the Shul: What’s Working and What Needs to Work

Presented to The Future of Jewish Non-Profits Summit, July 11, 2011, Chicago, Ill.

When it comes to synagogue marketing (and very possibly marketing churches, too), technology is trumped by the old stand-by: personal contact. Paid newspaper advertising doesn’t seem to work well, and the jury’s still out on the effectiveness of social media.

As a lifelong professional communicator, and former president of Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette, Ill., I constructed an informal survey (using Google Docs) which I sent to Chicago-area synagogue executive directors and randomly selected rabbis, as well as Conservative synagogue presidents on a national listserve.

Facing competition from the Internet, iPads, the golf course and other non-religious distractions synagogue leaders are eager to find marketing techniques that will engage current members and attract new people, without draining the temple’s resources.

What’s working and what isn’t

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Black-Eyed Peas Guaranteed 30 Years of Bar Mitzvah Party DJ Play

Mazel Tov!

Many, if not most Americans, I’d guess, know this phrase is used by Jews when congratulating other Jews on such happy occasions as weddings, bar mitzvahs and the birth of a child.

But, seriously, how did this most Jewish of Jewish expressions make its way into the wildly popular “I Gotta Feeling,” performed (annoyingly auto-tuned) by the Black Eyed Peas at halftime of Superbowl XLV?

Chicago musician Stuart Rosenberg, a talented bandleader who has played for countless simchas (happy occasions), provided an explanation for me on Facebook: “The Peas put that in to guarantee that song would be played by every DJ at every bar mitzvah for the next 30 years.”

Rosenberg, founder of the League of Creative Musicians, is probably right. The seventh graders who populate bar mitzvah parties love to shout “Mazel Tov!” when it comes up in the lyrics, seemingly at random, during the song.

Actually, the bar mitzvah DJ playlist might be more diverse if other groups also had injected their tunes with some Yiddishkeit (Jewishness).

For example, what if…

  • Elvis had used fermisht as a synonym for “All Shook Up”?
  • Stevie Wonder had thrown kine-ahora (ward off the evil eye) into “Superstition”?
  • KC and the Sunshine Band had sneaked shep naches (experience joy) between the lines of “That’s the Way I Like It”?

Other suggestions are welcome, of course.

Meanwhile, the overuse of “I Gotta Feeling” seems to drive Stuart Rosenberg crazy:

“All the more reason to have a live band, not a DJ,” he says.

And to Stuart, I’ll shout “Yasher koach” (may you have strength), something that’s often said to scholars after they give a particularly insightful commentary.

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