Principal and designer for Types & Symbols.
The Conflict Beautiful was a crowdfunding project to create a new, heirloom-quality, NKJV edition of Ellen G. White’s Conflict of the Ages series. We reached our $144,000 funding goal on November 15, with a total of $153,330 in pledges, and since then we’ve been managing fulfillment logistics, overseeing editorial changes, refining design details, and working with the printer. It has been a tremendous joy for us to be able to work on this project, and we are humbled that so many people supported it. We’re humbled even further that, in spite of our inexperience with raising money, we were able to meet such a high goal.
This was our very first crowdfunding campaign as a studio, and the first time any of us had worked to raise this much money. While we went into it with a strategy and certain amount of preparation, we learned a lot throughout the process that we’d like to share.
Our primary strategy was to design something so beautiful and meaningful that it could sell itself. While we didn’t necessarily expect the project to go viral within Adventist circles, we did think it might be possible, and that if the project was worth doing at all, it would be because it was exciting to enough people, and not just ourselves.
And by enough people, we mean about 1,000 people. The minimum print run required to get these printed at the quality we wanted was 1,000 sets, and it seemed to us that it was possible that there were at least 1,000 other Adventists who both appreciated these books and appreciated good design. If we could just find that many people willing to order a single set, we would reach our goal.
We should note here, for those unfamiliar with Types & Symbols, that we are a design studio dedicated to creating beautiful Adventist experiences for the church and its members. We often work with clients to help them establish brand identities, design websites, design publications, or produce promotional material for marketing campaigns. In most of those cases, we are working with established audiences, or helping fulfill a larger marketing strategy developed by an internal team. We are professional designers, not (yet) marketers, so we had very little direct experience with promoting a project of this scale.
With that said, we knew we would need much more than just a beautifully designed project, so before launching the campaign, we got in touch with a number of Adventist leaders to get their input and feedback. We also knew that we needed to launch with some kind of existing base, so we also started to build a mailing list in the months and weeks before launch, through purchasing print and digital ads, and exhibiting at events. In meeting with people, both leaders and lay-people, we heard a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, and it buoyed our hopes that this project might come to life.
Finally, once the campaign was live, we knew that we would need to continue building awareness, so we also prepared various design and video materials so that we could maintain a steady stream of promotional posts throughout the campaign.
And then we launched the project.
Except for the concern around money, we realized that we could have, and still had the opportunity, to provide greater clarity about why this edition was unique, how it wouldn’t exist without pledges made in advance, and how to go through the process of pledging itself.
In response to the slowing growth, and some of the reasons we were hearing, we got more more advice and began tweaking our approach. We adjusted our promotional messaging, updated the campaign page for clarity, and added in a few higher level pledge options. And we prayed, a lot.
As it turned out, we ended up receiving a significant amount of our pledges from the higher-level pledge amounts, contributed by a small group of very generous individuals. That, paired with an increase in single-set pledges during the final few days, allowed us to reach our goal, and what a relief and encouragement that was!
What we learned:
1. Crowdfunding is not commonly understood
We knew that not everyone would be familiar with Kickstarter, but we had assumed there would be enough familiarity with the concept of crowdfunding. Because of this, we didn’t make a point of clearly explaining how it worked—preferring instead to make posts the focused on the value of the project. After speaking with people, we realized that we certainly should have provided more education about how Kickstarter worked. We spoke with a lot of people who had heard about the project, or seen the video, and quite a few of them said things to the effect of “I’d love to get a set once they’re available!” We would then explain that they might never be available unless people preorder. A lot of our early ads, both print and digital, had been subtle and minimal, with aspirational messaging like “coming soon”, and at the end our messaging started to approach more desperate and overt, like “coming never!—unless you go to Kickstarter and make a pledge/pre-order right now!!!”
2. There is no silver bullet
Another thing we learned, or, better stated, was reinforced for us, is that reaching a broad swath of Adventists is very difficult to do. While a number of publications have a wide reach, there are so many things competing for people’s attention, even within the Adventist Church, that it is really easy for people to ignore all of them.
We ran print ads, social media ads, exhibited at events, were interviewed for different publications, had other organizations share the project on their own feeds, and in total these were all the different entities that included some mention of the project:
We completed the campaign with 419 backers, with many backers choosing to back more than one set. The total number of sets purchased through Kickstarter was 880.
Ultimately though, a significant percentage of our funding was the result of personal connections, and the personal connections of those personal connections. This doesn’t necessarily suggest to us that we should invest less in advertising with the above entities for future projects (multiple exposures are always valuable), but perhaps that we should invest more in developing and cultivating these smaller, more passionate audiences.
