I have been an active user and strategist of social media since the early 2000s. (In December 1995, I began using services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and America OnLine.). I’ve been active in groups of social media influencers.
- On April 24, 2008, I set up facebook.com/lds, the Church’s first social media effort.
- In a post on LinkedIn on April 27, 2016, Cody Loveland (speaker, leader, and social strategist) included me on his list of the top 20 disruptive innovators that had helped him do extra ordinary things.
- One prominent influencer posted the following in a Facebook group of social media influencers: “I think that every Latter-day Saint on the planet is no more than 2 degrees of separation from either Larry Richman or R. Dale Jeffrey. They know everybody!” I responded in jest saying, “Some app developer should create an LDS version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon or the Oracle of Bacon.” She responded, “Larry that would be cool! And yes, it perhaps was hyperbole to say 2 degrees, but I’ll say 3 degrees and stick to it. If Kevin is 6 degrees with the movie world, and we’re all 6 degrees from the whole world, then Larry and/or Dale are 3 degrees with the whole LDS world.”
- Facebook created an algorithm to calculate degrees of separation of people on Facebook. I ran my score, and it showed that I was better-connected on Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg was! My average degrees of separation from other Facebook users was 2.97. Mark Zuckerberg was 3.17 and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer) was 2.92.
- One Facebook influencer made this comment one day: “Larry Richman knows everything or knows who will know.”
I spoke at the Mormon Media Studies Symposium, “Across Time, Cyberspace, and Blogging Disciplines,” held November 11–12, 2010, at BYU. I participated on a panel of Latter-day Saint bloggers who discussed how and why the blogging medium was a viable and valuable LDS media outlet and illustrated how blogging enhances conversation. I wrote and delivered a “live blog” during the panel about how members can use blogs and other social media to build community and spread the gospel. (See a summary I wrote for Mormon Times February 2011.) A student approached me afterward and said “I came to this conference just to listen to you. You’re like a rock star!” On February 26, 2011, the Mormon Times published a report from the panel. (See Mormon Times article, pages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Also see photo of the panel.)
On March 26, 2011, speaking about Mark Zuckerberg’s speech at BYU, the author of MormonDaddyBlogs.com said, “There have been many reports about Zuckerberg’s visit in the media, but I was most interested to read about Zuckerberg’s remarks in Larry Richman’s blog. Officially, Larry is the Director of Product Awareness for curriculum materials for the Church. But unofficially, he is what may be the Church’s top social media evangelist.”
On April 6, 2011, I published an article, “Facebook is fundamental shift in communication,” in the Deseret News about recent technology at a forum at BYU featuring Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
On October 3, 2013, I was quoted in the article “LDS conference abuzz with Twitter activity” in the Salt Lake Tribune about tweeting during general conference.
In March 2016, I invited Seth Adam Smith and Ganel-Lyn Condie to meet with members of the suicide prevention working group that I chaired. (See photo.) Seth and Ganel-Lyn were both well-known authors and speakers about suicide prevention. After the meeting, Seth posted the following on Facebook: “You guys! I met Larry Richman! He’s real!!! Had a great time the other day, Larry. So good to finally meet you!” His reference about being real was because even though I was very active on social media, I did not do much in person. I tried to stay in the background and let others be more front-and-center.
On March 31, 2014, I gave a presentation titled “Easy Ways to Share the Gospel Online“ at the LDS Share Expo at the BYU Wilkinson Center, sponsored by the More Good Foundation. I talked about how to share the gospel online. (See script.)
In September 2014, I published my book 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online. (See photo.) I approached Deseret Book with the book proposal. They wanted eight months to publish it. Since it was a current, hot topic, I was anxious to get it published. I countered with a proposal that I publish and print it in two months and provide them printed copies to sell through Deseret Book stores. They accepted that offer. I printed and distributed 5,000 copies. See displays at Deseret Book store 1 and 2, mention on LDS Living, and article in Mormon Times.
Over the years, I was involved in a lot of efforts to provide more credible information about the Church online to counter the inaccurate information that was available online.
In July 2008, while I was the director of LDS.org and Internet Coordination, Jeremy Votaw, a young entrepreneur visited with me about ideas he had to publish information online in support of the Church. Afterward, Jeremy reported the following, “I have been getting in touch with many people throughout the LDS community for the past couple of months. Yesterday, I met Larry Richman—pretty much the head honcho (aside from the Brethren) when it comes to the Mormon Church and the internet. First let me say how impressed I was with him. Most large organizations have people in his position that just aren’t with the times. (It’s a sad truth.) Larry however was really on top of it…. He knew exactly where the church needs to go. He really got it. I am really looking forward to working with him more on this project.”
One of our efforts was to put the Encyclopedia of Mormonism online because it addressed many topics that we did not officially address on LDS.org. We worked with Jack Welsh at BYU and published it on byu.edu. That project was completed in July 2008.
On November 19, 2010, the National Catholic Register published the article “Hi, I’m Joy…and I’m a Mormon.” The following are the opening two paragraphs, “I recently posted on how Catholics are losing the Search Engine Wars. One of the groups we are losing to is the Mormons. I find it fascinating how much active marketing/branding/PR the Mormon church does online. Whatever they lack in theology/history/etc. they seem to do well making up for it in other ways. And that’s probably why they continue to be one of the fastest growing religions. Maybe we Catholics can learn something from that. I’m not saying we need to start going door to door or that we should mimic what they are doing here. But Mormons are doing an impressive job using New Media to reach people and connect with individuals in a way that…works for them.”
