That Christian Vlogger: Case Study of a Video Missionary Part 2 – How He Grew His Channel from 0 to 65,000 Followers
Digital Missionary, That Christian Vlogger.
How I grew my Channel from 0 - 65,000 followers
Let’s assume that you’re convinced about digital missions. In fact, let’s say that you’re ready to start a YouTube channel for your ministry, church, or as an individual! The question is, how do you grow an audience? Great content needs to be seen to impact the lives of your intended audience. Let me walk you through five key steps.
Step #1 - Commit to an upload schedule.
Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that growing an audience takes time. Over the last three years I have created over 350 videos. Some of those videos have been seen by tens if not hundreds of thousands of viewers, while some have fallen flat with just a few hundred.
The main reason why you want to commit to an upload schedule is because you learn so much more when you create so much more. Many people expect to release one perfect video and create an audience from that one video. Now, while I do not doubt the power of a viral video, you can never really create a deep and meaningful community off of one video.
When I first started my YouTube channel, I made a promise to myself that I would upload one video per week without fail (it turns out that I actually uploaded 100 videos that year). I am a firm believer that done is better than perfect. So many people get paralysis by analysis simply because they want to create the perfect piece of content.
News flash: your first videos will suck. That’s ok. Everyone’s first videos are terrible. The point isn’t that you create perfect content, but that you perfect the art of creating better content. With each video, you should improve on the one before.
For the purposes of YouTube, I suggest a minimum of one upload per week. If you have the additional bandwidth and skills to do more, that's great, but not necessary. One video per week will suffice.
Step #2 - Do your homework.
Now that you have committed to creating 52 videos in this upcoming year, the next question you should ask yourself is, what kind of content should you create? This is a key question for your ministry, and I go in-depth on this topic in the “How to Start a Video Ministry” course.
The TL;DR version is this. Find questions that people are searching for on the internet and create content specifically designed to answer those questions. Utilize tools like VidIQ or Google keywords and the YouTube search engine to know what popular questions people are asking.
Ideally, you want to find the sweet spot between super competitive searches and questions that no one is asking. If you target phrases that are too competitive, your voice will be crowded out and your videos will fall short. Conversely, if you target niche questions with near to zero search traffic, you may eliminate your potential viewers while eliminating potential competition.
One helpful exercise that I did when I first started was a broad search on YouTube of some of the more commonly watched videos in the Christian niche and I created a spreadsheet of what people seemed to respond to most.
To start, I suggest targeting questions or phrases that have on average 10,000-100,000 monthly searches on Google. Any more than 100,000 monthly views and competition is too fierce. Any less than 10,000 and you’re very likely to not garner attention at all.
Step #3 - Study analytics.
Once you have created an initial library of content (say, a dozen or so videos), it’s time to start studying your numbers and learning from your analytics. You can learn quite a bit of information from the numbers that YouTube provides.
Pro-tip: Some important metrics to take notice of are total views, minutes watched, and viewer retention.
The first two are pretty straight forward. Total number of views and minutes watched per video are obvious indications of what type of content is resonating with your growing audience. If you notice clear trends on which type of content is getting attention, dive deeper into that subject and create more content around it.
For example, if your video on “How to Study the Bible” has noticeably higher engagement over any other type of content, consider creating content around a related topic. Examples could include, “Which Bible translation is best?” “Where should I start when studying the Bible?” and “5 Bible Verses to Help with Stress.” The goal with creating families of content is to allow a potential viewer to binge watch three to four videos at a time. If you only have one video on an important subject, they can’t do this.
Viewer retention is arguably the most overlooked metric for most YouTube content creators. The longer you can keep someone on YouTube, the more favorably you will be treated by the YouTube algorithm. The simple fact of the matter is that not everyone watches the entirety of your video.
Consider the “Average percentage viewed” metric. A healthy benchmark to shoot for is above 50 percent.
You’ll notice in the picture that at no point are there significant drops in viewer retention. This is a healthy sign that the video you created was valuable to your audience and has done a reasonable job in addressing the question.
If you ever see sharp declines in audience retention, this is a great time for you to pull a lesson from it. Consider this picture:
You can see a sharp drop from 100 percent to about 60 percent retention within the first 60 seconds of this video. Perhaps my audience was not interested in the subject, maybe I did a poor job of introducing the content in an engaging way, or, most likely out of all the explanations: I took too long to get to the content. Studying your viewer retention can help you change your approach and delivery of your content.