3. Building an Audience is key
Related to the above, we realized that could have done a better job at building an audience ahead of time. As a studio, we’re not actually very active on social media, and we don’t currently produce much content, so when it came time to reach out to our existing audience of followers, we didn’t really have an audience. In creating this project, we’ve certainly built one. Our mailing list gained nearly 800 subscribers which we’ll be able to reach out to in the future (and helps get us close to 1,000 true fans). We’re also thinking about ways to provide more ongoing value so that, when it comes time to launch another project, there is even more familiarity with our studio, the quality of work that we do, and what we value.
4. Timing matters
We realized partway through the campaign that we could have benefitted from launching at a less fraught time. This is more of a suspicion than anything we can measure, but we launched our project around the same time that a lot of concern was starting to be felt in North America (our target market) around conversations at GC Annual Council as well as NAD YEM. The news cycle during this time moved a bit more quickly than it tends to at other times during the year, and we realized that write-ups and links about our project were getting buried pretty quickly. For a marketing campaign that relies on more traditional forms of media, paying attention to the news cycle is important.
What we will do differently on the next project:
Something we learned from our discussions with people who have engaged in fundraising before is that it is valuable to build in commitments before launching, so that we launch with a certain amount already promised, or ‘in the bucket’. It’s possible that having such a large goal as we did caused some individuals to think that it wasn’t worth pledging because it seemed like such an impossible goal for them to make a difference to.
On that note, we arrived at the figure of $144,000 because it was close to what we needed to cover the cost of production, and it seemed like a fun detail, even though it involved rounding down a bit. A lot of people who saw the project also thought it was fun, but we also heard a lot of questions like “but how much do you actually need?”, so in the future we’ll pick less clever numbers, and try to be more explicit about why we need whatever amount we need.
Another thing we would do differently for future projects is adjusting how we handle the crowdfunding. Some of the major benefits of Kickstarter (discoverability) don’t matter as much for the nature of the products that we create, or for the audience that we create them for. Furthermore, we discovered after committing to Kickstarter that their options for calculating and handling international shipping were very limited, which in effect reduced the reach of our project.
Finally, there were a small number of individuals who’s advice and support had a disproportionate impact on the success of the project, and for our next project we will get them involved much, much sooner.
What’s next for Types & Symbols?
We have a lot of ideas for future projects, but for the meantime we’re staying focused on finishing up work on The Conflict Beautiful and serving our existing clients. If you didn’t have a chance to back the project, we’re still accepting preorders for the full set at theconflictbeautiful.com.
Digital Strategist for Advent Digital Marketing. Advent Digital Marketing provides digital marketing services to business owners and organizations that want to take a professional approach to online marketing.
Let's begin with an overview of marketing fundamentals.
Promoting your product, service, ministry or organization starts with identifying the target audience you are trying to reach, understanding their behavior, and then determining the message you want to communicate to them.
Once this is accomplished, you’ll need to figure out the best promotional channel(s) to reach your audience and communicate your message. When it comes to choosing which channel/platform to use for your promotional campaign, the most important factor for consideration is the size of YOUR audience that is investing their ATTENTION on a channel. If you have a large audience on a channel (such as email or Twitter) but they are not spending much time on it or ignore promotional content, then it will not be an effective channel for communicating your message.
The size of the desired target audience and quality of time spent on a platform or channel varies greatly depending on the demographic.
The most important question to ask yourself when trying to figure this out is: “Where does my target audience give their attention?”
Here are a few more pointers to help you work through this:
Whether you decide to take the time to learn how to use these valuable tools on your own or hire a professional, know that every strong digital campaign starts with a strong foundation of research on your target audience.
Watch my video below to learn how to use these research tools:
The Center for Online Evangelism is a missionary project devoted to developing online mission stations.
The Billboard Analogy
Imagine your church was given a huge billboard on Highway 401, North America’s busiest highway, carrying about 420,000 vehicles per day. (That means A LOT of people would see your sign.)
Your billboard invites people to a special program at your church. But suddenly, you’re told that you have to pay for the days you want your billboard to be unveiled.
You have two choices:
Hopefully, you would pay to unveil the billboard. Why? Because when it comes to letting people know of Jesus Christ, every penny is worth it.
Why consider digital ads?
Let’s face it – most of the world’s population is online.
Today, the question is no longer whether Seventh-day Adventists should have an online presence, but rather, how do we increase our presence? What can we do to be more effective at sharing the Gospel online?
