It can be exhausting, year after year, to try to follow and implement new innovations in the social media realm, just to have your church's social media campaigns return the most of every dollar spent.
The good news is that churches may have an advantage when looking to organically create peer-to-peer sharing and community building, as this is the nature of what we do.
This year is no different. This year, though, four techniques on the list stand out, and really might make a difference.
These techniques are more advanced and provide more than just awareness. They are becoming the driver of customer insight, and might just be the game changer for getting the most out of social media.
Up to now, social media effectiveness has been mainly determined by clicks, comments and conversations, despite being hard to capture and articulate. Application of these new techniques, combined with data traditionally captured and the understanding that we need to think beyond the dollar sign, is now producing a more reliable and better overall view of what the current marketing strategy focus should be, at any point in time.
Implementing these strategies can help uncover the scope and source for new opportunities such as advocacy, customer service, or retention. To not get overwhelmed, focus first on one platform or idea where you think you can create smaller successes first, then build on these successes.
Here are the four strategies:
1) A more targeted and personalized approach.
This can be achieved by determining where people within your church and community are in their life cycle, journey/stage or experience.
Create specific, more appealing, and interesting social media, and look for ways that your church brand can engage with audiences and people, through content matching the different stages of a worshipper's experience.
Targeting each person or group in their part of the life cycle journey is proving to return better results, while allowing a longer, more effective strategy; one in which a better overall picture of your congregation comes to light.
On most platforms targeting to groups (one example as seen on Facebook groups are especially powerful with 100 million users) and building customer communities around content to engage with their brand, are where key opportunities are found and are especially powerful. Churches can do this as well. Other trends in personalizing media can now be experienced on Twitter and YouTube, with their video recommendations and preroll video.
2) The evolving usage of social media.
Stats say for social media users, one in every three minutes, is now spent on a mobile platform inside a social application.
As consumers spend more time online, new types of behaviors are increasing, including connecting with friends, following brands, sharing contacts, all especially useful for a church strategy looking at outreach.
As social media expands beyond its traditional uses, and people change how they use social media for entertainment, to research products, read news or fill moments in their day, we see passive social behaviors and networking continue to climb especially on mobile platforms and with younger demographics.
Pay attention, ask congregants and community leaders which platforms, digital media types and applications your' people are most engaged in, and encourage this sharing behavior. This can translate to better community awareness, more interest in online offerings, as well as the range of traditional to newer interesting activities offered in all types of locations by your church.
3) Trust and peer-to-peer engagement.
With personalization of social media, brands are seeing much more organic peer-to-peer engagement success.
As public trust is eroding, (it's believed 85 percent of the public lacks faith in the system of government, and only 29 percent of the public trusts government officials), the power of peers, employees and family connected through social media is shifting how consumers make choices, who they trust and making fans and advocates more relevant than ever before.
Peer-to-peer influence is exploding. People are looking to people they know and trust as credible sources of information. Bloggers and the like in someone's network have become just as credible as a source in forming an opinion or purchasing products than any type of expert.
We see companies and brands creating new partnerships with micro influencers and community engagement groups.
ESPN and NBC Universal recently partnered with Snapchat to produce new products for their content platform, at the same time Facebook is trying to partner with more independent content creators.
Look to partner with brands you use, companies you work with and influencers that can help connect you to more unique and specific groups. The good news is that churches may have an advantage here, in organically creating peer-to-peer sharing and community building, as this is the nature of what we do.
4) The emphasis on video.
With organizations including churches starting to feel the need for more precise plans and evaluating their current strategies, this year organizations will find the focus should especially be on video content.
In 2017-18, Facebook invested $1 billion on a multi-video platform and as social video digestion steadily swells in particular through mobile play, new original, organic long-form by individual out-of-the-box creators, and on the other side, shorter video content, appealing to binge watchers and those with lessened attention spans are most in demand. This evolution is forcing huge growth in demand of high quality content, livestreaming and social TV production.
As a church, using livestream allows us the originality and provides organic material. This evolution also pushes us to tell better stories and forces our production values higher. And in recognizing this, we will reach more people.
Keep in mind, once a product is made, the next step to make our products readily discoverable is equally important. Again, it's good news. Tools like the short 6- to 15-second silent videos, as seen on Facebook, serve as an introduction to our brand and who we are.