Tips on Blogging from a Marketing Junkie

It feels weird to write a blog about blogging, but that's what I'm doing.

A lot of people and churches don't blog well. They go for these long treatises of thought provoking ideas and philosophies that would work super well as the topic of an academic paper, but not so much when it comes to reaching and grabbing the average person out in the world.

It's not that you should dumb yourself down, but you need to be able to communicate your point in short concise sentences in a language people can understand; otherwise, why are you doing it?

When blogging you want to keep your post between 300 and 700 words. Google acknowledges and favors content over 300 words and 700 words is a good cap for the modern attention span.

Anything over 1000 words is TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read), with the exception of writing list based articles which are easier to scan. Most of our blogs are list based at Digisciple.Me, so that's why they can run a bit longer.

When writing non-list based articles try and keep each thought in it's own micro-paragraph. It breaks up the content and makes it easier to digest. Review the format of this blog post to get a good idea of what I mean.

Almost more important than the content itself is a catchy title. Don't go for click bait, but really accentuate the features of the content in the title.

You want to make sure you have the right tags on your blog as well. Google Ad Words is a great resource for this. Type in words you think people might google and it will give you a list of how often and how much that term is searched for (along with various others that are also popular searches).

Once you have your keywords use them to tag the blog, so that when people search for those words your blog actually comes up.

Don't forget to share your blog anywhere that it's welcome.

Once you have these things down you should start seeing greater engagement in your posts. Good luck to you!

Jeff
Digital Disciple
Digisciple.Me

How Your Church Can Kill It on Social Media

Social Media is a great tool for churches to both connect with their existing congregation, and meet and connect with new seekers. However, as a whole the church isn't doing a great job at this. Here are four strategies that will help you kill it on social media, including how to work with the new Facebook rules.

Pick 3 and do them well

As a whole I would recommend your church be on more than three, but each staff member should not be responsible for more than three. For instance, the senior pastor could be responsible for Facebook, Twitter, and E-mail, the youth pastor could be Instagram, Whatsapp, and Snapchat (WARNING! Be careful on snap chat. There is zero accountability as the nature of the app is that the conversations and snaps disappear. Only use it as a corporate brand voice for your church, not as an individual.) and the children's pastor could be on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram (it's ok to double up OR to have multiple accounts for different ministries.) The key to success here is to do them consistently. Set aside a time to do set posts (or set them in advance if that's a possibility) and then don't forget to capture authentic moments as they appear. If you are able to do this your social media following will grow.

Plan your success

Each of your posts should have a plan or a goal set to them. Do you want this post to drive traffic to your site? Do you want more likes? More follows? More engagement? Whatever it is, mark down what you tried (how many hashtags, etc.) and how well it worked. This way you have a physical metric you can measure your results against. If you aren't seeing the results you want then alter your strategy. Each post has the ability to bring you more likes and follows.

Optimize your posts

Ok, here's where I'm going to get specific for two major platforms. There are algorithms that you can please that will optimize your post and have it seen by more people.

Instagram:

Post your picture, preferably lighter and cooler colours, with a filter on it (trust me, filtered photos are 36% more likely to be engaged with than other photos), write a brief message about your photo, then use three hashtags after the message, the first should be your brand (so, ours would be #DigiscipleMe) and the second should relate to the message. Once you are finished that write as many hashtags as you can think of as the first comment underneath. This will skyrocket your engagement.

Twitter:

Twitter is a tough nut to crack, but once you get the feel for it you should start seeing more engagement. Try and tweet a photo, pictures are more likely to be noticed/liked than not, tweet a relatively short message with two hashtags at the end that are related to the topic of the tweet. You want to leave room at the end of your tweet so that if anyone retweets you they can add a comment to it.

What's up with Facebook?

So, Facebook recently changed their algorithm to be more user-centric and less business/salesy, and businesses are freaking out about it. However, those of us who saw this coming are less worried. The changes do impact the church, though, so it's important to know what's going on.

