Categories
Social Media

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Live Video on Social Media

With many unanswered questions about Coronavirus, the world isn’t in status-quo, and that’s helped a lot of churches, businesses, and organizations realize the importance of connecting with their followers online.

While I would emphasize the importance of getting it done rather than getting it perfect (now is not the time for perfectionism), is it true that increasing the quality of your video to a minimum standard does result in longer viewing time and more engagement (likes, comments, and shares).

Here are 7 ways to improve your next live video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter

Be in a quiet space

This may seem obvious, but it’s increasingly difficult from home. Sometimes your co-workers (ie. kids and pets) can’t just move to another space or know how to keep it down while you’re making a live video from the kitchen table.

Trying to address your audience while the dog barks in the background or your kids ask you to put new batteries in their favorite toy siren is just plain distracting, making your viewers switch away or keep scrolling.

It’s not always possible to be in a silent space (if an ambulance drives by with sirens, there’s nothing you can do about that), but be intentional about going live during your kids nap time, while on a walk, in the evening after bedtime, or in your own space.

The less obvious distractions are fans, vents, or wind noise if you’re outside. As much as possible, get into a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and you can focus on connecting with people watching your video.

 

Use a microphone

This doesn’t mean you have to jump on Amazon and wait a few weeks before your mic arrives. Using the headset that came in the box with your phone or Bluetooth headphones with a built-in mic can reduce the ambient noise around you and make your voice clearer.

Your goal is not to sound like a radio announcer but to bring clarity to your voice so viewers can understand what you’re saying without distraction.

 

Lighting

No shame: I’ve gone live from the kitchen with a table lamp behind my laptop with the shade off. Don’t hurt your eyes stating into a 100-watt bulb (the squinting won’t translate well on video anyway) but be in a room with ambient light from the sun, open the curtains if the window is beside you or in front of you, and turn on ALL of the lights in the room as long as they’re not behind you.

Be sure light sources are in front of you, not behind you. Light sources behind you (like open windows or lamps) will cause your camera to adjust to the brightness from the window and turn you into a silhouette.

In these 2 shots below from the webcam built into my laptop, the only difference is that the patio door’s blinds are open on the left and closed on the right. The room lighting is the same in both cases.

On the left, the camera adjusts to the brightest point on screen (the sun outside) and on the right, it adjusts to the brightest point (probably my forehead glare?)

Side note: We’re in self-isolation so I haven’t shaved for a few days… I’ll get that done once I’m done this blog post…

 

Ask for engagement

Every 4-5 minutes of your video, ask for engagement from your viewers. Engagement drives the organic reach of your post so more people will have a chance to see your video. Ask your viewers to like your post, or ask them a question so they can respond in the comments.

Good starter questions could be:

  • Leave a comment to let me know where you’re watching from today
  • I’m here enjoying my morning coffee. I take mine black. Leave a comment about how you like your coffee!
  • An A/B question that has 2 options: We’re talking about getting up early or staying up late. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Tell us in the comments.


Starter questions are purely meant to drive engagement. Don’t start out with something controversial or in-depth – just a simple question that’s easy to answer.

The longer the video, the more times you’ll want to ask for engagement. Some people will tune in late. Some people will watch later in the day, and some people will be happy to respond multiple times during your broadcast, so ask an engagement question at the beginning, and at the end, and every 4-5 minutes in the middle.

Middle engagement questions would be open-ended questions about your topic:

  • Do you have a question about our organization or service?
  • What would you like to see change with this topic moving forward?
  • How can we better serve you in this area?

 

Ending engagement questions could be about the next broadcast:

  • Next time we’re talking about that topic. What questions can we answer for you?

 

Respond to engagement as it’s happening

When someone responds to your question, read it out during the broadcast and respond back. Ask them a follow-up question. Answer a question they put in the comments about your topic. Create a conversation in your video with the comments rather than just a monologue.

 

Aim for longer than 10 minutes

In this article from VidYard, they notice that it takes at least 10 minutes for your online viewers to find out you’re doing a live video:

Don’t draw our a 60-second announcement to 10 minutes to hit this metric, but instead of 2 or 3 videos at 4 minutes each, for example, go longer on a single video with multiple topics.

 

Go live with someone else

For me, going live is about connection and conversation. Also, knowing that we want to hit a metric of 10 minutes in a best-case scenario, having a partner can really help the conversation feel more like a conversation, and less like a monologue for 10 minutes.

It’s also helpful if one person is ‘interviewing’ the other – asking questions, watching comments for more questions, and introducing the topic.

My personal favorite tool for this is Be.Live because there is no software to download so it’s always ready to go, you can ‘produce’ on the fly (meaning switching from shared screen to full-screen of you or your guest) and you can see comments in real-time and put them up on the screen like a lower third.

You can also add subtitles (like your website address) and now media to show during your broadcast.

 

Have an idea about going live on Social Media that didn’t make this list? Share it below so we can learn together:

 

 

 

Categories
Leadership Marketing Social Media

7 ways your church can be present during Coronavirus isolation

Churches: Be Present online through COVID19 / Coronavirus.

At the risk of sounding like an opportunist (both in recommendations to churches and in the timing of this blog post), I hope that churches understand that while we’re not attempting to capitalize on the COVID 19 / Coronavirus situation, we can optimize how we serve people in our community while it is taking place.

This is going to take a shift in mindset for a lot of us.

Too many times we think of ‘church’ as a building. It’s not uncommon to say “See you at church,” or “We’re going to help set up at church.” I’m not refuting the thought that ‘church’ can be used to represent a building, but I am suggesting that the Church is more than a building.

If NONE of us owned buildings, we would still be the church. Not just in the sense of meeting where available – like a library or a high school – but also that church is a group of people, and THE Church is many groups of people participating in 1 central focus: Going and making disciples.

While not every person is choosing social distancing, many are. We saw more churches than ever broadcast their service online this week, and many in lieu of having an in-person gathering; AND we still had church.

Small groups gathered, families gathered, neighbors gathered, and people who were bored tuned in just to see what this thing was all about.

It was incredible to see the number of churches adapting and shifting their mindset.

AND We’re missing a massive opportunity to bring hope to our community if we stay silent until next Sunday

Yes, your Sunday morning service probably takes a fair amount of production. I saw everything from Pastors doing a quick selfie video to full-scale edited productions (in one case, I know the production team was up REALLY late on Saturday making it happen).

BUT there’s plenty of opportunities to continue to make an impact online for people who are choosing social distancing and self-quarantines.

Here are 7 ways you can continue to serve your community online over the next week (7 ways, 7 days… hmm)

1.) Have Pastor follow up the sermon from Sunday with a live devotional/prayer

Pastors often have a gold nugget leftover they didn’t have time to fit in, a topic that they wish they could have dug deeper on Sunday, a scripture that reinforces their idea, or feedback – like a question someone asked them after service – that they could clarify.

Have your Pastor go live – all that’s necessary is a phone and admin access on the Facebook page – and talk about that extra tidbit, that follow-up idea, that additional piece of clarification.

Offer to pray for anyone who would like prayer by leaving a comment in the video.

If you’re not sure about the value of Live vs Pre-Recorded, Ben Stapley talks about it here:

 

2.) Have your Kids Pastor do a live video to talk with the kids at your church

Kids, especially right now, are feeling bored and probably isolated. Many are used to going to school with a large classroom filled with kids their age – everything from recess to lunchtime to group activities to evening sports are grinding to a halt in their world.

