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Video marketing and video seo are hot right now.  It’s one of the most effective tactics to focus upon regarding your online marketing mix, at least for the next 12-18 months.  One non-profit that has had great initial success implementing simple strategies to promote their video is led by Deric Milligan whom I have known from the Redeemer Entrepreneurship Initiative community.  It has been great to see Deric go from zero to sixty over the last several years with his diligence in learning best practices and simply executing on them.  Enjoy today’s post about how he’s focusing on video marketing these days.

Inheritance of Hope // Deric MilliganDeric Milligan’s life was changed drastically in 2003 when his wife, Kristen, was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.  Apart from his time-consuming role as caregiver, he felt led to alter his professional aspirations.  Deric and Kristen founded Inheritance of Hope in 2007, and after completing an MBA (with distinction) from New York University’s Stern School of Business, Deric became the Executive Director of Inheritance of Hope.  His passion is for serving and supporting families like his; young families living with a parent battling a life-threatening illness.


The organization I co-founded with my wife, Inheritance of Hope, recently celebrated its 5th birthday.

To mark the occasion, we released a short video about the organization and its ministry to young families living with a terminally ill parent.  We worked hard to create a video that captured the heart of our mission and was “remarkable.”  Check it out here! :http://youtu.be/GoHl9XZSVQk

 

YouTube Video Marketing Tips and Tactics

These are 7 specific strategies we implemented to get more than 3,000 YouTube views in the first week:

1)     We created a short version “teaser” of the video to stimulate interest two weeks before the release date.  We released the short version through our monthly e-newsletter and made sure our audience knew to look for the full version on its release date.

2)     We released an email blast to our subscribers early on the release date with nothing more than the link to the video.   The only action they could take after opening the email was to click on the video.  We have also found that putting the word “video” in the subject line improves our open rates.  With an effective subject line and a clear call to action, our clickthrough rates were significantly higher than our monthly e-newsletter.

3)     We sent targeted emails to key supporters, volunteers, and past participants telling them to look for the video and asking them to share it with their friends.  We gave specific instructions about how they could share it (Facebook, forward the email, share via YouTube).

4)     We asked our inner circle (4 people) to share the link on each and every one of their Facebook friend’s wall on the morning we released the full version.  It took some time and effort, but we found that it got far more traction than simply sharing it on our own wall.

5)     We shared the video with relevant blog writers and asked them to share it with their readers.

6)     We made the video easily accessible from a number of landing pages on our website.

7)     We shared the video through our Facebook cause.

While 3,400 views is just a start, these strategies can be easily implemented by organizations of any size.  I hope these tips help you spread the word about your ministries!

Are you surprised that these tactics drive traffic for online videos?

Today, Facebook is changing the design of the “pages” that most churches use to the “Facebook Timeline” format.  

I had a chance to sit down with Sean Coughlin of FaithStreet.com recently.  He has been gearing up for the transition for some of his church clients.  

So I asked him to share some tips that you can use right now to helping reach a bigger audience on FB.  Enjoy today’s guest post.

 

Here are 5 tips to make sure your church’s timeline is optimized to reach people on Facebook. 

(1) The change to Facebook Timeline happens on March 30th, so be ready!

Facebook says, “On March 30, 2012 your Page will automatically get the new design.” Right now, Facebook allows page users to edit their timelines in a preview stage, so take advantage.  If you haven’t made any preference changes, it’s time to visit the admin section today!

Facebook Timeline in Church Marketing
(2) Choose a beautiful cover for your Timeline.

Probably the most important feature of the Facebook timeline update is the “cover”. (The cover is the giant 851 x 315 pixel banner at the top of your new profile). Churches should make sure to choose a wide angle, high resolution photo to minimize distortion. Your church is your people, and studies have show that people engage with pictures of other people far more than pictures of places. A church we work with here in NYC, City Grace, has done a great job of creating a good-looking, welcoming covers shot. Check out City Grace Timeline and Cover here. 

(3)  Pin the posts that you want people to see first.

If you have a post that you’re especially proud of or just want visitors to see on your page first, make sure to “pin” it to the top of your timeline. This might be another great picture of some members, a recent milestone you celebrated or a campaign you’re running now. To pin a post:

  • Scroll over the upper right-hand corner of the post and click the pencil icon.
  • Scroll down within the menu and click “pin to top”
  • The post will now appear at the top of your timeline until you “unpin” it.

