More and more people live on social media. Busted Halo wants to be there for them.
The Catholic online magazine for "spiritual seekers" was a pioneer on the web, bringing a few-holds-barred strategy to discussing faith and culture. Now, Busted Halo's hip ways are strong on Facebook and making inroads to Twitter, FeedBurner, Pinterest, Tumblr and You Tube.
"We find social media presence is how we get most of our readers and how we inform most of our readers," says Barbara Wheeler, Busted Halo's 34-year-old editor. "It's our way of meeting spiritual seekers where they are."
The magazine posts crisp teasers to draw attention to stories and video spots that might change lives, or just get people thinking: "Are you a little bit married?" "Was Jesus a vegetarian?" "Jesus and power tools." "Does God love me?" "I don't feel like praying."
Busted Halo has more than 19,000 "likes" on Facebook.
Here's Wheeler's model: Busted Halo is an inquiring community and Facebook and Twitter are extensions of that community. "Social media give us a place to engage people, to get them talking," she says.
Sponsored by the media-savvy Paulist priests, who also serve St. Philip Neri Parish in Portland, Busted Halo allows a wide range of questions, but does give answers in accord with church teaching. That said, Wheeler and the evangelization-minded writers aim to communicate in a way understandable both to people who attend Mass once a day and those who attend once a year.
"We talk in a language that is less churchy," explains Wheeler. "The idea is to be relevant to the world around you."
Brief is good. A one-line daily quote gives inspiration and is linked to a "microchallenge — something people can do to live the gospel in the modern world. The Busted Halo website has a Facebook link high in right hand corner. Readers can tweet responses to articles. Tabs on the website include "sex and relationships," "entertainment and lifestyle" and "politics and culture."
In the sex and relationships section are articles about "multi-dating" and cohabitation, all by trained counselors with Christian theological bona fides. But they are not doctrinaire.
"At the end of the day, it will come back to your content and what you're offering," Wheeler says. "If it's good, solid and relevant, it will reach them."