FREE Attention for Your School


What are all digital marketing tools trying to tell you? They are measuring how much attention your organization is getting. Attention comes in the form of likes, clicks, watches, follows, etc. People are giving time and mental focus willingly and enthusiastically.

Why are people paying attention?

Because organizations – like businesses, schools, churches and even individuals – are creating valuable content, audiences are paying attention. Organizations are finding out what their audiences need and giving away knowledge and expertise in those areas. They’re writing articles, posting on social media, and creating video that answer questions and enrich experiences.

The biggest shock isn’t that people want great content, it’s that organizations are giving away free work. A reader may have to forfeit an email address or answer a brief survey, but there isn’t a monetary exchange happening. Companies aren’t directly making money from the content they create.

So why are organizations doing it?

The internet has shifted the way marketing works. The traditional method was built on showing how your product or organization was better than others, then people would make a purchase decision in your favor. Now, the emphasis is on distinguishing yourself by creating value for potential customers and building relationships with them.

The way to become known, liked, and trusted in your community is to become a resource for it. Take the focus off how great your school is, how low your tuition is, how fantastic your sports teams are, and reframe the conversation around the audience. Engage them and show them how your expertise can add value to their lives, even if they don’t (and won’t) attend your school.

Now, the emphasis is on distinguishing yourself by creating value for potential customers and building relationships with them.

Two tasks stand before you: serving families practically and building relationships. Hosting events, teaching classes, and creating digital content are all ways that your school can win over the community that it’s in, and so the first objective is met. The second is more intangible – how do you create relationships as an organization?

The benefit here is that the first objective begins the process; families have to see that the values of the school match what’s important to them personally, and that the can help them be more faithful to those values. Once values are aligned, the families start to see themselves as part of the school’s community. This helps the school expand its reach and influence. The mission to partner with families is leading the way the whole time.

Though these activities are not explicitly self-referential, the school is still becoming known in the community. It is actually better coverage and more engaging interaction than traditional advertising. The goal shifts from people seeing how wonderful you are to the immediate benefit you’re creating for families, at no cost to them. A physical example is Discount Tire. They provide free tire rotations, fix flat tires for free, check tire pressure for free, and warranty any tire you purchase from them. The immediate benefit they offer – for free – is a large reason why many trust and like Discount Tire.

The content you produce can educate and prepare families who would have never considered any alternative to public school or even to homeschooling. Your content can become central to how couples in your community parent, to how parents educate, and to how families spend their time. You just have to create it.

Some Data

This may sound like marketing snake oil. It may seem like a big investment with no guaranteed return on investment, but that’s far from the truth. Content marketing has been shown in multiple studies to produce between three and six times the number of leads as compared to traditional methods. On top of that, small businesses with blogs develop over 120% more leads than those without a blog.1

Content marketing has been shown in multiple studies to produce between three and six times the number of leads as compared to traditional methods.

One of the most significant digital marketing indicators is SEO, search engine optimization. This essentially refers to the likeliness that your page will rank on the first page of a search for specific keywords. That likeliness is effected by word choice, length, frequency of posts, and several other factors, but site traffic is a major indicator. When families are reading articles, watching videos, and registering for events, they are helping your site achieve a higher rank.

The web pages that garner more traffic more frequently perform better. It’s a snowball effect: the more you have, the more you have. Static sites, those that don’t change or have new posts, tend to perform poorly because of this reality. Content marketing, however, can increase traffic to your website, designate it for certain keywords, and will show search engines that your page is living and active.

Content and Social Media

Content marketing works from both relational and technical standpoints, and though social media is one of the ways those relationships form, it’s worth addressing it here. The assumption that underlies the above section is that your content lives on your website, but that’s not the only place content can live.

Most organizations feel like they need to be on social media, either Facebook, Instragram, or Youtube, but have no idea how to feed their profiles and get followers. There are some technical aspects that need to be harnessed (promotions, hashtags, giveaways, etc.), but the driving force behind successful social media pages is content.

Your content strategy is the river, and social media platforms are the smaller streams coming off of it. Stepping into social networks without something to share is like coming to a potluck empty handed – no one will sing your praises. Likewise, bringing your favorite dish, shoving it in people’s faces, and patting yourself on the back for the greatest dish there won’t make any friends – even if it is the best.

Your content strategy is the river, and social media platforms are the smaller streams coming off of it.

