What if Your Church Doesn’t have a Big Budget?

What if Your Church Doesn’t have a Big Budget?

It seems to be more common than not for a church to struggle with budget concerns.  One area that often gets the shaft is the area of communications.  You know, websites, social media, graphics, etc.  Why does it always seem to be this area that has the lowest budget…maybe no budget.

It is quite common for these functions to be delegated to someone that already has a full plate and may not even have the skills do the job effectively.  I guess it just satisfies, to a degree, to be able to say that the communications role has been assigned to someone, even though they will not be able to accomplish much.  Do you find this to be your current situation?  If so, what should you do?

First, lower your expectations.  Most churches have larger churches they look up too.  These larger churches are the ones with a lot of resources and are doing “cool” things.  Just remember that “cool” things don’t always get the job done.  You need to get down to brass tax and develop some realistic goals to shoot for that will benefit your church building the Kingdom.

If you are a church of 125 people and are trying to compete with a church of 3,000 (highly unlikely) you will likely fall short.  Take a step back and be realistic in what you need to do.  It might be beneficial to call in an expert from the outside to help you think through what you are doing and what you should be doing.  My company, LogixStreet, calls this a communications audit. It is good for EVERY church to do one of these once a year.

Believe me, it will help take the stress off and help you feel in control of what you are doing to communicate well.

Smartphone Photography

Smartphone Photography

I work with a lot of clients developing new websites.  In some cases they have an old site and need a new one and other cases they have never had a website. In either case, they want a sharp and eye catching website.  Content is king when it comes to websites.  You want to have great information for people to access.  However, great content can be boring without nice images to go along with it.

I know many people say they are not a photographer and steer clear of taking pics.  In this day and age most of us use Smartphones.  Most of these phones take incredible pictures so I would encourage you to start taking pics yourself.

Here are a few simple tips and at the end are some links you can follow to learn even more.

Crop pictures-Don’t Zoom - If you want a close up of something don’t zoom on a smartphone.  it is too easy to zoom too far and get a pixelated photo that is not clear.  When shooting for a website the resolution of a smartphone is too large for most sites, meaning you will need to make it smaller so it loads faster.  This gives you some room to play as you crop your image to bring the object of your photo closer.

Edit-Don’t Filter - Many cameras have some filters you can access.  I would encourage you to avoid these and edit your photos after.  You have much more control in the edit mode whereas the filters kind of take over and may not give you what you need.

Don’t Add Fake Blur - In general adding fake blur does not look realistic.  I would simply steer clear of this.

Avoid Using Flash - Except for rare occasions I advise not using your flash on a smartphone.  It is too harsh and you don’t have ways to diffuse it like you might on a DSLR camera.  There are things you can do in editing that will brighten up a dark photo.  ALWAYS try to shoot in good lighting though.

Keep Your Lens Clean - Our hands and fingers touch our smartphones a lot.  It is very easy to get a finger smudge or some other kind of stuff on the camera lens.  Make sure you wipe your lens clean before shooting.

Shoot in Portrait and Landscape - A lot of people default to shooting smartphone photos in a portrait aspect.  This is great for some images.  However, if you are wanting a banner for your website you need to shoot in landscape aspect.  Be thinking of the website and where you might use an image.  Maybe even shoot portrait and landscape of the same image if you don’t know how it will be used.

These are very basic tips.  If you want to delve into more detail here are some links.  The bottom line is this.  YOU CAN DO IT!  Don’t be scared.  Jump in and start taking your own photos.

http://www.popphoto.com/news/2008/03/five-tips-composing-photos

https://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-use-a-camera-phone/

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/camera-phone-photos/

(there are many other links.  A quick Google search will give you a plethora to choose from.  If you have specific questions feel free to comment below and we will do our best to answer.)

Connecting

Connecting

I often tell people that I work in communications.  I build websites, do graphic design work, manage social media accounts, & help people with branding and identity.  I would say for the most part my definition of what I do is accurate and most people would understand.

Are You Blogging?

Are You Blogging?

LogixStreet builds Squarespace websites for Businesses, Individuals, and organizations.  One of the best ways to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to have a blog connected to your site.

Squarespace offers a wonderful blogging platform that is simple, clean, and easy to use.  It is also flexible.  You can obviously blog as you would on other platforms.  However, we have found some other uses for the blog function.  We work with a lot of churches.  Many of these post their sermons and videos to a service like SoundCloud, Youtube, or Vimeo (among others).  We have found that posting your sermon audio files/videos to a Squarespace blog is an efficient process and very functional for your users.  This could also work for businesses or individual sites.

If you don’t currently have a blog on your site, you should strongly consider adding one.  Like I said above, it helps your SEO.  Many people use search engines like Google to find you on the internet.  Having a blog might just help them find you.

Website Content Paralysis

Website Content Paralysis

LogixStreet works with many different clients from businesses to churches.  Building a new website for these clients is so invigorating.  The first meeting usually ends with great anticipation and excitement.   Then comes the actual building of of the site.

Now comes the nitty gritty of building the site.  Whether your site is brand new and you have never had a website or you are building a new fresher version of your website, content needs to be addressed. 

When building a site for the first time it is expected.  The client needs to provide content or some detailed direction for content.  Even if you are building a newer site, it is likely that the old content needs to be reworked in some fashion.  We have found this to be the biggest hurdle for  our clients.  Building a new site can be done in weeks after content is delivered.  So why does LogixStreet find it taking months to even years to get a site put together?

It would be easy to say that the client is just lazy and won't get off their butt to do the work.  That may be the case in a small % of clients but more often it is hard to fit in developing content along with other responsibilities.  Some people can even get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff they need to produce.  Your web designer can likely hire a web writer to put it together but only after you have provided detailed bullet point.  Remember, this is your message and needs to be driven by you.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, try this.  Take a step back and say to yourself.  What is the least amount of content I can put up and still get my message across?  You can always add to the site.  In fact, adding new content is a great SEO practice.  If you wait and wait until you have every minute detail put together it will take a long time and you may struggle to update the content down the road.

