King’s Way is a church of about 150 in Ashland, Kentucky. They’ve recently moved into a new building and are ready to grow as a church. The core leadership team of King’s Way joins Brady in this session of the Pro Church Podcast: Coaching Edition to discuss a systematic plan for growing their church in the months and years to come.
Meet The Church Being Coached
- Church Name: King’s Way Church
- Church Location: Ashland, Kentucky
- Church Age: 12 years
- Church Size: 150
- On the coaching call: Lauren – Media Coordinator, Phil – Lead Pastor, Eli, Jim – IT Specialist, JC – Worship
Show Notes & Resources Mentioned
- King’s Way Church website
- King’s Way Church on Facebook
- King’s Way Church on Instagram
- Why Your Church Needs Secret Shoppers with Kem Meyer (PCP080)
- The Method And Message Of Jesus’ Teachings by Robert H. Stein
- The #AskBrady Show
3 Instant Takeaways
- Always add a visual asset to social posts. When creating informational or invitational posts try adding a image or video, this will help grab attention and keep interest.
- Critique and improve your first impression. Before beginning promotion make sure that your church is ready to make a great impression on new visitors. Sometimes this will mean asking people outside of your leadership team, or use secret shoppers, what their honest first impressions were like and improving the areas that were lacking.
- Social media is a long play, not a quick fix. Seeing return on investment when it comes to the effort you put into social media will take time. You won’t see an instant boost in your attendance. Instead over time you will see an increase. You need to establish yourself as a presence online and then move forward over time.
The Full Transcript
Brady Shearer: Well, hey there and welcome to the Pro Church Podcast Coaching Edition. You’re now part of a small group of pioneering churches doing everything we can to seize the 167 hours beyond our Sunday services. Why? Because we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 years and what got us here, won’t get us there. I’m Brady your host and right now, you’re going to sit in with me as I coach and consult with a church in real time. It’s raw. It’s unedited and we’re solving real church problems. So, let’s dive right in.
[00:00:30] Well, hey there Pro Church nation, welcome to another session of the Pro Church Podcast Coaching Edition. In this podcast I’m going to be speaking live with a church and you’ll get to sit in on our coaching session together. Nothing’s off limits and everything is recorded. What’s up everybody? Great to have you.
Phil: Hey Brady.
Lauren: Cool to be with you.
Brady Shearer: Okay, so we’re going to do the lightning round to provide context for everyone listening. First off, who are we talking to? What’s the name of your church?
Lauren: We are Kings Way Church and we’re located [00:01:00] in Ashland, Kentucky.
Brady Shearer: Okay, perfect. How old is your church?
Lauren: Our church is 12, almost 12 years old and we’ve been in a brand new building for 1 year.
Brady Shearer: Oh, very cool. How big is your church?
Lauren: Approximately 150 in attendance each Sunday, I’d say.
Brady Shearer: Who’s on the call? I can see five of you. So, maybe want to do the run through of who each we’re talking to.
Lauren: Sure. I’ll start I’m Lauren and I’m our media coordinator [00:01:30] here.
Phil: I’m Pastor Phil. Lauren’s my daughter and Eli here, I’ll introduce him too, he’s my relatives, my son-in-law. Then, I’ll let these guys.
Jim: I’m Jim. I’m the IT guy, I guess you’d call it.
JC: I’m [JC 00:01:47], I do worship.
Brady Shearer: We’ve got Kings Way Church, Ashland, Kentucky, 12 years old, 1 year in the new building, 150 average in size and we’ve got 5 people on the call. Pastor, [00:02:00] IT guy, worship, media, and Eli. Did Eli get a title or was he just given his name?
Eli: That’s it, just Eli.
Brady Shearer: That’s the son-in-law treatment, right? Okay, so let’s pass it over to you guys. What do you want to talk about? What are we doing on this coaching session?
Phil: Well, there’s a number of things we want to talk about, but first we would say this. We’ve been here, we’ve been a church, like we said for 12, almost 12, this July will be 12 years [00:02:30] and we were in a very small, very old dated church, like 1874 type building. Then we built a new church, it’s a radically different type of building. It’s called a sprung building. It’s something really modern. It doesn’t look anything like a traditional building. So we went from that into this, the sanctuary was about 140 and now it seats about, almost 300. Like probably [00:03:00] everybody our interest is to grow our church to develop it. So, we’re interested in trying to find out things that you know about or others know about that would help us to be able to do things that would help us to grow to fill this building up and build more buildings.
Brady Shearer: Perfect. Let’s start there. You’re 150 in size now. What have the last 3 years looked like? Were you 150, 3 years ago?
Phil: No. We were probably about 120, [00:03:30] 130. We’ve probably since we’ve moved into the new building, we’ve probably grown 20, 25 people-
Brady Shearer: Okay, cool. Would you say that the growth was, that you had the new building, growth happened, or are you expecting year over year growth of a couple dozen?
Phil: We certainly are desiring and expecting that we would see growth each year. I think a lot of that is also not just the [00:04:00] fact that it’s a new building, but we’re trying to get more tech savvy and more social media involved. Lauren actually went to work for the church about six or eight months ago. She’s been heading up that division as far as trying to get us very socially media active. I know she’s been following you a lot and we’re implementing, we have implemented a lot of your things that you, on your website that you shared. She’s done [00:04:30] a lot of that. We’re just trying to do anything from that perspective as well as technology inside our church as well. To be just a little big more attractive to get people to come at least one time and then after that, that’s my job to hook them.
Brady Shearer: Tell me a little bit more about Ashland and the surrounding area. What would you say the demographics of your community are? Lots of churches? Are people mostly churched, unchurched?
