December 17, 2013 Tony Morgan

People Aren’t Talking About Your Message: 7 Mistakes Churches Make with Content Marketing

I had a friend text me out of the blue last week. He said, “You’re killing it right now.” When I asked him why he said that, I found out it was related to the content our team is delivering through our websites. My friend shared this:

“I think it’s the titles. I’m reading your stuff a lot. The titles are grabbing me. Then the connections. I’m reading your stuff because people are linking up with you. Those two things are impacting me right now. And of course the content is always solid.”

He followed up by talking about the potential of coming back to do some consulting and coaching with him and his team. In other words, the content is creating opportunities to help churches get unstuck.

I share this not to publicly pat myself on the back, but to challenge you to think about your content. Churches that get intentional about the content they create and the way that it’s delivered online are best positioned to connect with the people they’re trying to reach.

Generally, churches do a very poor job of content marketing. So much effort is wrapped up in the Sunday services, that little, if any, intentionality is given to dripping the content out on social media for people to engage and share with their friends.

Preachers love the fact that their full 45-minute message is available for people to watch online. I hate to burst your bubble, but normal people are not going to sit and watch your 45-minute message. On the other hand, they will engage and share video clips, pictures, stories, well written articles, etc.

And, let’s face it, what happens in the Sunday worship service gets mimicked in every area of ministry. So the student’s, children’s, groups, Bible classes, women’s ministries and so on put 100 percent of their effort on the “events” rather than delivering quality content for people to engage and share. We’re doing brick-and-mortar ministry as if we still live in a culture where Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix and Pinterest don’t exist.

Here are some common mistakes churches make as it relates to content marketing:

  1. Churches don’t begin with who they are trying to reach. Once you know who your “customer” is, the content should almost create itself.
  2. Churches think their website is more important than their Facebook page. You need a website for people to find you on Google. You need Facebook for people to share stories with their friends.
  3. Churches don’t sweat the titles. People scan the titles before they read the content. The same principle holds true for packaging a message series and message titles. If you don’t get the titles right, not as many people will engage the content.
  4. Churches don’t realize content needs to be available in sharable chunks. Share a message clip. Share one song. Tell one person’s story. Keep it short. Keep it scannable. (You read the bold numbered-list before you read the rest of this article.)
  5. Churches think the facts are more important than the pictures and the stories. People hear and respond to experiences, but they ignore information.
  6. Churches don’t identify someone to own the communications strategy including content marketing. This communications director could be a staff person. It could be a volunteer leader. We need to recognize, though, that everyone has to share the responsibility for delivering the content.
  7. Churches don’t create quality content. No matter how good your strategy might be, the content ultimately brings people back.

I want you to get this right. We have the most important message to communicate. I don’t want you to let it get lost in all the other competing messages.

Remember, though, you can’t drift into success with content marketing. It starts with the right person building an intentional strategy that the whole team embraces.

For more insights on the priority and execution of a content marketing strategy, start following the writing of my friend Ben Stroup.

Photo Credit: Marco Fieber/Ostblog.org via Compfight cc

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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