Did your church put all of your efforts on Sunday into recreating your main service? Did you have a time and place for kids who were watching this week?

If you didn’t, it may be worth considering for next Sunday, but in the meantime, have your Kids Pastor do a live video (Create a Facebook event, send out an email newsletter and announce it’s coming so Parents can get ready). Read a bible story, do an object lesson, play some kids worship songs, and then offer a follow-up, like a YouTube playlist of the worship songs your kids sing in church each week, so the kids can worship at home, and have a familiar experience to what they’re used to on Sunday.

 

3.) Decide what you’re doing next Sunday and send out an email/text message to let everyone know

As early as possible, decide what the future holds, and for how long until you’ll make the next decision. It’s really easy for us to go stir crazy considering the possibilities for a situation. Make a decision and announce it so that your team can understand what the strategy is moving forward and announce that to your church.

A simple email like “For the remainder of the month, we’ll be having church online only. By the last Sunday in March, we’ll let you know how we’ll proceed together for April. Join us on our Facebook page (or YouTube or your website) for daily updates this week from our team.

Side note: if you don’t utilize text messaging for your church, text messages have a much higher likelihood of being read than emails, and Text In Church is offering a free 30-day trial. This would be the perfect 30 days to connect with your church via Text Messages.

 

4.) Have your band/worship leader do mid-week worship

You don’t have to go overboard on multiple camera angles, lighting production, audio remixing and lyric overlays. Take the pressure off, and just go live with a guitar or keyboard and a singer. Sing familiar songs that you’ve sung recently.

Paste your song lyrics in the live video description so viewers have the words to sing along. After the live video is done, download the video and add it to your YouTube channel so you can send out the link to that song later in an email.

Done Beats None. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

 

5.) Youth night live broadcast

Your youth don’t want to just sit at home and practice distancing. They’re probably on their phones more this week than they’ve been able to with classes and homework at other times.

Run through a typical youth setup – if you usually have icebreaker games, figure out a way to do an icebreaker with an Instagram story poll, or voting system. Have 2 of your key leaders on video, and have the viewers vote on who has to eat different types of food, or use a system like Kahoot to do group quizzes.

There’s no question your teens are on their phone. Meet them there.

 

6.) Do some online leadership or volunteer training

You know how it’s difficult to get everyone in the same room on a Saturday morning now and then to do some vision casting/leadership training/volunteer training?

Well, that hasn’t changed, and probably won’t.

BUT we’ve learned that giving people online resources that they can watch at their convenience has become really effective, and not time-sensitive. Now would be a great time to create and publish some online learning opportunities.

Masterclass, Lynda.com, and many others have proven this method.

If you have volunteers willing to do some online video learning to help your church, my recommendation is ChurchMarketingUniversity.com, or if you’re more of a podcast learning, check out the ChurchMarketingIdeas Podcast.

 

7.) Focus on your people, not your church

Every time you’re ready to communicate something, be sure you’re asking yourself if your motivation is to help people or to help your church.

In a time of emergency, or crisis, or isolation, people’s sensitivity is at an all-time high. Instead of saying “Share this so we can get more views” consider “Do you know a friend this could help?”

Post ideas:

  • Highlight key volunteers in your church with posts on your channels.
  • Highlight a local business
  • Share a positive article from your local newspaper or blog post from your radio station
  • Take prayer requests and offer to pray for people in your community.

Let the community know that you’re part of the community. Keep the focus on the people you’re helping, not on what your church is doing, or how your church is helping.

This is really all about people.

 

I hope these 7 ideas help your church to make an impact this week in your community by staying present in a time when people are feeling isolated.

 

Have an idea that’s worked for you? Leave it in the comments so we can all learn together!

 

 

Categories
Marketing Social Media

Your church’s social media strategy is confusing your community

The 2 categories of your church’s social media content:

We’re past the point of needing to have a discussion about the value of using Social Media to reach your community. Hey, if your church is still having that discussion, that’s cool, but most of us are on social media so much that we’re using it like skip button on our PVR.

For most of us, it would be like discussing whether or not to have the name of your church on your building or signage outside your portable church to let people know where to find you. Social Media has become second nature to most of us, and with the simplicity of setting up an managing an account, it should be taken for granted that your church is using Social Media to connect and engage with people in your community.

That being said, we’re now moving into a world where Social Media is getting noisy – there are facebook ads, pop-ups, event reminders, notification, friend request, DMs and way more than I can handle listing here, so like social media has evolved, your strategy around social media has to evolve as well.

There are 2 categories to consider when posting on your church’s social media accounts.

Internal or External:

Think of a big brand – Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Hilton, Disney – imagine they used Facebook on Tuesday to let their customers know about a new product, then used their facebook page on Wednesday to remind their staff that there’s a mandatory staff meeting on Monday morning.

Whatever engagement they garnered from their new product promotion would be crushed by very few people in their followers finding any value in a reminder about a staff meeting on Monday.

Consider your church members like the front line of your church making it all happen –  the cashiers, shelf stockers, maintenance, customer service, guest relations, chefs in the kitchen.

Too many times when I’m stalking a church’s social media channel (side note: Yes, I do this in my spare time) I see an all-too-familiar mix of internal memos and external promotions which is taking your audience on a confusing roller coaster of “Cool, I’ll like and share this” to “What does that have to do with me?”

I’ve been guilty of this myself, both in business and with churches I’ve worked with. It’s possible for all of us to fall into this trap.

Ultimately, too many posts that are irrelevant to the end-user is going to cause them to unfollow your account – Maybe not the first or second time, but eventually seeing what could be considered “ads” for irrelevant products is going to find it’s limit.

The litmus test for internal and external content:

If I don’t yet go to your church, do I care or could it affect me?

Pretty simple: If I know nothing about your church, other than it’s in the same city as me, do I care about what you’re going to post.

We have to move away from using our facebook page, twitter account, snap chat and Instagram (or whatever else you’re on this week) to communicate things to our church members and focus that content on content for our community to engage with.

 

Men’s Breakfast Invitation: External. We need people to bring eggs to the Men’s breakfast: Internal.

Family circus day: External. We need someone to work in the nursery this Sunday since our teacher is sick: Internal.

Here is a sermon clip with some tips from Pastor Bob on parenting: External. In future services, we’re asking parents to please take your kids to the foyer to watch service if they’re causing a distraction: Internal.

We’re looking for community volunteers to help with our Christmas Dinner for our city. External. Sister so and so just got home from the hospital. Click this link to volunteer to bring her a meal. Internal.

Just imagine for a second a billboard in a city that says “Mary is sick this weekend. Please call the office if you know someone who can fill in the nursery on Sunday.”

 

BUT, what about the children?!

Ok, maybe not “the children” but what about the people in our church? This is the pushback I get all the time as if your facebook page is the only way to communicate with your church during the week.

(side note: if announcements are the “Holy Grail” of communication at church, then a social media post is perceived as the “Holy Grail” during the week.)