Create a Group Over a Page

Pages are great, and it's good to see how many followers you have, but, engagement on Facebook pages is at an all time low. If you post something from your page now, it doesn't get shown to your audience unless you a) pay for it, or b) it is directly relatable to your viewers identity. However, when you post in a group it shows up in the followers notifications.

Try not to post anything too self promotey, and whenever possible post content directly to Facebook instead of just linking it through Facebook to a third party, like Youtube. If you want increased engagement on Facebook the video has to be uploaded directly to there so that Facebook benefits from all the views. Facebook currently favors videos over 90 seconds that have a high completion rate. If you make one of these it just might end up in your followers timeline.

That's about it! If you can manage to keep these things up then you are in good hands. Go forth, and post! Post like the wind!

Click Here to Download Our Definitive Guide to Church Marketing

Five Easy Tricks to Make Your Video Look Professional

So you want to make your video look good? Well these 5 easy tips may sound obvious, but they are the basics tools of film that when neglected will completely make or break your video. Let’s get started!

  1. Focus

Make sure your subject is in focus. I know, sounds obvious right? But I don’t know how many times I’ve been taken out of a video because the focus was off for just a split second. Most phones nowadays have really good cameras, so you are probably ok shooting off of whatever is in your pocket. When recording using a phone typically you tap on which part of the shot you want in focus and a little box should appear on screen. Make sure your subjects face is within the box before you start recording.

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As long as you or your subject don’t move around too much you should be ok. If you do have a camera, by all means use it. Most cameras have a pretty good auto focus setting, just make sure your subject does not move towards or away from the camera too much or the auto focus will have to re-adjust while you are recording which means your shot could go out of focus briefly. Now, if you are feeling brave, and your camera has a manual focus option I recommend you use it. Camera’s are good but nothing is as good as the human eye. When using manual focus zoom in all the way on your subject and adjust the focus ring so that your subject’s eyes are in focus, because that is where your audience will be looking. When the focus is set zoom out to your desired framing and make sure your subject does not move towards or away from the camera so the focus does not change.

  1. Framing

A well framed video is an easy way to make your content look like it was made by a pro. One of the most practised rules of composition is the Rule of Thirds. If you divide a frame into thirds vertically and horizontally the intersection of those division lines is a good place to put your focal point.(Where you want your audience to look)

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It’s much more interesting to look at a shot when everything isn’t dead center. Once you become accustomed to the rule of thirds, you’ll start noticing it in all of your favourite movies and TV shows.

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An easy way to implement this rule is when you are recording a person, as we often are, place their eyes along the the top third line. This is not only appealing to look at, but it helps make sure you don’t have an awkward amount of space above your subjects head.

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Ok, I admit it’s not very convincing when using grey blobs with beady eyes, but trust me it looks good with humans.

  1. Lighting

Make sure your subject is well lit. I know, I know. Another obvious one, but nevertheless, it’s important. When recording digital video remember that digital loves soft light. You may not have the budget for fancy lighting equipment, but if you take a regular household lamp and tape a white piece of paper over it, you can defuse the light which will give you nice soft shadows.

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One more thing to think about is colour temperature. Most light bulbs are tungsten lights, and give off a warm orangish hue. Sunlight, however, is much brighter and gives off a bluish hue. Most cameras will white balance automatically so that all your colours looks natural, but if you have more than one kind of light the colour can look all weird. To avoid this, try to use just one kind of light when recording, either from an inside light, or natural window light.

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  1. Sound

Good sound quality is extremely important to making videos. Unfortunately there is not a whole lot of ways to improve sound recording without the proper equipment, so it might be worth investing in a good microphone. Rode is a company that makes high quality camera microphones for a decent price. If you are on a budget there are a couple other things you can do to improve your sound quality, like making sure your subject is not too far away or too close to your recording device. Also, if you cover hard surface areas with pillows and blankets you can reduce vibrations and background noise for clearer sound. You can even use a walk-in closet as a makeshift sound recording booth. If you want to get into audio editing I recommend getting the program Audacity. It’s free to download and can handle any basic audio editing needs.

