At the upcoming Planetshakers Conference, Daystar and Planetshakers are partnering with social media powerhouse Socality to build community with conference goers and viewers around the world. This collective approach to connectedness might seem a little off the beaten path, but it’s a bold effort to blaze a trail embracing new forms of digital interaction to create a deep level of community, making the world a less lonely place. We asked Socality founder, Scott Bakken, to share the origin of this movement with us. Read on to learn what inspired the birth of this online community…
We live in a crazy world! If you are 10 years or older you can recall a time without Facebook, Instagram, iPads and yes, even your iPhone. It seemed like a simpler time as all of the technology which has led to social connection and global interactions can often seem overwhelming! Within it, however, there is a great opportunity for us as individuals and ultimately as the church.
It was in 2013 I caught wind of a great opportunity for my own personal life and for others that I had not yet even met! In 2010, my wife and I moved back to Canada after spending 6 years living in Australia. We had become accustomed to a life without snow and were connected in a very creative community. We found ourselves back in a wintery Canadian world and I immediately was feeling shocked and completely taken aback from what was a dramatic shift in our life. What made the transition even harder was the existence of social media. It used to be when you left somewhere, you fully left that place, but now with social media you are still connected to the ones you love even though you are oceans apart. In an attempt to make a home back in Canada I found myself looking for community. Desperate to find it, I started going out to the Rocky Mountains, which were only an hour from where we lived. I picked up my phone and started taking pictures. Standing isolated in the midst of these cold, majestic mountains I posted my pictures on a social app called Instagram. What happened next started to stir a vision inside of me. People from all over the world would start to connect with me and comment on where I lived, saying it was one of the most beautiful places they had ever seen. It opened my eyes, and I began to see that where I lived was indeed beautiful! It took strangers, people I had never met, to tell me that the space I found myself in was not only beautiful, but majestic. Another amazing thing that was happening was this new point of connection taking place. I was building a community with people who I had never met, and yet through common interests we found ourselves connected. It got me thinking that maybe through social media we could connect and bring people together not only locally, but globally. The world of social media provided an opportunity like never before, to find connections around the world with people you would have never had the opportunity to meet in the past.
I started to investigate this, and my observations pointed to a few common denominators. The first was that many people on the app were creative and using their art to communicate. The second was that many people had a faith or were inspiring others with their captions or comments. The third was that most people were very encouraging. The final thing was that people wanted to travel and connect. I began to put this all together and wondered about the greater opportunity at hand. This all being said, I myself didn’t want to labour for anything, I was only interested in this if God was in this! I was searching to discover what it all even looked like and how I would manage it! Nevertheless, I began to have conversations with a few that I had connected with and they were interested in helping me. At this point, there was no name, just an idea that we could somehow use social media to bring people together. The other goal was that if we are indeed saying the same thing, how can we join our collective voice and influence to use it for good together. For six months I was on the phone talking to people, sharing vision, finding myself night and day on FaceTime and Skype calls. One by one people wanted to be involved and we built a small database.
We knew that this movement would be reflected in a social platform, website and gatherings that would bring people together. It would be spaces of belonging that would be intentional about bringing people together and would help others find their voice. Now all I needed was a name! One night I sat down at my computer in a coffee shop and decided that if this was a new movement it needed a new name. I opened up my computer and gave myself permission to write anything that would come to mind. I began to type without hesitation and nothing was off limits. I ended up writing. “A social community all for eternity”. I looked at this and put it all together and came up with Socality ( a SO-cial C-ommunity AL-l for etern-ITY)
Over the next few months a few others and myself would build a website, plan an event, create a logo and rally people for the launch. Our goal was to launch this movement and community on January 19, 2014 and leading up to that date I was very scared. My wife and I had were about to have our first child, finances were tight and to be honest, I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was that I was looking for community. I saw a window of opportunity for great impact collectively with others and I was going for it! We had a small list of 300 people that we had asked to post out on social media the morning of January 19th using the caption, “I am @socality” which was to do two things. The first being drive people to the account @socality which was on private mode and the second was it would identify others as part of the movement.
The morning of January 19th I was going to call the whole thing off. A wave of fear came over me and then I heard that scripture impressed on my mind. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. I knew we had come this far and we were to keep moving forward!
At 12 noon, I posted my picture on Instagram with my caption, I am @socality. I sat there in my pajamas and to my overwhelming surprise post after post came through! My phone started blowing up and the emails were coming through like crazy. In one day we had 10,000 followers on the account with over 10,000 people posting I am @socality. I was overwhelmed as I saw the faces of people on social media identifying themselves with this movement. My gut was right, people were looking for community and like truly would attract like. People were finding each other using our hashtag #socality and community was being established all over the world.
From that day on, my life was turned upside down. This global community was on the move! We held our first event in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the city where I lived. In the very place where I was looking for community, all of these incredible people came together to meet, connect and create. One of my greatest honors was to take this company of 300 attendees who had come from 5 countries, 22 states and 5 provinces to the Rocky Mountains, the place where it all began!
Since then, Socality has merged into a full-fledged organization. We have a team of volunteers and community leaders. We have hosted events in San Diego, LA, Portland, Seattle and in 2017 we will be in Australia, NYC, Israel, Chicago, Vancouver and beyond. We have been able to use our collective social influence to support organizations like Charity: Water, IJM, Krotchet Kids and more. Socality is more than a social gathering. It is about bringing like-minded people together to use their social influence and voice to collectively impact our world for good. It is about establishing leaders, empowering creatives, and mobilizing people into opportunities!
Social media has given us the ability to connect with others in ways we never thought possible. It has taken the walls off the spaces that confined us and allowed us to expand our reach without limits. It is truly a world of possibility and it is ours for the taking!
Join us at Planetshakers Conference 2017 in Melbourne, Australia to meet the Socality team and connect with a community that’s changing the world! Click here to register.