The Third Way Café (TWC) Facebook page passed something of a milestone last weekend, 1,000 likes. No, this is not a Sally Fields moment nor does it even come close to our most popular MennoMedia-related Facebook page, Mennonite Girls Can Cook (at 15,690 likes and counting) but if you’ve ever wondered how the daily quotations at TWC Facebook are chosen and who posts them, here is where you find out.
The longtime, nerdy-cool webmaster for Third Way Café, Russ Neufeld, quietly launched a Facebook page for the website back in 2009 (the website itself was launched in 1998).
Almost without trying, the FB page quickly grew to 300 some likes (in the days when that WAS something). After the initial rush of many Third Way Café fans suddenly discovering Facebook and how it could connect people, the growth inched along. No one on staff quite knew what to do with a Facebook page beside like it. Promote new posts at the website, products? Mehhh. Not cool all the time.
In June of 2011, yours truly began posting a regular quote of the day, published sometime between 8-9 a.m. (ET) five days a week, with a respite on weekends. I think many of us like a social media Sabbath over the weekend anyway. I also try to post another midday link with an item of interest to Third Way Café followers sometime after lunch. Some days that doesn’t happen, depending on what’s on my schedule. (Just discovered something: I had no idea when the regular quotes actually began and didn’t really want to scroll or wade through years of posts on the TWC FB page but I just found a handy archival tool, broken down by “years” and “months” on the right side of the FB page. Great for finding your old posts!)
Hunting for a quote to use has become like a meditation time for me at the start of the day, using first of all my own personal library of Anabaptist/Mennonite writings from my college days at Eastern Mennonite University (and I thank myself frequently for being that much of a packrat—how many old college texts actually get used?).
And now I also have access to shelves holding all or most of the current Herald Press books that are in print.
Then there is also a vast library of old and historic Mennonite and Anabaptist volumes (kept under lock and key, so I don’t use them, but I could) ever since the MennoMedia merger joining Third Way Media and Mennonite Publishing Network.
But I try to vary the sources, including current quotes from writers/columnists in Mennonite World Review, bloggers, and my old fallback, the 366 Ways to Peace perpetual calendar that I spent years collecting and a few more years finding a publisher. Eventually Herald Press published it (long before the merger) and since all of the quotes focus on peace, they frequently make suitable quotes for Third Way Café. The afternoon links which I post with more general news of Mennonites frequently come from a Google Alert I’ve set up that brings a weekly digest every time the term “Mennonites” is used anywhere on the web. If you want you want to keep your eyes out for any particular topic or name or whatever, they are easy to set up.
The nice thing about the friends of Third Way Café is that they’ve been added mostly one “like” at a time, through your shares and likes and commenting. Many have told us they share the quote of the day so that their friends (from all walks of life and persuasions) get a gentle exposure to Mennonite/Anabaptist theology and thinking. We ran a few Facebook ads at one point to attract more followers and participated in a few promotions, but I observed that such followers are not as organic or homegrown—and therefore not as interested in the content. Especially interesting are followers from all around the world.
So, now you know.
Who are the top three surefire “like” getters—i.e, when I quote these people, I can almost always count on 20 or more individuals giving the “amen”?
Some of them in the past month have been:
Stuart Murrary, author of The Naked Anabaptist
Menno Simons (you know him)
Mary Beth Lind (cookbook co-author of Simply in Season)
And Jeff Gundy’s quote from Where was God on September 11? scored highest this week.
If you have ideas for books or sources of great quotes that would fit the Third Way Café ambiance, let us know! You will help us out!
And since posting this kind of fun stuff doesn’t pay the bills, if you appreciate the voice of Third Way Cafe, MennoMedia always welcome donations over here. Gracias.
Melodie Davis, one of several managing editors, in front of my un-managed but treasured shelves.