 

  1. Editing

I could easily write a whole other blog on editing alone but here are some basic things to remember. Firstly, software. For your purposes you are probably looking for something that will allow you to add music to your video, and maybe splice together a view different clips. Now Windows Movie Maker or iMovie will do in a pinch but for basic editing I recommend DaVinci Resolve. It’s free to download and can handle all of your basic editing needs without a clunky layout. If you are editing straight off your phone I’ve found the app Splice to be quite effective. Now you might be intrigued by fancy looking preset title effects and transitions, but don’t be fooled, more times than not, these effects come off as cheesy and unprofessional. Simple titles along the bottom third are much more effect and look much cleaner.

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In terms of transitions, straight cuts work really well in most scenarios, but when you want to get fancy, the cross dissolve is your best friend. Fading up from black at the start of a video, as well as fading to black at the end, is an extremely effective way to structure your content. Fading in and out title cards is also very efficient.

And there you have it! Once you’ve mastered these basics of the film language, you are on your way to making your videos look like they belong in a Hollywood theatre!

About the author:

Danny Duff is an upcoming filmmaker with focus on writing and editing. He is currently in his second year of Humber College’s Film & TV Production Program. Danny has spent four years doing videography at Camp Kwasind and other CBOQ events. He recently completed the short documentary Memes: A Dankumentary which you can check out now at facebook.com/Dankumentary

Five Things That Should Be on Your Church's Social Media Feed

Social media can be confusing in terms of what you should be posting and where, but when done right social media can actually be a huge driving force for people to be introduced to your church. If you're doing it really well you can use it to be an influencer in your community. Here are 5 things that you should be posting on your social media feeds.

Church Events

Your church is ALIVE! Get the word out! Show people what's happening at your BBQ or Christmas play. Hashtag your city and your church together and it will start showing up in people's feeds. Do it enough and you may even start getting some external press.

Baptisms

Yeah, buddy! Baptisms are happening and it's great news. Get some really good shots of people coming up out of the water all discombobulated and slap 'em up with a sepia tone filter on your Instagram feed. Watch those likes start pouring in! #GODISGOOD!

Livecasts

I can't stress this enough: Go Live. Go live all the time. Go live like it's going out of style (which it is most certainly not any time soon). Have a guest preacher who's lighting it up? Livestream. Is the youth pastor doing something he'll be embarrased about in 5 years? Livestream it. The only thing you want to watch out for is you need a special license to live stream non-original worship music. But if you have that license and your worship team is particularly on point? LIVESTREAM!

Community Events

Be. At. Community. Events. You don't need to put them on, but you do need to be there and support them. If you want to be a light in your community then actually be involved in it. Taking pictures at an event and hash-tagging the organizers in them is a great way to show your support and presence in the community.

Devotional Material

This is a no brainer! Do a verse of the day, a short devo video, or a devotional blog. Put together a slide show deck on Slide Share with a devotional theme in mind. Anything to keep your sheep fed throughout the week!

Alright! Now that you are all inspired go forth and make content! I'm not kidding when I say the content you produce has the power to change lives and shape the digital and physical landscapes your church finds itself in. God bless.

6 Types of Content Marketing Your Church Should be Doing

Content Marketing sounds kind of sleazy, but what it is is simply creating content that people want to consume that also promotes your ministry. It's free advertising and a great way to engage your congregation outside of the Sunday morning experience. Here are six types of content marketing you can and should be doing!

Blogs

Blogs are a great way of boosting your SEO and also giving visitors to your website something meaningful to engage with. Blogs don't have to be super long, it can be as short as 300 words and I wouldn't recommend going past 600-700 (unless you are writing a list based article). Keep it simple and to the point. It can be a fresh idea or a mid week revisiting of some of your sermon points. Either way, it's a great way to drive traffic to your site, and if you're doing it right, turn visitors to your site into visitors to your church.

