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horizontal-infographic These days we are inundated with options regarding social media platforms.

One of the mistakes newbies make is to think they all accomplish similar things and are used by everyone in general.

Knowing what each platform has a sweet spot for allows you to engage appropriately and spend your time wisely as you invest in various social media communities.

Here’s my latest take on some of the social media platforms being widely used today in 2014-2015: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, Reddit, YouTube and others.
Social Media Home - Vertical

What would you add? What would you modify? I love hearing feedback and input on this kind of stuff. Please leave a comment below!

Most non-profits, churches and other organizations I work with that have a decent website know about the free Google Analytics service.  You drop a snippet of code into the HTML of every page (usually in the footer of the page code).  Then Google shows you graphs, data and other interesting tidbits about who’s visiting your site, how they got there, and what they’re doing while on your website.

But at the same time, a large part of the webmasters and communications directors for these organizations don’t know how to use the analytics data in a strategic manner.  What do I mean by that?  Are you looking at your stats in Google Analytics and just observing things about your site visitors….and then not do anything else different?  Or are you looking at your data and then making some decisions that change the way you communicate on the site or off the site?  Is the data helping you to refine the content produced and published on your site?  Are you able to reach out to new potential partners to explore how you can increase the impact and effectiveness in engaging your audience?  Most people are not in a position to say yes to most of these questions.

Here’s a great “tour” of Google Analytics that I recommend to people when they want to study up on all the goodness that Google offers through this free service for websites and communicators that use the web to reach and influence people.

Google Analytics instructions

 

The site has a decent list of topics listed so that you can either go through it all sequentially or jump around at your leisure.  Click through and check it all out:

Click here to check out the Google Analytics Tutorial

What is the latest thing you learned about Google Analytics or how to use data that it presents across various reports?

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…

Christmas and Easter are the two big weekends each year where congregations make an all out push to invite people to come visit the worship community.

Some churches have used the occasion of Christmas to make a big splash and catch the attention of seekers and non-believers. One tactic is to take a look at what’s happening in secular culture and integrate it into the media mix for church communications and worship.

Here’s one church that has appropriated the 3-D technology which the masses have been increasingly seeing on the big screen and small screen.

Check out how Church By The Glades in Florida is using 3D in their pass along marketing collateral — to whet people’s appetites for the Christmas service this year. . . Continue Reading…

I’m sure that your church was a welcome committee or team. . . A group of folks that keep an eye out for new visitors that walk in the door on Sunday mornings.  Greeters, ushers, connection card collectors, etc.

Some churches just wait for people to come, relying upon the building to do all the work as people drive by and take note that the church exists.

But some churches do intentional work to attract new visitors.  While that subject is large enough for a blog post series on its own, this post is about sharing the way(s) in which your church attracts new visitors . . . to your website.

attract-visitors

What are some of the methods you use to get new people to visit your website?

. . .which paid resources are worth it?

. . .which were filled with hopes and promises but were a complete waste of money (not to mention time)?

. . .do you have any free / unpaid suggestions for churches to attract more church website visitors?

QUESTION: Would you share one idea or tactic that you have used to gain more church website visitors? Please share your ideas below in the comments section.

If you’re in the midst of planting a church you’re probably:

A) in need of sleep

B) in need of funds

C) in need of a website to tell the world

Sorry pastors, I can’t do anything about your dreams for being able to actually find time to have dream aren’t real just yet! haha!

But here’s a generous offer to help you with the the last item on this list above — a free website to spread the word about your new ministry in town. . .

One of the better known church website companies is Site Organic, which offers a very dynamic content management system for church websites.  They ain’t super cheap if you are looking at absolute dollar figures, so most church plants can’t benefit from services from companies like SiteOrganic.  For example, their pricing ranges from $1,200 — $3,000 per year on a recurring basis.  That’s A BIG CHECK to write for most new church plants.

But what you do get is a very rich content management system that is capable of all the bells and whistles you see on the largest church and ministry websites on the web today.  Even their most affordable packages provide aesthetically pleasing designs — ones where you certainly won’t be embarrassed about in representing your church to the community you are investing in.

screen-site-organic-church-websites

The GOOD NEWS here is that Site Oragnic is giving away their services for free to church planters.

As long as you have less than 300 people adults attending your church to date, and it’s been less than a year (or even before you launch your official first worship gathering), you’re all set to benefit from the free offer.

The fine print is that it’s technically not completely free.  You do have to pay a $99 start-up fee, which is basically aimed to weed out the freewheelers and anyone that isn’t seriously planting a church right now.  But the rest is really free.  You’ll get over $2,500 in free services with no obligation to continue at that package rate, nor at all period after the first year.

If you’re planting a church, this gives you some breathing room to establish your core community.

Assumably, if you’re church plant is even semi-successful, you will have gotten some sort of financial stability after another year of existence — at least enough to to have the beginnings of financial options so that you can decide what to do about your web presence.  If you’re church plant’s time is not meant to be in the here and now, you’ll know that too after another year from now and you won’t be in need of web services much longer at that point.

Having personally seen SiteOrganic being used live in the church website setting, I can say that you won’t be disappointed by this offer.  It’s one less thing to think about so you can focus on the more important tasks at hand in launching your ministry.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: Does your church currently use a 3rd party website service like Site Organic, or do an internally owned and managed website?

Please share your experience with other ministry leaders and leave a comment below!