Ready to Take the Social Media Plunge? How I Did It.

socialOK, maybe you’re like me. You’ve been told you need to do something with social media but simply don’t know where to start.

Sure, I did a bit of flirting with social media. I contributed less-than-heartfelt blog postings for various organizations, I even had a “vanilla” profile on LinkedIn and a Facebook page with a few family photos. Worst of all, though I originally signed up for Twitter in 2009, I had a measly 32 followers. For the entire three years, I sent out a total of 19 tweets. Pretty sad for a person who takes pride in being a user of the Internet since 1995!

Social Media Wake-up Call

The “wake up call” to step up my social media efforts came with the convergence of two events.

The first happened one day while I was online and doing a casual “vanity search” (in other words, I had just Googled my own name). To my surprise, I found lots of articles and book excerpts that I had written during my thirty year career in non-profit managementand consulting. I was alarmed to find that some pretty decent articles of mine had links that no longer worked! I realized that I had contributed a lot of content to my field and that some of it would be lost if I didn’t do something about it.

Recovering and Building My Non-profit Work with Social Media

My response was to create a portfolio web site that also enabled me to start my own blog. The 100+ articles I pulled off my own computer gave me some great content from the start. I even grabbed a few more that I didn’t have off the web. To complement the featured blog, I added pages with my professional experience, consulting projects I’d worked on and some recommendations from clients and colleagues.

Offering quality content online is vital. The new web economy is: “I give you something you want for free and if it is valuable to you, maybe you will actually buy something from me”. By providing truly useful information on topics I know a lot about, I showcase my expertise and show users what I can do for them. So, I have disciplined myself to continually add content to the site with a new blog posting at least once a week. This gives users a reason to come back while boosting my search engine rankings.

I still felt there was more I could be doing to market my web site and blog.

Growing My Non-profit Influence with Social Media

Soon after I did all of this, the second part of my “wake up call” came. Actually, it was a little like a digital slap in the face. A friend introduced me to Klout.com. The Klout Score is a measure of your online influence and is based on your ability to drive people to action. It uses data from social networks to measure how many people you influence, how much you influence them and the influence of your network. The average Klout Score is 20 and I discovered that mine was just 18! And here I thought I was such an influential guy. I was determined to raise my score.

My first step was to connect all of my social networks to Klout. Then I fired up my Twitter account. Twitter is a mini-blogging system with 140 characters allowed per “tweet”. I started with simple tweets, and the title of one of my online articles with a single sentence description. To stay within the allotted number of characters, I use the link shortening tool, goo.gl. I also subscribed to an online service that allows me to schedule my tweets up to a week in advance.

Twitter users normally Follow people who Follow them. So I began building my list of followers by following people who follow those who are similar to me. I also followed users my counterparts followed. Lastly, I used the search feature to find people tweeting about my areas of interest and expertise and followed them. There is a 2,000 user follow limit for new users. So I closely monitored the list of users I followed. I’ve usually deleted users who do not follow me within a week of my follow – that is, unless I want to keep receiving their tweets.

Using this approach, I added nearly 1,500 followers in my first month of rejuvenated Twitter activity.

In the process, I also beefed up my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. I’ve joined a few LinkedIn groups organized around topics that interest me and I post to them regularly. The nice thing about the social media triumvirate of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is that you can connect them all together.

My well-constructed tweets are automatically posting to both my Facebook wall and my LinkedIn profile. I use those tweets again by posting them to my LinkedIn groups. For a further connection, my Twitter activity is prominently displayed on my web site. By providing links on my web site to my pages on my social media hubs, users are able to connect and engage with me in a deeper way. I am also experimenting with Google+ and plan to integrate it into my other efforts eventually.

What was the result of all this activity? My Klout Score soared from 18 to 48 and I’m currently adding at least 50 new Twitter followers a day. I am also getting more friend requests from Facebook than ever; as well as many more requests to connect on LinkedIn. Activity on my portfolio site and blog has grown substantially. And most importantly, I am receiving good leads for my consulting business; which is what it was all about to begin with.

See my current Klout Score

A Christian, Sober for Years and Still an Alcoholic?

I am an alcoholic.  I know what it is like to burn with a desire to drink that is so overwhelming that family, jobs, and friends mean nothing compared to the desire for liquor.  I know what it is like to wake up in a hotel room not knowing where I am or how I got there.  I also know the joy of complete deliverance from the power of alcohol addiction and never cease to praise God for such deliverance.

Jerry Dunn from God is for the Alcoholic

 How can a Christian who has been sober for many years still say he is an alcoholic?

Jerry Dunn, a former president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, caused quite a stir back when his book first came out in the sixties.  Some leaders within our movement challenged him by asking, “How can you say you’ve experienced complete deliverance and still call yourself an alcoholic?”  Even today, some Christian workers struggle with this dilemma.  While his words appear to be contradictory, if we look more closely we will find some real wisdom in them.

