One of the top struggles I see is with churches Knowing What To Communicate. Here’s what I mean.
We spend hours creating amazing ministry opportunities designed for life change. We announce it on Sunday and put it in the bulletin, but people aren’t engaged. Uncertain about its importance, and with a busy schedule, they put off committing until the last moment, and don’t attend. It’s the exact ministry they need right now and they pass on it!
Maybe it’s because we gave them information without inspiration. We talked about an event without inspiring them by sharing what was in it for them.
So how do we change this scene?
It’s going to sound crazy, but it starts with asking the right questions. They lay a foundation for what is coming and give us guardrails to keep us on task.
There are five questions to help you…
Know What to Communicate, Every Time
1) What problem, need, goal are we addressing with this event / opportunity?
Let’s face it. Most people are self absorbed. Sometimes it is just plain narcism but most of the time it’s busyness.
Think through your past week… what got your attention enough to make you stop in your tracks?
Most likely it was something that addressed an issue you have or need to solve.
Our church and community is no different. They are are always asking “What’s in it for me?”
When we can articulate the problem we solve or benefit we offer people will listen.
2) If I had no prior knowledge about this event / opportunity, what information would I need to take part?
(date, time, location, who its for, cost, registration info, etc.)
A solution without information is useless.
“Join us Wednesday for bible study!”
Uhhhh, that sounds great but I have more questions now that when we started.
Is it for men, women, students?
Is it at the church, a coffee shop, someone’s home?
Is it in the morning, evening, lunchtime?
What are they studying and how does it apply to me?
We often approach church events, especially reoccurring ones, from the standpoint of a connected person rather than a guest. When we think about the person who wants to connect but needs more details everything changes.
3) How can we share about this event / opportunity in a way that makes it accessible to the unchurched?
“Join our Wednesday night Bible study on the book of Proverbs beginning next week!”
For the churched that might be enough, for the unchurched, not so much.
A study in Proverbs means nothing to them because they don’t know what the book is about or that it’s even in the Bible.
Making something accessible to the unchurched doesn’t mean we have to water it down. It means we have to make it understandable.
How do we do that?
Tell them about the event in a way that applies to them and shows the benefit of participating, regardless of their biblical knowledge.
We could share about the same Bible study like this…
“Life can be confusing! Join our adult Bible study as we talk through practical ways to gain wisdom and understanding. Wednesdays, 7pm, Main Office Lobby”
4) How does our community get information about events / opportunities?
Every community has its own communication culture. A way it shares information on a daily basis.
Through personal invitation, social media, community events or online, your community is listening.
The question is whether your church is speaking in the spaces where people are listening.
Unsure of the ways most commonly used by your community to communicate… go ask them.
The gospel is too important to mess this up.
5) How will we deliver the relevant information using the communication channels our community is already using?
Now that we know what we want to say and how people are listening comes the fun part.
Pick an area (or two) and begin sharing.
Don’t feel the need to do everything at once, just get started.
Become part of the ongoing conversation and offer life through the solutions your church offers.
As people see you care and have solutions to the issues they face your church will grow.
Pick an upcoming event / opportunity and answer these questions.
Share about it based on the benefits of participating and see your church grow.
Have a story about how these principles changed your church communications and grew your congregation? I’d love to hear about it. Send me a message today.
Numbers like that show incredible promise for online ministry potential. At the same time, the implications are huge because it means one thing…
Getting your message heard is a growing challenge
According to Facebook, “On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.” statistic from https://www.facebook.com/business/news/Organic-Reach-on-Facebook
Facebook knows users would never sift through that volume of content so they rank posts based on interaction and response levels. The better the interaction the more users see the content in their feed. This results in a user seeing approximately 300 items in their News Feed instead of 1500. statistic from https://www.facebook.com/business/news/Organic-Reach-on-Facebook (include funnel graphic)
The ramifications are, most of your churches posts will only be seen by 3-6% of your followers.
This poses a significant problem when you want to build a thriving community.
While the reach percentage is better than Facebook it still isn’t great. At its heart, Twitter functions best as a real time delivery system. It has been compared to watching ‘live tv,’ versus a DVR. If a person is online at the time you post, the content is seen. Tune out and it’s easy to miss information.
So how can you use social media advertising in a budget friendly way?
The growth of Facebook and changes to their business model means going forward, most churches will need to Pay to Play. While it’s easy to complain and question why a ‘free’ service would make you ‘pay’ the reality is, Facebook is a business. For them to continue to exist they need income. With that income comes research and marketing tools. Those tools are the thing that makes our church outreach more effective than ever before.
There are 2 features to help with this…
Create posts like you normal would and watch the reach (how many people interact with it)
Chose the posts that people interacted with the most and pay to boost them
Target your post to reach your church or community
Costs as little as $1 per day
Increases the likelihood of being seen by your fans and community
Power Editor – Facebook Ad Creation Program
Pick a budget
Per day or per campaign options
Costs as little at $1–5 A Day
More effective reach for $30–40 Per Campaign
Create a delivery schedule
Length of campaign
Days of week for campaign
Time of day for campaign
Create an ad
Link to follow
Send it out
Track the results with Power Editor analytics
There is no other advertising medium that allows you to speak to your specific audience for so little money.
Because of the nature of Twitter paying isn’t the only option. You can start by making sure to…
Post multiple times a day to hit the 2-3 post minimum for 30% engagement
Use a scheduling service to free up your time
Don’t copy and paste the same tweet (retweets are allowed but duplicate posts are discouraged)
Address the same topic in multiple ways and post them throughout the day
Use hashtags for your posts
Interact with other people utilizing your hashtags
Use shortened links to send people to your website
A look at the total emails sent every day vs the number of social media posts its even more staggering.
With reach far exceeding social media, email has the potential to be a powerful communication tool. If we know how to use it.
Unfortunately, email has some…
Personal email plans, like the kind you get from Yahoo, MSN, or Google, are created to send messages to small groups of people. Try to send a large group message and you run into trouble.
Email providers track every message that passes through their systems. They don’t read them, but they measure…
number of recipients
percentage of emails opened
number of links clicked
number of undeliverable emails (bad addresses, typos, etc.)
number of emails marked spam
Each of these areas has a point value assigned to it. Below a specified point value your email goes through. Hit the next level and your emails go into the junk mail folder. Exceed the final level and they label you a spammer and block your account.
If you’ve ever fought to get your account unblocked its not fun. My IT buddy has done it several times and its a long, ugly process.
There are two options to help get around this.
Option 1: Church Email
Create a dedicated email address that is only used for church communications
Write your email
Format your content
Copy and paste names out of your contact list
Send the message to a small number of recipients, every 5-10 minutes, until your list is complete. (Every provider has different rules for number of emails and time between matching subject lines.)
Use a tracking service, like Sidekick, to make sure people are opening your emails ($10 a month)
Track and purge bad addresses from your contact list regularly
Pray you don’t get banned
Option 2: Email Service
Import your email addresses
Pick a template
Write your email
Send your message
Let the service track
Watch your email analytics to know what is working and what’s not
Contact tech support when you need help
Most likely, Option 1 is a slightly different angle on your current approach. Before you discount Option 2 take a look at the breakdown.
If you have fewer than 2000 email addresses in your list MailChimp is free. You get access to their basic tools and analytics with options to upgrade if you need extras. They take the headache out of Option 1 and keep your email from getting flagged. And, for the price, you can’t beat it.
Email is the communication medium of choice. While I haven’t addressed the importance of writing engaging content, I hope this post helps you share your story in budget friendly ways and avoid the most common technical issues.