The purpose of Social Media is not to jam information down people’s throats, but to deepen and strengthen relationships, a concept that is often too easily overlooked, especially by the church. Many church leaders think that Social Media is a great tool to inform people about ministries and ministry events, and it is. But if that’s all it is to your church, then you have missed a huge opportunity to connect with your audience.
So how do you use Social Media to deepen and strengthen relationships? You do that by giving them inspiring content that starts conversations and moves them in the direction of the vision of your church. The problem is that creating inspiring content is difficult.
One of the best ways to create consistent content is by developing a content map. These are the Five C’s of a Social Media Content Map -
First, identify the universal purpose of your content. The universal purpose will serve as the main category of content. The main category will be supported by subcategories of content. These categories shape the content you’ll share.
For example, with TimPeters.org, the main category is Church Communications, and the subcategories are the 12 Essentials. In your church this could be vision, values, mission, campaigns, seasonal big ideas, campaigns, etc.
Secondly, identify what forms of content your categories will produce.
- Blog Posts
- Online Newsletters
You have to know who your target audience is because they will determine how you will distribute your content. Your community for the purpose of Social Media is your online community. What is their target age, gender, socio-economic status? All of these things determine the way you connect with them.
A channel is way you distribute content to your audience. Obviously there are plenty of channels you can select. Social Media has much to choose from in the way of channels. The best practice is to choose 3-5 channels that are approproiate for your community and master those before adding others.
You’ve done a great job of identifying your category, your forms of content, your community and channels but all of that is null and void if you’re not calling them to action. Tell your audience what you want them to do. (Get baptized, trust Christ, comment, sign up for an event, tell their story, etc.)
You have such a great opportunity to connect with the people of your church throughout the week. Seizing that opportunity to build relationships is critical and requires an organized, well thought out content creation and distribution map. If you’d like more details about how to formulate a content map, let us know. We’d love to help.
Social Media is just one of the 12 Essentials at Sayge Resources. A complete How to Create a Content Map guide along with a Content Map Template is available in the Social Media Bundle with Sayge Resources.
A church communications strategy is a month-to- month process in determining what, why, how and when you will communicate with your community and your church. The church communications strategy helps you communicate what matters and keeps you focused on the end results.
The 5 Essentials of a Church Communications Strategy -
Everything starts with vision, including your communications strategy. The vision of your church inspires people more than any event or ministry ever will. The vision and desired future of your church should drive every way you communicate to your audience.
Beyond the vision of your church, you will have certain priorities you want to emphasize on a monthly basis. These could be an event, a ministry, or a campaign. (IE: Christmas, Easter, Giving Campaigns, etc.) Keep in mind that these priorities should align with and advance the vision of the church.
A strategy will be ineffective if your audience is not clearly defined. Take unhurried time and connect with your audience via Social Media, survey groups, interviews and demographic studies to understand every detail of your audience.
Based on your vision, priorities and audience, determine what channels you will use to communicate with your audience. The channels you identify could be announcements, website, social media, etc. The key is to find the 3-5 channels that are best for your audience and easy for you to do with excellence.
Measure what matters. Clearly identify what it is you want to accomplish by executing a communications strategy. These desired results will not only keep you on track, but will keep you motivated and focused.
A communications strategy is a very important ministry tool. If developed and leveraged correctly, a church can see HUGE impact because with clear communications, people are inspired to take action; give more, serve more, and live in community.
At Sayge Resources we not only give you more details on developing a communications strategy, but we give you a customizable template. The template helps keep you on track and saves you time and money.
Nils Smith – Web Pastor
Nils Smith is the WebPastor at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX and author of The Social Media Guide for Ministry. Community Bible Church is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States. As WebPastor he oversees the entire web presence of CBC including CommunityBible.com, mobile app, Online Church, and all future developments online.
Blog | Twitter | New Book
Video Notes -
Question: What are the key essentials to a great church website?
- Design is overlooked. Design and layout must be professional.
- Simple and clear content with no more than 2,000 characters per page.
- Easy navigation and functionality.
- Include Call-to-Actions and direct people.
Question: What is the greatest challenges facing church communication leaders?
- A step-by-step guide for Church Communications does not exist. Technology constantly changes.
- Be flexible and adapt to how people are communicating with one another.
Question: How can churches use social media to engage their audiences?
- Do not blast your event and ministry messages to your audience. Focus on starting conversations and being social.
- Post System: Inspiration, Information, Conversation. The key is to build community through starting conversations.
Question: How do you see mobile communications shifting the way we communicate?
- Rethink your web strategy by always thinking mobile first. Mobile first, then your website.
- Use mobile communications to engage your audience.
How does your church use the web to connect with audiences?