Our advice? Just get the site launched and then continue working on it.  A website should always be changing so don't feel like you need put together the "end all" website at first.

Stale Content on Your Website

Stale Content on Your Website

Do you have stale content on your website?  Sure you do.  Almost everyone has some.  So don't feel bad.  You may need to be looking at it in a different vein though.

Most people first think of Stale Content as out of date impertinent information that is on the site.  This definitely qualifies as Stale Content.  But what about your other content?  It may be very pertinent but could be reworded.  Maybe it could reflect the current happenings in our society.  Updating this content will help you communicate better and it is not a complete rewrite.

Always comb your site for out of date content.  When you post something that is time sensitive, make yourself a calendar reminder to remove this once the event takes place.  Keeping the content up to date is not that hard but is something you have to pay attention to.  Do yourself a favor and read through your content and see where there are areas you would word something differently or maybe you would use a different example now.  Keeping your content fresh is a huge drawing card for visitors.  If they find stale content, they may judge your site as somewhat irrelevant.  That is the last thing you want.

SEO is Important for Churches

SEO is Important for Churches by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO, LogixStreet SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  You know, search engines like Google or Bing (among others).  Search engines are often used by people who are searching from something on the internet.  If someone searched for a church in your area, would they easily find your church listed on the search results?  If you have not given much thought to this, you are probably ranking pretty low on this list of results. While SEO can get very complicated and can take time for results to improve, it should not be forgotten.  I want to offer some fairly painless and simple things you can do to start improving your SEO. The first is to submit your Website URL to Google.  You can do that here.  This is a super simple way to make sure Google is aware of you. The second is to ask people in the church that have social media accounts or blogs to link to the church’s website.  People following links to a site raise that site’s value in the search engine’s eye.  You might even encourage people to “check-in” with their social media accounts when they are at the church. The third idea is to make sure your church has Facebook and Twitter accounts and then link to the church’s website from these.  The more links to your church site the better your results will be.  Most churches do have these already, in fact I have run into several that have a Facebook page but not a website.  I would encourage all churches to have some kind of website. The final thing I will suggest in this article is to go to Google Places and follow the guides for submitting your church as a business. Your church should have a Google account.  If not, make sure you open a free account.  This will list you on a Google Map when a user searches in your area. If you simply don’t have time or staff to make this stuff happen, you might look into hiring a company like LogixStreet to help you.  This blog post is meant to be simple.  There are much more advanced ways to improve SEO but by paying attention to SEO and taking steps to improve, you will see positive results in time.

SEO is Important for Churches

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO, LogixStreet

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  You know, search engines like Google or Bing (among others).  Search engines are often used by people who are searching from something on the internet.  If someone searched for a church in your area, would they easily find your church listed on the search results?  If you have not given much thought to this, you are probably ranking pretty low on this list of results.

While SEO can get very complicated and can take time for results to improve, it should not be forgotten.  I want to offer some fairly painless and simple things you can do to start improving your SEO.

The first is to submit your Website URL to Google.  You can do that here.  This is a super simple way to make sure Google is aware of you.

The second is to ask people in the church that have social media accounts or blogs to link to the church’s website.  People following links to a site raise that site’s value in the search engine’s eye.  You might even encourage people to “check-in” with their social media accounts when they are at the church.

The third idea is to make sure your church has Facebook and Twitter accounts and then link to the church’s website from these.  The more links to your church site the better your results will be.  Most churches do have these already, in fact I have run into several that have a Facebook page but not a website.  I would encourage all churches to have some kind of website.

The final thing I will suggest in this article is to go to Google Places and follow the guides for submitting your church as a business. Your church should have a Google account.  If not, make sure you open a free account.  This will list you on a Google Map when a user searches in your area.

If you simply don’t have time or staff to make this stuff happen, you might look into hiring a company like LogixStreet to help you.  This blog post is meant to be simple.  There are much more advanced ways to improve SEO but by paying attention to SEO and taking steps to improve, you will see positive results in time.

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening? By Rick Guilfoil Founder/Owner of LogixStreet We have discussed several aspects of Social Media on this blog.  Here are links to a couple of those posts in case you missed them: Hands on with Social Media When to Post Social Media Content Today I want to discuss another side of social media.  LISTENING.  You can post a massive amount of content each and every day but if you are not listening to external contacts you are missing a huge aspect of the value of social media and at that same time conveying to others that you are out of touch. How do you think it would look if someone reached out to the church on Facebook during the week asking about service times and no one bothered to answer?  Without even meeting this person you have conveyed that you are indifferent in whether they come or not. Here is a link to an interesting article on this topic from ChurchMarketingSucks.com called Churches Still Aren’t Listening Social Media is something you must embrace in this day and age.  It can most definitely feel intimidating but I encourage you to look for the value in participating in it.  Not only is it a method for you to communicate but is also an opportunity to listen for some valuable insight from your followers. Remember, there is a lot more value in listening than when we speak.

Are You Listening?

By Rick Guilfoil Founder/Owner of LogixStreet

We have discussed several aspects of Social Media on this blog.  Here are links to a couple of those posts in case you missed them:

Hands on with Social Media

When to Post Social Media Content

Today I want to discuss another side of social media.  LISTENING.  You can post a massive amount of content each and every day but if you are not listening to external contacts you are missing a huge aspect of the value of social media and at that same time conveying to others that you are out of touch.

How do you think it would look if someone reached out to the church on Facebook during the week asking about service times and no one bothered to answer?  Without even meeting this person you have conveyed that you are indifferent in whether they come or not.

Here is a link to an interesting article on this topic from ChurchMarketingSucks.com called Churches Still Aren’t Listening

Social Media is something you must embrace in this day and age.  It can most definitely feel intimidating but I encourage you to look for the value in participating in it.  Not only is it a method for you to communicate but is also an opportunity to listen for some valuable insight from your followers.

Remember, there is a lot more value in listening than when we speak.