 

Tools that are perfect for internal communication:

  • Email Newsletter segmented to specific audiences (ie. men/women, parents of kids/parents of youth, singles, young married couples, middle-aged couples, retired couples – you get the idea. Many people will fall into more than one category).
  • Facebook Group – Build facebook groups for your small groups, or demographics of people at your church, or areas of the city where they live, etc. Groups are perfect for connecting and having conversations, plus great for mentioning a need or encouraging an internal effort without promoting it to your community audience.
  • Text message services, like Text In Church, allow you to build multiple segmented lists so you can get the right information to the right people. Text beats out an email for urgent needs, or reminders (ie. Thanks for volunteering to help at the family fun day tomorrow. Setup starts at 4 pm! See you there!)
  • Provide a 2-3 sentence announcement for your small group leaders to announce to their groups. Be sure the information matches the people represented in the small group.

 

Internal Communication goal: Right information to the right people at the right time.

Forget telling your retired couples about the singles night, or your young parents about youth retreat, or your campus 1 families about a campus 2 event in another town. Get the right information to the right people at the right time – including information you provide to your community.

 

To sum it up; Tools for Internal or External communication

Internal

  • Email
  • Text
  • Facebook Groups
  • Small-Group Leaders
  • Service Announcements
  • Bulletin
  • Signage in your church

 

External

  • Social Media pages
  • Website
  • External Advertising – billboards, radio ads, mailers

 

How have you seen this working for your church? Leave a comment below so we can all learn together!

 

 

 

Categories
Advertising Social Media

Your Church’s Biggest Missed Opportunity on Social Media

More and more, our churches are looking for strategies to cut through the noise of Social Media (and life in general) and reach our community. We know that a large part of our community using Social Media, and so it stands to reason that this is a practical way that we can take the hope of Jesus to them.

The question remains: How?

We’ve made great strides on Social Media in the last few years. Many (hopefully most) churches recognize it’s importance in their communications and outreach strategy (compared to 5 years ago for instance when churches were having discussions about whether or not to have a Facebook presence).

Now a social media presence is understood as a necessity. We’ve moved from conversations about whether or not to have social media accounts, and moved toward asking the question:

 

What do we post on our Social Media accounts to be most effective?

There are 2 concepts when it comes to social media: Content and Format.

Content is WHAT we post and format is HOW we post it, so follow my thought process here for a moment to realize that the intersection of engaging content and engaging format is a sweet spot for Social Media.

How can we be effective? We’re going to give our community the content they’re looking for in their preferred format.

Great content without a great format: Imagine your favorite dessert (warm cherry pie with vanilla ice cream – just for example) and then serve it on a dirty plate. You’re serving content someone wants, but in a format that would make them turn the other way.

Great format without great content: Imagine a perfectly clean plate with a beautiful dessert that you put in salt instead of sugar, and the first bite is repelling. Your format is great, but your content isn’t enjoyable.

NOW, what if we could serve a delicious warm cherry pie with vanilla ice cream, beautifully set on a perfectly clean plate. Bingo.

 

The question is where is that intersection. We’ll look at content and format individually, then talk about where they intersect.

 

What type of CONTENT is our community looking for?

“About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.”

This is from a Pew Research article here (from 2016) that later goes on to say that those numbers are 83% of people are considering the quality of the sermons and 79% are looking to feel welcomed by, and a connection to the leaders.

In this Pew Research article, (also 2016) it shows that the younger someone’s age group, the more connected they are to the quality of sermons – Quality of sermons matters to 77% of ages 65 and older, but matters 87% to ages 18-29, and both age groups are highly interested in feeling welcomed by leaders.

Younger people are also more likely to take a recommendation from a friend or family member about their church – a recommendation like a shared post on Social media, perhaps?

An overwhelming majority of people want to find a connection to the leader – through the quality of their sermons and feeling welcomed by their leaders.

The people who are looking for a church like yours want to experience your sermon and get to know your leaders: These are both key factors in their decision about where to go to church.

It’s also a growing trend that people are checking out your church’s website and social media channels to aid in their decision about visiting.

We can help in someone’s decision by featuring our leaders and sermons on Social Media to help people get to know our leaders and hear their sermons to build a level of comfort and trust before visiting.

Answer: Sermons are the type of content our community is looking for!

 

Which FORMAT is most engaging on Social Media?

You probably don’t even need to keep reading to recognize that the answer is VIDEO, but for fun, let’s drive it home like a rental car.

Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined.

By posting video, you’re more likely to have people in your church sharing and posting with their friends – and a recommendation from friends or family is a key reason people will check out a church.

That, and 54 other stats about social media video come from this article from Biteable: Here are a few more:

 

  • 6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than TV.
  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017.
  • 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day.
  • 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text.
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text.
  • Social media posts with video have 48% more views.

 

Good News For Churches: The intersection is SERMON VIDEOS!

The good news for churches is that the intersection for us between content and format is SERMON VIDEOS – a content and format combination that many of us are already creating, but underutilizing on Social Media.

How to make the most of your sermon videos on Social Media:

Now that we know where the intersection is, here are a few tips to maximize your impact.

  1. Post sermon clips with links rather than full-length messages. Maybe your Pastor’s sweet spot is in the middle of the message from last week, or maybe there’s a great story that clipped away from a Christmas Message is actually a great lesson to be learned year-round. Create clips to help people cut to the meat, really learn what a sermon is like at your church, and create an “evergreen” or “year-round” content library that you can pull from.
  2. The sweet spot for videos is around 60-90 seconds. People will watch longer sometimes, but this is where most engagement happens according to Animoto. 
  3. Post sermon clips that aren’t just teaching, but also stories that help people make a personal connection to your leaders. This could be a story from your pastor’s sermon about their life growing up, a recent conversation with their kids, a friend that came to Jesus, or a funny joke that really shows off his or her personality.
  4. Format the clips for each Social Media channel specifically. Instagram timeline is best suited to a square video and has a max running time of 60 seconds. Instagram Stories are vertical video and are cut into 15-second clips. Facebook allows for a longer format and is best in widescreen, so if someone wants to, they can turn their phone sideways and the video fills their screen.
  5. Add Subtitles: 95% of users watch video on mute. Think about when you’re lying in bed, hanging out in the break room scrolling social media, at the doctor’s office or “indisposed.” While your Pastor may be a very expressive communicator, someone waving their hands on stage isn’t enough for viewers to get the message or stick around for 3 minutes. Use a service like Rev.com to have your videos transcribed for $1/minute, then they’ll send you a file that you upload with your facebook video so a users sees the captions if they’re muted, and the captions go away if they turn on the audio.
  6. Be consistent. Using a video strategy one week and not the next will just take your facebook reach on a rollercoaster of ups and downs. The best strategy is to pick a regular quantity of videos and stick with it.

 

Sermon Video Clips are the intersection of content and format for your church’s Social Media strategy to reach your community!

 

I’ve created a service that will help your church with editing and repurposing your sermon clips. Each week you’ll receive:

3 – FACEBOOK CLIPS (UP TO 5:00)

3 – INSTAGRAM FEED CLIPS (UP TO 1:00)

4 – INSTAGRAM STORIES (0:15 EACH)

1 -IGTV CLIP (UP TO 5:00)

Categories
Build a Team Marketing Social Media Tools

Dear Pastor, Your Communications Department is Overwhelmed

Dear Pastor,

Whether your key communications and marketing person is staff or volunteer, you’ve probably run into hearing that he or she is overwhelmed from time to time.

You need to know that it’s not unusual for the position, not always something they are doing wrong, and not something that can be fixed overnight (or debatably, not something that can ever be permanently resolved).