One of the reasons content marketing works is because it is not self-referential. It’s completely different than traditional marketing in that way. If your favorite thing to talk about is you, then your social media accounts won’t be as effective as one that focuses on the audience.

How to Market Content-ly

Content marketing works because it is marketing that seeks first to give, not take and not praise itself. This is why we as a culture love it; we’ve become keenly aware when we’re being marketed to in commercials and are tired of trusting companies, then finding out they have shady business practices.

Here’s another perspective: audiences are more prone to trusting and liking organizations that create content, because (1) the content itself is valuable and beneficial to their lives, and (2) it shows the organization is willing to sacrifice to get their attention.

We said this is FREE attention because it doesn’t cost money to write articles, create a publishing calendar, or make graphics on a site like Canva, but it will take time and the most important resource, effort.

Here are a few directions to apply that vigor:

  1. Create evergreen content – Don’t focus exclusively on events happening right now or in the next two weeks. Write for the different stages of exposure. If your school is dedicated to the Great Conversation and to truth, goodness, and beauty, focus on those things as philosophical topics, then hone in on practical aspects of family life, like date ideas, group activities, and difficult parenting issues.
  2. Identify your audience – Who are you writing for, and what problems do they have? Knowing who your ideal audience is, typically parents committed to Christian education, who live in a certain place, with a certain number of kids, will help you brainstorm content specifically for them. This is especially helpful when you begin to think about why they would want to not attend your school; content marketing directed at objections can be powerful.
  3. Share on social media – Which will get more traffic, a restaurant by itself in the middle of nowhere, with no direct roads to it, or a restaurant inside a mall? If you only publish to your website, then a select few will see it; but if you post to your website and share it on social media, then your followers will see it and have the opportunity to share it with their followers.

Imagine this…

Think about your community; identify common struggles that families are dealing with, and ask yourself how your school’s resources and speak to those issues. Ask how your faculty and staff can help students overcome their hurdles. What would it look life if your team wrote an article a week to address those problems and hosted an event once a month for the community? How would your school and community be different if you did that for the next six months?

What would it look like if you didn’t?

Benefits of Video Announcements

I remember being the gadget kid in middle school. I had a watch that functioned as a walkie-talkie, and it was huge. I also had a mini notepad. It was a two-inch screen connected to a keyboard that folded in half, and it only cost $30 from Wal-Mart. It was quite impressive but not functional. I wasn’t familiar with keyboarding at that age, and the keys themselves were too small. I’ll never know how they planned on marketing the device. I ended up putting it away, taking out a pencil, and taking notes that way.

That story illustrates a concept we have to live by in our day and age: technology for technology’s sake is counterproductive. We should only invest in tech and equipment that makes life easier or adds to the excellence that we serve with. With that said, are video announcements worth the investments? Let’s look at a few advantages.

“Technology for technology’s sake is counterproductive.”


Little is as valuable as having a message to share and sharing it exactly as imagined. Pastors rejoice in the days where they feel confident that they “nailed it.” The main strength of video announcements is guaranteed clarity. There is a script written and reviewed days before they’re presented in service. This process creates precision and accountability that aren’t present with on-the-spot announcements. Accuracy comes from the review process; once reviewed, it’s that very information that’s shared on Sunday morning. Prerecorded announcements prevent any anxiety, fumbling over words, and misinformation – that’s assurance.

Visual Aids

If our goal in telling people about events or rhythms in our church is for them to remember them, then we must incorporate visual elements. Studies from the last few decades show the effectiveness of visual aids in memory recall. Four conditions were tested: spoken, written, spoken with visual aids, and participatory. The “illustrated lecture” condition was the most conducive to helping individuals recall information. This method was six and a half times more effective than information that was solely written and three times more effective than messages that were only spoken. Pearson has done research that shows visual learners make up 65% of the general population.

What elements can be used in video announcements? Simple text that reiterates the message being spoken is the most common. Event graphics are another way to visually communicate branded information. Some of the most engaging visual content is actual footage related to what the presenter is talking about. This last option is most common when leading up to an event and footage from the previous year is available, or right after the event, and you’re thanking people for coming. Video is the most versatile visual aid because of these options, and all you have to do is write a script and press play.