As TechCrunch recently reported, “The feature gives you significant control what visitors to a Page see first. Be sure to at least keep a link to your website pinned at all times, and rotate it with links to your apps and whatever else you want to drive the most traffic to or impressions of.”

(4) Post Pictures Wisely

As I mentioned above, newcomers and church members alike respond to pictures. Pictures generate more likes and shares than most other types of content, which means more exposure and an expanded “reach” for your church. Since pictures are powerful outreach tools, you want to get the most out of them, right? Here’s how you do that. Instead of posting an entire album, post one picture at a time. You’ll get more engagement per photo if you individually post them than if you post an entire album. Try posting 3 photos per week – one of Monday, one Wednesday and one Friday. This will create anticipation within your Facebook community and drive engagement.

(5) As an admin, make sure your church members (and your friends) “Like” the page

This was true for “Pages” and is still true for “Timeline”, the first step to using Facebook as a tool to reach new people is to make sure your church’s people “Like” the page. By simply inviting their congregants to “Like” their Facebook page, one church we work with here in NYC went from 35 “Likes” to almost 100 in less than a week and increased its “reach” by 495%. (reach is the number of people who have seen a post about your page, and yes, that four-hundred-and-ninety-five-percent!) You can invite your friends and fellow church members to join the timeline by clicking on the “Build Audience” tab at the top of the Admin panel.

Then, you can track your page’s reach, likes and how many people are talking about your church from the Insights box on the Admin Panel.

 

FaithStreet.comSean Coughlin is the co-founder and CEO of FaithStreet.  FaithStreet helps churches reach people using the Internet. Follow Sean on Twitter: @seanwcoughlin

YouTube is the #2 search engine on the web today.

In the time it takes you to read this post, over 100 hours of video have been uploaded to YouTube.  That’s because over 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.com every minute of every day.

And people are watching a lot of it.   Viral video campaigns have changed our culture with millions and millions of video views.

And as we become a YouTube nation, viral videos are changing themselves.
YouTube Viral Videos in Church Marketing

So what makes a video go viral?  There are tons of people studying the phenomenon.  Here’s one guy that might be worth your video view — his job is to go to work each day and watch YouTube videos all day long.  Kevin Allocca is the “trends manager” at YouTube (as if trends can be managed. LOL).  But anyway, he recently spoke at TED sharing his 3 insights for why and when videos go viral across the Interwebs.

Check out his TED talk and see if you agree with him:

I believe the church marketer has the opportunity to produce messaging (and in video format too) that hits upon the points Kevin shares in his presentation on viral videos.  What can your church be doing to become the tastemaker locals come to trust and follow?  I’m talking about becoming the curator of excellent content, highlights of life in your city, and interviews with interesting people in your community.   Becoming relevant to the people outside your church walls is one way of gaining attention and trust as a contributor to community life in your city.

Now wouldn’t that be a totally unexpected yet refreshing role for a local church?

 

We’re in the 11th hour before Christmas Eve services here at Liquid Church and our Church Online team is totally pumped about our first ever Christmas Virtual Choir that we’re pulling together.

What started as an interesting idea to allow our Church Online community to participate in our church-wide services, has become a great tool to talk about Christmas at church — and invite family and friends to one of the 6 services being held on Saturday at our campuses as well as 2 services for Church Online.

Since there is some novelty in a webcam- or “YouTube Christmas Choir” it has to potential to draw in some people that might be sitting on the fringes of the crowd.  I love that aspect of it.

So our video producer and media team has been rocking it all night since the deadline for submitting individual renditions of Silent Night over the web. . . And here’s a first peek at the Virtual Christmas Choir which will sing Silent Night:

Yes, we’ll have a traditional preached message and live worship band, etc that go along with a church service, but this one of the small ways we’re aiming to mix it up a bit… keeping the church experience fresh and inviting for those that walk in the door — some for the first time in a long time, others for the first time ever.

QUESTION: What is your church doing to mix it up this year at Christmas?

In the last post, I shared a useability testing secret everybody who has a website should know about.

The quick answer to the question of how much testing you should do is . . . “5 is the magic number.”

The inevitable question now is – how do you go about actually testing the 5 users you can easily round up in a flash?

There are a couple of options, but one of the services I know about and have used is www.openhallway.com — in short, it’s a site that lets you assign a task to a user, who then goes through your site and narrates what they are thinking and doing the entire time so that OpenHallway.com can record the screen, mouse movements and the users’ narration for later review.

(TryMyUI.com is another service that does similar kinds of screen-recording of user sessions with your site.)