(I also wrote this blog post to help Communications Teams avoid using “overwhelm” as an excuse.)

There are some strategies that you can implement to help them address feeling overwhelmed and reduce the likeliness of it recurring.

My goal is not to defend or justify laziness, disorganization or an entitlement mentality. My goal is to give you a peek into our world – a world we can’t always articulate – with some practical tools to help so your communications department can reduce the likelihood of being overwhelmed and be as effective as possible in helping your church introduce your community to Jesus.

My hope is that this article will help start conversations between communications teams and their leaders. If you need help having what may seem like a difficult conversation, I would recommend reading the 5 dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni, and Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.

 

Why is feeling ‘Overwhelmed’ affecting your church communications department?

Before we dig into strategies to mitigate and address overwhelming situations, I wanted to dig in a bit about why they affect the communications department specifically. I know these details are different for every church, community, and culture, but generally speaking, here are some of the ideas that affect most churches.

Consideration 1) Vertical: The Communication Leader is Middle Management

The communications department is somewhere in middle management in the organization’s structure. Usually, the communications person is not the lead Pastor, and often they have someone working under them that they oversee – whether this is a graphic design contractor like Church Media Squad, or working with external software and teams like Text In Church, or a volunteer team on-site at your church.

While not making the decision, or sometimes getting input into decisions, the Church Communications person represents the decision as if it’s their own and communicates on behalf of the leadership and the church (internally or externally).

This can be taxing when we have an idea of how to best communicate something, which channel to use, or how to position an announcement, but we’re considered robots – following directions about how, when and where from someone who may not understand our tools – rather than considering us creative people who specialize understanding our tools and presenting ideas in a unique way.

Consideration 2) Horizontal: We primarily serve other departments.

Some leaders are in a solely-focussed role, while other leaders who are wearing a few hats may have to work in 2 or 3 categories. Your communications person needs to have their ears to the ground in almost every category, event and department at your church.

For example, the youth leader has a full plate getting youth services ready, preparing games, food, missions trips, weekends away, counseling students, communicating with parents and executing midweek services or small groups. While the responsibilities are diverse, all of those items fall in the category of the youth department.

A week in a communication person’s world may look like:

  • When is VBS?
  • How many new small groups are we adding this year?
  • What is our Social Media strategy leading up to Back to School / Back to Church?
  • Did the printer quit partway through printing the bulletins?
  • What are we including in announcements this weekend?
  • Did we get that email sent out about the food drive coming up this weekend?
  • Where did last week’s volunteer photographer leave the battery when they were done?
  • Is it time for us to rebuild the website? Kids ministry pictures are outdated.
  • Should our church get an app?
  • Oh, there’s a text message from the 70’s and over married couples skydiving small group asking why they aren’t getting an announcement during service this weekend!
  • Why aren’t we getting as many new likes on facebook this month as we got last month?
  • I need to get a quote from the printer on new banners for our parking lot.
  • Which graphic would best suit the upcoming series?

We often have to make decisions that are going to lead to some amount of disappointment in other departments:

  • We’re announcing this but not that (one person is happy and another is not.)
  • We only have one spot to hang a banner, so we’re hanging this banner up, but not that one (one department gets promoted, and another isn’t).
  • We’re not going to promote small groups in that way (now a whole group of people is disappointed because they wanted their small group to get an announcement, bulletin mention, yard signs, billboard, radio ad, a personal Instagram video from Pastor, and a parade downtown are all upset that you “don’t value their group as much as they do”)

Consideration 3) How long does that really take?

In addition to having both Vertical and Horizontal responsibilities, our “to do” list is often misunderstood or misrepresented. The question of “How long does that really take?” is an important part of the ongoing conversation that you can have with your team.

With the perception that “Posting on facebook is as quick as sending a text message” or “Creating a 2-minute video is hitting record on your phone and recording for 2 minutes,” or  “I write a 3 paragraph email in 10 minutes, so writing a 3 paragraph email newsletter should only take 10 minutes,” or “Just send the bulletin to the printer and pick it up when it’s done in an hour.” (I could go on…)

In light of those perceptions, the ACTUAL time it takes to craft a Facebook post, or shoot an announcement video or write an email newsletter may seem too long and can create a sense that the communications person is unproductive or needs more on their plate to fill their work hours.

Did it really take you 20 minutes to edit a photo and create a 1-sentence caption for Instagram? Did it really take a whole afternoon to film and edit a 4-minute announcement video? You’ve been working on that email newsletter for how long?!

Keep in mind that a 40-minute sermon may take you days to craft at times, and other times, could literally take only 40 minutes, and many care and counselling roles at churches are driven by meetings: a 1-hour meeting takes one hour. A 15-minute meeting takes 15 minutes. Surprises and overruns don’t happen often when you have back-to-back meetings – you can simply schedule another meeting if needed for a future date.

The same isn’t true when creativity and technology meet at a crossroads.

While we have tools that make us more efficient, creatives often use the tools to do better work, not faster work – we may use a tool that gives us a better final outcome, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we spend less time picking a color, or choosing our words, or adding in final touches to a video.

Consideration 4) How much energy does that take?

It’s not uncommon for a creative person to be exhausted by 2 pm or 3 pm.

Sometimes we’re night owls, so our best ideas (and best work) happen late at night. It’s possible we were up until 3 am night working on graphics for church this weekend, then at the office at 9 am the next day for a staff meeting.

Maybe it’s that we’re morning people, so we’re able to knock out a creative video in an hour at 9 am, but that level of energy is going to leave us unable to put together a perfect tagline for the next series at 3 pm.

Inversely, someone who is a night owl who has a flex-schedule may work until 2 am, get into the office at 11 am and have some of their most productive time mid-afternoon with a great project to show from the night before.

Being “less productive” from mid-afternoon until the end of the day isn’t always a symptom of laziness (although, let’s be clear that sometimes it may), but it may be a symptom that we’ve given our best for the organization at other times through the day, and we need to recharge.

Just because something took 1 hour this morning, doesn’t mean we can turn around and repeat it in 1 hour this afternoon.

Consider a creative day like a boxing match. A punch is a punch, but that doesn’t mean that round 5 has the same level of sustained energy as round 1.

I’ve heard from many Pastors that they are exhausted after preaching for an hour on Sunday. It would be ridiculous to assume that one hour of replying to emails on Monday might take the same energy as presenting a one hour message on Sunday. The same is true for someone who is spending their creative energy.

The same thing may be true early in the week compared to later in the week. It’s different for every person, but there has to be some flex built into the schedule for considerations about “How much energy does that take?”

Consideration 5) Our world is always changing.

…And I don’t mean that every few years a new channel shows up. What I mean is that what you see another church doing on Instagram may not be able to reproducible the next week, or what you see someone with a large following doing on facebook may be a feature that requires 100K or more ‘likes’ on their page, and you simply aren’t there.

What you did on facebook last month to get an incredible response may fall flat this month, Instagram may add or remove a feature, and twitter may change how their timeline functions altogether.

You may not get the results you’re used to from one day to another, or your communications person might have built a strategy around a particular feature which is no longer accessible one week into a campaign.

A program they’re used to using could run an update and change the layout of the toolbar that takes them an extra half hour to get re-oriented, and Google may change what constitutes as “spam” email, and way fewer people may open the email this week compared to last week.

