When people think of Content Marketing, one of the first best practices is to try and connect with the audience’s deepest needs, the individual’s truest self.
It seems a natural strategy for a churches; their bread and butter is helping their communities to search and know themselves, and to act on what they find. A leading church in the San Francisco Bay Area, Menlo Church, recently ran a month-long series called “Thank God It’s Monday” that did that, as well as employing a number of other best practices in this strategic communication method.
Menlo Church describes itself as a place where everyone’s welcome, nobody’s perfect, and anything’s possible.
Their positioning lends them to meet people where they are — spiritual works in progress. But also, meeting people where they are — from a time spent standpoint — led them to want to address how our opportunities, challenges and relationships at work shape us.
In addition to the teachings they would deliver via the weekend services, the leadership decided to develop a multi-channel campaign, inspired in part on the largely successful #HumansOfNewYork series. Menlo Church had a website, blog, podcasts and social media accounts, and all were aligned and resourced for an integrated campaign.
The objective was to help members of all ages and stages feel connected around a common theme, and to allow people who weren’t members to do some soul searching about how work shapes us via the stories posted on their friends’ social media.
For this four week series, the teaching staff developed four long-form programs: two traditional sermons, one video interview with noted author Henry Cloud, and one video roundtable with four members – two very experienced and two newer in their careers.
In addition to these elements, the church leadership identified twenty individuals who told brief stories of how their work has shaped their spiritual lives.
Finally, they developed twenty podcasts — featuring a mix of staff members, community members, and sermon remixes.
#TGIM Distribution Channels
As mentioned above, this organization had an established website, blog, podcasts and social media accounts, but this was the first time that all the channels were coordinated around the same campaign. In particular, the developing of daily Facebook stories and podcasts provided a very unique opportunity for the church to become a daily resource — meeting people where they were, whether at their computer, on their commute, or some other mid-week opportunity.
Twitter was used occasionally to share podcasts, and Instagram was used to repost some of the Facebook stories, but there was no media developed specifically for these channels.
This organization serves about 5,000 regular attendees each week, but it’s also a resource for many online, as well as a supporter of many charitable endeavors in the community. As mentioned above, the idea was to use the existing community to share information for the good of its members, but it was a very strategic decision to make the information accessible and useful to non-members as well.
Because of the mix of media used they were able to reach many more people than usual. And in going into the community for stories, they strengthened the community – helping people to know one another better, to share inspiration, and provide support. This worked particularly well because the church is multigenerational – as was the campaign.
Bridging Physical, Spiritual, and Digital Spaces
Menlo has a history of innovation and community focus. One of their key strategies is to put considerable resources into starting new campuses so that people in need of a nearby, thriving spiritual community will have access to one. They implemented many best practices in doing this – with four new communities being started in the last several years.
But a church is more than a physical place with bodies that congregate once a week. By pursuing this online content strategy they have successfully used their gifts and resources to achieve their mission — bringing the good news to anyone with an Internet connection and an interest in finding the meaning in their daily work.