Jumpstart your Social Media Presence

jump-start-social-mediaMany churches have a presence on social media. But how do you start something new? Or what is more common, how do you revive an old account? The feeling of hopelessness may be overwhelming. When you say something on social media, you swear you can hear the echo. Here are some tips to combat that and jump start your new or resurrected social media presence.

Broadcast Your Presence

This does not mean you should broadcast on social media. That medium is best utilized as a conversation area. What you need to do is let people know where you exist. For starters, this means putting social media icons on your communications. This could be your website, bulletins, and email newsletters. Mention them during your announcements, podcasts, or anywhere else you are talking. Yet I challenge you to take it a step further. Do not just say “follow us on (insert platform here)”. Give them a reason why. Tell them they will get the latest news, updates, devotionals, etc. While it may not cost any money for them to follow you, they are paying with their privacy. You may see more of their profile if they follow you. Or you now have the ability to send direct messages to them. Regardless, treat them with respect and only deliver what you promised.

Crowdsource Your Reach

With every post, ask people to like and share. But instead of asking the entire church to do this, keep it in a smaller setting. Ask parents to share info about your youth ministries. Have your Bible studies share posted content with each other. Social media platforms make their money from advertising. They will count it against you if there is a massive change in how your audience shares your posts. Keep it segregated to a specific ministry or group so the jump in shares is not significant. For more information, see my article that digs deeper into this idea.

Pay For Your Reach

This is the first of two options that involve sending some money. When you broadcast on social media, you only reach a small percentage of people that like or follow you. The easiest way to boost your presence is to pay for it. Yes you can ask people to share your content. But this ensures your message reaches more of the people that showed an interest in your church. The good things is that most social media platforms provide you statistics. This way you can measure how effective each post is. Plus most website analytics packages show how many visitors came from social media. Use this to justify future spending, or know when it is time to change tactics.

Contests

I will be honest in that I am not a big fan of this option. Bring in a visitor with the hopes of winning some sort of physical prize. But if you need to build an audience quickly, this is the way to do it. Many “unchurched” people are willing to click on a link to take them to a contest. I would suggest that you tie your gift to the Gospel. Giving away an iPod? Have an audiobook version of the Bible on it. Contest for an iPad? Load it up with plenty of Christian eBooks. Just balance the request with the gift. A larger prize means giving more verifyable personal information. For me, that means at least a name, email, and phone number.

Electronic Giveaways

This may be a softer alternative to giving away a tangible gift. Use the Gospel connections from the previous example. Yet instead of a contest, just give them away. Also, I would just make it a smaller gift and ask. Does your pastor have a book? Perhaps you can give away a few chapters as an eBook in exchange for an email subscription. Maybe you have a creative church band that created some original recordings. Give away a popular worship song when someone follows you on social media. The ideal thing is to give away something that is somewhat cheap. The price the users pays is an opportunity for you to communicate with them.

Call to Action

Whatever way you get people to visit your social media platform, have a next step ready. You want them to follow on Twitter, like us on Facebook. Then what? Subscribe to a newsletter. Next, ask for church membership. Then move on to volunteering opportunities. How about small groups and Bible studies? Determine the path from curious visitor to fully-engaged member. Then lay out those opportunities along your digital funnel. I explored this idea in another article about Avoiding Dead Ends. The goal is to make learning about the Christian journey as easy as possible.

Good Content

You can find many easy ways to draw a crowd. To keep them around, you must have good content. Make sure your deliver your daily devotional with regularity. Do some post production work on your pastor’s sermon podcast. Hire a designer to review your email newsletter templates. This might mean having to hire some help. You spent time and money getting someone to your digital ministry. Do not waste it by not having good content for them!

Action Item

If you want to blow up your social media game, you must do at least one of the first five steps. But know that the last two are required. Remember that your goal is not a temporary increase in engagement. The Kingdom deserves new, engaged believers, not passive interest. Also, inform your leadership that some of these options will cost money. Lastly, let everyone know that not all statistics are equal. Work with senior church leadership to determine what figures they want to change. Remind them that views and followers are a passive form of interest. Focus on numbers that show engagement.