Digital ads, specifically Facebook ads, are like that billboard on Ontario’s busy highway.
1 billion people log on to Facebook every day.
This number includes people in the area around your church who you want to reach.
Isn’t it enough to have a Facebook page?
To strengthen our online efforts, churches and ministries have Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts, create YouTube channels, and use other methods of digital promotion. If your church or ministry has a social media platform, kudos to you!
But it’s not enough.
Remember the billboard analogy? The billboard is up but no one will see it unless you pay for the tarp to be removed.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, organic reach is “the number of people who have seen your post through unpaid distribution.” Going back to our billboard scenario, organic reach represents the number of people who intentionally leave their cars, climb up the billboard. and peak under the covering.
We can no longer count on the organic reach of Facebook posts. If you don’t put money behind your ad or posts, less than 2% of people who follow your page will see your content.
What are Facebook ads?
Facebook ads are paid promotional material that targets a specific audience in the effort to let more people know about your church or ministry’s programs or services.
These can be:
More practically, if your church is offering a Bible-based financial help seminar, an after-school program for kids, or they’re giving out winter coats to needy families, should these be advertised on social media?
Almost 20% of people think not!
In a recent poll, 81% agreed that we should be advertising on social media platforms while the remaining 19% thought not, for varying reasons.
What do you think?
As you mull over this, remember the church has been “advertising” for as long as it has existed. However, the methods are constantly evolving.
Your church is already advertising if:
If your church is still printing flyers to give out to your community, consider the words of one CEO:
Some…believe that an attractive flyer mailed out to countless, untargeted recipients will bring results. Unfortunately, this is just one way to kill lots of trees, waste plenty of expensive ink and give the post office your hard earned money without getting any kind of return. Even the best-designed flyer won’t be very effective at producing a response, especially if sent to cold, untargeted [individuals].
What’s the purpose of “advertising” your ministry online?
If you sense a twitch in your spirit because the words “Gospel” and “advertising” are used in the same sentence, that’s understandable. Besides, we don’t ever want to convey the idea that Salvation is a product for sale.
When we promote or advertise, we extend an invitation to those online to be a part of something bigger. For digital disciples or ministry workers, our reason for promoting what we do has eternal value.
Digital disciples (those who share the Gospel online) recognize their responsibility to let others know of the saving grace of Christ.
We share the Gospel in various ways (preaching, health classes, education, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, defending the defenseless, etc.). When we’re planning an event, we want to find the most effective way to get the news out.
The purpose of advertising is to:
With 2 billion people using Facebook every month, you are guaranteed to reach someone in your target audience.
What should the church be advertising?
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15 NIV).
So it should be with what the church offers. We want as many people as possible to know.
More people need to be made aware of what the church offers. Online ads have the possibility of giving the world a better idea of who we are.
When a product or service is worth it, creators focus on how they can use all the methods available to them to promote something they believe is useful to consumers. Knowing how useful our ministries are (online and offline) will push us to work feverishly to use as many tools as possible to reach more souls.
How do Facebook ads work? Now that we’ve established why online ads are important, let’s get to how to actually create Facebook ads.
HubSpot recommends keeping these things in mind when creating ads on Facebook:
Create a Facebook ad in 7 steps:
So, should you advertise on Facebook?
Effective advertising on Facebook increases the chance for more people to learn about your church or ministry. While we promote the church to those in the community, we shouldn’t neglect those who are seeking for truth online.
However, it is critical that churches and ministries remember that it is NOT ads (digital or otherwise) that win souls. The Holy Spirit wins souls.
“There is a necessity, it is true, for expending money judiciously in advertising the meetings, and in carrying forward the work solidly. Yet the strength of every worker will be found to lie, not in these outward agencies, but in trustful dependence upon God, in earnest prayer to Him for help, in obedience to His Word” — Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 110. (1909)
By promoting your church or ministry activities or programs online, you let more people in on something life-transforming.
Has your church or ministry used Facebook ads? What worked for you and what didn’t? Tell us below!
Reposted with permission from centerforonlineevangelism.org.
Facebook Advertising Resources:
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division
Social media can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. For most Adventist entities, social media manager is just one of many hats an employee might wear. If you happen to be a full-time digital strategist, you’re likely managing multiple campaigns and projects at once. Regardless of your level of expertise, there never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish everything you need to do in order to stay on top of the ever-growing evangelistic influence of social media. Over the years, I’ve learned to streamline my approach in order to tackle a large workload.
