A colleague of mine passed along this relatively new resource site today: www.LightStock.com – It follows a similar business model to www.iStockPhoto.com, www.123rf.com and others.

LightStock.com - Royalty Free Christian Photos

What makes this venture a bit more interesting than “just another stock photo site” is the claim of integrating a Christ-centered lens.  Take a look at some of the vision that is shared on the LightStock.com site:

The unwavering belief that there are thousands of photographers who are hungry to use their God-given gift to equip the body of Christ and ultimately glorify God.

An invigorating idea that Lightstock could fundamentally change the way Christian designers, chief creatives and church staff members go about their creative endeavors for Christ’s kingdom.

The unrelenting pursuit to forge the strongest link – connecting an army of faith-based photographers to the Christian community at large – an audience hungry for meaningful visual resources.

 

The concept is that all photos that appear on the site will follow at least one of three attributes:

  1. Shot by a follower of Christ
  2. Visibly faith oriented
  3. Invisibly highlights God’s glory, goodness and mission for His creation

I plan on checking out the site the next time I need some images for blog posts or projects.  The big question will be if their respository is deep enough to become a reliable source of quality images on a consistent basis.  But it definitely is a welcome entry into the royalty-free image resource niche for sure.

Check it out at: www.LightStock.com

Does having a Christ-centered approach to a business and resources as stock photography make a difference?  Is it enough to potentially compensate for lack of inventory, features or other benefits found on competitor sites? Please share your comments below.

Looking back at 2012, the USA Olympic Swim Team contributed to one of the biggest social media sharing phenomenons with their Call Me Maybe mashup parody video.  It wasn’t just a blip and was of course included in the international coverage of the Games, but 10 million video views later, the video is an example of something else that’s happening — video as a form of content publishing for the masses has gone mainstream.

Call Me Maybe Social Media Viral Video

 

The genius of these cover videos of pop music hits is that they are actually really easy to script, record and publish.  In fact, if you think about it, you could take various people in your organization and create an end of year video in this style that’s enjoyable and relatively easy to pull off.  The result is that you really put on display all of the parts of Check out what the team at Wheaton College did with their Merry Christmas video message.  I love the simplicity and the fact that they used this format to put on display the various parts campus life and departments who make it all happen all year long.

For an institutional end of year video message, I thought this was one of the more fun and engaging executions of the year-end message.  It sure beats the staid “From all of us at _________, we wish you a safe and joyous holiday with your family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” type message, doesn’t it? Face it, those just get deleted as soon as they are opened.

The only thing I would change is for someone at Wheaton to upload it to YouTube instead of Vimeo and secure a Google Non-Profit Grant so they can put a donate link at the end of the video (HELLO WHEATON — if you’re reading this, contact me directly and I can help make this happen).

You could even take the cue from Wheaton and recreate this same music video with your own team singing the various parts of the song, right?  Are the various people on your teams going through your head right now?

What about creating one that features all of the various volunteers and/or donors that support your organization? And if you’re able to plan just a bit, you can bring a video camera to various groups activities throughout the year to sing parts of the song in order to assemble your very own blockbuster video at the end of next year for Christmas 2013.

If song isn’t your thing, what about reading a poem, or a famous passage in this style on camera?  As you can see, there are many possibilities for creating a short, but engaging video like this.

Can you see your own group produce a simple year end video like this?  What is keeping you from making that dream — what you have in your head right now — a reality?

 

It still surprises me a bit that whenever I mention that I actively use virtual assistance across the various projects I’m managing, it is still somewhat of a novelty.  The majority of people have not used any sort of remote help. . . yet.

But whenever I have walked someone through the process of finding and utilizing outsourced help, it has been a big win — and in a couple of cases, they have become basically addicted to scaling their work with the help of remote assistants.   This can come in form form of help with small finite tasks as well as hiring contractors to do full blown large-scale projects.

Slide1

One way virtual help can have a big impact for most business workflows is the role of executive assistant.  This is where Bryan Miles, founder of Miles Advisory Group comes into the picture.  Bryan has built out a service providing proficient virtual executive assistants who are all US-based, native-English speakers, technologically adept, and as he explains a bit in this interview, typically are of a much higher caliber than for what you probably would be utilizing them for.

Bryan Miles - MAG Miles Advisory Group

Check out how he describes the service MAG & eaHelp provides in this video interview below.  (the video session went totally 8-bit on us in a couple of spots, and Bryan looks like he’s morphing into Wreck-It Ralph here and there, but the audio is just fine and you’ll be able to appreciate the interview content just fine). Continue Reading…

So Want to improve your communications for end of year donor development or other community building campaign?

Take just one of the 6 core principles shared in this great video overview piece on the Science of Persuasion and you’ll be sure to see some improvements in responsiveness and engagement.

First, take a look at this fun video:

 

I’ve previously shared about the book, The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity — edited by Daniel Oppenheimer and Christopher Olivola. If you want to learn more about the 6 principles shared in the video, that you’ll love this book — because it talks about the value, social factors, role of emotions and other important influences in charitable giving.

