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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)