Here are my top three tried and true time-saving tips for developing your content or campaign strategy:
1.) Schedule your content in batches – Scheduling your content (and ads) in advance helps you focus on big picture items without the urgency of consistent posting. Plan out regular content in advance and make time to schedule it in monthly or bi-weekly chunks. Then you can focus your attention on engagement, community building, data analysis, strategic planning, and other projects. This also empowers you to be more proactive in your digital strategy, as opposed to reactive.
For example: If you’re running four digital campaign strategies (for different brands) at once, keeping up with the continual need for content is easily managed with this technique. It takes me one to three hours, depending on the campaign, to plan, write, and schedule the posts for a month across multiple platforms for each campaign. If you carve out time each week to focus on just one of the four campaigns, that’s between one and three focused hours a week spent scheduling content. Then your social media posts are taken care of for each campaign on a rolling basis, allowing you to stay on top of performance analytics and enabling you to better evaluate and optimize your strategy. This also frees you up to respond quickly to comments or address any unexpected issues or changes.
2.) Create evergreen content or repurpose posts – Just because you posted a piece of content once doesn’t mean your entire audience has seen it or had the time to react. Remember the “Rule of 7” states that a person must see a message at least seven times before they take action. Consequently, it’s a good idea to use one post multiple times to ensure greater exposure. For an awareness campaign like #enditnowNAD, we had two solid testimonies on why greater awareness and education is needed for pastors, church leaders, educators, and anyone working with children to effectively identify and report abuse. Over the course of a six-month campaign, we scheduled each testimony three times, with slightly different wording and images, and at different times of day and days of the week, to reach different groups of people. Each time, the content was well received. It was a long campaign, and we did this with much of the educational content that we were sharing on our various channels. We invested our time into creating compelling posts, strong resources, and images that could be used multiple times to reinforce our mission instead of constantly seeking to create new original content. New content was weaved in as it became available, but by using this technique, we were able to guarantee a consistent posting schedule.
For event-specific campaigns, you can leverage this technique to build urgency towards deadlines. For example, as the last day for an early-bird registration approaches, you can rework the same message and call-to-action using key buzzwords to attract attention.
Fellow digital missionaries, I hope you found these time-saving tips helpful. Be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear what other ways you save time or streamline your efforts.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division
If you’re like me, you’ve hit a creative roadblock at some point. Doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor, Christian vlogger, or a digital disciple, we have all run out of content ideas and sat staring at our laptops at some point. As digital missionaries, we want to create relevant content, but may not always be sure what people are searching for online. Our purpose is to meet the needs of people in the digital space, and luckily, the inspiration we need lies in tools many of us use every day. If we’re strategic and intentional with the content we create, we can provide people with the answers and connection they are looking for online.
We've said this before: people are Googling for God, and it’s still very true.
Each year there are millions of Google searches for answers to questions like:
There is a great need for our message of hope. Additionally, many people are hurting, entertaining suicidal thoughts, or feel there is no hope for their situation. They turn to the internet for companionship, understanding, information, anonymity, and more. It’s easier for them to pour out their heartfelt searching to Google or on social media than it is to talk to a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member. Consequently, this is where we, as disciples, need to cast our net. To do that, we need to use the kind of spiritual food the fish are looking to feed on.
Here is our easy tip for a wealth of content ideas:
Find content, write content, and curate content related to top Google searches. Frame your posts to pique curiosity and answer people’s questions, addressing their deepest longings. You can get top search data from any search engine, YouTube, and other social media trend tracking sites. Try it. Start typing in a question and let the search engine auto-finish. The top results represent the most popular search queries. In other words, you will see what large numbers of people are searching for online. It gives you a sneak peek into their needs, worries, nagging questions, and often hidden longings.
These trends allow us to predict what topics audiences may find interesting, and we can use this predictability to speak to the masses in a relevant way. When we make content that speaks to the spiritual needs of people and seeks to address their deepest longings, we can change lives through digital evangelism.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
Christmas is coming, and many churches may be hosting holiday themed presentations. Enjoy this gift from us to you!
Here’s an outline of an integrated (traditional + digital) campaign that incorporates a pixel:
1) About six weeks before the event, create a landing page on your website dedicated to your Christmas event, and embed a registration link to reserve tickets in advance. Eventbrite is one option for managing registrations, but many website platforms (like Wix) have the capability already built in. Even if your event is free, this is a great way to enable visitors to guarantee their seats and for your church to collect their email addresses for future event invites. This also allows you to control attendance for extremely popular programs that, if too many people show up, risk violating building capacity codes.
2) Set up a Facebook pixel to track the visitors to the event page. Click here to learn how to set up a Facebook pixel for tracking, a step-by-step guide from Facebook.
