What's in this session?

  • Testimonies (1:20)
  • Examples (2:33)
  • #1: Juggernaut post (7:48)
  • #2: Visually different (8:39)
  • #3: Different applications (8:39)
  • How we create these posts? (9:12)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Church Announcements Script Bundle – this free download includes 8 pre-written announcement scripts that you can swipe and start using in your church

The Transcript

Brady Shearer: There’s a new type of social media post for churches that’s huge right now. It garners a tons of likes and comments, but it’s also great for earning extended watch time. Why is that important? Well, you’ll learn the answer to that question in this podcast. Not only that, but I’ll share with you nine examples of this post template and give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we constructed each of them.

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’re going to get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the Boss Man, Brady Shearer.

Brady Shearer: Alex, today we want to do a deep dive into one of the social media frameworks that we use and return to a ton within our social program for churches. It’s called the Countdown template. It’s very simple. Essentially with the post, it’s video-based, and it has a countdown, usually starting at 60 seconds going all the way down to zero with a prompt that encourages spiritual practice, and we want to show a bunch of different examples, talk about why we designed them the way that we designed them. We love this post because it’s not just great for doing something different on social, but churches love these types of posts.

Alex Mills: I remember the first time we posted one of these posts. It was a 60-second countdown, take 60 seconds and pray for your spouse, and the response … I posted it on our page and in our private Facebook group. The response that I got from this post was just overwhelming, people saying, “Oh my gosh. Thank you for this.” We took some feedback from another church who posted a very similar post. I think it was exactly that pray for your spouse post, and this was some of the feedback from that church’s post. They said, “Thank you for this. Felt so good to stop for a minute and pray for my husband.” The next person said, “What a great sense of fulfillment praying for her. Seems as if at times we pray for others and topics that we forget to pray for our spouse too. This will now become a daily ritual for me. Thanks for the awakening.” Next person, “Love this.” Next person, “Done.” Next person, “Praying.” This is beautiful and I love that second that I read, “This will now become a daily ritual for me.”

Alex Mills: Isn’t that what this is all about? Isn’t that what using social as a ministry looks like? Inspiring not only spiritual practice in that moment that somebody scrolls and finds your post, which these are great for, but also inspiring spiritual growth? This is now something that somebody is going to make a habit of doing on a daily basis. That’s what this is all about.

Brady Shearer: When you use social the way it’s meant to be used, these are the types of responses that you can expect, and show we want to show you how you can take this template and use it in so many different applications. I think we’ve got nine different examples here. The first one is that same post that Alex mentioned, him posting and the church, the comment thread that we just read allowed and shared. The key with a lot of these countdown posts that I’ve found when it comes to the design is you need to have really big numbers. We’ve experimented with smaller numbers, with bigger ones. The bigger the numbers are, the better, because a lot of times people will not be able to stop scrolling once they see a countdown. Wait, what are we counting to? I have to stop my scroll.

Alex Mills: I have to know.

Brady Shearer: We’ve experimented this with three, two, ones, and that won’t work for this type of countdown post, but they work 100% of the time. People sees a three, two, one, “What’s happening at one?” This next one. We like to use a lot of different applications for these. One of the most important things to remember with social is repeat equals defeat. This is why social is so difficult, because social is one of those things is like, hey, what have you done for me lately? You can come up with a great post. Wow, crushed it today. Tomorrow comes and social’s like, “That was yesterday.” That post is gone into the ether forever.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: You’re right, you’re right. Chronological algorithms don’t exist anymore. We’ll show two people your post today, but after that we’re definitely not showing anybody your post. We’ve done post say pray for your spouse, pray for the parents in our church. One of the reasons we did this was because not everybody has a spouse, and it’s important to be specific. You don’t want to be so ambiguous, it’s not really gripping. Also, if you’re specific, you’re necessitating people being left out.

Alex Mills: Right. You don’t want to be exclusive.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. A post like this, take the next 60 seconds, pray for the parents in our church. That applies to everybody. Take the next 60 seconds and pray for the women in your life.

Alex Mills: Moms, sisters, daughters, nieces, everybody.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. Everybody’s got some women in their life. This one is take the next 60 seconds and pray for your family. Almost everybody has some type of family. Also, notice how all of these designs are different. Not only are the applications different, but the visuals contain nothing that the other visuals contain. They’re all complete designs from scratch. Remember, social, repeat equals defeat. Your visuals should be unpredictable. People see this, they see the countdown. If they’ve seen that countdown before, they know what it is, they’ll stop scrolling. A lot of us use countdowns on Facebook Live for our services. The first time someone sees, they’re like, “We’re counting down to our service. What’s happening? Oh great. Oh, that’s what it is.”

Brady Shearer: The second time they see that, they might stop because they want to watch, but they won’t have that curiosity in their mind. They’ll recognize it. They’ll know instantly we’re counting down to the service and keep scrolling, but if you redesign it, you stop the scroll. They’re like, “Wait, what is this?” Then you have that chance again to provoke them and prompt them into spiritual practice. You also don’t only use the countdown to prompt prayer. We’ve done with breathing. We say, hey, take 60 seconds.