Effective Communication

Effective Communication By Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO of LogixStreet As a Pastor or church leader, you probably feel like you are inundated with information, promotional materials, new program ideas etc.  Well, your congregation may have a similar perception.  They are inundated with church stuff, school stuff, hobby/interest stuff, social media, text messages, etc.  This makes it challenging to communicate effectively with your congregation.  Here are some basic keys to success: •  Communicate to whom you need to communicate. •  Communicate in a style/format that appeals to your audience •  You drive the message, leave no room for people being unclear Understand your audience.  Respect your segments. Congregations are generally a broad demographic.  Communicating to that broad group is challenging.  You simply cannot be all things to all people and you shouldn’t try.  On the flip side you can’t choose one group over the rest of your groups.  Embrace their differences and meet them where they are. Target your segments.  Everyone is not interested in everything. When you have a message to share, determine who needs to hear it and target that group in a communication form they prefer.  Example: Your youth group probably doesn’t need to know about the retired member’s pot-luck next Sunday. It’s not about you.  It’s about them. This is often the most difficult tip for people to wrap their minds around.  As a Pastor you are the leader and you have the message(s) that need to be shared. However, to be successful you can’t create and deliver the message in the format you like best.  Communication is about reaching people where they are. Make it relevant. Over sharing is a common problem.  Be smart about what you share.  Make sure it is crafted in a way that people find it helpful. Write to be scanned. In this day and age people have trained themselves to scan articles so they can receive as many messages as possible.  If your message is long, complicated, verbose, and generally intimidating in it’s length you may as well save your time and not send it out.  People will not get it and most won’t even try.   These are some basic tips.  While you may only be able to focus on a couple of these or identify a few areas you struggle these tips should help you communicate much more effectively than you are currently. Just remember, you may really enjoy using a mega-phone because, hey, that is a lot of fun.  However, what will people remember of what you said.  Probably very little, but they will flood the inter webs with social media posts about their crazy pastor that used a mega-phone for announcements.  How productive is that?

Effective Communication

By Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO of LogixStreet

As a Pastor or church leader, you probably feel like you are inundated with information, promotional materials, new program ideas etc.  Well, your congregation may have a similar perception.  They are inundated with church stuff, school stuff, hobby/interest stuff, social media, text messages, etc.  This makes it challenging to communicate effectively with your congregation.  Here are some basic keys to success:

•  Communicate to whom you need to communicate.

•  Communicate in a style/format that appeals to your audience

•  You drive the message, leave no room for people being unclear

Understand your audience.  Respect your segments.
Congregations are generally a broad demographic.  Communicating to that broad group is challenging.  You simply cannot be all things to all people and you shouldn’t try.  On the flip side you can’t choose one group over the rest of your groups.  Embrace their differences and meet them where they are.

Target your segments.  Everyone is not interested in everything.
When you have a message to share, determine who needs to hear it and target that group in a communication form they prefer.  Example: Your youth group probably doesn’t need to know about the retired member’s pot-luck next Sunday.

It’s not about you.  It’s about them.
This is often the most difficult tip for people to wrap their minds around.  As a Pastor you are the leader and you have the message(s) that need to be shared. However, to be successful you can’t create and deliver the message in the format you like best.  Communication is about reaching people where they are.

Make it relevant.
Over sharing is a common problem.  Be smart about what you share.  Make sure it is crafted in a way that people find it helpful.

Write to be scanned.
In this day and age people have trained themselves to scan articles so they can receive as many messages as possible.  If your message is long, complicated, verbose, and generally intimidating in it’s length you may as well save your time and not send it out.  People will not get it and most won’t even try.  

These are some basic tips.  While you may only be able to focus on a couple of these or identify a few areas you struggle these tips should help you communicate much more effectively than you are currently.

Just remember, you may really enjoy using a mega-phone because, hey, that is a lot of fun.  However, what will people remember of what you said.  Probably very little, but they will flood the inter webs with social media posts about their crazy pastor that used a mega-phone for announcements.  How productive is that?

Our Stories are Powerful

Our Stories Are Powerful  by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO LogixStreet We have been hearing stories since we were very young.  Many parents and grandparents read stories to babies and little children as they are growing up.  Once we learn to read ourselves, we can read those stories ourselves.  How many of you adults still like to read stories? The stories I refer to above are often fictional.  However, there are some incredibly compelling stories that are real life and true.  There are some stories that share how God has changed someone’s life in a positive way.  Some stories are centered around troubled times that God stayed close and helped someone through the difficult time.  Other stories might be about answered prayer for a friend or family member.  I hope you are getting the gist of what I am saying.  We are surrounded by stories in our own congregations.  These stories need to be told.  But, how do you tell them? First you have to be intentional.  Telling stories can take time and talent to compile.  They may be in the form of print or digital media.  They can also be told through personal sharing.  When I was a kid, open testimony services were more common than today.  As a young kid I was exposed to some great stories that I still remember today.  They had a profound impact on my life.  I remember a gentleman in our church had a bad accident at work and was burned over a large part of his body.  He told of the rehab that was incredibly painful.  What got him through those times was just repeating “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”  What a simple way of tapping into the Father to help him through a difficult time.  When I have difficult times I remember where my strength comes from.  Jesus!  And the impact of that story has stuck with me all of these years.  My church believed in the power of story and so do I. Sorry this blog has gotten a little longer than normal but please take away from this the fact that your church has stories of how God has worked in peoples lives.  Tell these stories.  Share them with your kids and youth.  Believe me, they will internalize some of them and NEVER forget.

Our Stories Are Powerful 

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO LogixStreet

We have been hearing stories since we were very young.  Many parents and grandparents read stories to babies and little children as they are growing up.  Once we learn to read ourselves, we can read those stories ourselves.  How many of you adults still like to read stories?

The stories I refer to above are often fictional.  However, there are some incredibly compelling stories that are real life and true.  There are some stories that share how God has changed someone’s life in a positive way.  Some stories are centered around troubled times that God stayed close and helped someone through the difficult time.  Other stories might be about answered prayer for a friend or family member.  I hope you are getting the gist of what I am saying.  We are surrounded by stories in our own congregations.  These stories need to be told.  But, how do you tell them?