Unlike the worship team that turns on the same sound system each week or the kid’s team that has the same classroom space in your building, their world, tools (and the communication strategies/tools they use) are always a moving target.

Consideration 6) We execute with a strategy in mind.

While you may think that it’s only going to take a few minutes to publish a simple “last-minute” post on facebook, that may actually hurt your big-picture strategy.

In this example, Facebook wants to see engagement on each individual post to determine how often to share the next. If you had just posted on facebook a few minutes ago, it can actually hurt the impact of both posts by publishing too quickly again since there wasn’t much time for people to see and engage with the first post.

If your communications team has a strategy about what gets included in Sunday announcements, it could actually hurt the impact of the 3 important things they want to share when you insist on Sunday morning that there are 4 additional things that need to be mentioned without discussion.

They love your church. They’re doing this because they love the community, your vision, and they want to communicate effectively. They’ve made decisions that lead to a certain result (and your team would probably love to have a conversation with you about that.)

I imagine that you wouldn’t randomly walk into a youth service and tell the youth leader to add in a new song that night or tell the kids teachers on a Sunday morning to change their lesson plan. A random “I need you to do this now” doesn’t reflect an appreciation for the strategy your communications person brings to the table.

Something more like “We need to communicate this urgently. How can we best do that?” shows that you trust what they’re doing and you’re trusting them to handle the details.

Consideration 7) Our work is on public display

Ask your communications person how many communications they get per month about a typo on the screens or a detail incorrect on a facebook post (that instead of commenting privately, the event co-ordinator decided to make a public comment on the post to correct the details). It’s not that your communications person is sloppy, but we’re human and mistakes happen – and ours are often public.

Worse than actual, identifiable mistakes, we also get to hear everyone’s opinion about “Why would you choose that background?” or “Can we do something a little more subtle?” or “I don’t like that font” – and often from people who are unrelated to the event being promoted.

I once had a gentleman come to me after church to tell me that he noticed a typo in someone’s name on the screen during a video I made for our building campaign. He said “If we’re raising that much money, it’s disappointing that we can’t even spell someone’s name correctly.” (this was only one of the three times the name appeared during the video.)

I asked if he would like to help and preview the videos like a “proof reader.” He said he wasn’t the one getting paid to be sure it was right, that’s my job.

Most departments may have an internal memo with a spelling error, or the youth leader has an off night during his message, or in a meeting, something is said that could have been worded differently.

Our work is getting mailed out to the community, posted on the front lawn, shared on facebook, seen on the screens, or hung in the lobby.

How would you handle it if every time you misspoke during a sermon, someone stood up and let you know like it was urgent?

A fire alarm is urgent. Misspeaking, having an unclear thought, mentioning one scripture reference but turning to another, or tripping over your words is not worth someone yelling “FIRE!”

I realize that you’ll often get a follow-up email from someone about your message, but even that person knows to distinguish between what they think is important (important enough to send an email) and urgent (like jumping up in the middle of church service).

 

How can you help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed?

Consideration 1) Vertical: Middle Management.

Move towards giving your communications person a seat at the decision table and allow them to earn your trust. You don’t have to flippantly toss decisions to them or take their recommendation every time, but a simple “What do you think?” or “If this was your decision, what would you do?” along with hearing the rest of the discussion is going to be helpful in communicating the big picture.

Consideration 2) Horizontal: Serving other departments.

Equip your communications team with tools to help them be more efficient and give their best. Here is a toolbox of what I would consider essentials for less than $100/month.

With the help of that toolbox, you’ll equip your team do their best in tracking projects, create incoming request forms, and work with other departments in your church as efficiently as possible.

Delegate communications decisions to the Communications person, support them as the decision-maker, and bring them into a conversation if someone comes to you to request that you veto a decision.

Consideration 3) How long does that really take?

Ask the question when you delegate the responsibility and ask it again when a project is completed.

Come to an agreement on what is a reasonable expectation, and where time consumed on one project may not provide the best return compared to that same time spent elsewhere.

Be slow to assume that making a request is so simple that it can be easily fit into the workload instantly.

Build time into the schedule for your communications person to be creative, dream and explore new ideas. Stuffing every minute of their day is going to be exhausting, and you’ll get the same recurring results… which leads us to the next point.

Consideration 4) How much energy does that really take?

Have conversations like “What is your most creative time of day?” and “When do you do your best work?” and “What would an ideal schedule look like for you to bring your best to the team?”

Push back against the tendency you may have to set office hours. When Sunday rolls around, do you want to present your best work or do you want to check the box that said someone was present at their desk from 9 am – 5 pm all week? Of course, nobody at your church cares how many hours a project took, or whether it was completed at 2 pm or 2 am.

What matters when all is said and done is the end result, not the schedule necessary to create the result.

This isn’t to say that your communications leader can miss morning meetings if they’re a night person, or miss afternoon meetings if they like to start earlier in the day. But if there’s nothing scheduled at 9 am, and they worked an extra 4 hours last night, what difference will it make on Sunday if they show up at the office at 9 am or not?

Earn the best from your communications person by having clear goals and helping them meet those goals in whatever time it takes.

Consideration 5) Our world is always changing.

Have regular conversations that start with “What strategy do you have in mind for this event?” or “How are you planning to promote this?” or “What have you seen others doing that could work here?” Understand that we can’t promise the same results since the tools we use are always changing, and those changes are outside of our control.

Avoid saying, “We’ve done it like this before. Do that again!” or “They’re doing it. Why can’t we?”

Instead, have conversations with your communications person that lean into their wisdom, experience, and hands-on knowledge of the tools they have available to them. Ask questions that start with “What would you suggest for…?”

We’ll never get away from changing social media tools, but you can reduce the stress that keeping up with those details can cause by giving us some freedom to try new things, and explore. Recognize that at any time, the answer might be “That’s not how it works any longer.”

Consideration 6) We execute with a strategy in mind.

While we can technically post something quickly on facebook, it may not be the best strategic decision based on the technology, the way we want to present that information or the timing.

The same goes for what we plan to include in announcements, (or how many announcements), what we post on facebook, twitter or Instagram, how we’ll send out text messages or our email newsletter.

By all means, have conversations with your communications person about their decisions, their strategy, pick their brain about what and why, and be clear about what you’re hoping to achieve so they can help your church get to that end goal…

…AND, remember that this is our life and focus. We don’t take the responsibility lightly, and we’re not (usually) trying to be flippant or lazy or territorial if we say that your suggestion about how we communicate something may have some better options.

Consideration 7) Our work is public.

Learn to distinguish the difference between important and urgent. Important means “That’s worth noting and talking about later so that we try to avoid that mistake next time.” Urgent means “This needs to be addressed now.”

When you walk up on stage after an announcement video and make a joke about a typo on the screen, or send off a text message about the bulletin when it’s already printed and can’t be adjusted, then that’s come across as “Urgent: This can’t wait and has to be addressed now.”

It’s a bit overwhelming to be told that “This is urgent, but you won’t be able to do anything about it until next Sunday.”

 

Here’s an example of the distinction between urgent and important:

Urgent: “The time was incorrect on that announcement, and we need you to be here tomorrow at 7 pm instead of 7:30 pm” – That’s worth addressing now.

Important: “There’s an extra “w” before the website address in the bulletin. I’ll send an email Monday so a correction can be made before the bulletin goes to print next week.”

Support your communications team and recognize team effort if someone else points out an imperfection.

