by Mark Wilson
What is the buzz going around town about your church? Is it positive? Did your people start it? Word-of-mouth communication is still the most effective form of communication and by far the most dangerous! In the world of marketing, influence marketing is still the most valuable form of marketing because people trust the opinions of their friends and family. As a matter of fact, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends more than advertising.
Word-of-mouth or influence marketing is the original form of social media. Remember the shampoo commercial a few years ago, the premise was "she told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on." Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Yelp to name a few, have given people a platform to share their experiences with products, services, and even churches and for their influence to spread exponentially to hundreds or thousands of people daily. Why is this important, you ask? 81% of consumers surveyed said they were influenced by friends' social media posts.
How do you start a buzz about all the great things happening at your church? It requires us to focus on connecting with our audiences instead of merely just contacting them. With this focus in mind, there are three keys to leveraging the influence marketing of your congregation: engage, equip, and empower.
Engage your congregation in person and online. Listen to their needs, understand their struggles, and help them find the resources to not only cope but to thrive as followers of Jesus. This is exactly what I mean by "connecting" with people. But I am not necessarily just talking about the church Facebook account engaging with people, but the people that are the church building relationships with other congregants and people outside the church also.
Equip your people so they can share your story. If you are going to ask/expect your people to engage with others, then it is critical that you prepare them to be storytellers and influencers. Cast a clear vision for the mission of your church by telling stories of how God is transforming lives. Give them compelling reasons to be excited about what is going on in your church.
Empower your people to share their stories. The real key to creating a positive buzz about your church is to make it easy for your people to start sharing their stories and the church's stories of grace and redemption. Create messages and videos that are easy to share on social media. Make sure your people know where they can access information and resources to help them share their stories and build relationships with the folks in their circles of influence.
If you want to start conversations with people in your community that are hurting and lonely, then make sure there is a good buzz going around about your church. When your congregation is having conversations with folks in their circles, whether in person or online, God will lead them into a life changing relationship! Go ahead, give them the three E's and turn them loose!