Advice for improving your ministry's online communication (3 of 3)

This continues from yesterday's post that gives our first piece of advice.

4. Always evaluate what works best.

Just because 100% of your congregation frequently uses email doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to communicate with them. All of us often see mass messages and click delete without even opening it. In fact, the mass email service I use for our youth group shows that less than 20% of subscribers open my weekly news emails. That means 80% of the parents and teenagers in our group are not even looking at my messages there even though they all actively use email. The obvious solution is seemingly to send mass Facebook messages instead, but using a tracking link in those messages indicated that only 2% of my youth group kids ever clicked through those messages for information. Again, very poor results. Don't assume that putting information in the most "obvious" places will always be the best communication method.

For my ministry, the evaluation process revealed that people in my church will not take 2 minutes to read an email or Facebook message, but they'll take 10 minutes to watch a YouTube video. Similarly, if I stand in front of the youth group and make announcements, no one listens, but if I say the exact same thing on a screen via video, they're all glued to it! So now I do my weekly communication by recording a video with some added value (giveaways, contests, polls, funny YouTube clips, etc.) and distribute it via email and Facebook. Plus, the videos spread much more viraly to people in our community via Facebook and YouTube than one-on-one emails and private Facebook messages can. Even a random stranger at Wal-Mart recognized my wife by her last name because of the youth group news videos I do on YouTube!

Whatever method you use, just make sure you evaluate it. Not only do communication methods change over time, but so do the ways people use those tools.

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