Creating thoughtfulness with your digital guests
In the last few weeks, we’ve all worked to transition services to the digital space and making sure people know where to go. Now we can start looking at the big picture: how to foster connections in this all-digital space.
Connecting with Digital Guests
One thing to keep in mind: your digital audience – and especially in times of crisis – has the possibility of being very different from your traditional first-time guest. Livestreams reach more people, more people in our communities are desperate and seeking hope, etc. Even the websites we’ve built for churches are seeing double their normal traffic as people seek practical and spiritual answers. Your church may very well be attracting more “dormant” Christians or unbelievers than ever before. As a result, how we nurture them right now will probably very different than how it usually would. If you typically give a guest a gift, church merch likely won’t resonate, and even a gift card to a local coffee shop may not be able to be used for some time.
So what do we do?
First, in light of what’s going on around us, let’s simply be mindful to address basic human needs. Being thoughtful really shouldn’t be a shift even if we are all digital. The methods may change, but the meaning shouldn’t.
Second, there’s heightened anxiety and loneliness – not that those things didn’t exist before, but they are more prevalent. With that in mind, create community by asking questions and present meaningful opportunities to interact. Increase the number of touchpoints with your people – more Facebook Lives, more “just checking in” opportunities, etc.
Third, thoughtfulness wins the day right now over polish and perfection. The world around us is freaking out, and people are seeking hope and human connection. Adapt your message and your messaging to the current environment. And give people a reason to smile or laugh.
Digital Connection Points
You can leverage communication tools like Text in Church to send out a digital connection card to connect with your guests and to get the conversations going in a timely and personal way. Plus, they have a free 60-day trial right now in light of the pandemic. (Firm Foundations Marketing receives compensation from Text In Church, and above all, give high marks to only the very best. FFM is independently owned, and the opinions expressed here are our own.)
If you’ve never used automation, automation does not mean it lacks personalization. Tools like TIC or email can do the heavy lifting of creating the initial contact. These tools free up your time and your people to do the meaningful work of one-on-one interaction when you get replies.
Provide the opportunity for a FaceTime or Zoom video chat with a guest (or your congregation). For some, it will resonate as more meaningful now more than ever as we all seek to create and maintain connections with people. Even introverts are going to start cracking from extended isolation.
On Meeting Physical Needs
Identify physical needs that your church can help provide for. That might mean boots on the ground to become a grocery or medical supplies delivery service. That might mean setting up a grab-and-go station in your parking lot for supplies. Or you can reallocate what you would typically spend on a church-branded guest gift. Consider sending your digital guests a small gift card to a local grocery store as families feel the financial strain of an economy tanking under the weight of a pandemic.
We are presented with a huge opportunity to BE the church. This season has forced many in ministry to start doing things that maybe they should have been doing all along.
Sometimes it takes a pandemic for us to realize the possibilities.