There’s no question that a great number of churches and ministry organizations should be addressing today’s “Digital Mission Field.” And one of the key platforms is YouTube. Most churches just think YouTube is for randomly posting short video clips of the pastor’s message. So I asked my friend Sean Cannell, to give us some examples of how churches and ministry groups can use YouTube more effectively. Here’s what he said:
There are some great churches that are using YouTube very well (I mention a few in this post). But I have yet to discover a church that really “gets” YouTube and is strategically creating content specifically for the over one billion unique monthly YouTube visitors. Most churches are like the Starship Enterprise in need of a “Scotty” in the engine room. Their results with YouTube are good, but with a few tweaks they could reach further and do more than ever before! So here’s 5 Ways To Improve Your Church YouTube Channel:
1. Create a Channel Trailer
Youtube has a feature to autoplay a video trailer on your YouTube channel to everyone who is not subscribed, telling them why they should subscribe to your YouTube channel. This is a great way to explain what your church and your church YouTube channel is all about. The act of creating one will help you think about and clarify your content strategy for YouTube. Check out Joyce Meyer’s channel trailer HERE.
2. Speak to the YouTube Audience
Many churches upload sermons, announcements and other videos to YouTube, but not many directly engage YouTube viewers. One way to do this would be to add an intro to your sermon videos talking directly to the YouTube audience, encouraging them to like, comment, and share the video and possibly educating them about other resources, like podcasts, sermon notes, or bonus content on your website.
Many churches create video devotional content or quick update videos that they post directly to YouTube as well. Level-up those videos by including a call to action directly to the YouTube audience at the beginning and end of the video. Verbal calls to action will increase your likes, comments, subscribers and shares which will result in more people discovering your content!
3. Create Remarkable Content with the YouTube Community in Mind
There are some great YouTubers like Jeff Bethke who is well known for his viral video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” That video has been viewed over 27 million times and has started many conversations about Jesus. Jeff continues to post weekly videos on his YouTube channel teaching biblical principles and creating engaging content.
There are more “Christian Creatives” creating great content and influential channels every day but not many churches have approached YouTube with the same intentionality. What kind of content could you and your church create specifically for the YouTube audience? As Jeff’s video demonstrated, the potential reach of our content is huge and it’s growing every day. Check out Jeff Bethke’s channel HERE.
4. Engage the YouTube Community
The churches using Facebook and Twitter will engage their online audience by responding to comments and @replies and reaching out to their community with advanced twitter search. What if your church did the same thing on YouTube? Answer questions, comment on church members YouTube channels, and adopt the same mentality that you have for Facebook and Twitter. After all, YouTube is social network too!
5. Embrace YouTube’s Features
There are some super cool features on YouTube that you creatively utilize for your church’s channel. YouTube playlists could be used to group sermon series, devotional series and announcements. You can add any video on YouTube to a playlist on your channel, so you could compile answers to common questions about Christianity from trusted leaders into playlists and share that list with your members. Playlists auto play from video to video and offer search and discovery benefits as well.
Annotations allow you to add call out boxes, comment boxes and links to other YouTube videos or an external website. Many YouTubers use annotations to give calls to action like asking for likes, comments and subscribers. They are also useful to linking to other content on your YouTube channel at the end of the video. See a great example of using annotations in this THiNK International video HERE.
What if my church doesn’t have a YouTube Channel?
If your church doesn’t have a YouTube channel yet, create one and start publishing awesome content. If you already have a YouTube channel but it has been a “back burner” platform for your church, crank up the heat! YouTube is most powerful yet underrated social network by church leaders. Apply the suggestions above and if you want more tips for crushing it on YouTube I published a book that you can access here.
Sean is the Campus Pastor of The Church OC, co-founder of THiNK International, a Church Leadership Blog and well known YouTube channel, and Author of YouTube for Churches. Access a free 4 Video YouTube Training Course and eBook at youtubeforchurches.com.