OpenHallway.com was birthed from the same idea as what Jakob Nielsen is promoting:

A hallway usability test is where you grab the next person that passes by in the hallway and force them to try to use the code you just wrote. If you do this to five people, you will learn 95% of what there is to learn about usability problems in your code.

Basically, all you have to do is go out and recruit 5 people to test your website.  This should be a no brainer — get on Facebook, Twitter, Email, or literally, go down the hallway and ask the next 5 people you see.

The next part is the fun part. . . Continue Reading…

Whenever an organization sets out to tinker with the website to improve it, or even go for the complete revamping of the site, it’s based on some feedback that the site isn’t doing what is intending to do.  This can be based on internal feedback, implicit or explicit comments from site visitors, a gut feeling that the site can communicate better, or the plain facts that your site conversion goals aren’t happening.

So what happens next?  Most often than not, a group of people go into meetings and set about reconfiguring the site structure, improve navigation, updating the aesthetics to reflect current Web 2.0 and beyond trends, and revising the content.   Hopefully they do it in a way that is strategic in nature or bring in someone that can help with that.

But whatever the process, when you finally flip the switch, only the actual usage by site visitors can tell you whether you succeeded or not.

Here’s the part where most groups drop the ball.  One of the most critical milestones in site development happens right here — not before when you’re whiteboarding the site and its contents.  This is where you need to do some usability testing.   Qualitative and quantitative research will guide you on what works and what doesn’t.

But because focus groups and user testing seems so sophisticated and enigmatic, most site owners don’t ever go through with the steps that can radically impact how your message is received by the visitors coming to your site.  The superficial pushback on this area seems to be in two immediate areas beyond the lack of comfort / knowledge for how to preceed:

(1) We don’t have money for that!  Testing dozens and dozens of people would cost more than we can afford.

(2) We don’t have the time for rounds of user testing.  That would delay our website project too much, or we have so much other stuff to do now that we’ve finished the website revamping.

But here’s the kicker, it doesn’t have to be expensive nor time-consuming to get the critical feedback you need to communicate better with your visitors.

And here is why 5 is the magic number in useability testing:

According to Jakob Neilson, the usability guru (seriously, you should check out his site, www.useit.com), the ideal scenario usually warrants 76 users for comprehensive quantitative testing that addresses the typical outliers that come through.  And a more manageable 15 users need to be tested in order to get at all the qualitative usability issues in the design of a site.

But in reality, the magic number is really 5.  That’s it.  FIVE people. . . Continue Reading…

There is one marketing tactics that I believe most pastors think should be off-limits (or rather don’t ever think about) for getting the word out about the great stuff their ministry is doing.

What could that be?

It’s the basic press release.

But a press release will accomplish several things at once.  In addition, what you think might be newsworthy only on the local level might actually be interesting to national media outlets in telling the story of what’s on the pulse of the nation.  One press release we sent out recently got the attention of 175+ local news stations across the country.

Consider just a couple of the following benefits, and let me know what you think:

1) Press releases gets your news out on the web.  Everyone talks about search engine optimization and marketing, and press releases in a very efficient way to get your ministry and corresponding links to pages on your website sprinkled across the web in front of new audiences.  This benefit is for more than just the immediate timeframe, as the links will help drive incremental traffic over time as people find the older releases and click through to your site, even years after you have sent the press release out.

2) If you want your local and regional community to take notice and talk about your ministry, a press release alerts local papers and hyper-local news outlets like the Patch, and radio stations.  Without a press release, it would be almost impossible for them to proactively find your ministry efforts so that they can share with their audiences.

3) If you write your press release in a very targeted manner, you will be able to insert yourself into the conversation people are already having around the water cooler about what they find in various media outlets.  If you are able to be strategic in relating your news or activities to the current zeitgeist, you’ll find yourself become immediately relevant to new audiences in a fresh and interesting way.

By the way, did you notice something that’s common to all three points above?  How about the fact that one of the major benefits of sending out a press release as a part of your church marketing activities is that it gets your ministry in front of new audiences.

If you start with this objective in mind, you might find that a strategically planned press release distribution and follow-up plan might do your ministry some good in getting new people to cross that threshold.

Have you considered sending out a press release regarding your church?  If not, what questions do you have about press releases and your ministry?  Leave them in the comment section below and I’ll try to answer them in the next post on PR.

There’s an app for that.

We hear this about everything these days, right?

Websites are catching app fever too, as more specialized single-purpose websites are being created.

Faith life is not immune to this trend either. Let’s take prayer for example.

