Connecting Your Church’s Online Presences

 

So you’ve setup a great church website, you keep it updated and well-organized. You’ve created a Facebook page for your church and have a respectable number of “likes.” You might even have a Twitter account for the church and you post things there to your hand-full of followers. You’ve got it all, right?

Putting it all together

Having all the pieces is great, but without a plan to keep each of them connected, you’ll just develop pockets of followers who miss the bigger picture. Let’s connect our various online presences – even offline – and build a stronger and more cohesive presence.

I was talking online with the LCMS Michigan District web and media guru, Seth Hinz (@sethhinz) yesterday about churches cross-promoting across their web presences and he suggested this post. Here you go Seth!

Branding

Before we get into the physical and digital connecting, I need to take a moment to address branding across your platforms. The first step in having a cohesive web presence is keeping it consistent between the spaces.

  • Make sure your logo is present and prominent in each site.
  • If possible, keep a consistent color pallette.They don’t have to be identical, but people should recognize that your website, Facebook page and Twitter profile go together.

    Journey’s Facebook page (right) and Twitter profile (left).
    We maintain a consistent look between the two, as much as we can.

  • Use a consistent voice. Figure out how your organization “speaks” and use that voice everywhere. Don’t use big flowery words on your website, casual language on Facebook and text-speak (LOLJK srsly?!) on Twitter. Make it clear that it’s the same organization speaking on each platform.
  • Another place for consistency is in the URLs and account names. Journey of Faith’s website is JourneyWired.org. Our Facebook page is Facebook.com/JourneyWired. Our Twitter profile is @JourneyWired. As much as you can, keep it simple and consistent so people are more likely to remember it.

The Church Website: The Central Hub

You main website is (hopefully) where everything that people need to know about is housed. Hopefully, it’s well-organized and things are easy to find. To make it really connected to your other online presences, here’s some ideas to try:

  • Point to it from Facebook and Twitter (and everywhere, really.) Regularly post on Facebook or Twitter linking back to things on your website. When you post a message to your podcast on your website, post a link to Facebook. When there’s an event coming up, shoot out a reminder with some info and link back to the site for the rest of the story. People are on Facebook/Twitter every day but they don’t always think about your website. Draw them there!
  • Make it easy for people to share your stuff for you! Facebook has added what they call social plugins that can be added to any website. They allow people to like pages on your site, share them with others or even comment on pages. The key here is strategy. Don’t just smear these plugins all over your site. Figure out what pages make sense to have them and add them there. For us, like buttons go on event pages, series pages and others that change regularly and we want to draw attention to. Comments go where there would likely be discussion: series, servant events, or upcoming events. They don’t need to be on your core values or staff pages.
  • Find a URL shortener you like and make it your friend. I prefer bit.ly, but there are many others out there. What’s a URL shortener? A URL is your web address. For a particular page on Journey’s website like our current series, the URL might look like:

http://www.journeywired.org/index.php?page=life-s-toughest-questions

  • That’s a lot of characters (68 to be exact) and with Twitter’s 140 character limit, you’re already halfway there. Bit.ly takes that 68 character URL and turns it into http://bit.ly/OqvdWa. at just 20 characters, it leaves more room for a message to go with the link – especially on Twitter. Bit.ly also allows you to track your links to see how many clicks they’ve gotten. 

Promoting your online presences off-line

The key that is often overlooked is promoting your online presences offline. People already connected to your church and Facebook might find out that you have a Facebook page, but do you ever mention it to guests or promote it off-line? Here’s some things we’ve tried:

  • Print it on all your stuff. This is the no-brainer one. Print links on everything you can without it getting in the way. Our bulletin’s back page has links to our website, Facebook and Twitter listed right with our contact information. We also include these links on any posters, fliers and brochures we print.

    Screen-grab of the back page of our bulletin’s contact info with links to our other pages.


  • Use QR Codes where appropriate. QR codes are those square bar code things you see people scanning with their smartphones. I’ve written about using them before and how to set them up. These are especially good in bulletins and on posters where people can scan them and it takes them right to the page you want. For instance, we have in our bulletin a QR code next to the information about next week’s message that takes you to the page on our website (which also has a Facebook Like button and commenting ability).
  • Talk about it! Another no-brainer, but one that’s often overlooked is to tell people about your sites. We do our announcements during worship as a video and at the end of every week, we tell people “For more on these and other announcements, visit us on the web at JourneyWired.org. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.” We try to keep all of our web presences constantly in front of people.

What has been successful for you?

These are just some of the things we’ve done to cross-promote our online presences. What’s worked (or not worked) in your setting? What tips would you share with others?

About Matthew Starner

Matthew Starner is pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they help people take their next step on their journey with Jesus.

4 Comments

  1. Great post, Matt – thanks for the quick turnaround!

  2. awesome info again Matthew! Hey are you going to Tentha Avenue North concert on Friday in Holland?

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