As we continue to progress in 2016, let’s look at how to be more focused on growing our online platforms and increasing engagement with our online audiences. While there are no shortage of ways to do this, it seems that creating an online strategy is quite elusive for many organizations. One of the most important aspects of building an online presence for your organization is to develop a digital strategy, “before” you join any networks or start communicating online.
Depending on what technology specialist, journalist or blogger you are listening to or reading at a particular moment, they may or may not agree on the importance of content. Some people say that content is king, some say that the delivery method is king, some say that interaction is king. With the focus of the church being to take the gospel to the masses, content is king. The message is the same, the packaging may be different, the delivery method may be different, but the gospel never changes, thus content still rules. Today we have numerous ways to get the message out, websites, social media, mobile devices, mobile apps, sms, multimedia and many many others. Back in the day it was word of mouth, then came the printing press, next was radio, then television and so on. No matter the delivery method, the gospel has remained the same, thus it’s not the method but the content. Focus on the content and the delivery method won’t matter, the method will evolve and change anyway.
When I speak to ministries about what they should focus on, I always tell them that content is king. Make sure the message that is coming from the ministry is continuous and consistent. Make sure the ministry is putting out great content that reflects the ministry and the kingdom in a christian manner and helps people in their daily christian walk. Make sure when people respond to this content that the ministry is open and interactive. Don’t make the ministry just a one way street of communication, let people interact with the content and keep the conversation open. Maintain this focus and strategy and the ministry will always have a large online following because, content is king!
As I was reading Social Media Today’s article on “How Brands are using M-Commerce”, I started to wonder how ministries and churches could use M-Commerce. M-Commerce, short for Mobile Commerce, is the process of doing business (financial or otherwise) via mobile devices. Mobile devices are the future of technology and ministry...in my humble opinion. Since mobile devices are so important to technology and ministry, they play an important role in the iChurch Method.
The Ichurch Method’s task can be broken down into one simple statement, “take the ministry to the people”. That statement can be fulfilled with the numerous technological solutions that are available today whether it be via traditional computer or mobile device (smart phone or tablet). If ministries are to effectively take ministry to the people, then they need to embrace mobile devices and develop mobile strategies.
According to the article at Social Media Today, the top three ways companies use M-commerce are (1) Ensuring a mobile-friendly website, (2) Engaging and building loyalty via mobile and (3) Online shopping. These three ways are a great strategy that ministries can utilize as well, let’s look at this a little more in depth.
Ensuring a mobile-friendly website - When the church creates a website, normally the purpose is to put information about the church up so that people can access it online. Service times, location and a bio on the pastor are the usual parts of a small church website. There’s no consideration whether the website is mobile friendly because most church leadership only surfs the web from their computer so they assume that all their online users will do the same. That single minded perspective greatly inhibits how the ministry can advance online. With over 4 billion (and growing) mobile devices worldwide and numerous people ranging from teenager to senior citizen carrying smart phones, it would only benefit the ministry to have a mobile enabled website that anyone can access from anywhere on any device, mobile or computer.
Engaging and building loyalty - With the abundance of mobile devices, and so many people using them, they are a great way to stay engaged with your online users. Whether it’s mobile social media websites such as facebook, twitter and foursquare, you can engage and interact with your online users via mobile devices. In addition to mobile social media, text messages are a great way to engage mobile users. When you develop your social media strategy or text messaging strategy, setup people within your ministry that are able to respond quickly from their mobile devices since people will be able to interact with you quickly via mobile devices.
Online shopping and donations - Quite a few churches offer online stores and products for their members. Again, this is normally created based on someone accessing the online store from their laptop or desktop computer. Additionally, online donations are an offering of churches and the process is also usually created for a laptop or desktop experience. While this a good initial approach, if there is no mobile shopping and mobile donation strategy in place, the ministry is inhibiting how people can support the ministry financially. Yes, there will be numerous people that will donate from their laptop or desktop, but there will also be people, usually techies, younger people, or supporters from countries that use mobile more that are comfortable using their mobile devices for commerce. This audience should not be excluded because it will go from the exception to the norm.
Overall, any strategy for a ministry that wants to continue to reach the masses into the future will need to consider mobile because it is the future of technology.