“We’ve been working on a lot as a team. I’ll have someone take a look this week,” causes much less stress than “So and So looks after our marketing. Go point it out to them” or “Here’s some public shaming in the form of a joke because I don’t want someone to think I’m responsible for the issue.”

 

 

Learn to delegate to and trust your communications department:

This could be difficult. This may not seem ideal. They have probably made mistakes before, and they are publicly representing your church, so if you don’t feel like the person in place is the right person for the job, please correct the situation sooner than later.

It doesn’t serve anyone to keep someone around whom you don’t trust, you won’t delegate responsibilty to, and you don’t believe knows what they’re doing in their job position. However, if you trust that they know what they’re doing, then let them do it.

If the person overseeing your marekting and communications is not someone that you trust to take the reigns, either get them the training they need to become that person, have the conversations about what indicators you need to see in order to build trust with them, or release them from the position. It’s not an easy request, but neither is the veil of trust when there’s no foundation to support it.

Lastly,

I want to be clear that your communications person is not against you if they have different ideas.

They’re not trying to steer the public side of the church in a different direction through social media or public relations. If they want to discuss a decision further, it’s because they see an opportunity for improvement, not that they’re looking for a reason to tear down. Please give him or her an open line to have conversations about what is working and what they think could improve.

They love the church. They love your vision. They love you. They need your support when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

-Adam 

 

Categories
Advertising Branding Social Media

Don’t post about Daylight Saving on your Church’s Social Media

Hot Take: Don’t post Daylight Saving Images on your Church’s Social Media

I’m going to get angry emails about this one. I can feel it already. Even worse than this post about church music.

Let’s take a step back before we jump into opinions on this one, and consider some facts, then we’ll talk about the real issues of why churches want to communicate Daylight Saving and time changes.

(by the way, my concern has nothing to do with Daylight Saving – that’s just a clear symptom of something else… keep reading).

Fact: According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans own a smartphone (full article). This means that the device they most likely use to tell time automatically updates with the time change.

Fact: Another 22% own a cell phone, not designated as a smartphone, so we can’t say for sure what percentage of those automatically update, but some will.

95% of Americans own a cell phone.

Besides smartphone owners, there are many other avenues of hearing about time changes in the spring and fall:

  • Listening to the radio
  • Watching the news on TV
  • Reading the paper
  • Reminders from friends and family
  • Someone else who lives in your house owns a smartphone (if you’re not in the 77+%)
  • It’s printed on the calendar in your kitchen
  • You just remember because this happens every spring and fall

In order to factually justify that YOUR CHURCH’S SOCIAL MEDIA POST is the reason someone remembered the time change and showed up on time for church would be to find someone who meets all 5 of the following criteria:

  1. Doesn’t own a smartphone
  2. Doesn’t live with someone who owns a smartphone
  3. Attends your church
  4. Follows you on social media
  5. Happens to be in the 10% of the people who see that particular post (based on facebook / Instagrams algorithms)

My point: Churches (as with any online entity on Social Media) have limited attention given to us. We all get a piece of the puzzle in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram’s algorithm. Knowing that (statistically) your ‘social media audience’ is not relying on us to learn about or remember the time change, why waste that attention?

(if you’re not sure what to post instead, check out this article on 31 social media post ideas for your church!)

An exception could be if you’re posting something that pushes your church culture forward, or actually creates attention from people who don’t attend your church – a funny video about being able to sleep in and still come to church, or a values-centered discussion about how your church is using that extra hour to clean up garbage at a local park before service starts, for example. 

If that’s your exception, go for it, because you’re actually communicating your culture, with the time change as a topic. If you’re just posting a “don’t forget” graphic then just forget it.

This isn’t about Daylight Saving…

My concern is not about whether or not to communicate Daylight Saving. My concern is that churches, given the information above, think this is an efficient use of communication and attention, attribute time to making or finding graphics, writing content and wasting attention.

Why does this happen? Here are some possibilities.

 

1. This is how we’ve always done it.

Great! That’s worked before, but it’s no longer valid. We don’t put diapers on our child once they’re potty trained, put gas in a car that doesn’t run any longer or purchase a new fax machine for every new employee. Be willing to say “up until now we’ve been doing X, and from now on we’ll be doing Y” (hint: in 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months or 5 years, you may be saying “up until now we’ve been doing Y, and from now on we’ll be doing Z”)

 

2. I don’t feel like being creative today

Let’s be honest. This is a simple way to check the box of “posted something on facebook today.” Maybe this is because you’ve got too much on your plate, you’re not feeling creative, you try and figure things out day-to-day without a long-term strategy, or you simply don’t care, other than checking the box that says “I posted something on facebook today.”

We’ve got to be more intentional. People need our church. They need Jesus. They need to learn about the hope we have. Getting lazy isn’t serving them or you. It’s time to build a strategy, delegate strategy building or have some conversations about whether or not this position is for you.

 

3. The concern that “if we don’t post this, someone won’t find out.”

If this reason resonated with you, then I’m sorry I haven’t been able to communicate how blatantly ineffective this is. It’s also possible, you’re looking for a reason not to change, and if that’s the case, despite facts, logic and the opportunity to use that attention towards helping your followers and community learn more about your church’s culture and pointing them to Jesus, it’s time for a gut check.

 

This doesn’t have to be a touchy subject, but for some reason it is. If you need to talk, let it out, or help me see something I’m missing: adam@adammclaughlin.net

 

If you’re not sure what to post instead, check out this article on 31 social media post ideas for your church!

 

Categories
Branding Social Media

Nona Jones, Facebook: Go beyond content and build connections at Big Idea Nashville

Only 2% of 100 million facebook groups are faith-based. 74% of people find a faith-based community meaningful.

Facebook’s recent algorithm change held nothing back in showing that they would be focussing their algorithm on changes on making meaningful connections from people to people, rather than businesses or organizations.  Nona Jones is a Strategic Partner Manager at Facebook, leading a department helping faith-based communities grow and make connections on Facebook, and recently spoke at BigIdeaNashville.com to 200 church communicators (and I got to be there!)

According to Google, every month there are more than 30,000 searches of “Church online” or “online church” which is a clear indicator that people are looking for faith-based connections online, and Facebook groups are an important tool to continue being the church outside of our Sunday service, not just a tool to enhance our Sunday experience

“Facebook has been viewed as a tool to promote your church’s content, but research is showing us now that we can have the biggest impact by going beyond content and building connections.”

The best way to build person-to-person connections on Facebook is clearly through groups, where everyone involved gets to post content and interact with other’s content – unlike a page that is one person communicating publicly with a brand – groups allow people to connect with each other around a common goal, focus or topic.

