Social Media Video Strategy: God and Mammon

Social Media Video Strategies and the Church
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Social Media Video Strategy: God and Mammon
Social Media Video Strategies and the Church
Jesus: the original and best user of social media video

I’m getting increasingly involved in working in with the public sector in Yorkshire and Churches in the Harrogate and Leeds area to try and build their ‘core businesses’ by using social media video. I’ve used social media video strategies in the Harrogate area  on a number of occasions recently with a good degree of success.  I want to relate to a recent campaign I ran with Gracious Street Methodist Church to promote their activities on Facebook. I take no credit for it’s success. The hard work was done by the people who went out of their way to make the actives happen. They created an open goal, into which I lobbed a penalty.

I thought I would write this blog post with those customers in mind. However, I am also producing more Harrogate focussed social media video for another local business – crossfit harrogate and I’m looking forward to getting in to that too using the same techniques.

Social Media Video: What Jesus did

Jesus Christ was the original and the best all time user of social media. He not only created a message, but a messaging system which was able to transcend every ethnic group in the land, whether or not they could read. 2000 years later, His message is still going strong. Christ didn’t use social media video. In His time, social media really came down to telling stories, which were repeated. Christ didn’t even write anything down himself. Yet, somehow he generated what marketers call a ‘buzz’ and this was then perpetuated into sense of urgency around him. In His time it was necessary to hear Him, see His miracles etc.

Christ did not have access to Facebook of course,  he stood on boats and shouted at people. On occasion He was quite rude to His followers. He was dead before he was 40. And yet, His message is still the prevailing force which defines most of our legal and judicial system today. Whether or not you believe He was the son of God is largely irrelevant to this article. It’s pretty clear that He did exist if you look at the evidence. I don’t mean the bible by the way, that might be evidence, but the real evidence comes from the corroborating sources outside scripture. I doubt in 2000 years anyone will remember anyone reading this post. Sniff.

Social Media Video: The pace of change

Firstly, it’s important to recognise that Churches are a shrinking presence in our communities. Social media video on its own cannot change that.

Social media video is not a replacement for a business strategy. Having a video is not a strategy in itself.   In that sense then, the Church has a lot to offer, still. Yet, its’ communications are very out of date. A wise man once said to me ‘businesses fail because they get incrementally better at doing the things that used to be important’. And that is absolutely correct. The pace of change has over taken many church organisations who have simply not kept pace. Sunday morning services at 1000hrs which last for an hour hold little appeal for busy families who feel no necessity to attend. The demographic of many churches is therefore getting older. This reinforces the significance of the things that were important for that demographic. Which is fine. Except that generation is not getting old and dying out. The churches are dying out with them.

Social Media Video: Relevance

So, whilst churches have become expert in pumping out reams of badly branded print media, they have become far poorer at engaging with people who are not already connected. Many churches therefore open their doors and put on activities to appeal to this group. However engaging they may be, the truth is that may people just see them as ‘the community centre where they have weight watchers’. And yet, so many churches do so much great work. Here in the Harrogate area, my own church is working closely with the Harrogate Homeless Project. They are catering for the bereaved, visiting people in hospitals, giving to the poor, providing meaningful employment for disabled people.

The work of the Church, allied to its core mission is very much on trend. The problem is messaging. If you don’t go to church you won’t hear the message. The chances are that you won’t hear it if you go to weight watchers either, because the branding of the church is so poor. You wouldn’t know that the church provides these things as part of Christian mission. There are websites, but they are the electronic equivalent of noticeboards, dense in text. They are very good websites, but they are for the converted. Not the lost sheep or the prodigal sons wanting to come home. Covered in cow poo. Well, lets forget about the poo for this.

In short, churches have a strategy. Or something like one. They just can’t get it over because they don’t really try, or know how to.

Social Media Video: What to ally it to

In our Church I worked very closely with a friend who knows about things like this, and we took on board a load of stuff he picked up at a conference. We basically looked at what the founders of the church had done and worked out ‘what would they do today’.  They wouldnt stand on soap boxes in market squares. They would promote an event on facebook. Would  they go out to the fields and find workers? No they would boost a post. They would start a facebook page, and grow a community around it.

They would identify who the key customer demographic was and they would target advertising at them, so it came straight to their face when they turned on their phones. Our demographic is simple – we want to reach in to the local community and find young families. In our area we are talking about middle class people who predominantly speak English. Therefore something approximating a religious version of the NCT will work. In other areas, where poverty is more prevalent, other approaches will be necessary. It’s about finding local context. Local relevance.

Social Media Video: Laying Groundwork

Our church has been doing a huge amount of work to reach into the community for a while. Granted the work still relies on people coming through the door, but it is working. We started working together on a social media video strategy around a few key events recently. The principal is Messy Church – (just take a look at the awful branding on that site). Messy church is the most important event because it is the one closest allied to the core mission of the church – Worship.

Events have been built around the aim of inviting young families into church. One is ‘Who Let The Dads Out’ – a playgroup for dads with bacon included and another is ‘Family Film Night’ when the church is turned into a cinema and people come and watch a film. These are acts of church genius. They get engagement from young families who don’t normally come to Church. These are the ones who come to events, but avoid the core of what the church is actually about. How to clear a way into the heart of the mission?

Social Media Video: Creating a campaign that works

We designed a campaign around our ideal customers, in a highly targeted geographical spread to promote Messy Church. This also happened in close co-ordination with other means of advertising – word of mouth, print media etc…we also set up a Facebook ‘page’ and began to populate it with high quality video rich content. We invested some money in advertising.

138 new people turned up and worshipped at the first Messy Church.

An unexpected bi-product of this was that the social media to promote Who Let The Dads out, led to a 10 fold increase in attendance at a neighbouring Church too. Where 3 normally came, 30 did and they cited the social media as a factor.

This is how to re boot the church. Find the demographic, design relevant actives and back it up with a multi channel advertising approach. Social media video is extremely powerful in this regard.

But it has to be high quality. I absolutely cannot be crap.

I know of another Church in our area which is now becoming interested in deploying the social media and I have presented to them as well. They have also been trying to engage with the local community and reach out, but have not have much luck in gaining traction. Hopefully we can work on something soon to change that.


The same principles for any industry apply when it comes to using social media.

  • Identify the ideal customer
  • Identify how the organisation does cater for them
  • Cater for them
  • Spread the word using modern marketing techniques, target the marketing, and pay for it.

And once again – it absolutely cannot be crap quality.



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