Phil: [00:05:00] I would say, lots of churches and mostly very denominationally based churches and we’re a nondenominational church.
Lauren: Prevalently baptist and Nazarene a lot of-
Eli: Traditional denominations.
Lauren: … traditional, very traditional.
Brady Shearer: Would you say that in your region your church is unique? Not just aside from the denominational contingency part, but on a Sunday morning experience?
Phil: I’ll let somebody else answer that, because I might not be the best person to [00:05:30] answer that.
Male: I’d say yes.
JC: I think so. There’s a couple of churches in the area that are the modern and nontraditional style worship and media [inaudible 00:05:41], maybe three.
Brady Shearer: How big is Ashland and the surrounding area?
Lauren: Ashland’s probably I’d say, 25,000-
Male: About 100.
Lauren: … but we’re part of a tri-state region with some, two other cities that are bigger.
Phil: Yeah, we’re next to [00:06:00] Huntington, West Virginia. What would you say, it’s?
Phil: 60, 70,000, about 30 minutes from there. Then we’re also on the Ohio border that there’s a number of smaller towns, small towns similar to Ashland that are within 15, 20 minutes.
Brady Shearer: Okay, so maybe like combined we’re looking at closer to 100?
Phil: I would say that’s a fair-
Phil: A fair number. Yes.
Brady Shearer: When it comes to growth, what have you guys already tried?
Lauren: [00:06:30] We’ve definitely gone after social media hardcore. From the time I think that I took over our Facebook, just based on followers, we’ve grown from what I, just from what I’ve seen from probably about 600 people to now almost 1,100 to give you a gauge there. We definitely gone after social media and we’ve certainly upped our [00:07:00] things that we do inside on Sunday mornings with video announcements, series, bumpers or promo videos for each sermon series that we’re on and our worship has also drastically changed as well. All those things that we hope encourage and give room for growth.
Brady Shearer: I’m looking at your Facebook page right now and for a church of about 150 to have 1,100 likes, that is, that’s unusual. Kudos [00:07:30] to you guys, I got to commend you on that, because that’s a 10x size of audience on Facebook more than what you would have actually on a weekly attendance, right? You don’t really usually see that with churches your size. I think you’ve got some good momentum there and even when I look at the reviews you’ve got 59 reviews, 4.8 stars on average, again very good. Would you say that Facebook is the primary social platform you’re using and if so, what others [00:08:00] if any?
Lauren: Yeah, Facebook is definitely predominantly the one that we use, but we also have Instagram, we’re not on Twitter. Yeah, just Facebook and Instagram.
Brady Shearer: What’s your Instagram handle?
Brady Shearer: Perfect. [crosstalk 00:08:17]. Yeah, you don’t need to be on Twitter. Nobody needs to be on Twitter.
Lauren: I hate Twitter.
Brady Shearer: Awesome and you know what? I’m looking at the pictures you’re sharing. It’s pictures of [00:08:30] people, people within the church, that’s good. You always want to over index on people rather than graphics. With that being said, the first couple things that I see on social are, you’ve got … See, I’m going to count through. You know there are couple of things that I would say are a little bit, maybe more promotional than they need to be. There’s a post from 22 hours ago, “Tonight we start a new teaching on healing and why you can believe for it in your life. Join us at 6:45.” It’s just a text update [00:09:00] only. When you look at that engagement that that’s got compared to the other posts, it’s a lot lower and there’s a good reason for that. Obviously, visual creative assets are going to perform better than text only. What I would do is in a situation like that, and Lauren, are you in charge of this?
Brady Shearer: Obviously, we can’t devoid our social accounts of promotion all together. That would be too extreme. When you’re doing something like this, I would always want to couple it with a visual asset. I can’t remember the last time I posted something [00:09:30] on social that didn’t come with a video or a picture. It really just comes down to playing by the rules of social. Obviously Lauren, you have been. I imagine maybe you just wanted to get out a post last minute and maybe you don’t have something to couple with it. Going forward it’s almost not even worth posting it, if it’s text only, especially when there’s no link to click to. You can get away sometimes with text only if you tell a long form story and it has a link at the end or something like that, [00:10:00] but if you’re just going to promote, post an informational little snippet like that with no photo, video, or link accompanying with it.
You’re not going to get much traction with it and because Facebook’s algorithm is such a mystery, we don’t know this for sure, but every time you post something Facebook is measuring the organic reach that it’s getting. When Kings Way Church’s Facebook page posts something, do their followers like it or do they not? Depending on how they engage, Facebook will then use that information, we don’t [00:10:30] know exactly how, but Facebook will use that information to change and adjust the algorithm for what you post next time. Maybe if the people that saw the link, I’m sorry the text only post didn’t maybe respond, engage, react super positively, maybe they won’t see the next post.
Again, the algorithm is a mystery so we don’t know, but what we do know is that the more people respond positively to your social content the more Facebook, or Instagram now, is likely to show your content to more people the next time. [00:11:00] It is definitely good for us, important for us to do as much as we can to play by the rules of what Facebook is looking for, because they want to provide the best experience they can for their users and we want to reach as many people as we possibly can without having to pay for it.
That’s the sucky thing about Facebook right now. It’s not sucky in the sense that it’s unfair, because Facebook is allowed to do whatever they want. They’ve given us this amazing platform. Really the best platform for outreach and marketing than any church has ever had [00:11:30] ever. They’ve given it to us for free, but they’ve also limited how much we can reach without paying. They’re like, “Look, if you really want to reach your region and the people that even already like your page to its fullest potential, we’re going to make you pay. But if you create really compelling content, super awesome stuff, we’ll give you more organic reach than maybe another page that doesn’t.”