First you have to be intentional.  Telling stories can take time and talent to compile.  They may be in the form of print or digital media.  They can also be told through personal sharing.  When I was a kid, open testimony services were more common than today.  As a young kid I was exposed to some great stories that I still remember today.  They had a profound impact on my life.  I remember a gentleman in our church had a bad accident at work and was burned over a large part of his body.  He told of the rehab that was incredibly painful.  What got him through those times was just repeating “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”  What a simple way of tapping into the Father to help him through a difficult time.  When I have difficult times I remember where my strength comes from.  Jesus!  And the impact of that story has stuck with me all of these years.  My church believed in the power of story and so do I.

Sorry this blog has gotten a little longer than normal but please take away from this the fact that your church has stories of how God has worked in peoples lives.  Tell these stories.  Share them with your kids and youth.  Believe me, they will internalize some of them and NEVER forget.

You Don’t Have to Eat the Whole Elephant at Once

You Don’t Have to Eat the Whole Elephant at Once By Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO of LogixStreet Many churches find themselves in a situation where they don’t currently have a website or they have an older site that needs to be revamped.  In either situation it is easy to get overwhelmed.  For sure starting a new website from scratch has a lot of work involved just in collecting and creating content. You probably have seen or have a website in mind that you would like yours to emulate in some way.  Often, those sites that catch your eye are mature sites that have had A LOT of work put into them over time.  Again, it is easy to get overwhelmed when comparing your website to one of these. Try this approach.  Settle on some basics.  Some things you must have to have a website that is useful.  Address those basics in a phase 1 plan so you can launch the site and then tackle some other features in a phase 2 or phase 3.  A website should always be changing and expanding so why does it need to be the ultimate site when it first launches?  It doesn’t. Church website best practices will help you determine the minimum requirements for a phase 1.  You can get my free eBook called Church Website Logix on my website.  All you need to do is sign up for the LogixStreet eNewsletter and you will be sent a link where you can download the ebook (pdf) for free. If you had to choose some basic requirements for a church website, what would your top 5 list be?

You Don’t Have to Eat the Whole Elephant at Once

By Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO of LogixStreet

Many churches find themselves in a situation where they don’t currently have a website or they have an older site that needs to be revamped.  In either situation it is easy to get overwhelmed.  For sure starting a new website from scratch has a lot of work involved just in collecting and creating content.

You probably have seen or have a website in mind that you would like yours to emulate in some way.  Often, those sites that catch your eye are mature sites that have had A LOT of work put into them over time.  Again, it is easy to get overwhelmed when comparing your website to one of these.

Try this approach.  Settle on some basics.  Some things you must have to have a website that is useful.  Address those basics in a phase 1 plan so you can launch the site and then tackle some other features in a phase 2 or phase 3.  A website should always be changing and expanding so why does it need to be the ultimate site when it first launches?  It doesn’t.

Church website best practices will help you determine the minimum requirements for a phase 1.  You can get my free eBook called Church Website Logix on my website.  All you need to do is sign up for the LogixStreet eNewsletter and you will be sent a link where you can download the ebook (pdf) for free.

If you had to choose some basic requirements for a church website, what would your top 5 list be?

Internal vs. External Audiences

Internal vs. External Audiences by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO Logixstreet Churches experience a big challenge when it comes to communicating.  There are the members and attenders of their church and then there are the people who have yet to visit the church but may be interested.  Unfortunately, each group requires a different message. Many church websites are set up as internal tools.  Content that relates to the constituents and only the constituents.  This is understandable because there is a lot to communicate to this group and it is very important.  However, someone may visit the site that knows very little about your church trying to get some information that a new person would find useful and are bombarded with info about the next pot-luck dinner or Sunday School class party. How do you deal with this?  Well, I am an advocate of implementing a church management system that will become the insider place to go for info.  There are many of them.  You can read an article that compares several of them here.  The church I attend uses Church Community Builder (CCB).  This system allows each person in the church to have a profile that each can manage themselves.  For example, my profile has my photo, my phone number and address, it shows the email address I want people to use, and further it categorizes me in the ministries I am involved with.  I am part of our worship team and play guitar.  If the church needed to make the worship team aware of anything they can easily send us a message that would only go to the Worship team. Most of these services offer a calendar of events and has the ability to send emails and newsletters to specific groups or the entire congregation.  This becomes the go to place for internal communication allowing you to transform your website into a much more visitor friendly site. Each church is different and I would not go out on a limb and recommend one service over another without knowing the requirements of your particular congregation so I encourage you to visit the link above and read what each offers.  I would also encourage most all churches to start using some form of software just to separate the internal and external communications. What kinds of challenges do you have in this area?  Any solutions you have implemented that others would find helpful.  Please share these in the comments below.

Internal vs. External Audiences

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO Logixstreet

Churches experience a big challenge when it comes to communicating.  There are the members and attenders of their church and then there are the people who have yet to visit the church but may be interested.  Unfortunately, each group requires a different message.

Many church websites are set up as internal tools.  Content that relates to the constituents and only the constituents.  This is understandable because there is a lot to communicate to this group and it is very important.  However, someone may visit the site that knows very little about your church trying to get some information that a new person would find useful and are bombarded with info about the next pot-luck dinner or Sunday School class party.

How do you deal with this?  Well, I am an advocate of implementing a church management system that will become the insider place to go for info.  There are many of them.  You can read an article that compares several of them here.  The church I attend uses Church Community Builder (CCB).  This system allows each person in the church to have a profile that each can manage themselves.  For example, my profile has my photo, my phone number and address, it shows the email address I want people to use, and further it categorizes me in the ministries I am involved with.  I am part of our worship team and play guitar.  If the church needed to make the worship team aware of anything they can easily send us a message that would only go to the Worship team.

Most of these services offer a calendar of events and has the ability to send emails and newsletters to specific groups or the entire congregation.  This becomes the go to place for internal communication allowing you to transform your website into a much more visitor friendly site.

Each church is different and I would not go out on a limb and recommend one service over another without knowing the requirements of your particular congregation so I encourage you to visit the link above and read what each offers.  I would also encourage most all churches to start using some form of software just to separate the internal and external communications.

What kinds of challenges do you have in this area?  Any solutions you have implemented that others would find helpful.  Please share these in the comments below.

