The COVID-19 pandemic has truly impacted our world in ways no one could have imagined. No longer are we able to comfortably gather in spaces and places that we thought would always be there for us. And one of those places is the church. The church is the place where we go for comfort, encouragement, reassurance, hope and even celebrations. And as congregations grapple with reopening their buildings safely, the church, like every other organization, has to find a way to connect with its members and the communities they serve. And if used correctly, technology is allowing churches to reach a greater audience than ever before.
This edition of the Presbyterian Communicators Network newsletter provides information on the benefits of digital media and particularly video during the time of a worldwide pandemic. Read more.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, just image the power of a well-done video. Let’s look at the statistics regarding video. According to Brandwatch:
- YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and second most visited site after Google.
- YouTube is the second most popular social media platform, with 1.9 billion users.
- 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- Over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos are watched a day, more than Netflix and Facebook video combined.
- 70% of YouTube views come from mobile devices.
- The average mobile viewing session lasts more than 40 minutes.
- Visitors who view videos stay on websites an average of two minutes longer than those who don’t view videos.
- 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others.
- People will spend 100 minutes per day watching videos in 2021.
Short, engaging videos that grab the viewers’ attention are a must. Developing a presence for your congregation through videos that are creative and informative can increase your church’s outreach and video engagement. Videos should also strengthen emotional connections. Make sure your content is relevant and relatable. Use your video to create emotional connections with your target audience. During COVID-19, it is so important to maintain communication with your congregation. Showing that you care and continue to be concerned for and supportive of your congregation will help to strengthen the bond of the congregation and may attract new members.
Here are tips for creating and utilizing good video without a large budget during the COVID-19 pandemic:
· Plan your video before shooting. Good video content gets more attention.
An average online user spends 88% more time on a website that has video content on it. That’s our climate today. Make sure your video uses both visual and audio stimulation to capture online attention. No matter what event you videotape, have a plan. Write down or make a mental list of must-have shots to include in your video. For example, if your church has not reopened the building and you’re videotaping a Sunday morning sermon, a daily devotional or weekly Bible study, your list might include:
- Scripture readings or narrative
- Recorded music
- Engaging background
- Informative notes that viewers can follow.
· Social platforms are essential during the COVID-19 pandemic
Almost 48% of social media users have said that they’d share video content with their network of friends if they find it engaging and useful. Today there are several social media platforms that provide opportunities to use video content. And best of all, they’re free! However, during this pandemic, you may choose to go live. Some of the more popular platforms for posting your videos and live feeds along with YouTube include Facebook Watch and Facebook Live, Instagram Live and TikTok.
· Facebook Live
Facebook Live is a feature that churches can use to reach their congregations and community on the biggest social media platform. While the organic reach of Facebook may be in decline, livestreams on Facebook have enormous reach and are a great tool to communicate with your audience.
· Instagram Live and Stories
Instagram is another social media platform that provides great reach to trending video content. If your congregation has an Instagram follower base, going live will allow you to interact on a personal level using powerful videos.
· YouTube Live-stream
YouTube is the most popular video platform. YouTube is a great platform for posting videos or for livestreaming.
· Make sure your videos are mobile-compatible
Mobile users enjoy consuming videos. With the increased availability and accessibility to smartphones, the internet penetration across the world has increased. Make sure your videos are responsive and can readily be viewed on smartphones. Americans collectively are used to checking out their phones almost 8 billion times a day!
Invest in a good HD camera
You can purchase a good high-definition camera for around $250. However, if your budget will not allow for the purchase of a new HD camera, some smartphone cameras take really good quality videos.
Make sure you have good lighting
Good lighting is essential to the success of your video. Avoid dark rooms or locations with a single light source. Look for an outside venue, a room with lots of windows or a room with good lights.
Check your sound
Always check your sound level before recording to make sure it is not too high or too low. If you find that the microphone on your camera or phone does not pick up the sound sufficiently, invest in an external microphone.
Keep your videos short
Keep your social media and website videos between one and three minutes long. Statistics show that 59% of viewers will watch a video to completion if it is one minute long or less. However, during this pandemic, viewers will give a video more time.
Download a free editing program
After you put all of your footage together, editing will make it look and sound better. Windows Movie Maker is a free editing program that comes built into all Windows software and allows you to easily edit your own video.
End with a call to action
This is essential! You can increase your church’s engagement numbers by asking your audience to “like,” but more importantly, asking them to “share” your videos or to subscribe to your channel.