Do you want to dive at all into what you’re doing existing on social or do you want to go in more the realm of reaching people that don’t [00:12:00] know you at all? Because there’s two ways we could take this. What we call in marketing a warm audience or a cold audience. We can go in the direction of the cold audience, meaning people that have either never heard of you or have barely any interaction with you, or we can go to the warm audience, people that come to church. Maybe they’re infrequent attenders, maybe they’re regular attenders. People that are connected with you, but maybe not quite as connected as you’d like them to be.
Lauren: I’d almost rather the cold.
Male: I would.
Lauren: Yeah, definitely the cold [00:12:30] approach.
Brady Shearer: The first question that I have for you pertaining to reaching new people, unconnected to your church, unaware of you, never heard of you is how would you rate your church’s current experience? If someone comes on a Sunday, what’s it like for them when it comes to first impressions, followup afterwards, friendliness? Is there anything that we can improve there before we move on to actual promotion, because I know that this is not the most fun part of it, [00:13:00] but this is something I really care about. If I’m not 100% confident in promoting something that I know is going to be awesome, because we only get one shot at a first impression, I’m always hesitant to do it.
I think you said, Lauren, you’ve been a part of Pro Church Academy or something like that. I haven’t promoted Pro Church Academy, which is our paid training and had it open for six months almost, because we’ve been working on it behind the scenes. I don’t want to promote it publicly until I’m sure [00:13:30] that it’s going to make a great first impression on as many people as possible. Before we dive into the tactics, do you, can we just spend a little bit of time on what your current experience is like from the eyes of a new person, first impression, friendliness, experience in service, and followup.
Phil: Again, might be difficult for me, because I am not, I don’t get to necessarily watch a lot of this happen, but we have a VIP tent [00:14:00] that it sets out in front of the church as new, every person comes in, but that’s where we keep our first time visitor gifts. At the end of the service me and my wife, get out there to try to greet any first time visitors and present them with a new gift in that VIP tent. We’ve tried to work on that. We have all our volunteers that are working in different departments, they wear tee shirts that are relevant to their department. Ushers [00:14:30] are all in their appropriate shirts, and we’re trying to even greet them at the point of the parking lot. We’re actually getting ready to build a new little hut to catch them as soon as they park or pull onto the parking lot.
We’re trying to do everything we can to greet them as quickly as possible, but to say that we, could we do better? I have no doubt we could, but we are, we have implemented a number of things. [00:15:00] All of this is really relevant in the last nine, ten months, Brady, since we moved into the new building.
Brady Shearer: Let’s-
Phil: In the old building we didn’t have the chance to do that.
Brady Shearer: Sure. Let’s start here. Step one of the game plan for reaching new people, I just dropped a link in the Skype chat to the 80th session of the Pro Church Podcast if you’re listening and you’re not on the Skype chat with Kings Way, prochurchtools.com/080. It was a podcast I did with a gal named [00:15:30] Kem Meyer, it’s called Why Your Church Needs Secret Shoppers. Basically in it she details this breakdown of what you can do when you’re too deep inside of what your church is like. We’re all like this. I’m like this with my own company.
I can’t and I don’t have the mental capacity to really truly understand what it would be like for someone to have a first impression with my company with my church. I’m just way too deep in it. So, what you do is you’ve got to find people who you basically, propose come [00:16:00] in and take inventory and detail as much as they can what it’s like to be a new visitor. Again, if there’s four areas that you want to focus on, I would focus on the first impression, the overall friendliness, number two. Number three, the overall experience and number four, the followup.
There’s that very first impression. This is that instant momentary reaction. Maybe it happens in the parking lot. Maybe it happens when they walk into this new and shiny building for the first time. [00:16:30] The second one is friendliness. This is overall culture and overall feel. It’s so hard for someone to come to church new for the first time. It’s one thing to experience anything new, it’s one thing to make a change in your life at all, which is already difficult, but to get in your car, either individually or with your family, drive to a new place, navigate the parking lot, figure out what time and the customs of the place, what do I wear? What can I expect? Where do my kids go? Where do I send them? Where am I supposed to sit? How loud is the service [00:17:00] going to be? How long is the service going to be? What’s going to happen? Are we going to have music? Is there going to be teaching? Am I expected to give?
Think about all these variables that are going through a new visitor’s mind. That would be summed up in the friendliness part of the secret shopper. Did you feel welcomed? Did you feel like you were allowed to come as you are? Did you, and just making sure the friendliness one is all intact. Number three, overall experience. This would come into play when it’s like, did you know exactly [00:17:30] where to take your kids? I was at my childhood church the other day guys. My lead pastor from when I was in youth group was retiring. I’m now a father, we’ve got a little two year old daughter. This is a couple of months ago, she was a little bit under two.
We drove back home couple hours across of, across our province and went to my childhood church. When I went to this church as a kid, I obviously would have been too close and too young to really understand what it was like to be a new visitor, but for the first time in my life arriving as a 25 year old [00:18:00] now a young family. I was seeing what it was like to be a new visitor to this church for the first time. There was no direction as to where to take my child. I had attended this church my entire childhood and I still didn’t know where to take my kid, because kid ministry, I wasn’t thinking about that when I was a teenager.
It turns out that it was actually on the lower level. My wife and I finally figured out where to take our kid and then we got to the room where she was supposed to go and nobody was there. We were just standing there awkwardly and we were talking amongst each other [00:18:30] because obviously we spend so much time with churches. We were like, obviously this is our church and we love everyone here, but if we were a new visitor, this would be a really bad first impression and a really bad hit on the overall experience. That’s just one thing to consider. When people come in with their kids do they know exactly where to go? When people come in do they know where to sit? Do they know, if they’re expected to give? Is that communicated? So many different variables for the overall experience.
