Everyone loves a good story. Sometimes, we even love the anticipation of waiting for a good story (I’m looking in your direction Star Wars trailer). We’re a society that thrives on storytelling. It’s also an essential part of being a good a church communicator. However, telling a story online? Well that’s not always easy.
For a lot people in church communication, storytelling has taken a backseat to “promotion marketing”. By “promotion marketing”, I’m referring to marketing that is solely based around promoting events or programs. You usually see this on social media when a church’s Twitter feed is mostly filled with “Come join us for (fill in event) here…”.
So how do you move beyond “promotion marketing” to telling stories online? How do you tell stories online? Well, today we’re going to look at example of how to do just that.
The example is from NewSpring Church in South Carolina. Their web presence is second to none and so is there creative work. In this example we’ll see how they packaged the story online, made it easy for their audience to digest, and share with their friends. Now, let’s breakdown what they did.
This Story Was Produced
I know the word “produced” might conjure up the idea that a story is slick, prepackaged or inauthentic. That’s not what I’m referring to here. Instead, when I say “produced” I’m referring the process by which we craft the story. What parts do you keep and what do you exclude? It’s asking the hard question of whether or not there’s a real story to begin with.
You often sometimes here people say “We have to tell this story….”, however when you get the people on camera or start to investigate the story you begin to understand that there’s really not a story there, or it’s one that is the beginning stages that needs to produced.
Now let me be clear about this, producing is hard. You have to make difficult decisions that require you to objective about the story and that’s not always easy when you’re dealing with spiritual matters.
As you look through this story on NewSpring’s website you can tell that this story has been produced. They’ve boiled the story down its essentials in such away that the story is effective and concise.
They Keep the Text to the Point
Majority of ministers I know have some sort of graduate degree and you can usually see that level of education in there writing. They’re usually academic and thorough with writing. While that works on a professional level, that’s not how you write for the web.
When you look at the NewSpring’s story, you’ll notice that they keep the text nice and short. The text is easy to scan and read through at a glance. Within thirty seconds, I can get the gist of the story and determine whether or not I want to invest my time in exploring the rest of story or video.
A while back, we installed a heatmap on our website and saw that an overwhelming majority of people didn’t scroll down our website. Instead, they read about the top 30% of information and moved on. So what does that tell us? People aren’t reading anything beyond what’s on their current screen. So unless you have some visual cues to keep people moving down (like images or pull quotes), you’ll need to keep your copy short and sweet.
It’s an Image Driven Story
What happens when you first visit this story online? Are you greeted with paragraphs of text? No. Instead, you’re immersed immediately into the story with a big image. This image invokes a sense of emotion that makes the viewer want to click the play button or scroll down. Images engage in a way that text simply can’t.
They Use Video in a Compelling Way
In my previous job, I had the privilege to work with some of the best video producers in my industry. I found that what separated the great producers from the good producers was the ability to take a story and make it compelling. At the end of the video, if the viewer felt compelled to give, share, or move on the call to action, then we knew had a great video.
This video from NewSpring does that. At the end of video, the viewer is compelled to maybe share their story, share the story with someone else or even better, find out who Jesus is. I think what makes the video compelling is the sense of radical transformation that takes place in the subject’s life. When you can tell this type of story well on video, you’re creating content that everyone wants to share.
They Make It Easy to Share
What’s the point of having great content if people can’t share it? NewSpring makes it easy to share by providing a a share bar at end of the story. If you have content on your church website, you need to make it easy to share. If you’re on WordPress there are a lot of great plugins to choose from, or if you’re on proprietary platform usually your provider has some sort of option for you. Either way, you need to make it easy for people to get your content in the hands of their social networks.
They Empower You to Tell Your Story
As the viewer scrolls down, they’re given the opportunity to learn how to share their story. This is done with a video that they can watch from the pastor (Perry Noble), or a guide that they can download. Either way the viewer is empowered to begin to tell their own story to others.
Now It’s Your Turn
Telling your church’s stories online is no longer something that you think of as an added extra. This needs to become a discipline that you master and perfect in a way that works for you and your church. Examples like NewSpring are just one example of what you can do online with your church’s story. Now it’s your turn to make it happen.