Alex Mills: My church loved this one.

Brady Shearer: Really?

Alex Mills: Yeah, love this one.

Brady Shearer: I thought this one was a bit of a risk.

Alex Mills: My dad who’s also our lead pastor. I posted this sometime mid-week. Sunday morning when he opened the service, he said, “Hey, don’t know if you guys saw this post on our Facebook group, but it impacted me so greatly, I’d like to open our service this morning with just taking a minute to breathe and being aware of the breath inside us and around us.” He loved it, but so did the rest of our church.

Brady Shearer: The cool things about this countdown post was that the breathe in and breathe out lines that actually demonstrate, okay, if this line is still moving, you should still be breathing in. We’re giving visual prompts to actually help demonstrate the exercise in the video itself. You can do seasonal countdowns. We did this one. This was a countdown for the end of the year, December 31st. “Hey, pause for the next 60 seconds and thank God for every good thing that he’s done in your life this year.” This one has had great performance, this next one. We took the endless pinwheel spinning of death that we all just hate, because it means everything’s broken. We took that, and that’s all you see at the beginning of the post. This one has such amazing engagements because you can’t scroll pass it. No.

Alex Mills: How did the Instagram break? How did I do this?

Brady Shearer: How did Apple do this? I’m just on Facebook. How could they do this to me? Then, the text comes in, “Waiting on God? Need him to intervene? Take 60 seconds to pray.” You’re like, “You’re what? Fine, I’ll pray. I’m not happy about it because you got me with the pinwheel, but I will.” We’ve taken the screen time reports that iPhones have begun distributing to users saying, “You spent this much time on your screens.” We’ve taken that and we’ve used the guilt and shame that comes along with that to prompt prayer.

Alex Mills: To do the work of the Lord.

Brady Shearer: It’s like, “Oh, you averaged two hours and 51 minutes of screen time.” Can I just make an aside? Whoever designed this is very generous. I’ll never tell you how much time I spend on my screens. I can’t even say it aloud, but it’s not quite close to two hours and 51 minutes. It’s says let’s reclaim some of that time, you decrepit individual, you disgrace to humanity, and spend the next 60 seconds praying for your family, because you’re ignoring them on your phone, and if you’re going to do that, you may as well at least pray. This one, I like this one a lot as well. It basically says, “Who was the last person you texted? Go into your phone, figure out that person, and now pray for that person for 60 seconds.”

Alex Mills: So good.

Brady Shearer: It’s like the prayer lottery casino. Who knows who you’re going to pray for? That’s nine different examples. Let’s talk about why this post is so valuable and so important. Obviously it provokes spiritual practice, which is what we want to do on social. That’s great, but this post is a juggernaut because not only does it as we’ve shared with the testimony before, it get a ton of likes, you get a ton of comments, but people pause and wait for the countdown to end, and that extended screen time signals to the algorithms of social.

Alex Mills: They love this.

Brady Shearer: Hey, not only did people like this, because likes and comments are one thing, but if we’ve learned anything from YouTube, the number one metric social platforms care about is length time spent on the platform.

Alex Mills: Cover time.

Brady Shearer: The more time someone is spending on Facebook, the more money Facebook makes by the ads they serve. If you have a post that extends far beyond the average time that people hover and spend on posts, that’s going to be a huge ding-ding-ding for the algorithm, show more of this person’s posts to those people. This post is a juggernaut for metrics, for boosting organic reach.

Alex Mills: So good.

Brady Shearer: We love it for that. We talked about a bunch of different applications, and then the other thing to remember is again, always keeping visual differences with these. That’s the tough part. Right, Al? It’s like you got to show up and … I do this with a social program. I sit down, I go, “It’s another new month.” Everything I did last month is done.

Alex Mills: It’s gone.

Brady Shearer: It’s worth nothing. I have to come up with all new stuff. That’s why the social program is great, because I do that and you don’t have to.

Alex Mills: Yes. Yeah, exactly. I love this post. We’ve shared some feedback anecdotally. The audiences that I’m personally serving love this kind of post, and it’s one of those things that truly inspires spiritual practice in the moment, and that’s what I love most about it.

Brady Shearer: You might be asking how we create these. We have a team of animators, designers, videographers, a big team. It takes a lot. If you’re wondering, what is this social strategy that you’re talking about, this countdown post is really just part of the entire strategy that we take to social. You’ve heard us probably say provoke spiritual practice. That’s a part of it. If that sounds foreign to you, we’ve got a free download. It’s called the new social media checklist for churches. It’s really the introduction to … The social program’s closed. You can’t join, but you can still use these same tactics and strategic approaches to improve what you’re doing on social. That checklist is the best place to start. It’s linked in the show notes for this episode of Pro Church Tools. You can also go directly to the URL checklist dot church, and find it there. That will do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools, and we’ll see you next time.

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