Selling to Churches? Create Social Media Campaigns

featured-how-trendsThere’s been a real push for brands to engage on social media. Whereas the Internet gave voice to the masses, social media has created something more: personal availability — which can even be accomplished by a brand. To ignore the unprecedented growth of this communication medium is perilous to any brand, but perhaps worse still is to assume that the business aspect of social media is limited mostly to the rantings and ravings of a small minority. It is foolish to minimize the importance and opportunity of engaging on a relational medium with a worldwide reach.

And yet a surprising number of brands do not have more than the token social media accounts that do little more than infrequently spray a paltry audience with marketing messages. A decade and a half into a new millennium borne to a technology-savvy culture, and only a handful of manufacturers and integrators have done more than convert 20th Century print advertising into truncated, 140 character sound bytes.

Your Audience Is Out There

Facebook is the largest social network in the world. Twitter continues up-and-to-the-right hockey-stick growth. Instagram (now owned by Facebook) has a nearly vertical growth curve. These three social networks alone are the virtual community centers for billions (with a “B”) of people, including your target audience.

What they don’t need is this relational, high-connect medium saturated with spammy marketing messages. They will personally engage with your brand — personally. That’s huge when you consider that a Lead = a Person. Who are your brand ambassadors that are commissioned with managing the voice and personality (don’t miss that second requirement) of your brand? Yes, your brand has a social media personality — either monotone and corporate or stylized and personable.

Think of it this way: If a prospect hears about one of their peers using one of your products via social media, how will that person engage — right then — with your brand? Are they forced to navigate your online brochure of a website? Are they required to submit an email and hope for a 24 hour or less response? Or fumble through voice-prompts of your 800 number? Or, could they immediately reach out to your brand via social media and get a real-time or near-real-time response? Think about it: That’s the difference between a cold lead and a warm (or hot) lead.

Talk With, Not At

To successfully navigate social media from a brand’s perspective, you must blend helpful insight, timely and relevant updates and target audience engagement.

Engaging with your fan base (what Seth Godin calls your Tribe) is the art form of personal communication from a brand’s viewpoint. They’re not just talking with a person on your staff. No, they’re talking with Sony. They’re talking with ETC. They’re talking with NEC. They’re talking with Sennheiser. They’re talking with your brand! It feels different — and special — when the little guy gets to have a conversation with your brand.

The church market behaves the same as your other verticals when it comes to technology users: It loves to show-and-tell how it’s using technology. How your brand makes the most of this propensity is up to how well integrated your marketing and sales teams are tapping into this geeky behavior. Chances are, your brand plasters your name and logo all over your gear, which is instantly recognizable in a photograph or video. And since your clients are more than happy to take selfies with your gear, there’s a built-in opportunity to take sincere advantage of this through both creating a fun submission process for sharing these marketing-ready shots and even building marketing campaigns at an audience that is more than happy to share these with their friends (that’s your potential client audience, by the way).

Social Media Campaigns

Since your clients are already taking photos and sharing their experiences with their peers and friends, it’s simple to create fun marketing campaigns through contests, giveaways, surveys and story submissions. Your brand needs to create a viral presence through promotional marketing the includes the voice of current users.

When you’re going to roll out a new product, how are you building anticipation before the launch? What kind of buzz can you generate? How will your tribe — your loyal fan base — react to the news? And when your product does launch, how will you capitalize on getting the most social media shares possible to help create a church market-wide awareness?

The personality and communication style you create with your social media presence is reflected in the kinds of campaigns you utilize. Southwest Airlines, for example, is famous for its casual, laid back style and the irreverent humor of their crew. The company’s social media accounts epitomize this and give a personality and voice to the airline. These campaigns include Gate Meetups where one of Southwest’s social media team members will host a free swag giveaway and photo ops at various airport gates across the country. Frequent flyer passengers love it, sharing their fun experiences on their personal social media account, all the while spreading the brand awareness and unique culture of Southwest to an ever-increasing relational sphere of influence.

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Regardless if your brand has an intellectual, educational, fun-loving, geek-centric or other brand personality through social media, the key is to keep interest and engagement high through consistent social media campaigns that invigorate your tribe and help you attract your target audience prospects.

Solve Problems

What problem or problems does your product address? What motivated you to make this product? When you can address the problem your firm has identified and then ask people — users or prospects — to talk about how this problem affects them, you’re doing more than messaging at your audience, you’re engaging with those most likely to buy and/or recommend what you’re selling.

The beauty of the Internet is that search is the great equalizer. Small, niche firms can perform just as well as ginormous mega-companies when they’ve correctly identified a big problem-solver that meets a cross-section of the market in a meaningful way. The downside of the Internet is that everyone’s a publisher and unequal voices can have a devastating affect on how your product is positioned by others if you’re not actively managing and engaging in real-time (or near real-time) with those who love or loathe your brand or product.

Let churches compete for the best story about how your technology would help them the most.

Create Win-Win Scenarios

Social media contests can — and should — generate a lot of buzz and grow your audience. Unlike traditional offers, contents and giveways through your website or advertising, social media provides your brand with the ability to quickly determine the success of your efforts through real-time metrics. You’ll be able to adjust on-the-fly to ensure your campaign is firing on all cylinders.

It’s also important to give every person a reason to participate. Giving away a new product? Don’t limit the winner to the one fortunate church that takes the prize. Provide a win for every person that participates, through a ‘pay-to-play’ system. For example, to enter their church or themselves into your contest, make them click through to a sign up that requires some basic contact information in order to register. But be sure to let them know that everyone who registers gets something for doing so — perhaps a discount code for a purchase made within the next 30 days or a swag item.

Remember that with the church market, rewarding a social media follower is good, but rewarding their church is even better. As an example, if your company sells in-ear monitors, offer to outfit a five-piece band with all new custom ear molds. Or replace all the lamps in their auditorium that belong to your installed products. Or send their entire tech team swag.

Build In Customer Testimonial Snapshots

Because social media can so easily share photos and videos, provide a landing page on your website, Facebook page or Instagram feed or to solicit and aggregate customer photos showcasing your products. There’s great power in other churches seeing their peers utilizing your brand. Aggregate the best examples as simple case studies and follow up — which is particularly easy since you have a direct connection via social media — on particularly interesting stories that your company can use as free marketing collateral. Then, tie in these products with a focused online advertising keyword campaign that demonstrates how churches are using your solutions in a variety of venues and applications.

It doesn’t take long to significantly increase your social media follower and fan base when you’re making it fun, easy and worthwhile to share with their friends and fans, too.

The key of social media promotion success is to engage not just your fans, but those who are on the fence about your brand/product/strategy. You want to convert those who can become promoters and increase the size and influence of your tribe.

Remember, you want people to connect not only with you, but with their friends and followers. It’s likely that those in their sphere of influence include friends from other churches – which are your next source of motivated leads.

2 QUESTIONS – Which brands do you LOVE to follow on social media & how is YOUR brand doing in this space? Comment below.

Anthony Coppedge

About Anthony Coppedge

Anthony has worked in the secular world of A/V, the ministry world of church staff and the para-church ministry of three companies that serve the church space. Today, his consultancy focuses on helping churches and para-church ministries leverage appropriate systems, processes and technologies for more effective ministry. Anthony leads out of his strengths of effectively caring for people, efficiently managing resources, and enabling scalable growth. He has been consulting, teaching, writing and speaking to church and business leaders for nearly 20 years. Anthony blogs at his site AnthonyCoppedge.com