Creating Sustainable Digital Ownership

abandoned propertiesYou made your church a website, but nobody updates it. You created social media accounts, and they sit dormant. What can you do to get that lagging ministry invested in their digital properties? Build half the property yourself. Then work with ministry leaders to develop the other half. This strategy has many benefits. Help them create a digital property so there is a sense of ownership. Develop a schedule and ask your leadership to help keep everyone on track. Create a strong sense of digital ownership.

Investment

It is a simple concept. You care about what you earn, more than what you are just given. Your ministries will appreciate the properties they help create. Plus, it is a training opportunity. They will learn many new skills, such as:

  • Writing content for the web
  • Creating meaningful calls to action
  • Developing their brand on social media
  • Engaging audiences in digital ministry
  • Interpret basic analytics results

Time

It will take time to help ministry leaders learn. That of course is time you are not performing your usual duties. But once they are trained, you should be free to work in other areas. Be even more efficient to host a workshop for several leaders at once. The time you spend training will pay off with excited and empowered ministries.

Empathy

When you work together, you learn about each other. Digital ownership works both ways. Ministry leaders of course figure out how to create an effective online platform. In turn, you learn about their ministry and the challenges they face. Both sides will gain an appreciation for what the other does. The more understanding, the more effective a team your church will be.

Ideas

You most likely have been doing this whole church communications thing for a while. You might have taken programming classes, or attended technology conferences. But your ministry leaders are experts in their respective fields as well. They know what people ask about. Every day they see what members and visitors struggle with. That is valuable knowledge for creating better digital communities. Social media posts are far more effective when you know your audience’s problems.

Action Item

Start writing a course of action for your next website or social media overhaul. Bake the notion of digital ownership into it from the start. Determine what the communications team will build. Then see where your ministry leaders can pitch in to finish up. Work alongside each other to better understand each other’s obstacles. In the end you will have leaders interested in maintaining their digital ministries. Plus you will have more time to start those new projects. Get going and build half a digital ministry!

This article was inspired by the 99% Invisible podcast “Half a House

This photo courtesy of Meve TA

Can Your Content be Weaponized?

weaponizing-contentWords and images can hurt. Those originating by our friends and family can hurt more. And those that have the supposed backing of religion can be devastating. Curate your digital ministry’s content to prevent these kinds of scars. This article goes into various ways your well-meaning content can lead to pain.

Remembering Sadness

Facebook had a feature called “Year in Review” a while back. It showed you some of your most popular posts as a highlight of the year. The problem was that often those posts received attention because they were heartbreaking. Mothers saw pictures of their unborn children lost to miscarriage. Friends saw posts of pictures of friends they lost to cancer. People saw photos of their previously whole family before divorce tore them apart. There were many cases where the most popular memories were painful ones. Consider how your congregation will feel around specific holidays and post appropriate content. Remember that for every few people celebrating, there is one mourning a loss.

Avoiding Sidewalk Preaching

Most churches frown upon the idea of a sidewalk preacher, yelling about doom and gloom. I imagine you and your church want to promote the message of the Gospel. You promote love and forgiveness above all things. Many passages of scripture can be taken out of context to shout a message of hatred and exclusion. Avoid posting content that could be easily converted to a message of anger. Yes, we know unforgiven sinners face an eternity of suffering in Hell. But until that day occurs, strive to save everyone with demonstrations of Christ’s love. Echo these sentiments on your website and social media presence.

Discouraging Unwarranted Interventions

Often times people will feel too exposed to shout to the masses. Sidewalk preachers seem too radical. Yet the same posture in the comfort of their own home feels safe. Avoid giving people fuel to post and share information about their loved ones. First, I am not social worker. But interventions should occur only when many people observe destructive behavior. Not when one person feels goaded on by an out-of-context piece of scripture found on the Internet. Do not provide the fuel for someone’s anger to shatter a family. Encourage your audience to seek professional help first.

