Reaching new audiences with #ReallyGoodNews this Christmas
Compared to Christmas last year, many more churches now have online streaming services, with a transformed website that engages with and invites visitors to connect their church community. So how can our churches make the most of a digital Christmas in 2020 and reach out to new audiences?
On Tuesday 1 December, we commenced sharing daily advent thoughts across our social media channels as we countdown to Christmas. This series of 25 short videos feature reflections from different Elim ministers, as well as a link to our Christmas promotional page.
Our Christmas campaign for 2020 is all about sharing the #ReallyGoodNews of Jesus this Christmastime. So as well as sharing daily advent videos, we have produced three Christmas services that will premiere on the Elim YouTube channel, as well as being included in broadcasts from some of our Elim churches. This Christmas campaign can be easily be accessed at elim.org.uk/christmas. It provides links for people to find their local Elim church, as well as inspirational videos of personal stories that tell how people came to discover who Jesus is.
Christmas this year has definitely become more digital for churches across the nations. Even when physical services are taking place, most churches now have a regular online presence which has the potential to reach a worldwide audience.
So with all of these national and local Christmas resources being created and published online, how do churches reach new online audiences beyond their current church attenders?
An example of a Christmas carol service social media post by Glasgow Elim that promotes their event and is easily sharable as an invitation to the event. Can't see the Facebook post? Click here.
Sharing #ReallyGoodNews during Christmas
Maximise your church family
Throughout December, the season of Advent and Christmas are significant moments to help people who are on a journey of exploring faith in Jesus. You can encourage your church family to help spread the good news, asking for their help to share the details of your church services and events with their family, friends and neighbours.
Hopefully, you have already been talking to your congregation and leaders about inviting others to your events. It's important to share stories about why inviting people to your church services really matters and definitely something that should often happen throughout the year and be modelled by your church leaders.
In a digital age, promoting your services is easy to do by creating a specific marketing campaign on your church website, across social media and other channels, maximising your messages across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms. Utilise your church email list to help spread the news, using engaging images and graphics, with clear headlines and inviting messages in all your communications.
As you create graphics for your website and social media, also ensure that you produce attractive and contemporary digital invitations. These will require a variety of different sizes, including vertical formats used in Instagram Story templates. These allow your attenders to easily share the news and invites with their family and friends.
Take the time to purposefully encourage your church family to share your Christmas social media posts. Many people attend church because they are invited by someone they know, and those invitations often happen by simply sharing a social media post.
Elim Christmastime Events
In addition to sharing the services that your church produces, consider using the range of Elim Christmastime services that air on our Elim YouTube channel at 10 am on the three Sunday's leading up to Christmas.
We encourage you to watch these or the version that your Elim church broadcasts and share them on social media so that as many people as possible hear the Christian message this Christmastime. You can also share our daily Advent Thoughts video series on social media. And when to include the #ReallyGoodNews hashtag and a promotional link to your church Christmas events.
Maximise your church website and social media
How are you preparing your church website and social media to highlight your church plans for Christmas, including in-person and online events?
Consider how you plan to promote your services and brainstorm the creative assets you’ll need for promotion.
Is it clear for a first-time visitor to your website (or those passing your church building) to know when and where they can access your Christmas services and broadcasts? Maybe ask someone not involved in your church communications to assess how visitor friendly your website is.
Update your website to ensure that visitors can easily see what is planned for Christmas with a link to a Christmas web page to invite them to join your services.
Create social media graphics and videos that can easily be shared on people's personal accounts or emailed to friends who aren't on social media.
Update your church bios on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, etc., to include a line about Christmas and change the link to point to a web page about your church Christmas services and events.
Update your pinned posts on Facebook and Twitter to provide visitors with more information about how your church community is celebrating Christmas this year.
Review your Instagram highlights to include important details of what's ahead and show a behind the scenes look at your preparations.
Include easy ways they can easily connect with your church community before, during and after Christmas. This may include an online lobby area where people can connect before and after meetings, rather than just watching a broadcast.
How much detail can you include in one social media post? Click to see how Letchworth Elim includes simple messages and call to action in this social media post which is also their invitation to watch the service online. Can't see the Facebook post? Click here.
Plan a social media strategy
Developing a strategy for your social media posts will help you build consistent interaction with your church congregation and visitors. This will outline what you plan to share throughout the week and especially help with planning posts for events such as Christmas. These social media posts should vary in content, not just promoting events, but include stories and pictures of people in your church (with their permission) as well as asking for help or asking people to take action.
When you are deciding what to post, consider these three important points:
FEEL - Start with purpose. What do you want people to feel? Do you want them to feel peace, hope and love? Comforted and reassured? Encouraged and excited? Invited and included?
KNOW - What do you want your church community to know? What important events, updates, or website article posts do you want them to know about?
DO - What action do you want your congregation and visitors to take? How can they attend, get involved, serve, reach out to others, give generously, grow spiritually? Help them by giving clear and simple next steps for them to take.
Remember, people don't respond so much to what you do; they are more interested in why you do it. Inspire people by communicating Why, before you share What and How.
There are many different ways for your social media and website content to engage with people. Here are some suggestions:
Make it fun - share some things or people that you are grateful for, especially in this Christmas season.
Celebrate the weekend - share news about what's on, but also encourage people afterwards by letting them know what happened, how many people connected with your church over the weekend, how many people your foodbank reached that week, how many people decided to start a journey to discover more about Jesus. Encourage people to share pictures of them watching your online services or how they are serving their community.
Give encouragement - share links to encouraging videos or articles such as our Advent Thoughts videos, videos of stories about people in your church.
Keep people informed - Post a schedule of what's on that week, the different opportunities and ways that people can give or serve, especially during Christmas.
Build community - Share pictures of your leaders and volunteers. Share a daily Christmas message, thought or reading.
Build community and share the personality of your church by sharing fun and informative videos like this one by Lifecentral Church, Elim's church in Halesowen. Can't see the Facebook post? Click here.
Create a follow-up strategy
After you have focused on inviting people to your Christmas services online and creating an excellent experience for them, how will you follow up with them?
One of the easiest, but sometimes overlooked ways to follow up is to invite them back to your church service the following week. Let them know how they can attend on a normal weekend, either online or in person. Also, consider hosting an online community session after each event to help people connect with others in your church.
Other ways to connect and follow up include asking people to join your online community, follow and subscribe to your YouTube and social media channels or online community groups, subscribe to your email list, leave a comment or send an email to say what they enjoyed about your service, what spoke to them in your teaching or just that they were watching.
What other creative ways do you have to connect with your online and in-person community this Christmastime?
How are you connecting with people throughout the week? May be host a Zoom event such as this one by Elim's Rediscover Church Exeter. Can't see the Facebook post? Click here.
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