3) Set up a Facebook event, and invite all the church members on your friend list to begin building organic traffic and awareness. Be sure to include your header image, all relevant information, and a link to reserve tickets. Click here to learn more about setting up Facebook events. Some event management systems like Evenbrite integrate with Facebook, making it easy to manage your registrations.
4) Next, start your promotion campaign by sending emails to your mailing list (directing them to the website landing page and asking them to forward the email. Click to view sample.).; Also, post about the event on your social media and ask followers to like, share, or RSVP to the Facebook event and invite their friends. Throughout the campaign, be sure to pin your event promotion posts to the top of your feed so it will be the first thing visitors see when they scroll through your profile. Print flyers for people to hand out as well. If possible, create an outside poster, banner, or billboard that people driving by your church can easily see from the road. Be sure to keep a consistent branded look.
5) Before you begin paid ads, be sure to leverage the social influence of your church members and those involved in the presentation. Is your church choir involved? Take a moment in rehearsal and ask them all to pull out their phones to RSVP to the event on Facebook, and like and/or share the event to their feeds. Take time during the Sabbath morning service to talk about the event and again ask the congregation to pull out their phones and engage online. This organic traffic will give your posts a helpful boost, helping to maximize the effectiveness of your paid ads and grant you favor with Facebook’s algorithms. Let them know that by helping, they are all a part of the digital discipleship team!
6) About four weeks out from the event, start targeted, local Facebook ads to promote the event to the broader community within 5 or 10 miles of your church. If your church seats about 500, and you have 250 regularly attending members, plan to spend around $75 for your Christmas event Facebook advertising. If you live in a densely populated area, I recommend you tighten the distance to less than 5 miles from the address of your church, and target people friendly to Christian values by using keywords like: Jesus Christ, Bible, Bible Study, etc. This will help ensure your limited ad dollars are used on those most likely to come.
7) At three weeks out, create a splash page on your website’s homepage so that all visitors to your church website can learn about the event. A splash page is an overlay page, generally placed on the homepage of a website, that appears first before allowing a visitor to continue to the main content of the website. This website feature is often used to promote special offers, email subscriptions, special events, and other important announcements.
I also recommend changing the header image on your church’s Facebook page at this time to help promote the program.
8) Most people will register last minute, about 10-14 days before the big event. This is where your Facebook pixel will be extremely helpful. Start a second Facebook ad for $25-$40, and this time create a custom audience based on your Facebook pixel that targets people who have visited the event page (or your website) within the last 30-60 days. This Facebook ad should serve as a reminder to register to guarantee their seats. Use this ad to create urgency and remind them to get their tickets. This is also an ideal time to post about the event to community/local-based social media apps such as Next Door or neighborhood groups on Facebook.
9) Throughout your campaign, be sure to answer any messages in your Facebook inbox and respond thoughtfully to comments made on the ads. People may have questions; be sure to answer them quickly before they lose interest. If you’re not sure how to respond, use this helpful guide for assessing your response.
10) Leading up to the big day, it’s also important to keep reminding your congregation of the event through bulletin announcements, podium announcements, and email reminders, etc.
11) A few days prior, be sure to send out an email to everyone who has registered with important information such as parking, check-in information, etc. Make sure essential information is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to find on your website and in all communications. Remember, empathy first. Put yourself in a prospective visitor’s place and seek to understand their needs and/or experience. Location, directions, and event times should be visible on your homepage, in email communications, and on social media. Link to a “Plan Your Visit” section on your website with “What to Expect” FAQs. Not knowing what to expect is a barrier to entry for many people. Links to this information can also be listed on social media platforms.
12) Organize your welcoming or personal ministries team, and prep them for new visitors. You may even want to get the entire congregation involved. It’s one thing to get new people into your church; it’s another to get them to come back. Make sure they not only have a good experience, but also connect with the members on a personal level. The church is about creating a community of believers. That means creating meaningful connections with those who enter our house of worship. Your brand’s online interactions with potential visitors should make them want to experience your faith/mission in person. Then, when they do come for that onsite experience, it should be a continuation of the positive relationship you’ve built with them online. You want to even consider creating a welcome packet or giving them a small gift with an encouraging note.
Church growth is a product of promotion, experience, and personal connections.
13) After the event, be sure to follow up with a thank-you email to all who registered/attended and conduct a survey for feedback. People love to be heard and want to know their opinion is valued. Also, you may receive some powerful testimonies by allowing for open comment responses, as well as constructive feedback that will equip you to make improvements for next time. Sending out a survey will also allow you to learn a bit more about your audience, such as what their needs and interests are or what services they are interested in.