Verse of the Day/Inspirational Quotes

You don't even need to be coming up with your own verses of the day. There are plenty of bible apps that give out a verse of the day, just take one of those and slap it over an inspirational picture, brand it with your church logo and BOOM, you're the king (or queen) of Instagram.

Vlogs

Seriously, do videos. Do live videos and pre-recorded videos. Do videos with a purpose and videos just for fun. If you do it right, keep it engaging and over 90 seconds (but not too much longer than 2-5 minutes), Facebook will prioritise it as high quality content. It's also important to transcribe the video into subtitles so people will linger on it while it's on mute. If you're too busy to do that yourself there are some great cheap transcription services. I recommend REV.com

Guest Bloggers

Get pastors from other churches, or deacons from your own. Anyone but you. It's good to have a fresh take on things, and the guest blogger is likely to share it in his/her sphere of social influence, so it's a great way to get fresh eyes on your website. If you're rocking on the content marketing side of things then you should have lots of other content to keep them hooked and coming back.

Interactive Social Media Posts

These posts should be inviting people to join in on the fun. Have them comment a gif or give their own take on something. Keep it light and fun and people will want to participate.

Podcasts

This is a no-brainer if you record your sermons already. Just upload them to iTunes, literally anyone with an RSS feed can do it. Add a short intro and outro and throw some music on there (for free and cheap music check out bensound.com) and boom, you got a podcast. Once the format is established it will be easier to transfer into doing more traditional episodes if that's your goal.

Whatever you do, keep producing content! It's a great way to engage with your congregation and new people coming to your website (as well as a great way to drive new people to your website); and an engaged congregation is generally a growing congregation. Keep up the good work!

5 Reasons Your Church Needs Content Marketing

Content Marketing might sound like a buzz word similar to “synergy” or “incentivize” but it's actually a valuable tool that is drastically underused in the church today. In the same way that the G.I. Joe cartoon was a giant toy commercial that kids were dying to watch, so too can you and your church create content that drives people to want to attend and serve in your church. Here are 5 reasons why your church needs content marketing.

 

It Increases Engagement

the first step to church growth is increasing engagement. If you aren't able to engage your current audience base how do you expect it to grow? Things like well crafted blogs, vlogs, and social media posts can catch people's eye and even draw in new readers/viewers. Additionally, if you're doing it right, your current audience will want to share the content you put out. But, remember, any content you post needs to be reflective of actual initiatives and ministries going on inside your church. You gotta put your money where your mouth is.

 

It Boosts Your SEO

SEO is another buzz word you've probably heard but have no idea what it means or how to create it. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and it refers to your website's ability to appear higher up in search engine searches. So, for instance, if you have good SEO your church will be in the first few results of a search for “Churches in [your area]”. One of the best ways to up your SEO is to post content. Search engines like google favour websites that are regularly updated, so if you are blogging once a week that's going to put you ahead of the church that isn't.

 

It's Basically Free Advertising

Again, just like the G.I. Joe cartoon, if you are producing content people are excited to engage with you are advertising your church for free. There's really nothing more to say on this subject, so...

 

It Increases Your Social Media Reach

How, you ask? Because, if you know the ways the different social media algorithms work (and Digisciple.Me knows these things if you need advice!) then your posts will be seen by new people all the time. If you're doing it right, each post should get you a few new followers.

 

It's Easy to Collaborate

Inviting guest bloggers or other types of collaborations opens a window for you to reach a wider audience. Even just swapping blogs with another pastor gives you access to their entire digital congregational reach. Even though those people aren't likely to switch churches (nor should that be your goal), the potential for them to share the content with someone who might respond is there, and it is worth while. The wider your digital audience and the more shareable your content is the more likely your content will hit the eyes of someone who needs to see it and wants to connect.

 

If you're feeling stuck on what or how to produce engaging content call Digisciple.Me now and one of our content marketing experts will help you develop and execute a plan to increase engagement and grow your church!

