You have probably heard about websites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube and you may even be aware of social bookmark sites like Delicious and Digg, but is your church using these social media as part of its online marketing strategy? What exactly is social media and how can your church utilize social media as part of your online marketing strategy?
The Winds of Change:
Over the past several years the web has undergone a transformation. It used to be that the “website” was the top item on the Internet, but over the past several years that has been changing. Now things like blogs, video sharing websites, social networking, and social bookmarking are the hot items. This is known in many circles as “Web 2.0” signifying that the change of how people use the Internet has been so dramatic, it’s like a whole new version of the web.
There are now companies, organizations, and churches that do not even have a website, but rather their online presence is a network of these various social media sites:
- They have a MySpace and/or Facebook page for information.
- They upload sermon videos to YouTube or GodTube.
- Articles are posted in a blog.
- Pictures of the latest pot-luck dinner are uploaded onto picture sharing sites like Flickr.
What’s The Big Deal?
The main idea behind Web 2.0 is the sharing and discussing of ideas and information with others. It’s a way for people to interact online and a way to distribute information to the masses. Both the opportunity for interaction and the chance to have their voices heard have made social media extremely popular, especially with the younger generation. For the first time in history anyone can break a story, create a funny video that millions will watch, become known as an expert their field, or shoot breathe-taking photos with people from around the world in a virtual gallery. Social media has given unprecedented access to people and ideas.
Having all this access to people and being able to distribute messages around the world is a great opportunity for churches. Does the idea of your church being able to reach millions of people for Christ sound appealing? I would certainly hope so. But ask yourself:
- How is your church utilizing social media to spread the Word?
- How can your church use these online tools to reach people with the Gospel and grow your church?
We’ll take a look at some ways your church can use social media in the next few articles.
One last thing I want to point out is that, while these social media options have become very popular, the “old fashioned” website has not lost its importance. Websites are still great opportunities for churches and other organizations to present information and reach people. In addition, many websites now incorporate elements of the social media, such as blogs and message boards. So, don’t go canceling your website just yet, but do start looking at how you can expand your online ministry by using the social media in concert with your website.
PS – If you haven’t noticed, Church Marketing Online is a blog, one of those social media things. Since one of the great advantages of the social media is interaction, I want to encourage you all to post your ideas and comments.