Thirty seconds is a short span, and yet so much can be communicated in that time. This past Super Bowl opened my eyes to the power of communicating a message in 30 seconds. Although I was not overly impressed with this year’s commercials, I did take away some key lessons that translate to the Web. Today, I’m going to briefly answer how you can:

  • Draw people into your website in less than a minute
  • Quickly and effectively convey a memorable message
  • Create a positive web experience for visitors


The Power Of Rapid Cognition

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell covers the topic of “rapid cognition” which he defines as, “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.” He explains how too much information can cloud an individual’s ability to accurately analyze a situation and how “in good decision making, frugality matters.” Although you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you do get many chances to make the next impression.

Now, let’s look at three ways you can create a positive website experience in 30 seconds or less -

 

(more…)

One in every nine people on Earth is on Facebook. Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day. YouTube has 490 million unique visitors every month.

What those numbers mean in a nutshell: A LOT of people use social media. So why is it most pastors do not? Maybe it’s lack of time. Or lack of education. Maybe it’s fear of the unknown. Ultimately, there’s no good reason. Every pastor interested in keeping their church vital and getting their message out to the community should be using social media.

Social media is an exceptional and easy way to connect with members outside the normal Sunday morning experiences. It’s also a great way to reach younger audiences by meeting them on “their turf”. Additionally, engaging people in social media demonstrates you care about the ones you lead enough to be a part of their daily lives.

Here are seven practical ways pastors can use social media:

(more…)

Most leaders understand the why and what behind developing a web experience.  Nobody wants a downloadable brochure for a website.  They want a web experience.  A web experience leaving a visitor enticed to take action.

Developing a positive web experience takes time, resources, energy and risks.  In the end, the hard work pays off.  With practical application any organization can create a compelling web experience.  Here is how to develop a winning web experience.

 

(more…)

Social media is here and here to stay.  If one social media fad disappears another fad will slide in and take the place.  The idea of people connecting virtually at the press of a key is here forever.

Social media is a phenomenal way for churches and leaders to connect with people.  On any given Sunday, church leaders have the opportunity to connect with a handful of people.  On any given second, church leaders have the opportunity to connect with people.

Churches and church leaders are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with people every second of the day.  It is a matter of awareness and intentionality.  Churches must connect with people beyond the worship services, events and group gatherings.

Here are a list of compelling stats that prove my point -

 

(more…)

Over the year of 2011 I have enjoyed providing relevant content on branding, marketing, technology and communications.  More importantly I have enjoyed connecting with people all around the world via TimPeters.org and Twitter.  I look forward to connecting with others in the future of 2012.

Based on data, the below list provides the Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2011.  Enjoy a recap and share with others.

#1 – 8 Keys to A Great Church Website

#2 – 10 Keys to Being A Healthy Pastor

#3 – Ten Reasons Pastors Quit Too Soon

#4 – How Pastors Go the Distance

#5 – 5 Undeniable Ways to Create A Poor Guest Experience


No matter how entrenched you may be with social media, email is still one of the best forms of communication. The key is creating great email newsletters.  An effective email newsletter provides value, inspires action and is shared by subscribers through social media.

In my time I have seen plenty of great and not-so-great church email newsletters.  I unsubscribe from many and on the flip-side share many. So, before you press “Send” practicing these three principles when creating your next email newsletter.

Capture Attention

It’s not enough to have an email subscribe form tucked into the sidebar of your home page.  Now you can use an array of superb popups to capture the users email address.  From the homepage of your website to every subpage make subscribing to your email seamless and easy.  Be strategic in how you capture emails.  Give users a reason to subscribe to emails. What value do you provide subscriber?

Exchange Value

Giving people a reason to subscribe is even more important than simply grabbing their attention. In order to get willing subscribers these days you must sell the value of what you have to offer and most likely exchange something like a free ebook or video that sounds too good to miss right at the point of subscription.

The act of giving an email address comes with a price these days because all of our email inboxes are jammed.

Be Sharable

Smart marketers have always used tools that make it easier for people to share their email newsletter with friends, but these days that means making your content easy to share in social media as well.  Ensure that every email you publish is instantaneously easy to share.