People volunteer for many reasons. They’re looking for community; they feel guilty if they don’t serve somewhere; they have some free time on their hands, or maybe even because they believe in what you’re doing and want to help. But the most common reason people volunteer is because they want to make a difference in the world. They want to take the time they have, combined with the passions and skills they have and use them to make a difference. It really is that simple.
There’s no magic formula when it comes to gaining, training and retaining volunteers. But there is a simple strategy you can employ to build a dream team of volunteers that will become the staff team you’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford.
Connect people to their passion.
It doesn’t matter how much you need someone to set up for your video shoots, if they aren’t passionate about your ministry, they won’t stay.
Connect their strengths to their volunteer role.
If they are great writers, let them write. If they are great photographers, let them shoot. But don’t assume that just because they are creative in one area that they will be creative in another.
Connect your expectations to their reality.
Job descriptions, time commitments, the works. It’s better to accurately communicate what you need up front and have someone turn you down, than to understate the role just to get them to say yes.
Connect people to community.
People who serve in isolation won’t be on your team for long. Even if their role is one that is a “one man” job, make sure you keep them connected to the bigger team in some way (team meetings, team emails, etc.)
Connect people to the vision.
Constantly remind them how they are helping accomplish the vision. Remember, people serve because they want to make a difference. Remind them that they are making a difference.
Volunteers can be an incredible asset to you team, to your church, and to the kingdom. If you take the right steps from the beginning and put the right people in the right place, you’ll have a Communications dream team.
How do you build your volunteer team?
As a ten-year Church Communications veteran, I understand the day-to-day grind of managing Church Communications. I know what it’s like to want to generate great church marketing and communications when you are up against deadlines, and lack resources and support. But never forget what you do matters.
Though I may not know you personally, I do know you, because I’ve been you.
What I Know About You
You want to -
- You want to make a difference.
- You want to help your senior leader dream about the future and craft ways to bring it to reality.
- You want to meet deadlines, produce great work and meet the needs of passionate ministry leaders.
- You want to produce emotional and inspiring social media content to expand your reach.
- You want a clear communications strategy that produces results.
- You want more than a website, you want a web experience that attracts new guests.
- You want to help your church create a memorable guest experience that brings back first-time guests.
- You want to develop a team of volunteers to help enhance your marketing and communications.
What you want is what I want for you. That is exactly why I created Sayge. I created it for you.
Sayge will show you how to -
- Regain an eternal perspective, igniting a new and fresh passion for your role in the local church.
- Lead up and help your senior leader identify, articulate and integrate a unique vision that excites your church.
- Develop project management systems to manage the madness of church communications and produce great work.
- Create a social media content calendar to connect you with your church throughout the week.
- Craft an intentional communications strategy that helps you determine what, how and when to communicate.
- Design a brand standards guide to help protect and reinforce your unique communication message.
- Launch a web experience that attracts website visitors to go beyond clicking to actually visiting your church.
- Evaluate and improve your guest experience to a memorable and satisfying visit for your guests.
- Recruit, train and mobilize volunteers into action as they contribute their special gifts and talents.
- Share life-change stories in a clear and compelling way.
At the end of the day I understand your position. I live out your situation everyday and have for years. It is one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs.
I want to encourage you to keep going. What you do matters. If no one else tells you that, I want to tell you. What you do matters.
We want to partner with you because the resources at Sayge were created for you. We believe in Church Communications because what the Church communicates matters.
Phil Bowdle – Communications Director
Phil is the Communications Director at West Ridge Church in Atlanta, GA. He is passionate about creating high-impact experiences through communications that lead people to Jesus Christ.
Video Notes -
Question - What is the greatest challenge you face as a church communications leader?
- The ability to find clarity and simplicity in the chaos. Repeat messages.
- Identifying the “barriers” keeping people from connecting with church, events and ministries.
Question - How do you manage the daily madness of church communications?
- Create a great systems for staff to use in submitting information.
- Link on website to submit project requests.
- Develop one way to gather project information.
Question - What ways do you “lead up” to other senior leaders?
- Remove the attitude of “entitlement”.
- Be humble and learn from senior leaders.
- Present solutions to problems.
Question - What one piece of advice would you give a church communications leader?
- Removing the clutter of communications and clearly communicate the story of your church.
- Be active in finding and sharing stories.
LeBron James was raised in Ohio, and was one of the greatest High School basketball players ever. The epitome of a hometown hero, the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron right out of High School. He was absolutely loved by the people of Ohio. And what wasn’t there to love? He was charming, kind, generous, friendly, great with kids, and a phenomenally talented basketball player. This was his brand, and he lived up to it well.
There was just one thing missing from LeBron’s resume. In all his years of playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he had never won a Championship. So in July of 2010, he held a press conference circus announcing his move to the Miami Heat by declaring, “I will be taking my talents to South Beach.” In an instant, one of the greatest basketball players ever, beloved by millions, became a villain.