When to Post Social Media Content

When to Post Social Media Content by Rick Guilfoil Founder/CEO, LogixStreet Gearing up and initiating a Social Media strategy is daunting enough by itself.  For the sake of this blog let’s say you have already overcome this task and are now planning and collecting content to post.  The next quandary you may have is when to post this content. The easy answer is “when most of your followers are online.”  But how do you know this?  It is not easy.  There are some services that claim to be able to verify your constituents’ online behavior but there is a fee and some people doubt the results. There are definitely times when you shouldn’t post.  Posting content outside of the 8:00 - 5:00 M-F window is not the best bet.  Posting early in the morning or late in the evening on the weekends is usually not optimal.  Some claim, and I am in agreement that posting on Tuesdays or Thursdays around 2:00pm is a good time.  It won’t reach all of your constituents but should hit a fair amount.  If you are posting daily content I would shoot for around the same time each day.  If you are consistent in the time you post, some folks will catch on and begin looking for your content at that time. Over time, you may be able to start seeing some patterns in your posts.  How many of them are “liked” or re-posted?  You can try some different times during the day and do some of your own research on what works.  This is kind of time consuming but could work great for you. A decent dose of common sense goes a long way as well.  Let’s say you are posting content that would be helpful to a Sunday School teacher.  You might want to post this content late in the week.  You may even find it works best to post on Saturday evening when the teacher may be cramming together the lesson.  This violates what I said earlier about posting on the weekends but in your case it may be just what the doctor ordered.  How about prayer list content or prayer requests?  You might want to post this Wednesday afternoon so it could be shared in a Wednesday prayer meeting.   Look at your content and try to see it through the eyes of your constituents.  Remember that they are the key.  You could post the most profound content known to man, but if you post at the wrong time you could miss most of the people that would appreciate it.  There is no silver bullet with this.  Trial and error and common sense will be your friends. What are your thoughts on this? Has anyone found a good schedule that they would share with the rest of us?  Why is it working for you?

When to Post Social Media Content

by Rick Guilfoil Founder/CEO, LogixStreet

Gearing up and initiating a Social Media strategy is daunting enough by itself.  For the sake of this blog let’s say you have already overcome this task and are now planning and collecting content to post.  The next quandary you may have is when to post this content.

The easy answer is “when most of your followers are online.”  But how do you know this?  It is not easy.  There are some services that claim to be able to verify your constituents’ online behavior but there is a fee and some people doubt the results.

There are definitely times when you shouldn’t post.  Posting content outside of the 8:00 - 5:00 M-F window is not the best bet.  Posting early in the morning or late in the evening on the weekends is usually not optimal.  Some claim, and I am in agreement that posting on Tuesdays or Thursdays around 2:00pm is a good time.  It won’t reach all of your constituents but should hit a fair amount.  If you are posting daily content I would shoot for around the same time each day.  If you are consistent in the time you post, some folks will catch on and begin looking for your content at that time.

Over time, you may be able to start seeing some patterns in your posts.  How many of them are “liked” or re-posted?  You can try some different times during the day and do some of your own research on what works.  This is kind of time consuming but could work great for you.

A decent dose of common sense goes a long way as well.  Let’s say you are posting content that would be helpful to a Sunday School teacher.  You might want to post this content late in the week.  You may even find it works best to post on Saturday evening when the teacher may be cramming together the lesson.  This violates what I said earlier about posting on the weekends but in your case it may be just what the doctor ordered.  How about prayer list content or prayer requests?  You might want to post this Wednesday afternoon so it could be shared in a Wednesday prayer meeting.  

Look at your content and try to see it through the eyes of your constituents.  Remember that they are the key.  You could post the most profound content known to man, but if you post at the wrong time you could miss most of the people that would appreciate it.  There is no silver bullet with this.  Trial and error and common sense will be your friends.

What are your thoughts on this? Has anyone found a good schedule that they would share with the rest of us?  Why is it working for you?

Church Website Faux Pas

Church Website Faux Pas by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO, LogixStreet Most churches have websites.  I think it is safe to say that all churches need a website.  However, having a website can lead to making some faux pas along the way.  In this blog post I will discuss a few common faux pas so you can take note and try to avoid them on your website. 1.  Mobile device compatibility - Is your site optimized for mobile devices?  It should be.  People are using their mobile devices to access websites more than ever.  If your site does not scale well for the smaller screen it may become super difficult to navigate and your message will be lost in the user’s frustration. 2.  Inward focused information - Your website will obviously contain some information for the current congregation.  It is important to make sure the site isn’t so inwardly focused that a new visitor doesn’t feel like they are excluded.  In fact, I would say your website should be more outward facing than inward.  There are other ways to communicate with your congregation about insider information ( I will discuss that in a future blog post). 3.  Service times and locations not obvious - One of the main reasons someone would access your website is to see what time your services are and where you are located.  This information should be very obvious on the home page and can even be included on every page of the site (usually in the footer). 4.  Inaccurate Images and incomplete content - Many church websites show a completely different face on their website than what is reality for their church.  This is misleading to visitors and should be avoided at all cost.  Sometimes, in addition to inaccurate images, you find incomplete or incorrect content.  Make sure the content is up to date.  Make sure your staff page is accurate so people can put a face with a name when they arrive at your church. 5.  Make it easy to contact you - Many times people will have a question or concern that they need to contact the church about.  I suggest having a contact form on your website.  This form would ask for their name, email address, and include a way to enter their question or message.  This form would be forwarded to the main church email address so someone could then respond to the contact personally. 6.  Too Much or Too Little Content - I have seen many church websites and this is very important.  If you have too much content the site is hard to follow and can be overwhelming.  If you have too little information, people can’t  learn what they need to know.  Unfortunately there is not a formula for how much content your site should have.  I advise to be as concise as you can and still give all the information that is necessary.  Sometimes this could be a blurb on the website with a link to a much more thorough explanation of the topic.  The info is there if the user wants it but is not overwhelmed with it as they navigate the site. 7.  Huge file sizes - Most of us have cell phones with high resolution cameras.  In the recent past, phone images were very low quality and small files sizes.  Not so any more.  If you take a picture on your iPhone and then post it directly to the site, the file size is most likely going to be too big and downloading the image may take longer than it should.  Also, not to open another bag of worms, but there are also search engines you need to be concerned with.  If Google finds large files on your site and the load times are long, it will affect your Google rank when people search for your church. I could go on with additional faux pas but I think these are some of the most common and the easiest to correct.  What are some faux pas you have seen on church websites?  Have you learned the hard way on your own site?  Please share your stories in the comment section.