Then the fourth and final thing is the followup. How are you capturing [00:19:00] information? When you are capturing it, how are you actually taking that next step throughout the week? How soon are you following up with someone? Through what medium is it? Is it text? Is it email? Is it a call on the phone? Does Stacy the admin write an actual nice little mailer on a postcard and mail it out? I’ve known a bunch of churches to do that. There’s so many different options.
What you want to do is step one in this marketing strategy, this outreach strategy that we’re putting together, the growth strategy really, [00:19:30] is to get a couple of secret shoppers. It can be your friends that have never attended the church. They can be family members. They can be friends, not of yours, but of other people. Maybe Lauren can ask a couple of her friends to come in, or maybe you can ask someone who is not on staff. So, it would be easier for them to bring in a friend or a family member. The only expectation is to give your honest feedback and then lay out this four things for them.
Be like, “Okay, here are the four things you really care about.” Give us your feedback on what can be improved on. [00:20:00] The entire goal of this is to identify blind spots that exist that you cannot see, because we all have them. When you are in a new church, sorry, when you are in a church day in and day out. You’re in the office right now, you guys are on the inside, it’s really hard to see what it truly looks like for a new visitor. That’s step one.
Once we have all of this information we can make the quick and easy changes we need to make, because the worst thing that we can do is create [00:20:30] a really good top of the funnel marketing strategy, growth strategy. Imagine if you had 100 new visitors come over the next 6 months. It’d be a huge win, but what you didn’t know was you had a similar problem with your kids ministry as my old church did. Imagine if I found a way to send 100 new visitors to my old church and 100 families showed up and had that first time experience with their kids as I did. How many of those families are likely to come back? [00:21:00] How many of those first time impressions did we lose and ruin because we didn’t know, we weren’t aware of a couple of blind spots?
The whole point of this secret shopper process is to identify a couple of quick fixes that we don’t recognize as bad, but they’re actually are bad. We can fix them pretty easily if we just are aware of them. So, that’s step one. Before we dive into the next part, do you have any questions on that, concerns, feedback?
Phil: No, I think that’s a great idea. Is it something [00:21:30] that you would just ask somebody to do? I have some business background as well and I’m familiar with mystery shoppers. I have never even thought about that in terms of church, but that’s a really good idea. A lot of times you have to pay to get mystery shoppers, is that something you would recommend or just try to get somebody to just do it voluntarily?
Brady Shearer: I think you could probably leverage your existing relationships whether it be friend or family to get people in, but I am not against paying someone at all, [00:22:00] whatsoever. There’s probably a middle ground too. Let’s say you think even your friends or family could be a little bit too close. Might see it through a little bit of rose tinted glasses because, “Oh that’s my son. That’s my nephew, that’s, whoever up there.” You could ask someone in the church to bring a family or friend member and be like, “We’re going to give you a $50 gift card to the favorite restaurant in Ashland or one of the local joints.” That way it’s like you’re not paying, but there’s a little bit of incentive just to make it worth their while. There’s probably a middle ground there, but whatever [00:22:30] you have to do to get people in there, because that’s the key.
Phil: Very good.
Brady Shearer: Let’s jump to step two. Let’s imagine in step one of this marketing strategy, or growth strategy we have figured out and identified the blind spots. We’ve made the fixes to make sure that once we get new people coming through the doors, we are not going to lose them immediately on a simple thing like, “Where do the kids go?” Now we want to do is choose [00:23:00] the marketing channel that we want to use to actually reach into a cold audience, a cold market that doesn’t yet know about us. The most under priced and best way to reach new people in 2017 guys, especially in America is Facebook ads. It’s not even close. The price that you’re going to pay for the amount of people that you’re going to have access to is unprecedented and unmatched by any other marketing channel.
[00:23:30] Digital versus print is an interesting conversation. I don’t know if you guys have ever done mailers before, something that a lot of churches have done and are familiar with. Facebook ads not so much. Mailers will get you to a lot of places close to you, but what they won’t do is give you control over the creative asset, meaning you can’t exactly test if what you’ve printed is actually going to work. On Facebook, if you test an image and it [00:24:00] doesn’t work, great swap a video and see if that works. Swap out another image until you get it right. The cost of a digital creative asset is basically zero compared to printing 10,000 mailers. Not only are you locked into the design of those mailers, but you actually have to pay the physical printing costs to get them actually printed. Not to mention then delivered and the delivery cost of Facebook are going to be vastly under priced compared to the delivery costs likely of any print.
What you want to do when it comes to marketing and [00:24:30] a Facebook ad strategy is really relevant to June 2017. It should be for at least another 18 months by my estimation. If people are listening to this two years down the road maybe it’s not. When it comes to a macro strategy, what you want to do is, you want to look at where the attention is and then compare that to the price of the attention. Everything works, everything works, the problem is how much are we going to pay for this to work? [00:25:00] How many people are we going to reach with the amount that we’re paying? So, you could do a Superbowl ad, now beware it’s going to cost three mill, but it is definitely going to work and it’s going to reach a ton of people. More people than probably any other channel that you try. Obviously, though the price of that makes it prohibitive.
