Build a website, send marketing emails and create a social media following. Do those three things for your church and you’re set. Right? Well, that may work for now, but what about two to three years down the road?
I’ve been thinking about what’s next for our church’s digital strategy. What’s comes after social media and a website? Where’s the next big area of growth for a church’s digital strategy?
I keep coming back to the fact that for the most part, the web is kind of flat in the sense of their not being not a whole lot of new innovation. While there will always be innovation in terms of marketing and workflows, I don’t know if there’s going to be huge leaps in inovation like we’ve seen in the past.
I this mobile church apps are in the same position. Most church apps revolve around either online giving or creating a media experience from your worship services. However, I do think there’s some room for innovation with apps that can tie your church’s database that will allow you tailor the app experience per user.
Social media is also somewhat lacking in innovation. It’s unlikely that you’ll see anyone unseat Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Granted each of those platforms are trying to innovate, but their innovations are driven around trying to keep people on their platforms and consuming more content.
So where should church’s focus their efforts?
I’m a big believer in YouTube. Most of the conversations I have young adults and high schoolers around their content consumption usually points me to two platforms Netflix and YouTube. Well, since we really can’t create content for Netflix, YouTube is where we’re going.
This means that we’re spending a lot of our time figuring out how to craft content for Youtube. This of course is a big change for us since majority of our video content lives on Vimeo. Vimeo has become for a lot of churches the de facto standard place to host sermons. However, we’ve realized that that while Vimeo is great for hosting our video content, it’s not really great for SEO and having people find our content.
So right now we’re actually in the process of moving our entire library of 3,500 videos over to YouTube. That’s A LOT of videos. (That’s what interns are for.)
Of course it’s just not as simple as moving the content over to YouTube. We’re going to have to rethink how we put our content on YouTube. How do we title the videos? What should the thumbnails look like?
I believe the second area of growth is podcasts.
When I say podcast, I’m not referring to the sermon podcast. Sermon podcasts have been a great area of growth for us. We’ve distributed our content on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube.
When I say that podcasts are going to be an area of growth for us. I’m referring to podcasts that are going to equip are people in disciple-making. We want to create podcasts that extends the sermon and advances the mission of the church.
So right now we’ve launched one podcast on disciple-making and we’re getting ready to launch a second podcast on discipling families. So I’m proud of the work that we’re doing on this.
Now to be clear, this is not something that’s easy to pull off. You need to have staff or volunteers who are committed to showing up on a consistent basis. So we anticipate this to be an uphill climb.
What’s encouraging for us is even though we’ve just started, we’re finding more and more people are saying, yes, I’ve got 20 minutes in the car on my ride to work, or I’m picking up the kids from school. So I’m going to dedicate this time to your podcast.
Another bonus for us moving to podcasts is that we find it easier to get ministers on board. A lot of them feel that since they’re not going to be on video, they can relax and not worry about appearance.
One last thing about podcasting, it has a really low entry barrier to get started. If you have smart phone, and a free Anchor.fm account, you’re all set. So there really isn’t any reason why you can get started today.
So there it is. YouTube and podcasts. Two areas that I believe are going to be the next area of growth for you and your church.