Seven Steps to Developing a Strategic Digital Communications Strategy
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Your ministry’s digital presence is more important than ever and with the entire world engaging in digital spaces, communicating with your audience is becoming more difficult. Whether it’s changing algorithms or the sheer amount of content competing to grab digital media user’s attention, sharing your ministry’s story effectively requires a plan. With patience, intentional work, and a clear approach you can develop a digital communication strategy for your ministry.
The first step in developing a digital content strategy is defining your ministry’s brand characteristics. Your brand provides the foundation for your digital content and engagement with your audience. The mission, vision, and core values of your ministry offer emotional connection points for potential supporters. For more help with ministry branding, read the four key elements of branding your ministry. The next step in the process involves looking at your brand in the digital mirror.
Analyze Digital Presence
Taking an objective look at your ministry’s various digital media channels is the next step in your digital media strategy. Gather the number of followers on your social media channels, subscribers to an e-newsletter, and website users to understand your ministry’s digital reach. Create lists that rank this data by followers, average monthly engagement, and audience profile. This will help you identify the digital channels where you have the largest audience, and which channels your ministry should focus on to reach your target audience.
Declare Campaign Audience
Take intentional time to create audience profiles for your target and any secondary audiences. These profiles should include information like age range, gender identity, social activity level, and personality traits. Identifying key audiences within your ministry and communities you engage with can help inform this information. Also using tools like MissionInsite can help you understand your geographic community. All this information will help you clarify who you are trying to communicate with and how to measure your strategy effectiveness.
Prioritize Goals and KPI
This is an essential step in determining campaign success. Setting your goals for the campaign will help refine your list of key performance indicators or KPI’s. Matching goals with appropriate KPIs will help your digital media team analyze the campaign performance and make improvements based on data analysis. For example, if your ministry is looking to increase brand awareness on social media, key performance indicators would be your ministry’s reach and impressions on your social media posts. With your goals and KPI’s clear, your ministry is ready to develop content.
Categorize Content Sources
Now it’s time for the “hard” question, how do you create content? A common misconception about digital media content creation is that you must create content. Your ministry’s activities and missional work can provide the bulk of your social media content. A three-category strategy that includes spiritual wellness, missional work, and community support, can help your ministry build a consistent content schedule. Bible study subjects, lectionary verse, and inspiring sermon quotes can be placed in a spiritual wellness content category. Sharing the weekly activities or events of your ministry and sharing community events or resources can fill the other two categories. With a solid content foundation, your ministry is almost ready to engage your digital community.
Identify Digital Engagement Tools
Digital media, especially social media, is more than a bulletin board. Simply sharing your events or announcements will not yield campaign success for your ministry. Reacting, commenting, retweeting, or clicking content can be difficult to manage if done on each digital media platform. Using a content management system like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social can help your team interact with digital content and post content to your various digital media channels. Choosing the right content management system must be done through careful consideration of your ministry’s needs and available resources. Once you find the right platform for your ministry, you’re ready to give your content some personality.
Curate Content Style
With the understanding of who you are and your audience, developing a content style is simple. Your ministry content style is the key characteristic of your ministry’s digital presence and engagement activities. Design aesthetic, brand personality, and dialect are essential in creating your content style. Take time to think of your ministry as a person and answer questions like:
- What types of graphics and photos would this person post?
- How would they interact with their digital community?
- Would they say ‘hello’ or ‘hey’?
Your answers will help you curate a content style that gives your ministry an appropriate digital presence, accurately reflect its brand and is visually pleasing for its audience.
Digital media success isn’t by happenstance, it takes time and a plan. The award-winning Communication and Marketing Team at UMCSupport can help your ministry develop a strategy to identify, reach, and engage your digital audience. Contact our Connectional Relations Team, at ConnectionalRelations@gcfa.org, to set up a digital media consultation with our team.