Direct mail, it works, but the attention really isn’t there. I don’t know about you, but when I get my mail it’s mostly junk and unless there’s some Taco Bell [00:25:30] coupons in there I’m not keeping it. Now, if there are some Taco Bell coupons, maybe that’s a different story. Then, let’s look at something like maybe a TV ad. Less expensive than a Superbowl ad, maybe on some local television. How many people are you actually going to reach? What’s the attention on a TV ad? I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I watched a TV ad. First of all, I’m watching on demand TV, not, I’m watching Netflix, I’m watching Apple TV. Even if I’m watching live sports where I’m forced to sit through an ad, I just pull out my phone and then [00:26:00] start going through Twitter or whatever I want to be when the advertisements are actually on, when the commercials show up.
This is the thing that you have to consider, Facebook ads is definitely the best way to go right now, but it might not be the best thing forever. It definitely won’t be the best thing forever. The shelf life maybe it’s 18 months, maybe it’s 24, maybe it’s 36, who knows? But what Facebook has is these three things. First of all, it has the audience. Seven out of every ten American adults is on Facebook. [00:26:30] Seven out of every ten, if there is a place in your community, it there is a place in Ashland, a public space where it was free to go and you could set up shop, not just free to go, but free to actually setup a Kings Way Church booth or whatever it might be and every single week 70% of the population, 70,000 people of the 100,000 came through there, would your church have a presence there? Of course, you would have a presence there. It would be huge. That’s what we’re working with when it comes to Facebook. So, it’s got the audience.
Secondly, it has the attention. [00:27:00] The average adult is spending more than six hours per week on social media. The average adults probably going to church once out of every two Sundays that’s what most churches see are families coming every other week on average. That means you’ve got 25 hours a year basically of people in your new and fresh building. They’re spending six hours every single week on social. You can have them, their attention is 20 times that much among social as it is sitting in church. So, the attention is there.
Then, third [00:27:30] the price is right. I didn’t just make that as a reference towards the game show, but the price that you’ll pay for Facebook ads versus the attention makes it so alluring. Not only is it giving you access to basically everybody in America and they’re paying so much attention there, but the price is not prohibitive. It’s not like, “Yeah, it’s three mill. A cool three mill, just like a Superbowl ad.” You can spend as little as $10, $50, $100. We can talk about budget a bit more, but [00:28:00] those are the three things that make Facebook ads great. Thoughts?
Lauren: Yeah, just for clarification. When you say Facebook ads, we have boosted some of our posts is that the same thing as an ad or is that different?
Brady Shearer: A boosted post is technically a Facebook ad, but what I’m referring to it is not. When I’m talking about Facebook ads, I’m talking about quote, unquote, a “dark post.” Basically, a post that doesn’t show up publicly in your Facebook [00:28:30] feed, but is made primarily and solely to be advertised to people in their feeds when their scrolling through on Facebook. Does that make sense?
Brady Shearer: A boosted post and you can change the audience on a boosted post, I recommend only using a boosted post when you want a post that has already performed well organically to reach more people that already like your page. For instance, let’s say you post one of Pastor’s messages and it’s doing exceptionally [00:29:00] well organically. You want it to reach more people that already like your page, maybe 150 or 200 of your 1,100 have already seen it. You boost it for 20 bucks and the rest of the people see it. That’s the only time that I would use a boosted post.
A Facebook ad is an actual post created in Facebook’s ad editor, ad manager, where you go in, you create a new post, it doesn’t show up on your feed. You choose your audience. You choose how much you want to pay for it. You choose where you want it to show up. Then you order it. Then, that’s the [00:29:30] distinction.
Lauren: Okay. [inaudible 00:29:36].
Phil: This is a discussion that we’ve had for a long time. We have a local radio program where we air the sermon each week just 15 minute clips of the sermon. It’s actually been, I’ve been doing it even before the church so it’s 13 years that we’ve been doing it, but it’s about $1,300 a month. We have a lot of people that [00:30:00] inevitably doesn’t matter what happens … within a short period of time we’ll have somebody run that, bump into them and they’ll say, “Hey, I love your program. Love your program. Listen to you every day.” That’s great, but those people are not really in our church. We’ve not seen a lot of growth from that even though we talk about the website. We talk about the church location, all of these different things, but we haven’t seen a lot of growth per se from just the radio program.
[00:30:30] Lauren has been trying to convince me to kill that program and take at least some of that money and dedicate it to boosts, ads, whatever on Facebook more Facebook. She believes that our money, as far as return and people coming to the church, that it would be a greater return on the money so to speak by doing it that way. That’s been one of our discussions.
Brady Shearer: I mean, there’s no question that it would be a greater return. I mean, there’s no way [00:31:00] that seven out of ten people in the surrounding area are listening to that radio station. There’s no way seven out of ten people are listening to the radio. So you’re obviously already going to reach, be able to reach more people on Facebook. Then, you have to think about the actual cost. $1,300 a month for a church of your size would do miracles on Facebook when spent properly. With that being said, and if you hear anything over the hour that we talk, here this more than anything else. Social media is a long game. [00:31:30] It’s a long play. It’s not an instant fix. You could do everything right in the six months starting the second we get off this call and you might not see the growth that you want or imagine. That’s not a guarantee, but it’s probably pretty likely.
Social media is a long game where you establish yourself as an actual presence online and then you move forward over time. This is something that you’re fighting against as is every church. It’s something that you [00:32:00] need to be aware of and that is that, Barna which is one of the most respected church data, market data companies. In 2000, they measured how many people in America said they were going to church in a given month. 58% said, “Yeah, I’ve been to church in the last month.” 58, so about 6 in 10. 15 years later in 2015, they asked that same question and the percentage points had dropped from 58 to 46. Basically, one full percentage point [00:32:30] every single year.
