An evangelistic campaign in the 1970s featured yellow signs and bumper stickers that simply said, “I found it!” Approximately 85 percent of Americans were exposed to the Campus Crusade (now Cru) campaign (cru.org/about/what-we-do/milestones/timeline-1970s.html).
Businesses, individuals and churches seek to cut through the communications clutter to engage through news, products and blogs.
Summer could be a good time for your church to try new visibility strategies or give a second try to an earlier effort that ran out of steam. Consider trying a few of these suggestions:
— Church websites that are not mobile-friendly are now much less visible because of recent changes to Google’s search algorithm. A developer tool at google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly will test your site. If it doesn’t pass, check with your website developer about needed changes, or consider that it may be time to redesign the site.
— Your website could also benefit from objective evaluation. Monk Development reported one-third of attenders in 2012 first learned about the church from its site, while a 2012 Grey Matter Research study found that 43 percent of church website visitors were looking for service times. Dex Media (dexmedia.com/blog/sabotaging-business-website), and Church Tech Today (churchtechtoday.com/2015/03/16/church-website-visitors) lists ways a website hurts rather than helps an image and attendance.
— Join Facebook and consider Twitter, which are proven ways to inform and interact with followers. You can launch a church Facebook page, updated with posts, pictures and sermon thoughts. Or start small with a page with contact information and a seasonal church picture to avoid an unmanaged page representing you.
— Google My Business (google.com/business) allows you to claim, verify and set up your page on Google. FindMyChurch has a helpful blog post to lead you through the process (findmychurch.com/church-marketing/church-google-page).
Vertical Response’s blog (verticalresponse.com/blog/7-local-business-listing-sites-you-should-claim-now) lists information for social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Yep and Yellow Pages: address, phone and website, logo, pictures and a short description. At smallbusiness.yahoo.com/localworks, run a free scan to see how you are listed on several dozen directories, then visit each to fix them, instead of subscribing to the service.
— Are you afraid your announcements get lost or are ignored? Church communication expert Yvon Prehn suggests that simply reducing text is not always the answer (effectivechurchcom.com/2015/05/what-nobody-reads-what-we-write-really-means-and-how-to-deal-with-it), along with persuasive reasons to respond.
— Develop publicity lists of area church addresses, contacts at print publications and those at television, radio and cable broadcast outlets. Also, consider websites and Facebook pages for organizations, public library and the convention and visitors bureau. Include any deadlines to submit information. Schedule times to update these lists. Someday, a planning committee with thank you.
— To promote an event, use the lists you have developed as part of your publicity. Send basic contact information and compelling information that will serve as a hook. Include the name of a church representative who interviews well. Make sure to allow plenty of lead time and follow up by phone. This process may also help you develop contacts that come back to use you later for other stories. Find release information at internetevangelismday.com/writing-pressreleases.php.
— Social media advertising can also help you promote. Feeling a little leery? United Methodist Communications has a two-part article that describes why and how Facebook could be a simple answer for a church (umcom.org/learn/should-your-church-advertise-on-facebook-part-one).
— Don’t rely on words only. James Johnson has written a blog on using colors (red, pink and purple), typography and emotion to create images more likely to be shared (blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-create-shareable-social-media-images).
And, if you are looking for a graphic tool to put together those visuals, try the Canva web app to design anything from presentations to documents, social media posts and infographics. Best of all, it is offered free to nonprofits.
— Include everyone. Implement ways in which those who do not care for email or social media won’t be left out or uninformed.
Ken Satterfield is advertising coordinator for Word & Way.
Stay in touch with church this summer (Word & Way)
E-newsletter might be church's answer (Word & Way)
10 things your church should not be doing on Facebook (JoshBlankenship.me blog)
7 complaints when visiting a church website (Church Marketing Sucks)