The Internet is a big place today – with over 2.77 billion social media users and almost half of the world’s population in ownership of a smartphone, you can find just about anyone sifting through website pages, social media posts, articles, and so forth. That means that your ideal congregation and followers are also online, either taking a break from their busy days, unwinding, or simply catching up with the world. These people want to know you, and they want to connect with you. Sometimes, they simply can’t find you – it’s a loophole that churches desperately need to close for higher attendee rates.
Therefore, it’s up to you to find them. So how can you connect and support your church members online? Here are a few church digital marketing tips to close the gap:
1. Go To Them: There are over 7 different highly popular social media sites today. Each site attracts a different kind of demographic, with teens loving Snapchat, millennials loving Instagram, and Baby Boomers loving Facebook. There is definitely some overlap between all of the platforms, but you need to first sit down and identify who is coming to your church. Are you a younger youth ministry? Do you have an older congregation? Are you located in an inner-city location? Rural location? First, identify the answers to all of these questions. Now, you can go to them.
Start by honing in on age spread. Additionally, you can always just ASK! Pass out connection cards during each service and see which social media sites your attendees circle as their go-to connecting place. Once you aggregate this information, now you can go to them with your message.
2. Keep it Simple: If you are not able to find a social media platform, email tool, or any other kind of technological tool that is right for your congregation, be sure to keep things simple. Tools like BuddyPress and Ultimate Member are two resources that can help you foster a community once you bring people closer.
Additionally, refrain from engaging on dozens of social media sites. Let it be known that your church focuses its efforts on one or two sites total. The simpler the outreach, the easier it is for your following to understand where they can you. Make it as easy as possible.
3. Make it Personal and Purposeful: Gone are the days when people would put up with sales calls and anonymous marketing. Thanks to the technological tools at our disposal today, people want things to be personal; they want content and outreach that is personalized to them and their experience. The same holds true for church outreach. When creating your online plan, keep these two things in mind:
- Purpose: Be deliberate in the way you reach out to your congregation online. Instead of “bothering” them with no purpose, think about why you are engaging them in the first place. Is it to boost attendance? Raise more money? Think about it before you craft the interaction. People are busy and prefer to receive contact when there is an underlying reason.
- Personal: Don’t just shout out your request – engage in the request on a personal level with each and every person in your congregation. Take time to curate personalized messages or create 5 different emails that are adjusted to each group within your congregation. Make sure people feel like they are people and not just another number.
4. Shout It Out Publicly: Besides the personalized messaging that is intimate and designed to keep followers close to you and your church, don’t forget to shout out your overall public message with no restraints. That means registering your church with Yelp, Facebook, Google, and so forth so that it can first be found. Then, sharing your message on all social platforms, as well as registering the church with local directories.
From there, engage in online forums, community bulletins, and any other kind of place that is publicly accessible. Since this is less personal than direct outreach, this is a great way to show people on the outskirts of your congregation what you are all about.
5. Respond: If someone takes the time to write your church a message, comment on a social media post, submit a prayer request, send out an email, etc. you must respond to them. The Internet can start to feel interpersonal and cold, which is why you want to demonstrate that you are there at all times. An online church community can be just as effective as an in-person community, which means response is highly important.
From this response rate, you will set a new precedent of online engagement that will encourage other congregation members to also pipe up and respond to thoughts and requests in addition to you. It will communicate that online feedback is highly acceptable, helping people to really feel heard.
Here at Worship Times, we help you develop an online outreach and marketing strategy that increases your ability to not only reach new members, but also to hold them close for the future. With everything from church websites to online giving portals, we ensure that close church bonds can be fostered into the future. We’re doing it all with church online marketing, and we can’t wait to show you what is possible.