That’s a pretty drastic drop off, which means that church attendance across the board is declining. This is something that you’re fighting against. When you recognize it a bunch of different variables are moving, that’s when the formula becomes that much more complex. It’s not as simple as radio is antiquated, Facebook is current. If we move from radio to Facebook those $1,300 will be the difference. [00:33:00] Like I said, those $1,300 would be much better spent on Facebook when spent properly, but that’s not the only variable in this equation. The culture shift that we’re seeing from more, from attending church pretty frequently to attending less frequently. That’s something that’s beyond your control, but that is still a variable in the equation that you have to consider. Like I said, the more variables in the equation the more complex it becomes and the more different outcomes that you have to consider. What I don’t want to sell to you guys [00:33:30] is social media is the perfect magic fix, because there just isn’t one.
Phil: I think that we understand that. That it’s the consistency that the longer that we, that we’re on social media in a consistent manner over a longer period of time that that’s where the results would come. I think that’s what we primarily, that’s [00:34:00] largely what we’ve done to a large degree. We’re still not maybe where we ultimately want to be, but where I think we’re at least semi on the right track for the last six, eight months. Even when we started the radio program 13 years ago, the idea behind it was, we were just having this conversation this morning, it was to create legitimacy. It was, of course, social media really wasn’t here 13 years ago. Radio was a viable thought. I think largely, [00:34:30] at least for a number of those years it did do that. It did create legitimacy, because we started church from ground up with nobody. It did bring a sense of legitimacy like, “That church really is for real.” I think social media almost is, it almost sounds like the way you described it, that it’s almost that same general principle.
Brady Shearer: Yeah and the fact that you have a history of being willing to invest in the long term bodes well. [00:35:00] You did the radio, for what do you say? 13 years?
Brady Shearer: Exactly.
Phil: We’re still doing it. We’re on the teetering point.
Brady Shearer: Exactly. So you have the history of being willing to invest in the long term. One thing that really stands out to me when I think about that is, you have 1,100 likes on your Facebook page. You have 150 average weekly attendance. Meaning 10 times as many people have [00:35:30] liked your page as are already attending. To go back to the cold market versus warm market discussion, you can create a set of advertisements to reach people who are not aware of you at all, but there are 10 times as many people on your Facebook page that like you that don’t show up on a weekend.
I don’t know how many of those are just geographically not in your region and physically can’t show up. Let’s say even for sake of argument it’s half. That means you’ve got about 500 likes [00:36:00] on your Facebook, what we would call a warm audience. They’re aware of you. They’ve gone out of their way to like your Facebook page that aren’t coming on a weekend. You invest 12, 18, 24 months of creating awesome social content and I bet, I guarantee a chunk of those people begin showing up, because you are investing where they’re already at. Instead of just demanding, “Hey, come to us. Come to us. Come to us.” You keep showing up where they’re at, sharing stories, showing the life change that’s happening in your church. [00:36:30] Sharing the hope of Jesus where they already are, spending more than six hours every single week. Slowly, they move down the spectrum of, “I’ve liked your page, but I’ve never really been.” To, “Oh, I checked you out in person.” To, “Yeah, maybe I want to come back again.” To fully integrated member of your church community.
You’ve got two opportunities right now. You’ve got this huge group of people that like your church that aren’t attending that you can reach over time. Then, we’ve got this also cold audience, the Facebook ads tactic [00:37:00] and we could talk about the best top of funnel strategy for that if you want. But you’ve got these two things that you can work in. The more that we talk about it, the more I think you guys are in a pretty adventitious position and as long as you have Pastor and senior leadership’s backing and willingness to invest in this and actually give it some time. I think that you can really see some momentum.
Brady Shearer: Okay-
Lauren: I have-
Brady Shearer: Go ahead.
Lauren: I was wondering on the, still on the social [00:37:30] aspect while we’re still here. Most of the things that I put on Facebook I just basically mirror it on Instagram. Part of the reason I, like the past few weeks I’ve tried to do, tried some of just the text only on Facebook just to differentiate it from Instagram. Should it be the exact same on Instagram as it is on Facebook or should it vary?
Brady Shearer: I’m a big fan of creating native content [00:38:00] for every platform. Meaning the content should be different. The subject matter does not have to be different, but the content should be. For instance, for our Facebook strategy, we are heavy, heavy into video. Almost, the vast majority of what we post on Facebook is video centric, because Facebook is going to give more organic reach to video over photos. It’s very a video centric medium, [00:38:30] especially right now. What we do on Instagram is more of a still visual approach. Where the vast majority of what we post on Instagram are just still images, because Instagram true to its origins as a photography platform is still a visual centric platform even though they’ve introduced up to 60 second videos and feed, live video, Instagram stories. They’re moving more towards video and as social media evolves, we’ll continue to evolve with it. Every platform has its [00:39:00] own unique set of language, own unique culture and best practices. The more you can play within those, the more that you give yourself a chance to win with organic growth.
There’s two types of growth with social. That’s where traditional media differs from the world of social media and the new digital media. For you guys to get on the radio, you got to pay. For you to grow and excel on social, you can pay, but you don’t have to. [00:39:30] That’s an interesting new world that we live in. There are no gatekeepers to you setting up that public space where seven out of every ten people in your community are visiting weekly and for you to reach them organically. It’s requires a ton of skill and hard work and patience, but it is possible; whereas, traditional media requires the financial investment up front.