Now that you make it to the end of this article, start the process off well with prayer. Ask for wisdom and guidance, as well as the discipline to follow through with His plans.

Photo courtesy of Theophilus Photography

Thanks to T.J. Boykin for asking me about this topic!

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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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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Breaking Down Silos: Digital Experiences

consistent-silosVisitors rarely visit just one of your digital platforms. They might start on social media, then move to your website. A member might get an email newsletter, and proceed to a landing page to sign up for an event. They should move between spaces with ease and without interruptions. Breaks in that process will confuse and possibly turn away potential members. Here are several ways to remove those silos for your church’s various digital experiences.
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Content Marketing for Your Church

content-marketingThe latest buzzword in advertising is content marketing. Believe it or not, your church can benefit greatly from this new trend. At its core, content marketing is providing valuable content to your customers. Your church does this nearly every week with your pastor’s sermon. Similar examples are most likely around your church. This article will help you identify them and turn them into a great content marketing campaign.
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Make a Mediocre Church Website

first-draftThe world does not need the perfect church website. What it needs is your church’s website inviting people to experience the Gospel now. If it is not online, no message gets out. Every day you wait for perfection is another day your voice is not heard. Instead of creating the prefect website, publish your best draft. You will make some mistakes along the way, but those learning experiences will shape your future. This article will explore two scenarios your church may be in.
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Creating Great Church Staff Listings on your Website

church-teamWe often have deep connections to our churches and our faith. If you are changing either of them, comfort is key. When you show up at a church for the first time, you want to feel comfortable and welcome. The easiest way is to walk in already knowing a few people. Unless you have a church staff listing, this may prove to be nearly impossible. This article explores what to include and tips to make them more effective.
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CWS Podcast – Ep. 67: Do not Just Retain, Recruit

cws-podcast-logoAt the beginning of every worship service, the pastor of my church welcomes all of the new visitors; regardless if they know of any are present. Sometimes we even applaud for them. Many church podcasts that I listen to also make a point to welcome all of their listeners. This includes live recordings that acknowledge they have an online audience. What does your website do to welcome new visitors? Do you simply have a statement that says “Welcome to our church”, or do you structure your site so that their needs are immediately met with lots of information and content?
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Removing Website Clutter

removing-clutterDesigners see clutter as too many things in one space. They want the right balance of elements on a page so it is aesthetically pleasing. Website visitors use the word clutter differently. They use it to describe items that impede their task. Unfortunately we are reluctant to remove elements in a design. This is often due to politics, unclear strategy, and/or fear of leaving something out. This article shows how you can use analytics and UX tools to remove clutter without sacrificing functionality. Here are a few “simple” steps I suggest taking.
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CWS Podcast – Ep. 65: Redesign Content, Not Graphics

cws-podcast-logoYour congregation does not attend services because of your branding. An attractive and well thought out logo does not bring new members through the door. The teaching, culture, and community are far more important than the color of your building. Then why does improving a website tend to involve redesigning everything? Focus on regular content updates instead of aesthetic changes to create a better experience for your users.

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Find Your Church Website Voice and Tone

website-voiceThe message your website gives has two components, the voice and the tone. The tone of your content will change depending on what is happening. However, the voice of your website is always the same. This singular direction guides all the text on your website. In contrast, different scenarios call for a unique tone. Your unified voice and empathetic tone reduces confusion and helps users feel at ease.
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Serving a Balanced Diet of Content

balanced-dietYou would not serve your family the same meal week after week. Consequently, do not always serve the same content to your website and social media audiences. You need a mix of content, each with a different goal. You also serve different meals at certain times of the day. Be purposeful with the time of day you publish your content. By serving a balanced diet of content, you have better results and do not burn out your audience.
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