A church email newsletter could be and should be your best communication tool.  DO NOT simply cut and copy text from a Word document and press “send”.  The attention and time of your church membership is far more valuable.  Be intentional and strategic.

How does your church use email marketing to increase communication efforts?

Facebook is the hottest trend America (the world) has ever experienced.  Facebook has over 800 million registered users.  That means they would be the 4th largest nation in the world. The social network is an unbelievable tool when used with purpose and strategy.  With most people in the United States entrenched with Facebook, the church has a great opportunity to leverage the trend into a kingdom impacting tool.

Here are 7 ways to maximize your Facebook page -

1) Good content

80% of people check out your website before attending your church.  The second place they visit is your Facebook page to view pictures and dialogue between church members.  In most situations your Facebook page is much more telling than your website.  This is perfectly okay as long as you manage your content well.  Provide people the opportunity to get to know you through general information, photographs of events and services, videos of messages and life-change stories.  Make sure the content is monitored and matches up with the message you want to deliver.

2) Make it known

I hear this statement all the time, “We created a page but nobody joined!”  I quickly respond, “How did you inform people that the page existed?”  They reply, “We didn’t.”  Here are some quick ways to make sure people know about your page – announce it regularly from stage, print Facebook.com/YourChurchName wherever you print your URL and provide a link from your website.

3) Regular relevant posts

In most cases, the administrator (typically staff person) will be the one driving page activity.  Be strategic about what you say status updates.  The content MUST be relevant.  Some ideas to share –  life-change stories, ministry event updates with pictures, quotes from worship service messages, recommended reading list, etc.

Tip: This is going to sound bad, but rethink the idea of posting a scripture verse each day.  I think if you took a look at your personal wall, you would see that 3-4 other friends already got that one covered. Be different and unique.  Offer value.

4) Staff interaction

Recently, I made a simple post on behalf of a church, “How can the pastoral staff be praying for you, specifically?”  Before I knew it, I got ambushed with requests.  The only problem was the staff was not prepared to respond.  I frantically had to contact the leadership team telling them they needed to engage immediately.  I recommend pastors check the church page daily, interact 1-2 times a week and provide the communications team with information ammunition on events and life-change stories.

5) Provide guidelines

Hopefully the staff team is active in building community through Facebook and other social media mediums.  If so, take some time to think through what guidelines you wish for them to follow.  For example, you might ask them never to speak negatively about your church or any other church.  Provide overall guidelines in social media etiquette.

6) Check the analytic reports

Facebook does a great job of report generation.  The reports provide information that will boggle your mind.  Check the reports monthly, as these reports will be a great guide on what content to offer to your audience.  What are people “liking”?  What do people click on?  When do people “like” your page?

7) Communicate purpose

Make sure it is very clear that you are using Facebook as a spiritual growth tool for your church.  Communicate the page will be used to help people stay connected, receive prayer, find opportunities to serve and spiritually grow.

In summary, make sure you capitalize on the opportunity provided by Facebook.  They’ve done a great job of assembling millions into one social community.  Now it is our turn to use the tool for kingdom growth.

How do you use Facebook to grow online community and ministry?

With over 500 million registered websites on the WWW, you can definitely find a slew of horrifically designed websites.  Unfortunately many of those websites are faith-based organizations. With new technology available we have unlimited ways to communicate and connect to potential audiences.  The website you form could be and should be your number one communication tool.  With that rant over, here are 8 keys to have a great website.  Get after it!

1) Don’t be cheap

It is extremely difficult to build an effective website with not spending money.  Sure, you can find a template and make it work (if you are skilled), but your church is not a template.  If you are going to bust your budget, bust it here.

2) Take your time

Slow down and take a deep breath.  Before you embark on creating a website, set aside a day or two to think, research and meet with people to understand what the website needs to look like and offer.

3) Use experienced and proven professionals

I am all for volunteers and lay people using their skills and talents to impact the church, but this is not the place for their volunteerism.  Again, your website is one of, if not the most important communication tool you possess.  Use people who know what they are doing and provide great work.  Contact Me if you are interested in my group providing website design and development services.