Church Website Faux Pas

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO, LogixStreet

Most churches have websites.  I think it is safe to say that all churches need a website.  However, having a website can lead to making some faux pas along the way.  In this blog post I will discuss a few common faux pas so you can take note and try to avoid them on your website.

1.  Mobile device compatibility - Is your site optimized for mobile devices?  It should be.  People are using their mobile devices to access websites more than ever.  If your site does not scale well for the smaller screen it may become super difficult to navigate and your message will be lost in the user’s frustration.

2.  Inward focused information - Your website will obviously contain some information for the current congregation.  It is important to make sure the site isn’t so inwardly focused that a new visitor doesn’t feel like they are excluded.  In fact, I would say your website should be more outward facing than inward.  There are other ways to communicate with your congregation about insider information ( I will discuss that in a future blog post).

3.  Service times and locations not obvious - One of the main reasons someone would access your website is to see what time your services are and where you are located.  This information should be very obvious on the home page and can even be included on every page of the site (usually in the footer).

4.  Inaccurate Images and incomplete content - Many church websites show a completely different face on their website than what is reality for their church.  This is misleading to visitors and should be avoided at all cost.  Sometimes, in addition to inaccurate images, you find incomplete or incorrect content.  Make sure the content is up to date.  Make sure your staff page is accurate so people can put a face with a name when they arrive at your church.

5.  Make it easy to contact you - Many times people will have a question or concern that they need to contact the church about.  I suggest having a contact form on your website.  This form would ask for their name, email address, and include a way to enter their question or message.  This form would be forwarded to the main church email address so someone could then respond to the contact personally.

6.  Too Much or Too Little Content - I have seen many church websites and this is very important.  If you have too much content the site is hard to follow and can be overwhelming.  If you have too little information, people can’t  learn what they need to know.  Unfortunately there is not a formula for how much content your site should have.  I advise to be as concise as you can and still give all the information that is necessary.  Sometimes this could be a blurb on the website with a link to a much more thorough explanation of the topic.  The info is there if the user wants it but is not overwhelmed with it as they navigate the site.

7.  Huge file sizes - Most of us have cell phones with high resolution cameras.  In the recent past, phone images were very low quality and small files sizes.  Not so any more.  If you take a picture on your iPhone and then post it directly to the site, the file size is most likely going to be too big and downloading the image may take longer than it should.  Also, not to open another bag of worms, but there are also search engines you need to be concerned with.  If Google finds large files on your site and the load times are long, it will affect your Google rank when people search for your church.

I could go on with additional faux pas but I think these are some of the most common and the easiest to correct.  What are some faux pas you have seen on church websites?  Have you learned the hard way on your own site?  Please share your stories in the comment section.

Announcements Done Effectively

Announcements Done Effectively by Rick Guilfoil Founder/CEO, LogixStreet OK.  Lets be honest.  Announcements during the Sunday morning service(s) can be a challenge.  First, they take time away from other ministry and worship.  Second, they are often disorganized.  And third, they leave a lot of people out (meaning the announcement is only for a small percentage of the congregation). However,  announcements can be done very effectively.  Here are some tips on how to approach announcements. 1.  If the message is not for at least 80% of the crowd, don’t share it in the service. 2.  Plan ahead what will be said and address why people should care. 3.  Make it clear what you want someone to do after hearing the announcement. There are a lot of activities in the local church and communicating when, where, why, & how is super important.  What I am trying to convey is that we need to be smart with how we communicate and utilize the various channels of communication.  If you have a Men’s Ministry group make sure you choose a communication method that works for those guys or at least a majority of the guys.  Maybe it can be done through Facebook.  Possibly sending text messages is more favorable.  Do they follow you on Twitter?  These are just some ideas of channels you might utilize. Now, please don’t hear me saying that we need to get rid of announcements in the Sunday morning service(s).  There should always be room in the service to communicate important events and news.  Creativity can help tremendously in keeping people’s attention and getting your message across.  Try using videos to help announce events if possible.  Find stories to share about the announcement and how it will make an impact.  Maybe use the screen to share some channels of communication for people to make sure they look at. This is not an easy issue, but I think some of what I have mentioned could be helpful.  What are some of the ways you do announcements?  Anything you can share with us in a comment below?  Would love to have some other perspectives on this.

Announcements Done Effectively

by Rick Guilfoil Founder/CEO, LogixStreet

OK.  Lets be honest.  Announcements during the Sunday morning service(s) can be a challenge.  First, they take time away from other ministry and worship.  Second, they are often disorganized.  And third, they leave a lot of people out (meaning the announcement is only for a small percentage of the congregation).

However,  announcements can be done very effectively.  Here are some tips on how to approach announcements.

1.  If the message is not for at least 80% of the crowd, don’t share it in the service.

2.  Plan ahead what will be said and address why people should care.

3.  Make it clear what you want someone to do after hearing the announcement.

There are a lot of activities in the local church and communicating when, where, why, & how is super important.  What I am trying to convey is that we need to be smart with how we communicate and utilize the various channels of communication.  If you have a Men’s Ministry group make sure you choose a communication method that works for those guys or at least a majority of the guys.  Maybe it can be done through Facebook.  Possibly sending text messages is more favorable.  Do they follow you on Twitter?  These are just some ideas of channels you might utilize.

Now, please don’t hear me saying that we need to get rid of announcements in the Sunday morning service(s).  There should always be room in the service to communicate important events and news.  Creativity can help tremendously in keeping people’s attention and getting your message across.  Try using videos to help announce events if possible.  Find stories to share about the announcement and how it will make an impact.  Maybe use the screen to share some channels of communication for people to make sure they look at.

