The primary motivation for viewing a website is to consume content. That content may exist to inform, persuade, or compare; but it should have a purpose that is aligned with your overall web strategy. Yet regardless of your intent or your audience not everyone will wish to consume this content on your website. By providing multiple mechanisms to view it, you maximize your audience exposure and increase the odds of adding new members to your church.
If you are one of my regular readers, you will know that I recently published a book that is a collection of articles from this blog. As I stated a few times, it’s not to make money. It was to get a good portion of my content out to those who may not have regular Internet access, or those who prefer to read printed material instead of a screen. When coaching churches on their web strategies, I try to “practice what I preach” as often as possible. So how can you get your content out to a wider audience?
You most likely have seen the RSS icon on websites. Also, you are most likely to be among the many that had no idea what they are. RSS most commonly stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. It is an XML structured document that provides information on the most recently updated items on a website. The nice thing is that services can “grab” that feed and create a nice list of those newly updated items. These services vary from other websites, to programs that create reading lists for you. Another service that can read an RSS feed is a newsletter service; which brings me to my next point.
Like on my website, I have a call to action to subscribe to my mailing list. This mailing list runs off of my RSS feed. So whenever a new article is posted, it updates the RSS feed. In turn, the Email service I use (mailchimp.com) recognizes it and send out an Email with information gleaned from the feed. This way, instead of coming to my website every week, my website comes to them. If you created an RSS feed from your church’s weekly bulletins, you could automatically send that update to your congregation. Of course, you can also send out standard Emails, such as newsletters and announcements. But I really think you could benefit more by putting this content on your website and generating an RSS feed from it. Not only do you get the word out to your people, links drive them back to your website, and you get extra content and search engine rankings!
You of course want to send information out on social media outlets. There you can share it with those people who follow your church’s posts. Plus you have the added bonus of having some of those people share your content with their friends. So either manually or automatically send out content to at least Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Consider LinkedIn as well, but understand that is more of a professionally minded group. So you might want to stick to events and milestone announcements.
This area is where I recently got some experience with. Putting your content out in a physical format can have plenty of benefits. Of course I understand the benefits of having printed items, such as books. But many churches offer sermons on CD and DVD formats. This way, shut-in members that do not have access to your service or your website can consume your content.
Examine what content you produce most effectively supports your high-level business goals. Then see where they can be moved to other mediums and delivery services. Challenge your web team to connect to the technologies that can get your content, news, and information in front of the largest audience possible. Then monitor your channels for the best results. Oh, and you might want to pray somewhere in there!
Photo courtesy of Stefan Wagner