Step #4 - Engage in community.
It is absolutely crucial that you do not look at your YouTube channel as a one-way street. Too often we view the YouTube platform as a digital portfolio of our content. This is a misguided approach that will limit your potential for meaningful impact. You should regularly be asking your audience questions, encouraging them to share their thoughts in the comments, and intentionally trying to build relationships off platform.
A rule of thumb: every single piece of content that you create should invite conversation. The most obvious application of this is to actually ask your audience a question in each video. Encourage them to share what stood out to them, challenge what you presented, to both agree or disagree with you and to let you know why. Appropriate discourse and debate are hallmarks to a healthy online community.
Trolls: Create enough content and you will inevitably encounter trolls. Internet trolls are people who start quarrels or aim to upset people on the internet with the exact purpose of distracting and sowing discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community. The goal for the troll is to amuse themselves by provoking viewers to display emotional responses and by leading the community down rabbit holes.
There are a few ways you can handle internet trolls. All have merits and drawbacks.
For more guidance on assessing your response, download a helpful infographic.
Step #5 - Take risks.
I am a firm believer that you should constantly be reinventing yourself. There is a major difference between 10 years of experience and one year of experience repeated 10 times. Experiment with different styles of content, different approaches, and even subjects that challenge both you and the audience.
One series of videos that I continually take risks are on the issue of the LGBT community. I have done eight total videos on the subject of homosexuality in the Church. Each time I have invited an openly gay Christian friend as a guest to the channel. The videos were not centered around debate, but around empathy. My hope was to humanize the “other side” so that we could talk to each other instead of past each other.
As you can imagine, there was a significant cost to this series. In total, I have lost over 700 hard earned subscribers from this series of videos. If you look on the graph below, you can clearly see when these videos were initially released.
However, while I had lost a major number of subscribers in the short term, I still believe that this was a healthy choice overall. The type of channel that I’m creating is one where controversial topics can be discussed. I, personally, am hoping to create a space where people can wrestle with their faith and ask the difficult questions that churches often avoid.
My audience may not always end up agreeing with my particular stance on any number of topics, but they know that I will always treat the subject and my guests with grace, compassion, and love. This posture of humility and of an open heart invites a very particular type of viewer and has created a heavily engaged community willing to journey through life together with me.
Digital Missionary, That Christian Vlogger.
When it comes to reaching millennials, social media is a necessity, not a luxury.
With only 2 in 10 millennials considering regular church attendance important, it just makes sense to meet young people where they are, and in 2018, that’s online.
Millennials spend on average 18+ hours per day behind a screen consuming movies, podcasts, social media, and playing video games. If you think that’s crazy, consider this: when I shared this statistic at Andrew’s University, over 50% of the seminarians I asked said that this was an accurate representation of their day.
As a church, our first response has been to point out the inherent dangers in online media, and rightfully so. However, if we have any desire to reach the unchurched or those who have left the faith, running away from social media is no longer an option. As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Rather than running away from social media, I believe God is calling us to run toward it, not as mindless consumers and gullible sheep, but as digital missionaries.
The digital missionary recognizes that “…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13, NIV). But as Paul said, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15, ESV). The digital missionary is a faithful Christian who is committed to taking the gospel to the world, whether that means selling books door-to-door, hopping on a plane to a third-world country, sharing their testimony on Sabbath afternoon, or creating videos on YouTube.
So here are 5 of the most important tips that I’ve learned in my three years as a digital missionary:
Tip 1: Assume no one will ever come to your church.
When most begin thinking about digital evangelism, one of the first questions is, “How do we get them to come to church?” Respectfully, I think this is the wrong question to ask. After all, the mission given to us by Jesus was to make disciples, not to grow our local church. Stop treating Facebook or Instagram simply as advertising platforms for weekend services or midweek socials. Instead, ask yourself this: If the only teaching or discipling that my viewer receives comes from my online ministry, how would their walk with God look? Would their love for Jesus be increased? Would they be challenged? Would their faith grow? By taking the “disinterested benevolence” approach, always serving and never expecting, God will place us directly in the path of those who need it most. Sometimes that means our ministry will reach the shut-ins and disabled, the persecuted Christian living in a Muslim country (true story), or someone like Brook.
