(This post first appeared at churchtechtoday.com)
I am a huge fan of survival shows on TV. Who doesn’t love Running Wild with Bear Grylls, right? One strategy I have noticed when these folks are trying to catch fish in the wild is how they make a spear. We often think of a single pronged harpoon sharpened to a point, ready to stick an unsuspecting fish. However, making a spear with multiple points gives a greater degree of success. With this type of spear the fisherman can cover more area, have more points to stick, and minimize the chances of missing or deflecting off of the target.
We can translate this strategy to how we publish video on the web and social media. Cross-platform video deals with utilizing multiple publishing outlets as part of your communication and video strategy. It allows us to cover more area, have a greater chance of seeing our message stick with our audience, and minimize the loss if one platform “deflects” or underperforms.
Whether it’s YouTube, Vine, Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or fill in the blank, there are many options for publishing your videos and reaching your audience.
Where is Your Audience?
One of the best tactics utilized by a hungry crocodile is to hang out just under the surface of the water at the local watering hole and wait for his prey to arrive and take a drink. He doesn’t go running about, chasing down antelope. Instead, he goes where his next meal will congregate naturally. Similarly, and much less carnivorously, we can find out where our audience likes to hang out to reach them with our message. Do most of the people who go to your church use Facebook? How about Twitter? According to a study published earlier this year by the Pew Research Center, 71% of all adult Internet users in 2014 were on Facebook versus only 23% on Twitter. Additionally, more than half of these Internet users regularly use two social media sites. This information can inform how much time, resources and energy you spend publishing video to and managing your social media profiles. Do you know the social media habits of your congregation? Or what about those far from Christ?
The Strategy of Repurpose
The cool thing about the video distribution landscape right now is that you can have one video working for you on multiple fronts. You can publish a video to YouTube, create an ad with the same video on Facebook, embed it in your website and Tweet it on Twitter. Being able to repurpose one video means that you can spend less time and energy because you are creating fewer videos. Maybe your pastor likes to do a devotional every week and publish it to the web. Awesome. Here’s one way you could extend the life of that video through cross-platform distribution.
YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. One of the best things to do is find out what people are searching for on YouTube and make videos to answer those questions. With your pastor’s next topic, start typing it into the search bar in YouTube. Once you get the first couple words typed in, look at the suggestions that appear underneath. I typed in “is the holy” and there were three suggestions that appeared. Pick one and make that the topic of your pastor’s next 1-3 minute video. There are several ways to optimize your video, and an important one is to add annotations to your video that will send viewers to your church’s website or to subscribe to your YouTube channel.
You can embed the YouTube video you just created into a blog post on your church website. Go ahead and add a description and bullet points of the video content in the post so people who may be in a hurry can skim the text to get a good idea of what the video contains. This will help them decide if they want to hit the play button.
It’s time to repurpose. Facebook allows you to upload your video directly to their site (check out the video specs for uploading to Facebook). No more embedding or posting links. This is important because the video you upload directly will auto-play in the newsfeed of your viewers. Here’s the catch, the video’s audio will be muted until the viewer clicks on the video. So, it’s up to you to do something in the first 3-5 seconds of the video that will cause the viewer to click on your video. Just having your pastor fade in, sitting behind his desk talking will not cut it. One national newspaper I follow on Facebook does this well. They use text graphics right at the head of the video to grab the viewer’s attention. Using our example from before, maybe there’s a great quote your pastor says that you can highlight, in text, right at the front end. Or, a text headline that really grabs the viewer like: “Can you shake hands with the Holy Spirit?” Having that text could cause someone to click your video. Additionally, Facebook allows you to add a call-to-action at the end of the video. You could use this to provide a link to your church’s website or Facebook page.
You can add your video to Twitter like you would to Facebook. The Twitter Help Center has information on how to best tweet video. With Twitter, you may want to use HootSuite or another Twitter management app to schedule multiple posts of your video at peak Twitter times.
Instagram allows 3-15 second clips. With that in mind, you could edit your video into a 15 second highlight clip set to music. However, sound is off by default on Instagram so it is important to utilize text to reinforce the content in case the user never activates the audio. Ask yourself, will someone know what this video is about if they leave it muted? If the answer is yes, awesome!
Why do this if the video must be so short? You are using another social media platform where your audience may naturally congregate to reinforce your church’s brand and messaging. If they connect with your content, they will follow you, share your content and help spread your message.
Email is still a powerful tool to communicate. The Forest Marketing Group conducted a survey in 2010 and found that email with video had a 200-300% increase in click-through-rate. Email communication should be a priority in your church’s communications plan.
Grab a free MailChimp account and ethically and tastefully collect email addresses from your members, guests and attendees. Many of the church management software systems have a mailing list feature already built in.
Email can be boring if it is just lots of text. Let the video do the talking because video is worth a million words. To continue with our example, send out a weekly email with the latest video from your pastor. Now you are taking the video to their inbox, not just waiting for them to make their way to your website or social media page. You never know when someone will bring their family to church because your video content captivated them.
Putting It Together
The glue that holds this all together is your video strategy. What are you trying to accomplish? How are you trying to engage your users? Are you trying to educate them about events? Enrich their lives with helpful thoughts and devotions? Are you trying to build your church’s brand as a place where kids are safe and secure?
Utilize a cross-platform video strategy to take your message further, reduce the amount of production you need to do, and engage your audience where they naturally hang out.
How are you using multiple video and social media platforms? Leave it in a comment below.