Time Control

Some people love talking. Find a topic they enjoy, and they could talk for a really long time. Whether they enjoy discussions or not, not everyone is a skilled conversationalists, and that’s okay. I’m sure you know someone who doesn’t know how to follow the flow of conversation, so they get fixated on a single topic. It’s uncomfortable in regular conversation, and can be incredibly nerve-racking in a church service. Here’s the bottom line: not everyone needs to have the stage and to be given a microphone.

“Video is the most versatile visual aid because of these options, and all you have to do is write a script and press play”

Video announcements can remove one of the opportunities for that to happen. This is another benefit of the script! If you need to tell a story, writing it out helps narrow down the focus and trim the amount of time it takes to tell. Let’s face it: announcement time can be awkward. Someone’s standing there and talking, but it’s not a song, a sermon, or a prayer; and everyone’s eyes are on the stage, so it’s hard to re-set it while someone’s talking from it.

Prerecorded announcements help redeem the announcement lull in your service. Whether lights are dimmed or not, people are focused on screens, and it gives the Sunday morning crew the opportunity to do what they need to do without being the center of attention. I was at a church that used the announcements as a time to transition the stage from worship to preaching, which meant moving instruments and setting up preaching stands, and no one was distracted by it.

Bonus: Reusability

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. These all actually apply to video announcements. Reviewing helps reduce the length of time they take up during a service. You can make them a consistent piece of your communication strategy because they’re mutli-format. These videos can find a permanent home on Youtube, be shared on Facebook and Twitter, and be linked to in your weekly church newsletter. The magic of social media means that they can actually be seen by countless people during the week, so you reach the people in service, plus the followers your church has on Facebook.

Wrap It Up

You have four of the great strengths of video announcements. They are clear and concise, visually engaging, time appropriate, and reusable. These traits are make video announcements more valuable than impromptu monologues on Sunday morning, but they’re only as valuable as the content you plug into them. Remember, the goal is to communicate and cultivate life within your church, so tell stories and promote events that are consistent with who God has called your ministry to be.

Bonus Bonus: Streamlined Presentation

If your church is involved in any regional, national, or international ministries that have their own promotional videos, those can easily be edited into the same video file as your regular announcements. A few examples are ministries like Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. These organizations have branded videos to help inform and inspire people to support their cause, and having them embedded in your regular announcements helps communicate unity and preparedness. Testimony, campaign, and guest videos are also great candidates for this practice. If you’re already doing video announcements, these special presentations won’t seem out of place and will fit easily into your service.

#Channels: Intro


Old houses mean old pipes. We had to have work done on our house’s plumbing recently. A pipe had cracked from the weight of the foundation settling on it, so the plumber had to dig under the house.

He ran into two problems in the midst of his efforts: the first of which was roots. The shovels could only go so far before hitting another huge root, so they needed a reciprocating saw to cut through it to keep digging. The second was the foundation of the house itself; there wasn’t enough space between the old, unbroken pipe and the concrete slab to fit the new coupling on. The resulting need was to use a pneumatic chisel to create space for the new piece.

Two things we can note from this story: new pipes are better than old pipes, and the right tools can make any job much easier. Pastors themselves spend most of their office hours studying commentaries and other resources; office managers command efficiency with spreadsheets, printers, and accountability routines. Communicating well in a digital culture is no different. Apart from computers, cameras, programs, lenses, lights, tripods, etc. there are channels that are needed to distribute anything we create.

The Channels

That’s where the Channels comes in. Our hope is to show you what avenues are available for your church to communicate internally and to the community around it. There are eight times more ways to share information now than there were thirty years ago, but not all of them are relevant or necessarily useful. We’ll cover the fifteen listed below, their primary uses, strengths, and weaknesses within church ministry, as well as a few honorable mentions afterward.

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • SMS
  • Sunday Service
  • Direct Mail
  • Print
  • SEM
  • Website
  • Video
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Voice Calls
  • Word of Mouth

The Main Point

In the same way that a hub supports the spokes on a bicycle tire, a driving idea will keep these basics in place. These are just Channels, just branches, but the message and mission of the Church is the center that holds everything together. Put in another way: digital media channels are useless without something to say. This reality makes it crucial for individual churches to process how they articulate their identity. Every church will have some mission statement that reflects the Great Commission; by virtue of their leadership and denomination; they have core values; and some even have a clear picture of what the Lord has called their church to be five years from now. These channels communicate substance and culture by their very nature, so churches have to be up front and intentional about what kind of culture they have and the kind they want to create.

