Aimee and the team at Fishhook have the opportunity to work with many churches and faith-based organizations. They see congregations start to think about re-purposing existing stories and content to engage on a new level with old and new audiences. The four suggestions below can be used by any type of religious congregation or organization and, in Aimee’s experience, have been very effective methods when producing engaging content.
Congregations have many moving parts with complex budgets, passionate leaders, and individual ministries all competing for space and attention in print and online channels. There are volunteers to organize, fundraisers to coordinate, and events to plan — all in the midst of being a place for spiritual growth and healing.
These congregations also have the chance to communicate who they are to one of the most captive audiences around — an audience that they see faithfully (no pun intended) each week. And now, thanks to technology, they have the opportunity to connect with them on an even deeper level. Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality messages that pull people toward your mission. Isn’t that what you’re always striving to do?
Ponder this …
If your objective is to create content people love and connect with, the first step is simple — find the content.
Okay, I know you’re probably thinking “duh!” but stay with me. The good news is you’re already sitting on tons of great stuff! While companies spend time, money, and manpower brainstorming content, a religious institution can simply re-purpose the already dynamic content at its fingertips.
And how do you do this, you ask? Here are five existing sources that you can re-purpose for publication on your blog, as free PDF downloads, and share via social media and your e-newsletters to engage your current audience members and attract new ones:
Existing Content Source #1: Sacred Texts and Writings
If you’re going to start anywhere, you might as well start here. People have been inspired, educated, and challenged by these texts for centuries. It’s the perfect content to start with because it not only connects people to your organization, but also makes the reader think about his/her own faith.
By using religious texts as the basis for some of your online content, you’re showing your audience that you value their spiritual growth, and that, even if they aren’t a member or follower of your organization, you still care about connecting them with content they might be interested in. This starts to create trust and can help take someone from a stranger to a weekend service visitor — the basic first step of the inbound marketing methodology.
Existing Content Source #2: Weekly Teachings
Let’s just say for the purpose of this article that you’re at a congregation that speaks about a different topic each week, and you decide that for each teaching you’re going to write a supporting blog post. There are 52 weeks in a year. That means you’re sitting on 52 different blog topics. That’s an easy slot to fill on your blogging calendar on a weekly basis!
Within each topic, though, there are probably a couple of subtopics that you could write about separately. So now we’re at a couple hundred topics and lessons that you can re-purpose into blog posts.
But wait … what about videos? Podcasts? Tweets? Infographics? The list goes on and on. This is a huge opportunity to create engaging content and one that is, unfortunately, often overlooked.
Existing Content Source #3: Classes and Group Studies
You know that one volunteer who has been teaching class for years? Let’s just call her Ms. Grace.
Anytime you talk with Ms. Grace, she seems to give you a new piece of advice or a story that somehow enhances the quality of your life. She’s always asking you if there’s anything else she could do to help. What if you asked her to write? Because she’s taught classes for years, she can bring stories of life and faith into your online content.
Ms. Grace isn’t the only one you could ask. Look for people who’ve lead a small group study or prayer group. Ask them to contribute something they’ve learned to your online content. They’re usually eager to volunteer and would love to have the opportunity to tell their own stories.
Existing Content Source #4: Your Supporters and Constituents
One of the easiest, most effective ways of creating content is to tell stories of the people who make up your network. College Park Church incorporates this into their robust blog in a clever way. This section of their blog, called “College Park People,” allows members of their audience to write their own story.
These posts are moving, powerful, and full of insight and inspiration for the readers. It doesn’t take you — the communications director or religious leader — any time to write, but the impact is huge. Allowing people to tell their story not only highlights the lives of your supporters, but shows readers that you are invested in the people who invest in you.
Existing Content Source #5: Wisdom From a Religious Leader
Have an officiant that loves to write? Ask him/her to share their wisdom.
Our friends at East 91st Street Christian Church use this tactic to fuel their online content. Their blog post entitled “Latest From Rick” is filled with inspirational advice, straight from the senior pastor.
While all religious leaders may not have a love for writing, if someone on your staff has that passion, use it! Dedicate a weekly or monthly blog spot to them. Give them the opportunity to write on any topic and speak directly to your online audience. This is a great opportunity for your people to feel like their leadership is connecting with them and giving them advice one-on-one. It can be an opening to create meaningful relationships that start online.