Nona offered some helpful insight (from the inner workings) on how to get started if your church is ready to embrace Facebook groups:

 

How to get started with facebook groups at your church:

  • Define the purpose of your group – Is this for everyone who attends your church, or people who are in your community, or members of individual groups or ministry teams? Is this for casual conversation, debating theology, or swapping hand-me-down clothes for moms? Defining the purpose will give you clear direction as you build your group.
  • Assemble your team – This won’t be easy to do alone, and getting a few people to help with reducing the lift required, plus help those volunteers feel more engaged with the purpose of your group. Choosing people who are already active on Facebook will help reduce the onboarding process and get you started right away.
  • Make a plan for ensuring your ideal community member can find and enjoy your community – Just like a new campus or a new service time, launch your group in a big way. Send out emails to people who may be interested, post on your church’s Facebook page and mention it in service or in your weekly small groups. Make the name clear enough to be searchable and specific to your group.
  • Be intentional about how you want people to engage – clearly outline the purpose of your group and make sure the members know what’s allowed or expected within the group rules. This might include general content like nothing defamatory or derogatory or may include specifically what will be posted like content and events for young families, or upcoming events in the community or prayer requests.
  • Keep your community safe as it grows – By having a private group (groups can be either public, private or secret) then your group will be searchable, but you’ll have to approve new member requests. Keep the group safe and relevant by asking a few questions before allowing someone in (are you a member of our church, how long have you attended, or do you meet the suggested demographics for the group).

 

Creating engagement in your group:

Your group is only as good as the engagement within in. Ste the stage for new members to give them the first impression that engagements are encouraged in the group:

  • Welcome new members as they join the group.
  • Have your team intentionally reply to new member’s first posts (including tagging other group members who may be able to help with a question or idea)
  • Remind members now and then what the purpose of the group is to spark ideas for new conversation.

 

Would you like more information on the differences between facebook groups and facebook pages? Check out my post here. (hint: It’s time to use both!)

 

Categories
Marketing Social Media Tools

Best FREE Church Communication resources for 2018

These are in no particular order, but some of the best FREE resources to take your church communications game up a few notches in 2018. I’ve used these myself and continue to use them as our team grows through 2018.

These tools are not meant to your church communications job for you, but to enhance your strategy to most effectively communicate with your church and reach your community this year.

Do you have a free resource you love that missed the list? Leave it in the comments at the bottom so we can all learn together!

Church Communications Facebook Group

At last count, this group has over 17,000 people talking about everything from branding, marketing, design and lots in between.  Some are church staff and some are volunteers. It is THE ‘ask anything’ group for church communications.

If you’re not part of this group, click here to request to join and stay updated with the latest by joining their email newsletter. 

That Church Summit

A free, online conference focussing on everything digital, from Justin Dean and Van Baird, creators of That Church Conference. Summits happen at different times through the year. Register for free for the next That Church Summit by clicking here!

Unsplash.com

Starting by a commitment to add 10 new FREE photos every 10 days, unsplash.com is now growing much faster than that. This library contains everything from landscapes to people to animals to abstract photos and is curated into categories so you can find what you’re looking for. Use these high-resolution photos for free on your website, print material, social media and anywhere. Check out unsplash.com

Ready Made Stage Designs from Jonathan Malm

From ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com, this free e-book has five great options for ready-made stages, perfect for when you need something last-minute or don’t have a lot of energy to put into building something yourself. Download it here!

88 Social Media Post Ideas from Seth Muse

We have to post great content every day, so every church social media manager makes a plan, creates a schedule, and casts a vision for each platform, right? Nope. You get busy. Things pop up. Priorities shift and often you have no control over it.

It’s in those moments you just need to post something, so these are ideas for different platforms that have worked for Seth’s church. Download 88 Social Media post ideas.

Get your volunteer team to multiply by itself with Ryan Wakefield

Have you ever wished your volunteer team was on autopilot and would build itself?. Ryan Wakefield and I are finishing up editing the videos and pdf downloads that will go with the module, then this module will be part of a paid subscription to CMU.

BUT, here’s the great news (and the reason it’s appearing on my free list): IF you are game to give me feedback, I can get you full access to this new module. Check it out for free (and email me your feedback to adam@adammclaughlin.net)

2018 Website checklist from Be Known For Something

From decades of Church Website experience (helping 100s of churches get their content right), here are our top 15 tips for ensuring your website has the BEST content in the CORRECT place.

  • One simple PDF with church website tips you need to know.
  • Created to post in your office for easy reference. It’ll help you do your job faster too!
  • Use it to convince other ministries (your Pastor?) how to create the best content!

Download your website cheat sheet here!

Ultimate Digital Toolbox from Twelve:Thirty Media

An ebook with 57 Digital Tools for Every Church Creative, designed to give Church Media professionals resources they can use to make their job easier in creating experiences and building solid volunteer teams at their church. This powerhouse collection of digital tools and online resources features descriptions, links, and useful ideas in the areas of productivity, social media, volunteer culture, design, inspiration, and more. Download the Ultimate Digital Toolbox here (subscribe to their email newsletter in the lower right corner to get the toolbox)!

Easy Live Streaming from Church Training Academy

Start using live video streaming to reach an untapped online audience. Learn how you can take advantage of the 4 Live Streaming Modes to maximize your church’s reach in a digital world. Download the ebook here!

The 3 P’s Successful Promotion from Ryan Holck

This video training, cheat sheet and resource file are focused on a simple strategy to help you:

  • Increase the time available to run promotions
  • Know what and how you will promote before you start
  • Create your promotion calendar in under a minute

Check out this online course here.

The Twitter Advantage by Tom Pounder

Some churches are giving up on Twitter and that’s a mistake. This platform has unique advantages over other social platforms and can be leveraged to bring people from your community through your church’s front door. With this ebook, discover how Twitter can be one of the most effective tools in your communications toolbox. Download The Twitter Advantage.

Church Marketing Summit March 5-14 with Alejandro Reyes

Join over 5,000 church leaders, communicators, and church staff at the online summit designed to inspire and empower you with the latest marketing tactics. Discover powerful marketing growth tactics as these experts reveal their #1 marketing tips and practical, real-world, proven examples.

Take your church’s marketing to an entirely new level in 30 minutes a day. Register for free with this link.

The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Church Growth by Brady Shearer

While Pro Church Tools offers premium services like Nucleus and Storytape, one of their newest free tools is The Ultimate Guide To Measuring Church Growth (Click here to Calculate Your Church’s Score…)

3 ways your church can use Instagram stories this Sunday from Kenny Jahng

This one explains itself. This simple ebook will get you up and running on Instagram Stories by this weekend! Click here to download the ebook!

Rethinking Easter Video Training from Church Marketing University

Church Marketing University is offering a FREE video series on rethinking Easter for 2018. These are top-quality videos with ideas and information that are going to change how you approach Easter this year. (yep, it’s January and yes, Easter is less than 90 days away…) Check out the videos for free here!

TrustGlue & SnorkelFork Ebooks (from me)

TrustGlue: 11 ways to create a first impression that sticks is about aligning your core values through Branding, Marketing and Advertising to create trust with new visitors at your church so they stick around. Download TrustGlue.

SnorkelFork: This book title is confusing, your church announcements don’t have to be. Why do announcements feel so out of place and like a list void of relevant information? Becuase you’re treating them like a list of information rather than an opportunity to move your culture forward. Learn how to use present your announcements so they emphasize your church’s core values. Download SnorkelFork.

 

Do you have a free resource you love that missed the list? Leave it in the comments at the below so we can all learn together!

 

 

 

Categories
Advertising Church Marketing Ideas Social Media

7 free ways to advertise your Christmas Concert

Christmas is an exciting time for churches.  It’s one of the easiest opportunities to bring a friend or family member to “Come hear little Johnny sing…”  Not only will a friend hear Johnny sing, but they’ll hear music they’re familiar with, be reminded of the Christmas story, and have an evening out.