On April 24, 2015, Forbes magazine published the article, “How Mormons Use The Internet To Spread The Good Word” (see PDF). It complimented the Church’s SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, referencing a previous analysis, “Breaking Down the Mormon SEO Strategy,” that referenced our team working on SEO. The article said that the Church’s strategy “is much more forward thinking than many organizations and companies.”
The Forbes article explained that it is important to share the vision and why behind the how to encourage employees and members to be active technology users. “This can lead to employees and customers creating their own resources to further motivate their peers, as LDS Church member Larry Richman has done with his blog LDS Media Talk and book 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online.” The article also praised the Church’s efforts at content marketing by distributing content on multiple channels and in innovative ways. (See Forbes How Mormons Use The Internet To Spread The Good Word.docx.)
On October 19, 2010, Avinash Kaushik (a noted SEO guru and The Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google) was the keynote speaker at the SES Chicago 2010 conference. He was interviewed and explained why he cited the Church as an organization that does very well at SEO. He said that the Church ranks in the top three on Google for the term “church.” Avinash says search marketers can learn a lot from the SEO work done by the Church. It was quite a compliment to the work we were doing on LDS.org.
On December 29, 2010, Justin Briggs published an article, “Breaking Down the Mormon SEO Strategy” (see PDF). that complimented the Church’s SEO strategy. It stated that the Church’s strategy “is much more forward thinking than many organizations and companies.”
On November 28, 2011, the article “Marketing Religion Online: The LDS Church’s SEO Efforts“ (see PDF) examined how the Church employed SEO techniques to improve online search results. It mentioned our SEO team and my work with LDS Media Talk.
As an extension of my work at the Church to help members and leaders become aware of Church resources, I networked with third-party media outlets and Latter-day Saint influencers to find additional ways to spread awareness of Church resources. Outside of work time, I used LDSMediaTalk.com and, later, LDS365.com, as a personal project to disseminate information. I published an article on the site every weekday (on average) from 2006 to 2022. The reach was nearly 100,000.
On July 5, 2006, I began a blog, ldsWebguy.com, and began posting tips on how to use social media, how to create LDS websites and blogs, how to keep your family safe on the internet, and how to use media in productive ways. (I have no affiliation with the web page now found at ldsWebguy.com.)
On June 10, 2008, I renamed the site LDSMediaTalk.com with a focus on helping members and leaders become more aware of the availability and purpose of Church resources. The site had a total reach of 75,000 from 168 countries.
On June 25, 2008, the Mormon Times published the story “Church official blogs about media projects,” about the launch of LDSMediaTalk.com. It was republished in the Deseret News the following day. The article explained how several managing directors participated in the decision to have me begin LDSMediaTalk.com. Several years later, Michael Otterson (Managing Director of Public Affairs) was asked about his level of concern over having me write publicly. He said that the LDS Media Talk blog was “squeaky clean.”
On March 29, 2012, the Deseret News published an article about people sharing messages about general conference using social media. I was not quoted in the article, but LDS Media Talk was pictured. (See Deseret News 2012-03-29 LDSMT.PDF.)
On April 3, 2014, LDS Living magazine published an article, “19 Must-follow LDSConf Social Accounts & Trends.” In their list, number one was, obviously, the Church’s website. Number two was, obviously, LDS Living. Number three was the hashtag #LDSconf. And number four was “LDS Media Talk, managed by Larry Richman who works in the Priesthood Department at the Church. LDSMediaTalk.com offers ‘Ideas for using new technology and media to build families, strengthen faith in Jesus Christ, and share the message of His restored gospel.’ They also provide some fantastic content during conference.”
The following was from Rob Jex to his coworkers on July 5, 2016, referencing the 10th anniversary of LDS Media Talk: “Well done Larry. Peter, David, and John, in case you weren’t ‘aware’ due to Larry’s humble ways, we are celebrating today an awareness milestone of a decade of media/messaging promotion of goodness about the Church and its members. In addition to the great content on the individual posts, the various index pages are also extremely valuable resources. Rob”
The following email was from David DeBry in Church Human Resources, February 9, 2017: “I want to thank you for all the great postings you put out on Yammer, LDSMediatalk.com, and anywhere else I have seen your stuff. Your posts help me in my work, understand what is going on in the Church, and we even go through stuff at home with my children (like the videos…loved the last one on HT). Thanks! David”
On July 5, 2018 (the 12th anniversary), I renamed the site LDS365.com.
Maurine Proctor, the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Meridian Magazine, sent me the following email on July 19, 2018: “We love your work and appreciate so much all that you do.” I was a contributing author to Meridian Magazine for years. I gave them unlimited rights to repost on Meridian anything they want to from LDS Media Talk and from LDS365.
I worked with the More Good Foundation for years to help improve the online reputation of the Church. (See the section “Search Engine Optimization” above.) I also led teams at the Church to do the same.
I have done reputation management for high profile individuals. For example, I did some work for a billionaire (the namesake of a fortune 50 company). He called me one day out of the blue because of my reputation in LDS social media circles. He wanted some personal advice and asked me to help him with a reputation management issue he had. I accomplished what he requested and called him back to report it completed and he thanked me.