“This is how local churches can help their people: by reminding them of covenant life wherever they are, whether it be Facebook, their e-mail accounts, their mailbox, or Youtube.”

Culture-making seems fadish and trendy, but there’s some ancient wisdom to be found in the idea of saturating every day life with gospel truths. Take this passage from Deuteronomy 6: You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (7-9 ESV)

The underlying goal is that wherever God’s people turned, they would be forced to consider God’s word. This is how local churches can help their people: by reminding them of covenant life wherever they are. This can be on Facebook, in their e-mail inboxes, in their actual mailboxes, or on Youtube. Sundays are absolutely essential, but they don’t have to be alone; the same message that’s preached on Sunday can be reformatted and injected into people’s daily lives by church leaders utilizing these different opportunities.

We look forward to sharing this living, breathing guide to the Church’s use of digital media.

View the rest in our #Channels series here.

#Channels: E-Mail

Email marketing is one of the most ubiquitous digital platforms. There are approximately 3.7 billion email users worldwide, and that number is expected to continue growing.1 Stated as a percentage, 92% of online adults have an email account, and most use it daily.There are also 205 billion e-mails sent everyday.3 The big takeaway is that there is a communication channel that your people are already using; they don’t have to sign up for it, it’s personal, and they check it almost daily.

Everyone knows the basics of e-mail communication on a personal level, but the playing field changes slightly once it becomes organizational or commercial. Organizations have to get permission to e-mail individuals; this is why so many companies and churches have “opt-in” forms on their websites. Mass e-mail services, like Mailchimp and Constant Contact, even require permission verification for each contact added to a mailing list. This prevents users from being spammed by companies and groups they’re not interested in.

The main benefit to using a mass e-mail provider is this: analytics. E-mailing everyone you know BCC with the latest calendar update leaves you flying blind, but those bigger platforms were made for this and can give excellent insights into how your e-mail performed. The most useful pieces of data are opens, bounces, and clicks. Opens show how many people interacted with your e-mail; bounces show how many never made it to the inbox; and clicks refer to the activity around any links found in the content of the e-mail itself.

Golden Rule: Do Not Spam. Your subscribers have trusted you with direct contact information, and spamming is a surefire way they remove themselves from your list and never sign up for it again.

For Churches:

E-mail should be a regular part of your communication strategy, and one of the first three you tackle. It’s a great way to communicate all sorts of content directly to your congregation. Some e-mail platforms allows for graphics, but several media voices advocate using just plain text e-mails; we say test run both formats and see how well each does for your particular setting. If plain-text e-mails are opened more frequently, then use them! Don’t include graphics just because they can be included and lose traction with people.

The best foundation for an e-mail strategy is this: a weekly newsletter. A regular bulletin keeps the most important upcoming events and information in front of your congregation as they need it. Newsletters provide the perfect opportunity for learning balance; the balance between giving enough details and far too many is crucial in this medium. There are some restaurants that have a very limited, specific, and intentional menu, then there establishments that have an exhaustive catalogue without direction.

Flooding people with information is never the way to go, but an e-mail is particularly geared for quick information. If there’s more to say, feel free to introduce the topic and provide a link to a webpage dedicated to the event, class, conference, camp, etc.

“A regular bulletin keeps the most important upcoming events and information in front of your congregation as they need it.”

Two more potential elements to add to an e-mail strategy are the social media recap and a reminder e-mail. There are some ministries that have implemented the practice of e-mailing social media highlights from that week. This is especially helpful if there’s a large demographic in your church that does not engage on social media. It also serves to reconnect those who might have missed something posted. Reminders are great for big events or sign-up deadlines. These shouldn’t be a regular part of a church’s communication strategy but should be used strategically, i.e. countdowns or reminders for a regular Sunday service aren’t necessary.

There are a few options for building your mailing list and getting permission to e-mail individuals. The easiest is to make asking for it a normal part of Sunday morning announcements and the guest card your church uses on a weekly basis. Another is making it part of the membership process; this doesn’t mean forcing people to receive e-mails but creating another opportunity for them to sign up. The last is an actual opt-in form on your website.