Five Ways to Fix Your Church Website

Five Ways to Fix Your Church Website

I look at a lot of church websites. Some are good, many are less good, and some are abysmal. I'm talking websites that have such poor SEO they don't show up when you search them by name and city (that's not a joke). Part of our mission here at Digisciple.Me is to help churches communicate better and your website is in many ways the first page of your church. If it's not up to a decent standard you could lose potential visitors. So, we've put together this list of things you can do to fix your church's website without having to know a lot of code.

Four Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Invitational Mailouts

Four Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Invitational Mailouts

As the Christmas season quickly approaches many churches will be preparing to send out invitational mailouts to their communities, and I think it's a great idea! However, church marketing is a tricky business. Many churches aren't sure where to start or what to communicate or how. Here are some tips to help you maximize your mailout effort and help bring some new people into your church this season.

Five Roads to Digital Evangelism

Five Roads to Digital Evangelism

Your church’s internet presence is more important than you realize. Prochurchtools.com quoted the following statistics from the Pew Research Group:

46% of people say a website’s design is their number one criterion for determining the credibility of an organization

94% of people cited poor web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website

46% of church attenders said that a church’s website was important in picking a church to visit

33% of people said that the internet was the first place where they learned about their church

Three Mistakes Even Smart Pastors Make That Make Them Frustrated About Church Growth

Three Mistakes Even Smart Pastors Make That Make Them Frustrated About Church Growth

Being in ministry can be difficult. There is pressure to grow your congregation but, at the same time, people are resistant to change. It's tough to find a middle ground. And, while this article is about church growth I want to emphasize that church growth is not always what's needed. Sometimes, I may even say most times, what needs growing is our level of devotion and discipleship. Once discipleship is your priority the growth thing will handle itself. That being said, here are three mistakes even smart pastors make that make them frustrated about church growth.

4 websites and apps to help your church win Instagram

4 websites and apps to help your church win Instagram

Instagram is a great platform to help you grow your ministry. While not the leading social media platform, it is in the top three and quickly growing, especially with youth and Millennials. Here at Digisciple.Me our number one rule for making online content is to be consistent. Posting things sporadically or less than once a month is about as effective as not posting at all, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep coming up with ideas, or even to remember to take photos at church events. With that in mind we have put together a list of 4 websites to help your church be able to post consistently and in a way that will build your following both online and in the pews.

Circular Logic

Circular Logic

as a philosopher, I have a huge problem with circular reasoning. If you don't know what that is, it's an argument that “proves” itself by beginning with it's own ending point. One of the big ones we are faced with as Christians is the idea that the bible is true because it says it's true. This is an argument many Christians accept, and site verses like 2 Timothy 3:16 as a justification:

Good and Evil

Good and Evil

There is a weird dichotomy in being a human in that we can be both evil and holy at the same time. Our nature is a sin nature, and so many of our wants, ambitions, and motivations are rooted in evil, and yet, we have been forgiven by the death and resurrection of Jesus and set apart from the rest of the world (that's what the word “holy” means; to be set apart). And so we find ourselves in this state of flux, where we act in wickedness, and God takes our disobedience and uses it against evil turning our weakness into strength

Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

The great thing about the Kingdom of God is that God doesn't like to work through people who have it all together. When we have it all together (if there is such a thing) we tend to attribute the greatness of our deeds to ourselves, whereas those of us in the other column (the ones who definitely don't have anything together) know that we could not accomplish much without the help of God.

Leader Slaves

Leader Slaves

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven (it's called both, but it's the same thing) is an upside down kingdom where the last are first and the first are last, where leaders lead not for glory and accolades but to serve those they lead; in the same way that Jesus washed his disciples feet (a task usually reserved for the lowliest of servants or slaves) we are to humble ourselves and serve those around us.

More Than You Can Handle

More Than You Can Handle

There's a common misconception in Christianity, and it's the idea that God will not give you more than you can handle. I can personally testify that God will, in fact, give you more than you can handle, or at least, will allow more than you can handle to happen. Within the span of two years...