This is not an easy issue, but I think some of what I have mentioned could be helpful.  What are some of the ways you do announcements?  Anything you can share with us in a comment below?  Would love to have some other perspectives on this.

Internal Communication Tips

Internal Communication Tips by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO, LogixStreet Here are 5 things to consider for good internal communications.  Often we focus solely on the audience and don’t think about coordinating the internal team that makes it all happen.  Keep these in mind: Give Direction:  Often times, the help you will have will be volunteer help.  These people desperately want to help in this area but you can’t assume they are on the same page with you strategy wise or priority wise.  Never just hand over the keys and let them drive the bus.  Always be involved and give direction to keep them on task. Keep an Ear to the Ground:  Many times we think of communications as a one way street…us enlightening the world about “X”.  Most of you have figured out that communications is really a two way street and listening may be the most important aspect.  It is the best way to find out if your communication style/strategy is working.  You need to listen to many different people to get a good perspective.  Just listening to your fans is not enough. Optimize:  Figure out the best way(s) to communicate with your staff.  If something can be accomplished in an email, do that instead of calling a meeting.  If a face to face meeting is required make sure to facilitate the meeting and be prepared.  You might even plan to have stand up meetings as they don’t typically run as long as a sit down meeting.  Standing keeps everyone on point and can expedite a meeting in a timely fashion. Preventative Maintenance:  I tend to live my life in a “preventative maintenance” mode, as I call it.  I am generally trying to see down the road and alleviate problems before they happen.  Planning ahead is a key.  You can read another of my blog posts about planning, here. Evaluate:  Doing communications effectively is busy work.  Often times you feel like there are not enough hours in the day.  This is no excuse not to evaluate the results of communications.  Meet with your team each quarter and talk about each communications tool.  Ask how well it is working.  What could be better.  Brainstorm new strategies.  Plan for upcoming campaigns.  These evaluations can also be enhanced through looking at website analytics or eNewsletter delivery  stats (or other measurable digital channels).  Other evaluation will take place through listening as was discussed above. This is not an all inclusive list of best practices but following these is a great start.  If you have other things to add to this list please comment below.

Internal Communication Tips

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder/CEO, LogixStreet

Here are 5 things to consider for good internal communications.  Often we focus solely on the audience and don’t think about coordinating the internal team that makes it all happen.  Keep these in mind:

Give Direction:  Often times, the help you will have will be volunteer help.  These people desperately want to help in this area but you can’t assume they are on the same page with you strategy wise or priority wise.  Never just hand over the keys and let them drive the bus.  Always be involved and give direction to keep them on task.

Keep an Ear to the Ground:  Many times we think of communications as a one way street…us enlightening the world about “X”.  Most of you have figured out that communications is really a two way street and listening may be the most important aspect.  It is the best way to find out if your communication style/strategy is working.  You need to listen to many different people to get a good perspective.  Just listening to your fans is not enough.

Optimize:  Figure out the best way(s) to communicate with your staff.  If something can be accomplished in an email, do that instead of calling a meeting.  If a face to face meeting is required make sure to facilitate the meeting and be prepared.  You might even plan to have stand up meetings as they don’t typically run as long as a sit down meeting.  Standing keeps everyone on point and can expedite a meeting in a timely fashion.

Preventative Maintenance:  I tend to live my life in a “preventative maintenance” mode, as I call it.  I am generally trying to see down the road and alleviate problems before they happen.  Planning ahead is a key.  You can read another of my blog posts about planning, here.

Evaluate:  Doing communications effectively is busy work.  Often times you feel like there are not enough hours in the day.  This is no excuse not to evaluate the results of communications.  Meet with your team each quarter and talk about each communications tool.  Ask how well it is working.  What could be better.  Brainstorm new strategies.  Plan for upcoming campaigns.  These evaluations can also be enhanced through looking at website analytics or eNewsletter delivery  stats (or other measurable digital channels).  Other evaluation will take place through listening as was discussed above.

This is not an all inclusive list of best practices but following these is a great start.  If you have other things to add to this list please comment below.

We’ve Always Done it that Way!

We’ve Always Done it that Way! by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet How many times have you heard someone say, “We’ve always done it that way!”?  Maybe a better question is how many times have you said it… or felt it? Justin Wise is the author of The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication and has something to say about this phrase: “We’ve always done it that way!” is more poisonous than ever. Innovation isn’t just a virtue, it’s a requirement.” I am not a proponent of changing everything.  I am a proponent of changing when change is called for.  We have to read the tea leaves, so the saying goes. We have to monitor and evaluate what we are doing.  With many of the digital tools like websites, social media, blogs, eNewsletters, etc. there are measuring tools built in.  The analytics provided in these tools will quickly show you what is working and what is not working. Everything you do should be measurable.  If it is not, you should tread lightly. You may be expending a lot of energy and resources on something that is just not working or communicating well. Have you had a newsletter that has gone out each week for the last 10-15 years (or longer)?  Now is the time to re-evaluate this tool.  Look for ways to improve it.  If change is required, be open to that.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you start saying, “We’ve been doing this wrong!” What are some areas that you need to re-evaluate?  If you have links to any of these resources, please post in the comments.  I am sure many of the readers of this blog would be willing to give some feedback and offer some new ideas.

We’ve Always Done it that Way!

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet

How many times have you heard someone say, “We’ve always done it that way!”?  Maybe a better question is how many times have you said it… or felt it?

Justin Wise is the author of The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication and has something to say about this phrase:

“We’ve always done it that way!” is more poisonous than ever.
Innovation isn’t just a virtue, it’s a requirement.”

I am not a proponent of changing everything.  I am a proponent of changing when change is called for.  We have to read the tea leaves, so the saying goes. We have to monitor and evaluate what we are doing.  With many of the digital tools like websites, social media, blogs, eNewsletters, etc. there are measuring tools built in.  The analytics provided in these tools will quickly show you what is working and what is not working.

Everything you do should be measurable.  If it is not, you should tread lightly. You may be expending a lot of energy and resources on something that is just not working or communicating well.