14) Finally, when the event is over, begin planning your next event, program, or service to re-engage the audience that visited your church. Reach out to them again accordingly.
This promotions model can be used for Passion plays and any other big events your church may do throughout the year!
Learn more about placing Facebook ads:
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
What is a Facebook pixel? What are some practical uses for ministry?
Simply put, a Facebook pixel is a small snippet of HTML code that is placed on your website for tracking purposes. It’s similar to Google Analytics, but specifically for Facebook, enabling advertisers to target and re-target more effectively. Installing a pixel allows Facebook to track visitors and categorize them in custom audience groups. This information can help you develop more effective ads that appeal to that specific audience’s interests.
It takes time, effort, and money to attract an audience, so once you have people actively engaging with your content, cultivating your relationship with them is the next most effective step you can take for your ministry. Pixels are one way to re-engage your followers/visitors and ensure that your content is reaching them. It’s also a way to customize the content they receive, taking into consideration their level of engagement and behavior, and making sure your organization’s content stays relevant to their needs.
For example, suppose you have a website that tackles multiple difficult topics, and one of the most visited areas focuses on “What happens when we die?” You can re-target visitors to that specific page with Facebook ads for videos, new content, free books, etc., all related to a biblical perspective on death. You can do the same for your prophecy, health, and Sabbath sections as well.
Custom audience options for pixels include:
Click here to learn how to set up a Facebook pixel for tracking, a step-by-step guide from Facebook.
Click here for a bonus Christmas event campaign outline using a pixel.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
The “Rule of 7” states that a person needs to be exposed to a message at least seven times before they’ll take a desired action, such as register, RSVP, attend an event, read an article, or participate in some other meaningful way.
We should expect that our audiences experience marketing messaging and content overload just like us. It’s estimated that the average adult is exposed to over 3,000 marketing messages a day! Therein lies the challenge. To cut through the clutter, we must utilize a multi-channel, multi-platform approach. Also, consistency with your branding, as well a regular messaging schedule will maximize effectiveness. Channel refers to the communication medium, such as radio, print, TV, and social media. Platform refers to different kinds of social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Truly effective communication strategies work across all channels and platforms to reach people where they are, with one goal or message.
This is often referred to as integrated marketing and may utilize the following channels:
Social media should be part of a comprehensive communication strategy that incorporates both traditional media and digital, working together to maximize impact. In most cases, social media is not used in place of traditional forms of communication, but in addition, as a means of amplifying your message to a larger community.
For churches, you’ll most likely want to leverage: in-person interactions and conversations, website updates, text messages, flyers, podium announcements, emails, and your social media profiles. Together, all these efforts help communicate your church brand, and it’s important to consider how the combination of these communication tools reflects your message, mission, and, ultimately, Christ, hopefully drawing people to the gospel. Being strategic is just being intentional with how you orchestrate all the different ways to distribute information and using effective methods of presenting that information. If you find yourself struggling to make sure your membership is informed about events and opportunities, understanding and implementing this multi-channel principle will help improve awareness among your congregation.
But with the busyness of life, how can you ensure that your audience prioritizes your messages? Your content must be read before it can have any kind of life-changing effect. To stand out, your messages should communicate directly to the reader in a way that is relevant to their life, situation, or needs. Messaging like: “This will make your life easier/help you with a problem,” or “Here’s a chance to learn how to eat healthier/help the community,” or “Here’s an opportunity to gain some insight on that nagging question you have,” is strong, engaging content.
It’s not enough to communicate often and in different ways; your messages will still not be effective unless they are framed in a way that meets the needs of your audience. Another way to think about this is to seek to understand the motivating desires and core values of your community. Then create programs, ministries, and content that serves them. Too often we create the programs and content that we assume our audience wants, and don’t end up with the results we were hoping for. When we combine a strong communications strategy with carefully chosen programs and messages, we can increase our chances of being successful.
Shape your ministry goals around the needs of your audience/community, then develop your communications strategy to achieve the desired results.
The main takeaway I want you to understand for your strategy is that repeated, consistent messaging from multiple communication channels is the key to having an informed audience or membership. In addition, those messages must serve your target audiences in a meaningful way.
We now have more resources than ever before to reach audiences and reinforce our message. But with all the digital clutter, it might take up to a thousand tries to reach someone just seven times! Therefore, it’s important to keep at it and develop relationships with those you are trying to serve. Post your questions in the comment section below!
Download our comprehensive guide to learn more about how to write for social media to get your content noticed.