As much as you can Lauren, I would recommend two things. Native content for both platforms is preferred. If you can’t get there, [00:40:00] what I would do is repurpose content for each platform. The same subject matter can be on each platform, but repurpose it so it’s not identical. So, that it has more of the culture best practices and language of an Instagram versus a Facebook. Play to the strengths of each platform. If that’s not possible, it’s very okay to back off and go deep on a single platform than wide on multiple. Meaning, I would much prefer that you invest all of your energy and [00:40:30] all of your creative time and creative mental capacity into making Facebook great rather than splitting what you have with your creative time, creative mental energy to making both Instagram and Facebook good. It’s much better to excel hard on one platform than dilute your power, especially for a small organization and focus wide on multiple. Does that make sense?
Lauren: Yes. Absolutely.
Phil: Brady, I’ve got a question regarding Facebook you’re talking about videos. [00:41:00] Is there a, have you found that anything is more generally advantageous when you’re creating videos do you find that it’s like sermon clips or personalization, giving stories? What type of videos are you, or for that matter some kind of ads or whatever just promoting your church. What type of videos have you seen that’s been maybe more successful?
Brady Shearer: The first thing that you need, that is most important to consider [00:41:30] is that storytelling is always the best. It’s the most powerful form of human communication. It’s the only type of human communication that forces our brains to subconsciously pay attention. I mentioned earlier that time that I went back to my new church. That same day that I was there, and this will resonate with you Pastor, because you’ll get what I’m talking about here. That same day we were visiting not just with my wife and my daughter, but with my brother-in-law as well. We’re there, we’re sitting in the back row and the senior pastor that we [00:42:00] grew up with is preaching his last message. He’d been there 15 years odd, he’s moving onto a new church. We’re sitting in the back row and I’m looking at my brother-in-law, he’s sitting right to my left and he’s looking down at his phone. He’s on Facebook scrolling through in the message.
Then our pastor, Pastor Wayne, he transitions in his message from, he was talking about some exegetical part and then he goes, “I know this lady name Tammy and Tammy,” and the second he transitions into a story, my [00:42:30] brother-in-law looks up from his phone and immediately starts paying attention to the message. I lean over him and I’m like, “Bro, do you realize what just happened? You prioritized a human telling a story over the attention suck of Facebook on your phone.” That’s how powerful story is. It forces us to pay attention subconsciously. I’m looking at you guys right now and we’ve been talking close to 45 minutes. You’ve been hearing my voice ramble on for a little while. You were paying the most attention when I was telling that story and the story about [00:43:00] me visiting the church and not being able to know where to put my kid, because stories engage us. We’re wired, DNA. The way that God made us to tell stories and listen to stories.
There’s this great book that takes inventory of Jesus’ teachings throughout the synoptic gospels. It’s called, The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings by Robert Stein. It found that no less than 35% of Jesus’ teachings were based on story. What he knew about the brain we know now. We [00:43:30] respond to story. Stories always what you should lean to and go to first, because it’s just the best thing to do. We all have so many stories to tell. As simple as like, “Man, I was driving to the church office,” and this is you Pastor, I’m being you. “I was driving to the church office today traffic was a little bit worse than normal” and you can just talk about your reaction to that. You can talk about just your own personal experience. “Why is it that I react more angrily in traffic?” Now I’m talking about myself. “Why is it that I react [00:44:00] so angry in traffic? What is that? What about my own human condition can I share?” That’s the most minor story ever, but it’s more interesting than the most extravagant graphic that you can create that is void of any story. To that end, that’s the macro level, story always wins.
We’ve also seen a trend with Facebook. We talked about having, you have to pay to play on Facebook. They’re only going to give you certain amount of organic reach. We’ve seen this trend. Every time Facebook launches a new feature that they want you to use, [00:44:30] they will give you more organic reach when you do and post with that feature, because they want to encourage you to post more like that. When they integrated, when video was integrated on Facebook for the first time, every time you posted a video it would do like two, three, four, five times better than if you posted an image, because Facebook wanted to reward those who were using video, because video was important to their platform so they would give you extra organic reach for free.
[00:45:00] The same thing is happening now with live video. If there’s one thing that I would encourage you to start doing, Pastor especially with Facebook, open that phone, point it towards yourself, and do a weekly Facebook live. You can do a live Q&A. You could do a live prayer response. You could do a live preview, or recap of the message repurposed for live. It’s going to cost you zero dollars of video gear. It’s going to get huge organic reach. All you have to do is spend 10, [00:45:30] 15 minutes just improvising. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. “Hey everybody, Pastor here.” Then you can just talk about how angry you got when you were driving to work. I say that tongue in cheek, but I actually mean it. People would love that. They hear you preach all the time, so they recognize you, but they also want to hear a little bit of other stuff too. They want to hear some behind the scenes. They want to hear what’s family life like.
This is the premise of show over tell, show don’t tell. [00:46:00] There’s one thing that I try to live by on social media is show, don’t tell. It’s much better in, especially in story form to show what it’s like to live a life centered on Jesus. To show what it’s like to be a great dad, a great husband, a great leader, rather than tell. You’re telling a lot on Sundays and you’ve already got that and that’s good, but you don’t probably need to do more of that on social. You can do some more showing on social. Show what it’s like, what it’s like at Pastor’s home. [00:46:30] What’s it like with the kids? Any kids still in the house? What’s it like with the wife? What’s it like transitioning, kids are getting married? There’s so many great things that you can show what it’s like to live a life centered on Jesus rather than just tell. Does that make sense? Does that resonate at all?
Phil: Absolutely, yeah. That’s a cool thought. I hadn’t thought about that either.
Brady Shearer: 10 minutes a week. So easy.
Phil: What about the length of time of video do you recommend?