Action Item

You will not get every social media interaction right. But do what you can to not get it wrong. Consider every way your message can be twisted. I am not saying to not stand behind scripture. But please do not choose controversial pieces to start an online debate. Save more confrontational verses for one-on-one conversation where you can explain the cultural context. Do not provide a well meaning member the ammunition to create a big “church hurt”. Because scars left by the church, be it in person, or digital, leave deep wounds. Provide content that promotes love and healing as often as possible.

This article was partly inspired by The Big Web Show #144 Design for Real Life with Eric Meyer

Photo courtesy of Free Bible Images

Steps to Fix a Broken Website

broken-websiteThis article has no tricks or shortcuts to fix a broken website. Those are often a hoax. What it has is a method for fixing the most common problems over the coming months. That is correct; months. You will still need to publish content and update content. These steps make great side projects to your current workload. So with a constant, but divided effort, you will overcome your looming challenge and have a fantastic church website!
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Taking Holiday Traditions from Analog to Digital

analog-to-digital-traditionsMany churches have traditions that have been passed down through the years. Some are a few years old, and others go back centuries. Yet most are still in our analog world. How can you move them to the digital space? This article is coming out the week after Easter. With this Holy Week fresh in our minds, we can prepare content for next year. I hope you see some great ideas here and take the coming year to put them in motion.
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Appreciating Social Media Logistics

social-media-logisticsYou often do not think about how the tomato in your grocery story got there. You are just happy to have tomatoes. The same goes for social media posts. There are typically many people involved in posting that content. This article is not so much a persuasive article as it is informative. Use it to help others understand just how complex the journey can be for your average social media post.
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CWS Podcast – Ep 79: Repurposing Your Content For Bigger Impacts

cws-podcast-logoOne problem most churches face is consistent content production. Regular updates tell users you are an active congregation, regardless of your size. It also gives search engines new pages to index. Plus, active pages rank higher in search results. But who has the time to create regular updates? You do. In this podcast I will tell you where you can easily repurpose content for multiple channels of communication.
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Using Digital Tools to Celebrate Anniversaries

anniversariesAnniversaries matter. They serve as a reminder of milestones in our lives. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, we celebrate stages in our life. Your church needs to celebrate faith journey milestones with your members. This is easier than it sounds, especially with digital tools and social media.
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Recruiting Volunteers from Non-Technical Professions

hidden-talentWhen you look for web team volunteers, do not just focus on computer geeks. Many other professions provide valuable insight, perspective, and content. Learn how to spot that hidden talent in your congregation. Many will worry they are not tech savvy enough to make your site shine. Reassure them that enthusiasm and a teachable attitude is all that is required.
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Integrating Storytelling on your Website

story-tellingStorytelling is the magic that turns facts into emotional connections. It is a powerful tool to convey messages on your digital properties. The church primarily thinks of testimonies when it comes to storytelling. Yet some churches are able to use this method in many ways. Hearing how Kelvin Co used storytelling at The Oaks Fellowship church inspired me to dig deeper. Gathering stories is a great start. But how can you most effectively integrate them into an existing church website? What purpose do those stories have? And how can you get more?
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Six Social Media Content Types for your Church

Social-Media-Content-TypesThe biggest pitfall churches fall into with social media is posting only event announcements. Of course you want to let your followers know about your upcoming spaghetti dinner. But those kinds of updates is not what it is all about. I discuss six types of content you can post to your website, social media, and email newsletters. Done well, they should drive traffic and increase engagement.
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Church Social Media like a Cyborg

automation-and-emotionsCyborgs are science fiction characters that are primarily human, but have robot parts. They usually have the emotions of a human, but the physical strength and speed of a machine. This is how you need to run your church’s social media campaigns. Some aspects need to show the human emotions of the people in your church. Other aspects are automated by a computer to allow for better productivity. This balance is what your church should strive to achieve.
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Integrating Digital Platforms

connecting-digital-platformsTake a moment to consider all your church’s digital assets. They most likely include your website, social media, search engine ranking, mobile apps, and church operations. They are not entities to keep separate. Digital platforms are everywhere in your church. The better news is that they can often share and exchange information. Here I will encourage you to better integrate your digital platforms to grow your church and reduce resources.
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