Is a Website or Social Media really important to Ministries?

Do Churches and Ministries really need a website, and does Social Media really have a benefit for them?  These are excellent questions, and important to carefully consider before making the leap.  Here are some things to consider, and decide how they affect or apply to your ministry:

  • What is your ministry’s internet strategy?  If you don’t have a strategy, it shows to visitors.  Is your website designed for current members, to attract visitors, provide information or education, solicit donations, or to sell products?  Does your website tell your ministries vision, and are all areas easily located?  Is your ministry internet presence limited to a single website, or do you take advantage of multiple social media avenues?  Each social media presence also needs a strategy if it’s going to be effective, and your ministries ‘brand’ should be clearly highlighted and displayed on all sites.

 

  • If you were looking for a new church or counseling center, would you visit their website before attending?  Would you “judge” them by the appearance and/or quality of their website?  Service times and dates (including special events) are obvious, as is location and contact information.  It’s important that all content is up to date (calendar, events, prayer requests, testimonies, etc?)  Does your ministry’s website encourage visiting or send visitors to continue searching the internet?

 

  • What information should be on a ministry’s website?  Here’s some things that might encourage (or discourage) attendance:  This week’s sermon topic, archived sermons, church beliefs, counseling strategies and specialties, child care, children’s programs, youth programs, type of worship & music, church ministries, mission involvement, outreach involvement, seminars & education opportunities, & special programs, and photos of the facilities and events.  Not keeping a website current or complete can do as much to discourage a potential member as a poor reception at the door or inadequate parking.

 

  • Consider what would attract current members to visit the website:  church calendar, upcoming programs, past sermons, seminars, weekly ministry needs and opportunities, discussions that can be joined, prayer needs for fellow members, open positions, etc.

 

  • Do members and clients send friends to the website to learn more about the ministry?  If they are reluctant or embarrassed to recommend your ministry’s website to friends, it hurts growth, and retention.

 

  • Is the website easy to navigate?  Can visitors find all the information easily, and how quickly does it load.  A slow loading or updating website will lose impatient visitors to the next website.

 

If you are still deciding if you need a website or social media presence consider the following:

How much do you use the internet, and for what?  Do you purchase items online, or read product reviews before purchasing?  Do you use the internet for local, national, and international news?  Do you search for new and additional information on the web?  The answer is overwhelmingly yes for the younger generation, and growing dramatically for older crowds as baby boomers are reaching retirement age.

How do new visitors or clients find ministries with your focus?  Word of mouth might still be the strongest influence, but do you get enough word of mouth referrals?  If someone is new to the area, how will they find you?

Where do potential visitors spend time?  This could be a selling point for facebook, twitter, or LinkedIn.

Where are other similar ministries spending their advertising dollars?  Newspaper circulation is decreasing rapidly so where are people going for information, and what avenues are successful?

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