Brady Shearer: When it comes to figuring out what works particularly [00:47:00] for your audience, the best thing to do is to become a practitioner. What I mean by that is that there is no substitute for actually doing the work and experimenting and then seeing what works and what doesn’t. I would say for a Facebook live anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes would be perfect. That’s what I would recommend starting. Then, I would experiment within that time frame. I would do a 3, a 5, and 8, 12, a 15, or maybe I would just do a 5 and 10 and every week I’d [00:47:30] rotate. One week I’d do 5. One week I’d do 10. Do that for 2 months and then look at the engagement numbers that you’re getting and figure out, what do people prefer? Do they watch for more on the 5 or do they watch more on the 10? Then, you’re getting advice based on what Brady from Canada is saying, but you’re getting personalized advice based on your existing online following. Your Facebook likes. They are voting with their attention. Then you can give them more of what they want.
Phil: Do [00:48:00] you also recommend Facebook live during the services?
Brady Shearer: For a church of your size the cost that that’s going to take can be prohibitive. Do you have an existing livestream setup already?
Phil: We were doing Facebook live in our original older building. When we moved to the new building, we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get the proper internet set up here so there’s really only two options, [00:48:30] two companies. One is far less than the second. So, we have currently the one, but it’s not very powerful to be able to do uploads, downloads that kind of stuff. We’re actually in a queue waiting list waiting for this other company, but they have to build it. We’re already signed up for it. We have to pay half the cost to get it built. So, we’re waiting on that. We did do it at the other location and, but I couldn’t tell you [00:49:00] how the measuring stick was. That was really before Lauren came on. I don’t know how it was measuring out.
Brady Shearer: Were you doing it just on a mobile device or did you have cameras and a switcher and everything?
Lauren: It was just on a phone. I do know that.
Brady Shearer: Yeah, so look. I mean, the size of church you are an extravagant live streaming setup is just not worth it right now, especially because you have goals to grow. A live streaming setup with actual cameras and a switcher and special internet, you’re in the queue, is going to be like [00:49:30] 3, 4, 5, 10, 20k. It can get so extravagant and out of hand. That money can be better spent towards what you’re trying to do, which is grow and reach new people.
With that being said … if you’re not going to live stream with a proper setup of a service, I don’t really see any value in live streaming by just holding up a phone. Audio is going to be very poor. You’re not going to be tapped into the actual board so the worship is going to be basically, unlistenable. Then, even you preaching is going to be tough, because [00:50:00] they’re capturing audio that’s going through the speakers and the speakers are up front and you’re in the back. On the flip side, Facebook live by you just holding up the phone and looking into it is going to sound great and be so easy to interact with. I would definitely do that. It’s going to be free and it’s going to be so much more, you’re going to get much more response from your people.
Phil: I don’t know, because in our setup, in our current setup we do have a camera and we do video every Sunday service and it does get downloaded [00:50:30] to the website. I don’t know if we [inaudible 00:50:33] might know of that might be a better question for Jim, but it might be, it may still be expensive to get added those things added, but we it sounds like we do have some of those things currently.
Brady Shearer: Yeah and if you have some of the infrastructure and it’s not too hard to get up there. Yeah, that could be definitely something that to look, like if you have a camera that’s live stream compatible and all you need is a switcher and the internet connection, go for it. It sounds like you’ve got an IT guy. If he’s capable of setting that up, live streaming can be [00:51:00] complicated, but I, there’s going to be a lot of barriers to you getting to live stream. The return on investment that you’re going to get from that, in my mind and in my experience is going to pale in comparison to the ROI you’re going to get from Facebook living just from your phone during the week, 10 minutes every week.
Phil: Real quick, what about the length of videos as well. Just any video.
Brady Shearer: Like a story video or a Facebook live?
Phil: [00:51:30] No, like a story video.
Brady Shearer: I like to keep them in-between three and five minutes. I’ve gone as long as seven when I’m feeling really powerful, but … Sweet guys, well, I’m but a time where I got to run to another coaching call. Just a couple of minutes left. Is there anything else you want to get in before we sign off? [inaudible 00:51:54]. Awesome. I’ve had a blast [00:52:00] with you guys. Just know that and I’m sure you guys do know this, you are the average church in North America. Almost every single church is your size. When I say average I don’t mean that like, “You guys are average. Like you’re a five out of ten.” What I mean is that every single church is facing exactly what you’re facing right now. The churches that I think are going to make the biggest impact in the next 10 years, are the churches that go where the attention is.
I was speaking with a buddy of mine the other day and he was like, “My pastor [00:52:30] wants to go on TV and do televangelism and this is how much it’s going to cost. This is the infrastructure required.” I was like, “Why doesn’t he just go on social?” He was like, “He doesn’t think social is going to work.” I felt so bad for this guy, because obviously it’s not up to him. His senior leadership is going to make that final call. So, for me to sit here with you and to talk with your senior leadership and his whole team, this is so encouraging because you guys are in a position where you can take advantage of this new [00:53:00] communication landscape. Be patient, work hard, practice, experiment, see what works, see what doesn’t. I really think that you guys can meet those growth goals that you want.
Phil: Very good. Well, we really appreciate you taking the time and appreciate all your insight and the time that it took just to sharing with us today.
Brady Shearer: Well, it’s been a blast guys thanks so much.
Phil: Thanks Brady.
Lauren: Thanks Brady.
Brady Shearer: Thanks for tuning into the Pro Church Podcast Coaching Edition. My hope is that [00:53:30] by hearing what’s happening behind the scenes in another church, you can see that no church has it all figured out and we’re all on this journey together. To that end, if you have a question for me, the best way to get it answered is on our weekly question and answer show called the Ask Brady Show. You can submit your question to [email protected] Sending in a video question will put you