If you have ever journaled your prayer life, you already know how amazing it is to witness the journey you take — not to mention that you are able to see how many prayers are answered over time.

Well, those that are allergic to pen and paper in this digital Google age, can find some peace knowing that a new website is transferring the experience of prayer journaling online.

FRVNT.com is a website app for prayer lists.

And they are adding a social component (of course!) to it as well.

You can enter your own prayers — made them private or public.

And then you can also see other people’s public prayer requests and respond, letting them know you will be praying for them. A great feature is that if you raise your hand to pray for someone else, you’ll be notified if they come back and mark it “answered” — a great feedback look that helps encourage all of us to keep on praying!

FRVNT.com just came out of beta recently, so it will be interesting to see if new functionality will come online over the next few months ahead. Facbook integration or some other way to better integrate it into your daily habits online via other web properties might be nice.

But as-is, this is a neat site to explore and see if you can fit it into your daily praxis and faith walk.

Check out www.FRVNT.com and add your own prayer request or better yet, pray for someone else right now.

[HT: ChurchMag.com]

This weekend, I’m excited about being on the top floor of 7 World Trade Center.

It has a spectacular view in a totally green building — the first to go up amongst the WTC buildings.  When you are there, you can see up, out and down all around you when you are peering out the ceiling to floor windows.

But the view that I’m more excited about is regarding the discussions and activity that’s going to be going on at Redeemer‘s Entrepreneurship Initiative 2011 Forum conference — carving out a collaborative vision for what gospel entrepreneurship looks like on a practical basis.

It is always refreshing and at the same time challenging to hear  Tim Keller share his theological vantage point and then interact with others marketplace practitioners about how we are to go about faith and work integration.

I’ve been asked to help lead a session on social media for non-profits and for-profit organizations on Saturday — so glad that Guy Richards of Abiah will be my co-pilot so that we can both share case examples of social media in action.

I’m looking forward to reviewing with the group some of my own approaches to digital engagement across the web — including the Five C’s for Social Media Success framework I’ve been developing through my client work over the last couple of years.

If there’s enough interest, I’m willing to walk through the presentation again online via a webinar. Just drop a comment here if you’d be interested in hearing what I have to share.

QR codes are those 2D square black and white bar codes that are popping up in different places.  First they were used in manufacturing and UPS started using them for tracking of packages before they were embraced by the retail & marketing community.

Now you’ll find them on posters, brochures, and stickers. . . These days, they are popping up in printed materials of various church communications.  You probably have seen one — since over 50% of the population supposedly has seen or knows what a QR code is at this point.

The big question is are we at the tipping point yet for QR code adoption? Or is this just a passing fad?

Are the ones using QR codes right now trying to force geeky hipness into daily routines while there is still some notable friction in using them?

Well, according to a couple of recent studies, it isn’t so clear.  Here’s two specific data points that might make you think again about QR codes:

Less than 1/3 of people have actually scanned in a QR code.  28%.  Yup, that’s it.  That’s not a huge percentage of people.


And if you look at the actual usage patterns of people who do scan QR codes, the data is not in favor of this hip tech trend amongst communicators to use it.  After all the native cell phone camera applications don’t recognize QR codes yet.  You have to proactively download a QR code reader, launch it and then scan the code.  This can take a couple of minutes and in all that time, you have no idea what you’ll find once the QR code is decoded by your app.  Is it a promo code?  A website?  A call to action?  Just another big fat advertisement?

The other practical downside is that you have to remember — while QR codes are small, they are usually placed in what is typically considered valuable real estate on the actual marketing collateral piece.  Is it worth utilizing such precious space for something that most people who see it won’t actually use?

That said, it really depends on the audience whether or not it is useful.  In a way, the church community is one place where adoption could be successful if you are intentional about both promotion of QR codes as well as what is delivered to the audience once it is scanned.   Because the church assembles on a regular basis, and there’s recurring publications (like the bulletin!) that are published, QR codes do lend itself to this type of environment where once you expose and train people to use it once, the chances of long-term adoption are high.

Paul Steinbrueck over at OurChurch.com suggestions 10 different ways for ministries to integrate QR codes into their communications practices.  One of my favorites from the list is #3 – where you use QR codes to link to media offerings that delve deeper into the subject of the sermon, or offer sermon notes or recordings for on-demand playback.  The other one worth considering is integrating them into event invitations so that they are easily passed along and the landing page has details, maps, directions for the event you are promoting.

QUESTION: Have you EVER scanned a QR code?  When was the last time you actually spotted one?