07 December 2011
Seasonal social media
Now the Advent season has started, many great initiatives have begun - not in the traditional formats that you may expect but on the internet…
A recent survey by eDigital indicated that using the internet has become an integral part of the festive period for many households. These initiatives show that Christian organisations have taken this on board and are trying to engage with people where they are at this Christmas.
Natwivity, the Christmas story told on Twitter and Facebook, is back for another year and more than 10,000 followers signed up even before its 1 December launch date.
Natwivity began, in 2010, as a project to tell the Christmas story in an up-to-date format for the digital age. Followers catch up with the story as it unfolds through tweeted comments during the day. Thousands of followers will, once again, hear the thoughts of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and wise men, but this year can look out for two new voices - the innkeeper's wife and a reporter for the Jerusalem Daily.
Huw Tyler of creative agency Share Creative, who devised Natwivity, said: "Natwivity caught on because it helps us imagine the thoughts and feelings of a group of people caught up in one of the biggest stories ever told, and the Twitter platform is a great medium to express that."
Each character will post up to 140-character updates on Twitter and Facebook each day in the run-up to the birth of Jesus on 25 December.
Fresh Expressions is also making use of social media - tweeting reflections on the coming of Christ and the meaning of Christmas every day during Advent.
Those who have contributed seasonal tweets include the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu and Russ Bravo, editor of Inspire magazine.
One of the tweets describes the incarnation as "a package put together to solve the debt crisis".
Russ explained: "Twitter is a great way of dropping a thought into people's heads - it's short, punchy and immediate and the style is conversational. Perfect for teasing curiosity, witty one-line jokes and sharp observation. I like dipping in and out - chances are I'll always find something fun, interesting or thought provoking. Hopefully that's one approach that can help people engage with the Christmas story."
Roll on Christmas, an interactive, alternative toilet roll nativity, has been launched on Facebook. Narrated by Mock the Week comedian Milton Jones, and using some of the latest technology available, it is a chaotic, two-minute animation where you play casting director from among your Facebook friends - their faces stuck on toilet rolls depicting the usual Bethlehem suspects.
"Anyone on Facebook will be able to cast the play," explained Ship of Fools editor Simon Jenkins, who wrote the script with co-editor Steve Goddard.
For those of any faith or none, Roll on Christmas is free for anyone to pass on to their Facebook friends, to cast their own friends in the same play. And so on. And so on.
Milton commented: "These toilet rolls will touch everyone."
Rachel Rounds from Bible Society said: "Roll on Christmas is not a simple re-telling of the original story.
"Instead, it is a fresh encounter with that amazing event 2,000 years ago in a new medium and in the light of contemporary culture. By casting our friends in the play, the focus is on our response to the nativity."