Paradoxically, by making this assumption, people do show up at church. In fact, this past month Helen dragged her husband and all four of her kids to church when she found out that I would be speaking at a local Adventist church only 2.5 hours away. She may not be baptized yet, but as someone who has been convinced of the seventh-day Sabbath, Helen is doing the hard work of wrestling through these difficult questions. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to do this on her own.
Tip 2: Numbers matter, but not in the way that you think.
As a digital missionary it’s easy to believe two lies when it comes to “numbers.” On the one hand it’s easy to get proud when a video “goes viral” and the subscribers start rolling in. Conversely, it’s easy to get discouraged and think it’s not worth the effort when only a dozen people watch a video that took you five or six hours to create. In the same way that God values the small local church of a dozen members and the mega church with tens or hundreds of thousands of members equally, the same is true for the online video. It doesn’t matter if your video gets millions of views or dozens; God values it the same. After all, what matters to God most is the impact on the individual. It can be so easy to forget this simple fact, leading us to start interpreting views as a simple metric instead of what it really represents: actual real-life human beings who have taken the time to watch your content.
No Bible worker would for a moment feel ashamed when only a dozen people showed up to their Bible study. No pastor would ever consider the many hours in sermon prep a waste if he only got to preach to 50 or 100 people. The same should be true for digital missionaries. Why? Because each view isn’t actually a view. It’s a person
Tip 3: Teach what your viewers are looking for, not what you’re interested in.
One of the most overlooked facts about YouTube is that it is the second largest search engine in the world. In fact, every month, YouTube sees over 3 billion searches! “How-to” videos are growing 70% each year. We know this intuitively. After all, what do we do when we need to learn how to change a tire? We YouTube it! Need to learn how to tie a tie? YouTube it! Trying to learn how to install a piece of software on our computer…YouTube it! The same is true for spiritual questions. Over 100,000 people every single month are searching for answers to questions like, “Is God Real?” “What happens after death?” “What is Faith?” and even…“What is a Seventh Day Adventist?”
Instead of uploading an hour-long debate on who the King of the North is from Daniel 11, try targeting what people are actively searching for. Here’s a pro-tip on how to discover what people are looking for online. Open up YouTube on an “incognito tab” on Chrome (if you don’t know how to do this, ask a 13-year-old in your church). By doing this, you won’t allow your personal search history to influence the auto-complete in the search bar. Start typing phrases like, “What does the Bible…” “Does God…” and “Why does God?”
Pay close attention to what shows up. YouTube is telling you that these are the most commonly typed questions by YouTube viewers from all across the world! This is where you should start when creating online content.
P.S. Use free tools like VID IQ, Google Ad Words, or Tube Buddy to get more in-depth information on specific questions many people are searching for.
Tip 4: Remember, community matters most!
Most of your viewers will be casual viewers: those who watch one or two videos only to wander to some other part of the internet. Don’t be discouraged by this. Jesus mentioned that there would be different soils each time we try to plant seed. Don’t be easily discouraged when it seems like your audience is highly transient in nature. If you are consistent in creating quality content, never “grow weary of doing good.” The promise is that, “in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, ESV).
Building deep community takes time. This is true of digital missions and IRL (in real life) ministry. People may visit your church dozens of times before they truly engage with the community and get involved through service. When I first started my online ministry, I asked myself how I would define “success” if I were planting a church. After 12 months, would an engaged community of 50 people be success? 100? 1000? Apply this same long-term mentality to building an online community. Don’t get impatient.
Other than creating consistent, quality content, there are many more things that you can do to build community. Respond to every single comment. Yes, all of them. Every comment is an opportunity to build community. Think of every comment as a real interaction (because that’s what it is). How would you respond if someone had something complimentary or critical to say to you after church? What would you do when a visitor had a question to ask the pastoral team? Respond to every single comment. Even the haters. Some of the most meaningful interactions that I have had online actually have come from people who were initially, “haters.” When fellow YouTuber, “The Raging Atheist,” made a very colorfully worded and angry video focused on attacking my channel (http://bit.ly/2NVbTrU - sensitive ears beware), instead of getting defensive, I tried to reach out.
