The start of the year is a great time to evaluate your church’s online presence. It’s a chance to take stock of your website and social media accounts – and see if they are achieving what you want.
Let’s take a look at a few easy things you can do to supercharge your church’s digital presence this year.
1. Think about your audience
One of the biggest mistakes churches make when planning their website is that they make it suit themselves, rather than their users. In order for your website to be at its most effective, it should be designed and organised keeping the people who are going to use it in mind.
Your audience is likely made of two groups – your existing church members, and the wider community you are engaged in as a congregation. Both of these group will have definite (but quite different) needs when they visit your site.
2. Audit your website
Take some time to audit the content of your website. Go through your website page by page and make a note of the content and purpose of the page. Compare this with the needs of your target audience to see if they match up.
It may be that you need to reorganise the site, or even remove/add content to better meet the needs of your audience.
3. Invest in photography
We’ve all heard that picture speaks 1000 words, and this is no less true for churches. Photographs (of people, activities and locations) are a great way of communicating the culture and personality of your church.
It’s worth investing time (if you have people with photography skills in the congregation) or money (to hire a professional) to get really high quality photos to properly tell the story of your church.
4. Think about how you share your sermons
Do you currently share your sermons on your website each week? It can be a great resource for members who might have missed it, or others who can’t make it to church. If you don’t, now would be a great time to start. There are loads of tools out there to help you do it cheaply (or even free).
If you already share your sermons then maybe it is time to up the ante. Maybe you can add categories and tags to your sermons, making it easier to cross reference between them? Or perhaps you could start recording and sharing videos of your sermons as well as audio?
5. Embrace social media
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) sometimes gets a bad wrap among churches. It gets written off as a self indulgent waste of time. But I’d like to suggest it is time to look a little closer.
If you think about it, social media is a lot like the town square (or the watercooler) of our day. It is where people go to interact, chat and share their lives.
Rather than seeing social media as a distraction, why not view it as a mission field? Your church members can intentionally share their lives with others, in a way that is a strong witness to the power of the gospel. Not only that, but as a church you can use social media to not only keep people updated as to what is happening, but share the good news with the world.
So there you go – the challenge has been set. Let me know how you go supercharging your church’s digital presence with these tips.
Jordan Gillman is a website designer with a special focus on sites for churches, start ups and not-for-profits.