The Center for Online Evangelism is a missionary project devoted to developing online mission stations.
You may be wondering, what can we actually do to optimize our web presence?
Since optimizing content for search engines primarily means optimizing content for people, many principles of SEO follow fundamental principles of advertising, marketing, psychology, and sociology. Remember, it’s all about people and their behaviors.
However, since search engines are the vehicle by which this content is delivered, there are several technical aspects involved as well, such as web development, data gathering and analysis, and research (get your spreadsheets ready!).
This why digital marketing agencies and large organizations typically have an entire team to carry out SEO strategies, often comprised of copywriters, content managers, web developers, and SEO specialists. These team members spend considerable amounts of their time just keeping up with this industry, as trends and best practices can change even daily!
While this can sound overwhelming, take comfort that much of this research has already been done for you, and each blog post in this series is based on the latest data available.
We’ll introduce you to the concepts and processes that are major players in a complete SEO strategy: a checklist overview, writing and optimizing content for online readers, User Experience Engineering (UX/UXE), off-site SEO basics, tracking and analyzing your audience’s activity, and any technical setup or modifications that will be needed throughout.
Let’s start with a checklist of major elements involved in SEO.
NOTE: Make sure to check the dates of our SEO blogs as you read through—this guide will be updated frequently as trends change or if there’s a major Google algorithm update.
The following SEO fundamentals checklist has three categories: roles, onsite work, and offsite work.
ROLES refers to the different positions, expertise, and points of view that contribute to successful SEO. Often this means specific job positions that work together as part of an SEO team, but it can also demonstrate the wide range of different facets involved in truly optimizing content for search engines (people).
ONSITE refers to adjustments and development done directly on the pages of your website.
OFFSITE refers to SEO efforts done on platforms other than your website, such as social media, directories, review sites, external websites, etc. This can create more listings in search results that relate to your website/topic/organization, and they can also catch different audiences and send that traffic back to your website. When done correctly and legitimately, offsite efforts can also boost credibility, relevance, and authority.
(Note: Most offsite SEO, especially with external websites, is also referred to a “backlinking,” and it must be managed with care.)
These items will be covered in depth in later posts.
1. COMMON ROLES IN A WELL-ROUNDED SEO TEAM
2. ONSITE SEO BASICS
3. OFFSITE SEO BASICS
While this checklist covers several of the fundamental facets of SEO, this is a process of perpetual motion. Your work is never “done.”
Google releases updates, websites need to consistently post fresh content, and trends in online behavior can change almost instantaneously.
However, a consistent, concentrated effort can reap big rewards. You can find these checklist concepts expanded in the coming posts.
Click here for the SEO series and resource guide.
Digital Missionary, That Christian Vlogger.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
Recently, advertisements sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began running on prominent YouTuber Justin Khoe’s videos. What makes this surprising is that Justin is a digital missionary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For every advertisement that runs on his videos, Justin gets a percentage of the revenue. In other words, when the Church of Jesus Christ targets their ads to subscribers of his channel, they are financially supporting his ministry, an Adventist ministry. Before we get into why this strategy makes sense and what it means for Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic methods, let us share some background information.
Who is Justin Khoe?
Justin Khoe is a digital missionary. Known online primarily as “That Christian Vlogger,” Justin runs a Christian YouTube channel with over 65,000 subscribers (as of October 2018) that seeks to have a positive impact on those searching for spiritual answers online. His YouTube videos have been seen around the world by over two million people. With over ten years of preaching, literature evangelism, and teaching experience under his belt, Justin’s current focus is leveraging social media to help reach unchurched young adults. Co-hosting the show with him is his wife, Emily. Justin and Emily aim to encourage young adults to have a stronger and deeper relationship with God and to help them discover who God has created them to be. They call this way of living “experiencing faith in the first person.” In the past year, Justin has created an interactive Christian community and received 2,334 requests for Bible studies.
How YouTube Advertising Works
Advertising on YouTube is simple and straightforward: pay Google a set amount ($0.20 per view, on average) to insert a commercial to play before a particular video. The revenue from this advertising is split between Google and the content creator.
With over 1.8 billion people watching videos on YouTube each month, it’s easy to see why advertising on the platform is attractive for businesses looking to reach a wide audience. And they are coming in droves; in 2018 alone, advertisers are expected to spend an astonishing $3.9 billion dollars on YouTube advertising.
It’s makes sense. Armed with an endless supply of targeted data from Google’s immense user base, companies can now target prospective customers with pin-point accuracy. Travel agencies can target young families with an interest in exploring South-East Asia. Makeup companies can target 13-17 year old girls from the United Kingdom who have recently searched for specific brands of lipstick. The examples could go on and on.
