The angle has to be just right.
The pose needs to be perfect.
And if you can get the sun to shine over your shoulder, you’ll get more likes.
If you’re a girl you can make a duck face. If you’re a guy, suck in that stomach and look strong.
And if it’s still not impressive enough, you choose a flattering filter that blurs lines, softens edges and makes you look cool in that James Dean daydream vintage sort of way.
Of course, I’m talking about the selfie. It’s a word that’s been around since 2002 but was named the Oxford word of the year in 2013.
Here’s the post popular selfie in the world, taken by Ellen at the Oscars.
And here’s the most popular selfie in the galaxy, taken by Astronaut Aki Hoshide.
Most selfies aren’t nearly as dramatic or interesting. John Paul Titlow describes selfie sharing as “a high school popularity contest on digital steroids.”
Some people go to great lengths to take a selfie, as illustrated by the selfie stick.
And there are ways to make your selfie look better than real life. There are apps to give you perfect skin, a perfect smile and even hide that bald spot. People upload more than 17 million selfies a week. They are taken by the President, the Pope, and people stuck in traffic.
What does any of this have to do with church? I’m glad you asked.
A lot of churches use a selfie strategy to promote themselves, their programs or their ministries.
Look at me!
Look at our new series!
Come to our next epic event!
Look at me some more!
This is the approach so many churches take when promoting their programs, ministries, and events. Granted, these things have a deep purpose with eternal implications and your motives are pure. You’re not angling for likes or favorites, you’re trying to make a difference.
But what if the selfie strategy of church communications comes across to your community the way you see the duck-face high school girl posting to her profile? What if people in your community grow tired of your selfie announcements, selfie events, and selfie programs?
- This is going to be the biggest Easter Egg drop in the history of our town = selfie strategy with the focus on us.
- You’re not going to believe how real and authentic we’re going to be in this marriage series = selfie strategy talking about how real we are.
- The opener is going to be awesome, the band is rocking or the Spirit is gonna be here like never before = a selfie strategy with good motives.
Is there a better approach?
Rather than treating your promotion, advertising and outreach like the selfie, you can make one big shift in your approach and see dramatically different results.
Instead of talking about yourself, talk about the people. Instead of promoting your events, add value to people’s lives. A selfie strategy keeps the focus on you, but a value approach shifts the focus to them.
- Your Easter Egg Hunt may be awesome and epic (selfie approach), but it’s really one of a few things families can do to have a lot of fun together (value approach).
- Your marriage series may be real and raw (selfie approach), but what you really want people to experience is a loving relationship with their spouse (value approach).
- Your service might be filled with the Holy Spirit (selfie approach), but how can you shift your language to make it about the attendees? (value approach)
- And instead of talking about your church and your programs and your ministries (selfie, selfie, selfie), what if you started helping people in their lives or promoting other positive things in your community?
Businesses are learning how to shift the conversation from themselves to potential customers with a content marketing strategy. Instead of blatantly promoting their products, they are choosing to add value. And they are seeing better results in the process.
- Sharpie could just promote their markers, but they created a blog highlighting the cool things people are creating.
- Basecamp could just tell you about their product, but they write long-form articles and produce a podcast about businesses who go the distance.
- Michael Hyatt could just run a special on his membership program, but he created a free video series that adds value, even if you don’t become a customer.
Strategies like this can work for your church, too.
Content marketing might not make sense at first. It's a strange term to use when talking about the church. But once you realize it’s just about creating and distributing valuable information that helps people, it makes more sense. Content marketing for churches is really just digital outreach.
You can provide valuable content to your community on topics they care about in formats they can download. You can create conversations around important ideas. And you can build trust in order to invite people to your church. When you add value instead of snap selfies, it will be a game-changer.
How Your Church Can Use Content Marketing
What if you put together a list of date night ideas or family day trips and offered that to couples and families in your community?
What if you created a new-in-town guide and provided it to people have moved into your zip code?
What if you put together a video series to help people manage money or an eBook to help parents or a devotional guide to help people pray?
When you start adding value to people on the topics they care about in a format they enjoy, you have the opportunity to create conversations and provide pastoral care. Imagine the possibilities.
Jesus said we needed to die to ourselves. Maybe it’s time the church died to selfie promotion.
Take a Next Step
If you’re looking for more help leading your church to growth, join the Church Fuel Community.
We are a group of pastors and leaders who value practical coaching and resources and encourage one another to grow healthy. Reaching new guests and helping them get involved in the life of the church is a regular topic among our members.
Every month, we release a brand-new master class, covering topics like volunteers, connecting people, preaching, finances, and more.
Members also get access to a resource library full of documents, spreadsheets, and templates, including lots of church growth resources. There are members-only office hours and round tables where you can get personal help when needed.
There’s no long-term contract and a money back guarantee, so you can check it out without pressure. Learn more here.