But again, even before diving into the Science of Giving book, I’d challenge you to take just one of the principles of persuasion presented here, and figure out a way to incorporate some of it into something you’re doing right now.  How can go back and revise language or positioning, or the sequence of messaging to leverage this learning?  Here’s a quick review again of the principles. . .

6-principles-of-persuasion

Continue Reading…

Liquid Church is coordinating support from communities and organizations outside of NJ for the #SandyThanksgiving project. The outreach coordination leaders are asking churches across the country to consider taking up a special offering for the Hurricane Sandy victims on the upcoming Sundays – November 11, 18 or 25.

Details for how your church can support the relief efforts are available at: www.SandyThanksgiving.com.

Continue Reading...

In terms of content marketing, videos are “the new black”.

If you’re on the web, you want to attract the attention of as many new people as possible. And you already know that if you’re producing content for the web, video needs to be a part of the mix.

YouTube Viral Videos in Church Marketing

The question is, just how long is the ideal video length?

90 seconds?

3 minutes?

4 minutes?

10 minutes?

Popular notion has been that you want something definitely under 5 minutes if you want it to be shared and spread across various social networks.  Attention spans just aren’t that long.  While the average online video viewed is 6 minutes 14 seconds, if you look at the most shared videos on YouTube you get a different story: Continue Reading…

View Engagement with Video

Everyone is going nuts of this new Diet Coke commercial for the 007 Movie.

Why does it work? Because it engages the inner 007 in all of us.

Before we discuss, check it out: Continue Reading…

One of the biggest tools you can utilize in your communications when trying to get people to consume content, sign-up for your program or attend an event is SOCIAL PROOF.

So what is it and how does it look like when put into action on the web?

Well, social proof (of some nerdies call it “information social influence”) is taking a scenario where the end user is given some choices (buy something, attend something, sign-up for something, etc) and presenting some traction data, show the other people “like you” are doing X, Y or Z.  Basically. this helps people psychologically take the risk to move in the same direction as the others doing so.  Usually, this is more effective in circumstances where the choices might be a bit ambiguous or if there isn’t a clear demonstrated need to participate (it’s not mission critical).

Shopping is one environment that is a great example.  Here’s a great example of Crocs using it in a customer email blast:

 

social proof with social media - facebook twitter pinterest

 

Do you see how they are presenting the highlighted products based on the “MOST ______ed” across the three major social networks?

But it’s not limited to shopping obviously. when you provide social proof, it taps the assumption that the people around you are making good choices and removes some of the needed decision discernment.  Social proof increases confidence in the behavior being presented as a successful one.

 

Billions Served social proof example

There are many ways social proof can be offered.  Five different ways social proof is expressed are:

  1. Crowd-based social proof -- This is the Crocs example above.  Using the masses to signal suggested choices is highly effective.
  2. Celebrity or high influencer social proof — traditional endorsements leverage the high-profile individual’s brand equity by association to provide the proof to the audience
  3. End user social proof — This can be featuring user reviews.  Displaying Zagat or Yelp review counts and specific examples is an example of this.
  4. Expert or authority social proof — Using the testimonial of a sector expert or someone positioned with authority on the category or topic related to the behavior being proofed
  5. Personal friend networks social proof — you’ve seen Facebook ads feature specific friends within your own personal network that have already “liked” or purchased something.

Whether you are trying to increase the effectiveness of your donor development communications, registration for specific events or fundraisers, or even take up a new praxis or discipline, social proof can be a powerful tool to employ across your communications efforts.

What specific marketing communications project are you working on now that could benefit from integrating social proof?  Share your live examples and we can help brainstorm how to maximize the impact.

Visual communications is simply taking over.  We’re moving away from text to more images, more video and more photography to tell the story when we communicate on the web, mobile and offline.

What’s one tactic that you already know about, but probably really haven’t integrated into your communications streams for your organization?  I’m betting infographics is one of them.

Infographics are popular because they attract attention and people actually pause and take a look at them.  Check out this recent infographic as an example:
Churches-and-Social-Media

 

So how do you go about venturing into the infographics world?

Check out this quick hit list of 10 infographic resources (free!) for your first one:

  1. Free Vector Infographic Kit – 50 basic vector infographic elements from MediaLoot — free. You should download.

  2. easel.ly – Create infographics online – beta is free.  NICE service.

  3. Infogr.am - Create interactive charts and infographics.

  4. iCharts – Charts online.

  5. Gliffy – Flowchart, org chart, diagrams, charting software.

  6. Hohli – basic 3-d charts.

  7. Gephi – Open source data visualization

  8. Tableau Public - Free site – charts-friendly

  9. Prefuse – Information visualization software.

  10. Many Eyes – data-heavy visualizations

Have you created infographics for your ministry communications – external or internal?  Please drop a link to your infographics in the comment section below!

We’re about at the end of summer.  Soon enough we’ll have fall weather around and before you know it, Christmas will be here again.

Time to start thinking about Christmas and what your church will be doing this year.

Last year, at Liquid Church, we hosted our first ever Silent Night Virtual Choir which allowed all of our NJ campuses as well as our Church Online campus to participate.  Check out the final rendition from last year:

What is your church planning for Christmas 2012?  Would love to hear your plans or even brainstorm new ideas right here in the comments.