A.     Misuse, Abuse & Addiction: When Christians think of alcoholism, they tend to focus on whether an individual is drinking or not.  Yet, statistically, only about ten percent of alcohol users become addicted.  The rest are people who drink occasionally, seemingly without any negative impact on their lives.  Certainly some drinkers do experience serious harm to themselves and others.  But misuse and abuse of alcohol is not the same as the therapeutic condition known as alcoholism. What separates the alcoholic from the alcohol abuser is loss of control.  This means that once an addict begins drinking, he has absolutely no ability to control how much he will drink or for how long he will keep drinking.  This is more than just a bad habit or psychological condition.  The phenomenon of loss of control has its roots in heredity, brain chemistry, and changes in the addict’s physiology that result from alcohol abuse.  This is all accompanied by other negative psychological symptoms such as memory loss, distorted thinking and a preoccupation with drinking.  Worst of all, in order to keep drinking, addicts develop a denial system that enables them to avoid, at all costs, the acceptance of the fact that they have lost control of their drinking.

 B.     Body, Mind & Spirit: There is a simple answer to Jerry Dunn’s apparent contradiction.  While he could honestly praise God for the new birth and a renewed mind and spirit, Jerry recognized that he still lived in a fallen earthly body.  We know that salvation and sanctification deal with the inner, eternal person.  On the other hand, the body (or the flesh as it is called in the Bible) is still part of this fallen world.  Until the Christian receives a new body from the Lord, he or she must contend with all of the habituations and corrupted physiology of the old, unredeemed body.  This applies to all types of temptation and life-dominating sins, especially alcoholism.

 C.     The Power of Words: Some believers have worried that saying one is an alcoholic after years of recovery is a negative confession that may actually give alcohol more power one’s life.  It has just the opposite effect because acknowledging that I am an alcoholic helps me to remember not to drink!  This may seem simple, but in light of the growth of social drinking among evangelical Christians, it’s essential.

By acknowledging that  I am an alcoholic, I know in my heart that as long as I walk this earth, if I want to stay healthy, connected to God, sane and sober, the notion of drinking at all, ever, must remain totally out of the question.  Helping its participants come to this understanding must be the primary aim of every recovery program.  Acceptance is where a fulfilling, sober life actually begins.  It is the direct opposite of denial.

 

For more information see; Theology of Christian Recovery and A Christian Philosophy of Addiction

Introducing Jean & Charles LaCour

Jean and Charles LaCour

For nearly twenty years, the LaCours have dedicated their lives to nurturing, equipping and training Christians to serve the needs of hurting people. Their passion is fueled by a firsthand experience of God’s power which saved them from addiction and destructive lifestyles.

In her search for fulfillment, Jean LaCour was once involved in a hippie lifestyle that eventually left her broken before realizing her need for Christ. Charles’s journey was similar. He forfeited a successful career in South Florida’s hotel industry before he found salvation and recovery.  As they continued together in recovery and grew spiritually, they had a real desire to bring the message of healing they received to others who were in need.

In 1996, they founded the NET Training Institute to meet the training needs of the Florida Network on Addictions – which was established in the 1980’s.  The Institute  was formally incorporated in 1998.  The acronym stands for their first priority; to NURTURE, EQUIP & TRAIN front line workers and others concerned about the ravages caused by addiction.  Their goal is to support Christian workers who are on the front lines of human problems and pain.

Their teaching and curricula integrates solid Christian spiritual perspectives and sound clinical approaches.  It supports students in their continued recovery and personal growth while learning the knowledge, attitudes and skills to help others who suffer.  Their approach is strength based, building on the unique capabilities of the client, the counselor and the recovery coach to promote increased wellness.

Since its inception, the NET Institute has served over 4,000 students, including individuals from India, Egypt, Russia, Finland, Ghana, Africa, Ireland, Central and South America, Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore, Iran, Sri Lanka, Ireland, UK and Bermuda. Their addiction curriculum meets international standards for several professional addiction certification boards thereby providing  foreign students with a truly unique training opportunity.

In 1997, NET Training Institute was among the founding organizations of the International Substance Abuse and Addiction Coalition (ISAAC).  Charles and Jean have provided support for training conferences and workshops. And they have partnered with member organizations desiring to establish more extensive training programs in their own nations. Dr. Jean LaCour has served at every level of ISAAC leadership, including President.

In 2007, Charles and Jean, along with their colleagues at the NET Institute, collaborated with City Vision University to develop a uniquely Christian online bachelors degree completion program in Addiction Studies. Intended to help workers in the recovery field obtain their undergraduate degrees, it has become the most popular course of study at the university.

Dr. Jean LaCour has led the way in networking with a cadre of faith-based instructors and leaders who worked to develop five diploma programs and over 350 hours of addiction, recovery and ministry curricula. She holds a doctorate in counseling psychology from Cornerstone University. Dr. Jean is both a licensed clinical pastoral counselor and a certified addiction prevention professional. She has served on the federal government’s SMHSA steering committee for its Partners for Recovery Initiative and on the leadership council of the International Substance Abuse and Addiction Coalition whose members come from over 30 nations.

Charles LaCour  has an extensive background in business, real estate and community service, including service as past president of both the Daytona Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Daytona Beach Hotel/Motel Association. Charles is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a degree in mathematics and has training from the International Seminary in Central Florida. He is also a graduate of Leadership Daytona and the prestigious Leadership Florida sponsored by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Charles holds the Certified Addiction Professional credential in the State of Florida.

For their leadership and commitment, all Christians who work in the field of addiction recovery owe them a debt of gratitude.