Each church’s goals for their Christmas concert are different: Some use it as an opportunity to get people who haven’t been to their church in the building to see what it’s like to be there, some for showcasing talents that otherwise are unnoticed, and others use it as an opportunity to reach people with the Gospel.

(side note: Clearly defining your goal will help you and your team make decisions about the concert.)

So you’ve decided what your goal is, music is picked, program is set and now you need to find ways to get people in the door. On a personal level, I believe the best opportunity is word of mouth.  It’s relational and the most likely to succeed, plus if you can encourage your members to invite a friend at the easiest time of year for them to get a “Yes” then they’ll be encouraged to continue it the rest of the year. Most of these methods depend on word of mouth, and the others will support it in some way.

Here are some free ideas:

 

1) Create a Facebook Event:

Create a Facebook event with your concert poster image, invite your members and request that they invite their friends.  Leading up to the concert, post images and videos of rehearsals, warm ups, set design, lighting setup and whatever else is going into the concert.  People love seeing behind the scenes of how something is put together and this will get them excited about coming to the concert.  If they like or comment on a photo in the event, it will get shared on their wall (depending on privacy settings) and their friends will be able to join the event too.

A bonus feature to clicking the ‘going’ button on a Facebook event is that they’ll get a reminder when that event is coming up.

 

2) Design images that members can use to invite their friends:

This has worked really well for us before.  Make 4 or 5 email and social media friendly image (ie. smaller than 1000px by 1000px and less than 100K) that they can forward or post on their own social media channels. (You can download 5 pre-made templates that we used for FREE here)

The upside to creating multiple images is that people can choose the 1 or 2 that they think would best suit them.

Using the same background, have one that says ‘Would you join me for an evening of Christmas Music?” and another that says “It’s a Christmas Concert! What are you waiting for?!”

 

3) Send out 2 mass emails:

The First Email:

The first email goes to your members – this can be 4 or 5 weeks before the concert.  Include the images above, a link to the Facebook event and encourage them with some ideas on who to invite.

Not sure who it invite? Here are some ideas:

Your Boss / Manager / Employees

The last client you did business with

The most recent supplier you made a purchase from

The neighbor on either side of your house

Your Building Superintendent

A Coach or instructor from  music lessons/sports/the gym

That cousin you’ve been meaning to take for dinner for a while

You get the picture. This is more of a way to spur ideas than a checklist.

The Second Email:

The second email goes out 2 weeks before your concert.  This is an email list of people who have visited your church at least in the past 12 months.  This could simply say “You’re invited.” with the images/concert poster. This may just be the opportunity they need to find an excuse or an opening in their schedule to come back for another visit.

 

4) Run a “Who are you inviting?” campaign:

Using your already existing Facebook/twitter/youtube/Instagram/snapchat following for your church, post the images created to be sent out in the email and ask people to share them to invite others.  Literally, ask people “Who are you inviting?”  As they respond, it will create ideas for other people to share.  Put up posters through your building, in the parking lot, in the bulletin, during announcements, etc. to push this idea that everyone can invite someone.

Remind your members that statistically, 4 out of 5 people will say no, so if they ask 1 person who says no, they can keep asking others. Have everyone set a goal to ask 5 people, and a very high percentage of them will get at least one “Yes.” Just because someone said no, doesn’t mean they don’t like the church.  Maybe they have a family function, aren’t feeling well when you asked, or simply aren’t interested.  That’s fine – find the 4 others on your list to ask.

Take this a step further if you choose and create postcards that can be sent out.  Everyone brings 5 addresses of people they would like to invite.  You print the postcards, they put on the address and then you pay the postage to mail them.

 

5) Craigslist and online event calendars:

It takes only a few minutes, it’s free and you can often add some pictures and tell what your concert will be like.

6) Use your church property as signage:

Your church may have a sign already lit up front, others may not.  People drive by that property all the time and may or may not realize you’re there.  A sign will let them know you’re there, let them know about the Christmas concert and give a landmark for when they choose to come to the concert (ie. Coming to the concert? We’re the ones with the 4 storey Red Banner on Main Street.)

It doesn’t have to be a traditional sign on posts on the road.  It could be painting the windows of your building to advertise the event, covering over an existing sign, using trees or bushes to string a sign across (with a string of lights, of course) or one of those rental signs with an arrow and blinking lights.  Start with the “What if?” and work your way to what matches your concert goal and budget.

You could also give your people yard signs for their lawn, posters for their HOA clubhouse or common space in their work or to hang in their front windows for people to see.

 

7) Give your members a “What’s In It For Me?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “We did this big event and advertised it and our own members didn’t even come.” and the reason is, they didn’t hear about the “What’s in it for me” factor.

Make it clear why this is an event worth attending.  Let them know internally (ie. during a service) so they’ll see the benefit of coming themselves and bringing a member.  This will be dependant on your concert goal.

Some ideas: Pastor will be singing a solo, the kids will be singing 3 songs (This is great for opening the door to bringing relatives), we have our full choir singing, we’re doing multimedia and video with every song, renting fog machines and lights, live animals, entirely composed in house, live band, etc.

Maybe their “What’s in it for me?” is an opportunity to serve.  Someone may be a great singer, but not have the time in their schedule to be a part of the worship team, but they could sing for this concert.  Others may love outreach, and would be happy to serve hot chocolate and apple cider after the concert and talk with the new people while some may love to decorate and be willing to help with set design or decorating the building.

When your members see a reason to be excited to come themselves, they’ll talk about it and invite others too.

 

Have another idea not on this list? What has worked for you before? Share your idea in the comments below!

 

 

Categories
Advertising Church Marketing Ideas Marketing Podcast Social Media Website

Podcast: How do we use our church advertising to attract a younger demographic?

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This week’s Church Marketing tool:

 

Faith Engine offers an entire library of content that has been proven to create engagement across multiple churches Social Media channels, in various locations and reaching many different demographics.  What sets Faith Engine apart, is that it is also a scheduling tool.  You can choose your content (like images, quotes or scriptures) then choose your social media channel (like Facebook or twitter) and let the scheduler know what day and time to post.

You’ll also notice that Faith Engine offers date-specific recommendations like famous quotes on those speaker’s birthdays, holidays, and calendar dates (like the first day or Spring or St. Patrick’s day).

Usually, Faith Engine is available to try for 7 days, but they are giving a special offer to our Church Marketing Ideas family with a complimentary 14 day trial.  Try it out for free here!

 

Suzette asked a question in our blog comments about our recommendation to use real pictures of your church in your advertising to properly represent your church. If you use pictures of young families, but your church doesn’t represent that, then you will have broken trust with anyone thinking they’re coming to meet young families.

But the question then is, how can you attract new young families, if your advertising is based on your current church demographic?

I would recommend advertising about who you are as a church – what are your convictions, your desires and your current initiatives to impact your community? These common causes will transcend demographics.  People will be attracted to a common cause.

Then, create and advertise events specifically targeted to young families: A fair in the parking lot, a costume party alternative to Halloween, a preschool reading club or a stay-at-home Mom’s group for instance.  In each case, give some information about the initiatives your church is involved in, and how someone attending this event can participate in the next.

Take pictures during your event, and as more people come to be connected with future events and participate at your church, include those pictures in your next event or website advertising.  Soon, your advertising will match the demographic at your church as you work towards generation diversity.

 

Have a church communications question you’d like answered? Ask it here.  We’ll reply to all of them and pick a few for our podcast!

 

 

 

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