Two more VERY colorful videos and several months later, “The Raging Atheist” not only considers me a friend but is actively encouraging his atheist subscribers to go and subscribe to my channel. To hear the full story, check out the Restore podcast by Javier Diaz.
Make it a practice to reach out to your viewers. Connect with them on other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Ask them questions. Offer to video chat or call them when they have questions. Respond to every email as if they were a person knocking on your church door, and over time you will build a deep and meaningful community.
Tip 5: Prayer is not enough. Educate yourself and collaborate with others.
Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is not only important, it is necessary. Any success that we will have in ministry, digital or otherwise comes as a direct response to prayer. But a digital missionary must combine it with an active effort to be informed and competent. Social media platforms change about as often as Apple releases new iPhones. As such, it’s important to continually invest in education and mentorship.
I’m writing this case study having just gotten back from Las Vegas. No, I wasn’t trying to make it big at the casinos. Instead, I had just invested three days with some of the industry’s leading experts on social media marketing.
Side note: many of the most proficient experts in social media are fellow believers seizing the power of social media for kingdom growth!
Over the last three years, I have spent over $10,000 on online courses, coaching, books, conferences, and mentorship. Now, I realize that not everyone is in the position to invest this type of money, but there are so many free resources available to help equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to succeed as a digital missionary (thanks to the NAD for partnering with me to create a FREE course on how to start a video ministry.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about digital missions is that social media actually rewards collaboration instead of competition. Whether you are looking to launch a YouTube channel, podcast, blog, or Instagram account, there is much to be gained from partnering with like-mission-minded people. Connect with other digital missionaries. Learn from their experiences, both the successes and failures. Seek to bolster and support their efforts with the heart of a servant.
Here are some examples of fellow Adventist missionaries & resources:
P.S., if you’re still doubtful that digital mission work really makes a difference, this is Michael Troyonasky. He became a Seventh-day Adventist because of a YouTube video. Yes, it makes a difference.
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.
So, you're ready to level 2 your text strategy. Before diving in, remember these simple rules:
Usually creating a texting campaign is relegated to the advertising 'department' and would be used to sell a product. For you and the church, it will be used to promote your message and services to your members. To maximize engagement and impact, you want to use SMS technology effectively, keeping your members reading and responding to your messages.
To accomplish your goals, you should follow these simple steps to keep them tuned in to Jesus:
To help you get started with texting for churches, download this free guide.
Felecia Datus, Center for Online Evangelism
The Center for Online Evangelism is a missionary project devoted to developing online mission stations.
Some time ago, a friend on Facebook posted something that upset me.
Not only did this person write something inflammatory about someone I respected, but what the individual posted as a ‘fact’ was actually wrong. I had sat in on a meeting in which the matter was discussed and cleared. And now, this person was speaking as if they had the facts. The post was garnering some attention and there was an online discussion going on in the comments section.
I sensed my irritation growing the more I read the discussion. I decided to jump in. I was going to prove to everyone that the “poster” was ignorant on the subject and needed to be corrected. I began to type. “Everyone will see how wrong you are! You’re spreading lies and I’m calling you out on it!”
I smiled to myself and closed the tab. I knew I had won the argument. I envisioned success; those online would see that the person was wrong and I was right.
But my plan backfired.
Instead of seeing my point, as the discussion continued, I was attacked and accused of being a liar. Hurt, embarrassed, and angrier than I was at first, I fought back. Then it got worse. I did what I thought was the next best thing in social media land; I hit the Almighty Unfriend Button.
Would the situation have turned out differently if I had reacted in another way? How could a friendship suddenly end with just a click of a button because of words online? Did both sides represent Jesus Christ well?
In the end, I realized I lost a friendship in order to "win" an argument online.
If you really want to “win” in online discussions, here are 5 things to remember:
As a digital disciple, your words serve as a testimony of your faith. When you engage, bring light and give instruction. Use your influence to represent your Lord and showcase His wisdom.
Winning arguments online isn’t about gaining victory over someone else; it’s about gaining victory over yourself.
Reposted with permission from centerforonlineevangelism.org.
Download a free presentation and resource on Social Media Etiquette.
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.
The Center for Online Evangelism is a missionary project devoted to developing online mission stations.
Now that you’ve learned about the importance of SEO and the various fundamental features of creating a successful SEO strategy, you don’t want your organization to miss out on the far-reaching opportunities for exposure and influence. It’s time to get started!