Have you had a newsletter that has gone out each week for the last 10-15 years (or longer)?  Now is the time to re-evaluate this tool.  Look for ways to improve it.  If change is required, be open to that.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you start saying, “We’ve been doing this wrong!”

What are some areas that you need to re-evaluate?  If you have links to any of these resources, please post in the comments.  I am sure many of the readers of this blog would be willing to give some feedback and offer some new ideas.

What is Your Source of Inspiration?

What is Your Source of Inspiration? by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet As a communications person you probably find yourself straddling the fence on being a creative and/or being analytical.  Unfortunately, a good communications person can’t be strictly one or the other.  Both types of thought process are needed in this industry.  Often times, the areas we struggle with or put on the back burner are things that require thought process in areas we are not as strong in. Don’t worry.  You are not alone and you have probably figured this out to some degree.  We can rely on resources to help us process our tasks.  What are some resources you use to help you process the challenges of communications?  Are there magazines, books, websites, blogs, etc. that you look at regularly?  I have several resources that use.  Here are a few of them: http://www.effectivechurchcom.com http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/ http://www.relevantmagazine.com/ These are pretty popular sites and many of you may already frequent these pages.  Let’s help each other.  Please comment below with some resources you have found helpful.  I think we will be able to come up with a pretty solid list that all of us can benefit from.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

What is Your Source of Inspiration?

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet

As a communications person you probably find yourself straddling the fence on being a creative and/or being analytical.  Unfortunately, a good communications person can’t be strictly one or the other.  Both types of thought process are needed in this industry.  Often times, the areas we struggle with or put on the back burner are things that require thought process in areas we are not as strong in.

Don’t worry.  You are not alone and you have probably figured this out to some degree.  We can rely on resources to help us process our tasks.  What are some resources you use to help you process the challenges of communications?  Are there magazines, books, websites, blogs, etc. that you look at regularly?  I have several resources that use.  Here are a few of them:

http://www.effectivechurchcom.com

http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/

These are pretty popular sites and many of you may already frequent these pages.  Let’s help each other.  Please comment below with some resources you have found helpful.  I think we will be able to come up with a pretty solid list that all of us can benefit from.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sometimes Giving it a Rest is Best

Sometimes Giving it a Rest is Best by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet With so many communication tools at our finger tips it is tempting to try all of them.  To a point, this is a good thing because you want to see how well they work for you.  However, at some point you will need to narrow your focus and concentrate on what works best. I have worked with several ministries that explored a lot of communication tools.  Many of which worked great but others never got the traction that was hoped for.  Their problem arose when they continued with the tools that didn’t get traction.  The efforts they were putting into these was detracting from the tools that were working well. It is important to explore some different ideas because EVERY audience is different.  Some communication tools will instantly engage a large percentage. There are others that will hit a very small portion of the audience.  Being smart about what you continue with and being strategic on abandoning some less effective tools is where you will excel as a communications director. Its like a friend once shared with me.  He was was working at an event and the sound system was not functioning.  Many people had tried to figure out the issues.  When he was asked what he thought about the problem, he reached out and pushed one button and the problem was solved.  One of the others standing there said, “Well, I could have done that.”  But he didn’t…  My friend told them, “Look, you don’t pay me to push the button, you pay me because I know which button to push. Always strive to know which button to push.

Sometimes Giving it a Rest is Best

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet

With so many communication tools at our finger tips it is tempting to try all of them.  To a point, this is a good thing because you want to see how well they work for you.  However, at some point you will need to narrow your focus and concentrate on what works best.

I have worked with several ministries that explored a lot of communication tools.  Many of which worked great but others never got the traction that was hoped for.  Their problem arose when they continued with the tools that didn’t get traction.  The efforts they were putting into these was detracting from the tools that were working well.

It is important to explore some different ideas because EVERY audience is different.  Some communication tools will instantly engage a large percentage. There are others that will hit a very small portion of the audience.  Being smart about what you continue with and being strategic on abandoning some less effective tools is where you will excel as a communications director.

Its like a friend once shared with me.  He was was working at an event and the sound system was not functioning.  Many people had tried to figure out the issues.  When he was asked what he thought about the problem, he reached out and pushed one button and the problem was solved.  One of the others standing there said, “Well, I could have done that.”  But he didn’t…  My friend told them, “Look, you don’t pay me to push the button, you pay me because I know which button to push.

Always strive to know which button to push.

Hands on with Social Media

Hands on with Social Media by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet I think it is safe to say that most churches have a social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc.  Utilizing these tools is very important but can also be time consuming.  Sometimes people turn to a service like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule their posts so they will automatically post throughout the day or week.  This is a great idea, but there are some things to consider. Thinking you can schedule all the posts for a month or more and then not think about it until the end of that time would be a mistake.  Being completely hands off doesn’t allow you to respond to the comments and likes you may get.  People who take the time to post on your social media deserve a response.  Otherwise it feels like commenting in a vacuum. This is most certainly a balancing act and I am sorry to say there is not a way to do Social Media properly without some hands on work.  However, the return on investment can be huge. If you are struggling with this please comment below and begin a discussion. Also feel free to contact LogixStreet and see how we may be able to help you. Sometimes a team is the best way to tackle Social Media.

Hands on with Social Media

by Rick Guilfoil, Founder, LogixStreet

I think it is safe to say that most churches have a social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc.  Utilizing these tools is very important but can also be time consuming.  Sometimes people turn to a service like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule their posts so they will automatically post throughout the day or week.  This is a great idea, but there are some things to consider.

Thinking you can schedule all the posts for a month or more and then not think about it until the end of that time would be a mistake.  Being completely hands off doesn’t allow you to respond to the comments and likes you may get.  People who take the time to post on your social media deserve a response.  Otherwise it feels like commenting in a vacuum.

This is most certainly a balancing act and I am sorry to say there is not a way to do Social Media properly without some hands on work.  However, the return on investment can be huge.

If you are struggling with this please comment below and begin a discussion. Also feel free to contact LogixStreet and see how we may be able to help you. Sometimes a team is the best way to tackle Social Media.