And for the next year or two, he attempted to play that role, even though deep in his DNA, that was the furthest thing from his true character. He tried to capitalize on a trend instead of being true to who he was, allowing external factors to change him. But it just didn’t work. He couldn’t sustain the role of the villain because that’s not who he is. Eventually, he realized that and returned to his brand, LeBron James, Nice Guy. Note: You can visually see the two different brands of LeBron James in the below videos. Video #1 = Villain and Video #2 = Original LeBron.
What does this have to do with Church Communications? A lot.
There are many, many churches that try to become what others say they are, or what they think people want them to be, instead of being true to who they are.
Your brand is what separates you from every other church. It defines who you are and who God has created you to be. If you spend too long at all trying to be the church down the street or across the map, you won’t last very long. You simply will not be able to sustain a brand that is not true to your calling.
Be the church God is calling you to be.
Has your church identified who they are?
In researching why people love their jobs, we discovered a statistic that was not too surprising. In every single survey we read (50 of them to be exact), among the top 5 reasons listed for why people loved (or hated) their job was “their boss.”
As a Church Leader, it is easy to become so focused on the day to day life of the church; ministries, budgets, planning events and services, that it is easy to overlook your staff. I know this was the case with me, when I was a Church Communications Pastor. I had a great team, one I deeply valued, but one I often overlooked. I can make the excuse that I was busy, and I was. But I quickly learned that if I didn’t care for my team, they weren’t going to be my team for long.
Here are 6 Easy Ways to Show Your Team You Care -
#1 – Recognize their work via Social Media
Tweet it, Post it, Pin it, Instagram it. Put it on the Vine if you have to. But get the word out that you have great people on your team.
#2 – Remember the details of their lives
Know their spouses and kid’s names, remember anniversaries and birthdays and celebrate with them accordingly.
#3 – Randomly send notes
Don’t wait for a special occasion to encourage them. Handwrite a note telling them why you’re thankful they are on your team. I had a boss that would periodically leave a sticky note on my keyboard. Not a big deal, but it was nice to know he took the time to show he cared.
#4 – Regularly Pray
Pray for them, Pray with them, Pray over them
#5 – Reach out in times of crisis
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember. Yes, they might have a big extended family and an army of friends, but you still need to take the time to reach out to them in times of crisis.
#6 – Respectfully challenge and encourage
Take the time to help your staff grow by encouraging them in their strengths and challenging them to live up to their God-given potential.
Do you want to be the kind of leader people will follow? Be a leader who cares.
What ways do you care for your team?Creative Leadership is just one of The 12 Essentials of Church Communications addressed by Sayge. Sayge is a monthly Church Communications training resource for any church leader wanting to reach and mobilize their audiences to Kingdom action. The monthly resource is available at www.saygeresources.com
Scott McClellan – Communications Director
Scott is the Communications Pastor at Irving Bible Church. Previously, Scott was a part of RT Creative Group for seven years, where he led COLLIDE Magazine and Echo Conference. He is a new published author with his new book realeasing soon.
Book | Twitter | Blog
Video Notes -
Question: Why is storytelling one of the most powerful forms of communications?
- Every story includes context (past and present) and imagination (future).
- Invite people into the imagination of story.
- Examples: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Jobs
Question: How does a church identify and share their unique story?
- Part of identifying your story is listening. What is God doing in our church?
- Be intentional collectors of stories.
- Collect and share stories via many platforms – sermons, newsletters (print or digital), social media, etc.
- Stories start conversations.
Question: What excites you the most about the future of church communications?
- When we communicate stories with our church, we empower them to share stories with others.
- Give your congregation stories they can share with their neighbors and co-workers.
- Encourage church members to be storytellers.
Question: Can you share with us the big idea of your new book?
- As followers of Christ we are called and created to be storytellers in sharing our life and faith.
- Being a storyteller will change the way we view conversations, conflict, and culture.
How does your church capture and share stories?
Steve Fogg – Communications Director
Steve is the Communications Director at Crossway Church in Australia. He provides readers quality content on Church Communications each week via his blog. Steve is passionate about helping churches communicate clearly and simply.
Note: Make sure to catch a surprise addition to video at 14:01.
Video Notes -
- Executing before strategy is developed.
- Start with the “why” before moving the “what” and “how”.
- A communications strategy creates margin for creativity and flexibility.
- Everything communicates something.
- Brand Guidelines are great but the best way to protect your brand is through conversations with your church and staff.
- The people of your staff and church is your brand.
- Stop and “think” what parts of the strategy needs to be communicated to other stakeholders.
- Articulate and share the communications strategy with other staff members to receive input.
- Identify the Why, How, What and When within communications strategy.