#Channels: Facebook

There are a few companies that have sprung up in the last few decades and have dominated their markets. Amazon is one of them. Amazon is now larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, JC Penny, and Sears… combined.1 Facebook stepped in about a decade ago and quickly eclipsed the other social media platforms. Facebook now has 2 billion monthly active users. That’s over a quarter of the world’s population on a platform less than two decades old. As far as financials go, this social media site is worth more than Wal-Mart.2

We share these statistics to show that new doesn’t mean fleeting. The world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailers have far less fiscal value than the largest social platform. Facebook has become just as much a staple in our culture as Wal-Mart.

So, what does Facebook do? Their mission statement puts it this way, “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”3 All of their services hinge on that mission. When you set up a page for your church, you’re acquiring a digital meeting place for your congregation and creating another venue to connect with those outside of the church.

Who Uses Facebook

The Pew Research Center discovered that 68% of all Americans are on Facebook. That means 7 of 10 people in your church and your community are on Facebook, and about half of them check their profiles everyday. The age range for Facebook users is heaviest for 18-29 but followed closely followed by 30-49 year olds (82%, 79% of online adults respectively). Half of all online seniors are also on the platform.4

What to Share

Facebook transcends typical social media categories; the four main types are publishing, commerce, entertainment, and communities. Facebook has all of them. Some churches make the mistake of only creating a group for their church – a community-oriented use – and neglect building a Page (publishing).

“Groups should be decentralized, given to specific leaders of particular groups, but your church’s official Page should be the voice of the church’s leadership to the congregation and the community.”

Groups can be helpful, especially for churches who don’t want to use other third-party platforms for small group and team management, so use them for all they’re worth. Small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, and team leaders can use Facebook groups to get people connected and keep them involved outside of Sunday morning. Small groups can share prayer requests, talk about life issues, and recommend resources – all in a private setting. Teachers can use them as a platform to recap lessons, provide further reading, and link to relevant videos, as well as continue the conversation throughout the week. Facebook Groups are a free option for coordinating volunteers serving in different areas of church ministry; shifts can be covered and updates can be given within a system that people are already using daily.

Groups should be decentralized, given to specific leaders of specific groups, but your church’s official Page should be the voice of the church’s leadership to the congregation and the community. You can think of four post categories for Facebook: text, photo, video, and link.

    • Text posts are super simple. They could be long-form messages from the pastor, or quotes related to a sermon or class being taught. Questions also do well to boost engagement and create conversations.
    • Photos are a bit more complex, but they also get higher engagement. Photos can be just that, photos, or they can be infographics, memes, gifs, and quote graphics. An eye-catching graphic can be what stops someone from scrolling past your information. Any last minute reminders for events should be in a graphic form, because plain text can drift to the background.
    • Video is quickly becoming the most consumed type of content. We’ll have more to say about video in a later post, but Facebook has its own video rules. The first is that videos uploaded straight to Facebook – as opposed to Youtube – get better engagement. The second is that Facebook’s algorithm prefers Facebook live videos, so they’ll get better organic reach.
    • Links are great ways to point people to other resources and to specific pages on your church’s website. Articles and videos are the most common referrals for churches, but sign-ups, event info, and sermon links are excellent for inbound traffic.


The drawback of all social media platforms is that they are rented space. Facebook could change their terms of service tomorrow and ban all religious organizations from their platform; or they could decide to start charging for even basic use. They’re great landlords and have never shown any sign of massive terms of service changes, but they’re still landlords.

The second is that we’re bound by the algorithms. The adage, “you have to have money to make money,” applies here, just switch money with attention. This can make it difficult for new accounts to get traction among their followers.

“When Facebook sees that people are interacting with your content, then it ranks higher in their algorithm and more people see it naturally.”

These may seem major, but they doesn’t change how useful Facebook is. It proves that a church’s communication strategy should not be based on a single platform but a combination of several. There really is no concern about Facebook shifting its strategy so drastically that large groups of people are cut out of it, but seeing it as a rental property helps us value our owned goods all the more.

As for the algorithm and getting attention, churches have the benefit of a following that we interact with digitally and physically. We can ask our congregations to turn on post notifications, so they stay “in-the-loop,” but we can also ask a handful of people to share our posts at least once a week. When Facebook sees that people are interacting with your content, then it ranks higher in their algorithm and more people see it naturally.

If you would like us to simplify everything and have us manage your social media accounts, reach out and let us know! You can email us at