Opportunities Beyond Profits
But YouTube advertising isn’t the exclusive domain of makeup companies and travel agencies looking to turn a profit. For many organizations with non-financial motivations, YouTube has become an ideal platform for influencing targeted groups of people. Using Google’s powerful targeting tools, politicians use the platform to target key voter segments, nonprofits use it to target likely donors, and—most recently—churches and other religious organizations have begun using it to target spiritually-interested people searching for answers to spiritual questions.
This last scenario is one that should be of particular interest to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As mentioned above, a religious organization has recently begun running ads on Justin Khoe’s (aka “ThatChristianVlogger”) YouTube channel. One ad in particular describes the conversion experience of Richard, an Asian-American atheist who became a Christian.
The approximately three-minute video describes how Richard was unhappy with his life and how he began to search for a greater purpose. Richard ultimately found, not only a faith that could fill his need for purpose and meaning, but also one that appealed to his need for logic as a scientist. Eventually, Richard met with some missionaries and decided to join a church that loves and welcomes him with open arms.
A Neglected Field
The crazy part of this story lies in which organization is sponsoring these ads on a Seventh-day Adventist YouTube channel: The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ, known for their evangelistic zeal, have recognized—better than most churches—that when young people have questions about purpose and identity, they don’t turn to pastors and teachers as they did in previous decades. No, they turn instead to social media—Google, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. In fact, Generation-Z can’t live without YouTube, with 95% of them using the platform and half stating they can’t live without it.
Gen Z prefers to watch, rather than read. They view digital video and short-form clips almost six times as much as they read traditional digital publishers/blogs. Social influencers play a significant role in defining what youth audiences like, view, and buy…This is particularly true when marketing to Gen Z, who grew up with the internet and are not only demanding that all brands entertain them, but also that entertainment shifts to behave like a friend—it’s also why influencers are so effective in selling to this generation. —Maude Standish, Vice President of Programming Strategy, Fullscreen
Rather than ignoring this trend, or attempting to counteract it, the Church of Jesus Christ has made the evangelistic leap that all churches seeking to remain relevant in the 21st century will have to take: they became digital missionaries. They found an existing online community of spiritually interested individuals (built by Justin Khoe through his YouTube channel), and then paid Google to spread their message to that targeted audience through advertising.
As a result, a Seventh-day Adventist digital missionary—Justin Khoe—finds himself in the ironic position of being sponsored (via YouTube advertising) by the the Church of Jesus Christ, because they recognize the immense evangelistic value of the audience he his building, and the need to target the next generation on the digital platforms where they are searching for answers.
Supporting digital missions can take a variety of forms. For the individual, this may mean leveraging your own digital influence for the gospel or supporting your favorite Adventist influencer financially. Encourage friends and family members who feel called to the digital mission field, especially when they are frustrated and have doubts. When you don’t understand what they are trying to do, ask questions and never dismiss their ideas due to their “youth.” In my experience, most principles gleaned from the physical mission field have application in the digital one. If you have evangelism and discipleship experience, be a guide and a mentor that encourages young people’s ideas. You may not be a content creator, but if you’re on social media, you can share their content to help expand their reach.
This will take a cultural shift at every level of our Church to recognize, encourage, support, and assist our youth, who are the best suited to reach their own generation. We must recognize digital missionaries as legitimate missionaries. This means not only making room for digital evangelism and discipleship in our churches, but preparing our youth for this mission field by equipping them with the right technical skills. We, as a denomination, must value the tech-savvy and social influencers if we are to accomplish our great commission in a digitally-focused society. It’s time to invest heavily in digital missionaries, platforms, technologies, and advertising strategies at the corporate and local levels of our Church.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church began as a grassroots effort that became a global movement. The explosion of digital technologies is affording us the opportunity to once again unite in a common purpose to expand the gospel. We are more connected than ever before, and the mission field is huge. I believe the next great awakening will be a digital one. I am challenging us to another grassroots movement of skilled individuals using their different talents (blogging, video, design, podcasting, IT, preaching, writing, healing, etc.) to share one message. I know there are thousands of faithful believers with the skills, expertise, and faith necessary to take our message online en masse. There is a place for everyone in this movement, but it will take everyone working together. The wisdom of traditional evangelism combined with the technical fluency of the youth could preach the three angels’ messages with a loud voice to the ends of Earth. This is possible if we seize this opportunity before it’s too late.
Follow Justin Khoe on YouTube
Support his ministry on Patreon