5 Tips for your Online Communication

BeyondVU Apr2013 560x560

Much like Jesus, who stood boldly amidst the crowds to voice His message of truth, Christians also have a call to speak to the masses, and now have new online tools with which to do it. Learning from what Jesus did, it’s vital to understand the difference between preaching at a crowd, and ministering to the multitudes with a thoughtful, personal touch.

Here are my “best practice” tips for this new age of online communication. How can you have your message really heard online—and maybe have that message passed on again and again?

  1. TELL A STORY: Avoid speaking at audience through canned messages—instead tell stories, provide value, and deliver insight with each engagement.
  2. ASK QUESTIONS: Ask your audience what they think – whether it’s a comment on a blog post, a comment on Facebook, offer a chance to engage your audience.
  3. PROVIDE A CLEAR CALL TO ACTION: At the end of an email, a post on a Facebook page, wherever you are communicating with your online audience, ask them to do something and make it clear what you want them to do. Examples of this are “RSVP NOW!” “SEND US AN EMAIL!” “READ MORE NOW!” or “COMMENT BELOW & TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!” It’s simple, but highly effective in getting your audience to ACT!
  4. SHORT & SWEET: When your audience reads an email, a post on Facebook, a tweet online, 90% of the time, they’re in a hurry. They want you to get straight to the point…so do it! Keep your message short and sweet and to the point. Make it hard for people to miss your message even if they just skim your email.
  5. GIVE BACK: Become a resource to your online community, providing relevant news about your community, the culture in your city, current events in your industry—ultimately becoming a news source that gives back.

So now it’s your turn (see what I did there?): what are some ways that your congregation communicates most effectively? Comment below and let us know!

Holly Clinard serves as Associate Director of Marketing & Digital Media in the office of marketing and communications at Vanguard University. She manages leadership in the areas of social media marketing, website content management, enewsletter campaigns, and video production. Contact her at holly.clinard@vanguard.edu or visit http://www.vanguard.edu/give/contact/ for more information. 

Spring Break

It’s Spring Break around here.  At Vanguard that means that we have not only reached the half-way point for this semester, it also symbolizes the beginning of the end.  In just a few short weeks, projects will be due, finals will be crammed for, students will move out of their dorms – some to go on missions trips, others to go home to their families, and some will graduate and close this chapter of their college experience.

As a staff member for nearly 14 years, I’ve developed a truly love/hate relationship with Spring Break.  Although work continues for those of us on staff, I love the pause that Spring Break represents in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the semester.  For many departments on campus, Spring Break is an opportunity to get caught up or tackle projects that are more easily accomplished sans interruption students. It’s hard not to feel a bit giddy when you drive on campus and there are open parking spaces as far as the eye can see and you need only choose one closest to your destination.  Spring Break feels a bit like a big sigh and a stretch in the middle of your semester to energize you for the tasks ahead.

For me personally, I always feel that the calm of Spring Break, although refreshing in some ways, feels a bit as if we’ve been unplugged.  It feels like a power outage has happened across our campus.  Have you ever noticed during a power outage how eerily quiet everything seems?  We become accustomed to the constant buzz of electricity that is our student body and without them the silence is deafening.  They are truly the lifeblood of our campus.  I miss bumping shoulders with them in the hallways, catching glimpses of them frantically taking notes in classrooms as I walk past, laughing with friends everywhere you look.  I miss watching students crash on their skateboards through my office window as they scramble to pick up their dropped books, glancing quickly around to see if anyone’s watching.  I miss their energy, I miss their enthusiasm for life, and I miss their presence.  Without students we’re just a bunch of offices and paperwork.  Without them we’re just on pause.

So I’m making the choice to enjoy the pause for the potential it represents.  I will enjoy the pause as an opportunity to receive rest and make preparations so that when students return we can be energized to help them finish strong.  Faculty and staff are planning for lessons to come, preparing for events and deadlines and dreaming up opportunities to engage students spiritually, socially, and academically.  This weekend, the students will begin to trickle back and the buzz of electricity will sputter back to full force by Monday.  Until then, I will enjoy my super close parking place and turn my music on at my desk to drown out the silence.