4) Tell your story

Communicate, communicate and communicate your story.  Communicate who you are, what you do, why you do it and where you are going. Tell stories with video, word and photos that communicate your culture and uniqueness.

5) Relevant content and design layout

People are visiting your website on purpose.  Take time to think through what your audience wants to receive when visiting your website.  Make sure to use words that are familiar with non-church attendees.  Use Adults, Children, Students, Volunteer instead of Community, Zoola Land, Xtreme X and Engage. Please keep your content and design layout simple and provide people what they want within one click of the mouse.

Tip: You already know this, but make sure you have Google Analytics tied into your website for tracking. Thank you to Google, for making it easy to know what content is relevant and should be featured.

6) Be known

The worst thing in the world is to have beautiful website and receive no visits.  If search engines don’t know you, nobody will.  Take some time and explore your options.  They are unlimited, from search engine optimization campaigns to Google ads to Facebook ads to blogging to email newsletters. Optimizing your website and managing ad campaign is insanely time consuming. This is another area where hiring experienced and proven professionals are a plus.

7) Socially connected

With social media moving at a rapid growth pace, your website must be connected to the movement.  Make it easy for people who visit your website to connect with you socially.  But please make sure that well designed and high-resolution social icons are used in designed.  Enough with highly pixilated and over sized icons.

8 People click on videos

It’s amazing how a video can inspire people more than words.  Don’t get me wrong, words are great as I am typing them right now.  But, in our digital age people like clicking on videos.  i.e. – YouTube.  If you cannot produce a ton of videos then make sure you do one great church overview video.  This overview video must include the vision and mission of church and should include information on age specific ministries and what your church is doing to bring hope to world.

In summary, your website is one of the most important communication tools you have.  Take your time, think, don’t be cheap and make sure people know about your website and receive what they are looking for as soon as possible.

The world lives online.  The average American spends more than 60 hours a month online. If you were to put those hours back-to-back, you’d be surfing the web for a whole month.

Question: Why should the church care?

  • The Internet is controlling people.
    • Online Pornography (Adult and Child)
    • Emotional Affairs
    • Bullying
    • Distracting – Try and put your phone down for more than 30 minutes.
  • The Internet is not going away.
  • The Internet is a mission field.
  • The Internet is not good or evil.  It is how we use the Internet that determines whether it is good or evil.

This infographic is both startling and exciting.  We (the Church) have an unprecedented opportunity to view the Internet as mission field.  We can redeem the Internet with proper strategy and execution.

timespentonline

How does your church use the Internet for good?

Apparently Mississippi State painted #HAILSTATE (school rally cry) in their north endzone.  Brilliant.  Now every time a Bulldog player scores a touchdown, fans in Mississippi and beyond have the opportunity to connect with one another via Twitter and a simple # character.

I instantly started asking questions.  Do most church leaders understand the meaning of a hashtag?  Are churches using hashtags via Twitter to keep online conversations going?  Do people even understand how to use and apply hashtags?

Source Twitter
Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

Hashtags: helping you find interesting Tweets

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets to show more easily in Twitter Search.
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
  • Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet.
  • Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

Example: Below, @VegNews added the hashtag before the word “vegan” in their message. The word is now a link to search results for all Tweets containing “#vegan” in the message.

Screen_shot_2010-07-26_at_3.21.34_PM.png

Using hashtags

  • If Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet.
  • Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 3 hashtags per Tweet.)
  • Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to use hashtags at your church.  The goal is initiate ongoing conversations beyond your Sunday morning experiences.

Ideas -

  1. Print Your Church Name As A Hash Tag on Business Card and Major Brochures.  Example – Park City Church would be #Park City
    1. Keep in mind many people will need a brief education on hashtag.  Simply apply text explaining #ParkCity.  ”Join the conversation online at twitter.com/parkcity and use hashtag #ParkCity”
  2. Apply #ParkCity on Media Screens Off-And-On During Messages
  3. Encourage People to Engage in Twitter Conversations with #ParkCity Through Email Communications and Stage Announcements

What other ways could you use Twitter hashtags to initiate online conversations?