You may be asking: “What does my organization need to do first? How can I make sure my organization is ready?”
1) Make sure your organization has a dedicated Google account.
Much of your SEO work will be done within your organization’s general Google account—a gmail account along with extended features and apps—that is solely dedicated to the organization as a whole, not to one particular employee. It might be something like [MinistryName]Webmaster@gmail.com. You’ll use this to set up and access Google Analytics and Search Console, set up your map and Google My Business listings, and more.
Having a dedicated general email account for your organization helps keep SEO and online marketing efforts separate from other email accounts, such as personal or employee-specific accounts. In some cases it may need to be shared between two or three employees that are all involved in managing your organization’s online marketing strategy and reputation. This shared access can streamline your SEO efforts. To keep things safe, the login information can be kept and monitored internally by a management position, preventing problems in the event of employee turnover.
Click here for more account management best practices for ministries.
What is your organization’s dedicated, general Google account login information?
If you don’t yet have one, use this space to plan out your ideas:
Setting up your Google account (skip this step if your organization already has an account that meets the aforementioned requirements):
Start here, filling in the information you wrote out in the previous section. Make sure you have quick access to the email and/or phone number you gave, as Google will send you a code you will need to enter to complete the account setup and verification.
2) Make sure your site appears secure to Google with an SSL Certificate (http:// vs. https://)
To ensure that a user’s connection to your website is secure, you want to make sure you have a valid SSL Certificate installed (read more here). This new security measure became a must-have in July 2018, when Google Chrome started marking each site without an SSL Certificate (or https) as not secure.
Not only is this a factor in search engine ranking, but it can also alarm users who visit your website. This is especially detrimental if you sell products or accept donations online.
Additionally, when you set up various analytics tools for your website, you’ll want the SSL certificate set up properly so you can effectively track user data. This is an important preliminary step in preparing for SEO work.
Getting an SSL Certificate does not have to be difficult or costly. They can be obtained for free at letsencrypt.org or set up through your hosting provider. These steps will help you determine the best way to get one for your organization’s website. If you already have an SSL Certificate on your organization’s website, skip to step 3.
3) Is your website error-free?
Before you bring more traffic to your organization’s website, you want to make sure they’re not going to leave as quickly as they came due to frustration with errors! We recommend the following FREE tool to detect any errors on your website such as broken links, invalid redirects, server issues, and more. This is crucial to your onsite SEO efforts.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
This free software saves you from having to review and test each page, link, or image manually. Download this software onto your hard drive, open the program, and type in your organization’s website information. The software will “crawl” the website to pull data to populate the program’s chart. You can also export the data into an Excel spreadsheet.
Need more assistance? Try this beginning walk-through on SEO Spider.
You don’t want to frustrate new visitors with a website that isn’t easy to read on a mobile screen. With over half of all website traffic worldwide coming from mobile devices, this cannot be ignored. What’s more, Google is continually updating its search algorithms to favor websites that are optimized for mobile browsing. Your search engine ranking will be impacted by this.
Being mobile-friendly involves more than just installing a mobile-responsive website theme. It means also considering text size, page load speed, whether your site uses Java or Flash, if you have text in tables or embedded in an image, and more.
First, start with testing your organization’s website to see if it’s considered “mobile-friendly.”
5) Verify your organization’s NAP.
Especially if your organization has brick-and-mortar locations, you need to verify what Google considers your organization’s NAP: Name, Address, and Phone number.
It may sound simple enough, but this is a common place for inconsistency, errors, and can have an unnecessary negative impact on your search engine rankings.
These three bits of information are the most critical components of your local listing data, and they have to appear in exactly the same way (i.e., 123 Thisway Rd., vs. 123 Thisway Rd vs. 123 Thisway Road) in every place they appear, including on your website, in directory listings, on your social media accounts, etc. Any discrepancies can cause Google to not list one of those URLs (website, directory listing, social media, etc.), or to treat a slightly different NAP as a separate entity altogether.
If you have a large number of locations, create a centralized, master document that contains all location details. Create a new version each time any location data changes.
If you are a virtual organization: Your NAP will be your organization Name, email Address, and primary Phone number.
Once you’ve completed this worksheet, you’re ready to dive in to the foundational tasks of a successful SEO effort.
Click here for the full SEO series and resource guide.
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.