It's been a lot of fun creating Flocknote, and we've learned a lot in the process of working with so many great churches. Here are eight things that any organization can implement almost immediately to improve communication. Hope you find them helpful!
1) Be careful not to communicate too much - If you are trying to say everything, you'll end up communicating nothing. Consider the typical church bulletin. Over time they've accumulated so much information in them each week that people don't bother to even try to sort through it all. So you end up communicating nothing. The same goes for emails or letters you send out. If they contain so much information nobody bothers to read them, they aren't doing any good. Say less and you'll communicate more. (Here are 7 other reasons your members won't subscribe to you.)
2) Respect everyone's time - Whether they are listening to announcements on Sunday, reading your bulletin or surfing your website, don't waste their time. Make sure that what you are bothering to say is important to your people (not just to you). And try not to broadcast to everyone the things that only a small group of people need or want to hear. Eventually, they will just tune you out completely.
3) Have an up-to-date web presence - This means everywhere you're on the web. Your website, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. When people visit your website or Facebook page, they are wanting to communicate with you. They are wanting to build a relationship with you. If they get to your website and can't find up-to-date info, it's a missed opportunity. And if they find out-dated info, it communicates to them that there must not be anything going on here. And they move on.
4) Don't waste opportunities to connect - When somebody visits your website (or your church for that matter), what are you doing to continue the relationship? Don't let them leave without connecting. Get some information from them. Give them an action item. Something to do. An event to attend. A way to take a next step in their faith walk. Get them on your emailing list and immediately plugged in to your active ministries (something Flocknote is made to do). Don't waste an opportunity to connect.
5) Use a proper emailing service - The #1 (and easiest) way to keep your members up to date this day and age is through email. Almost everyone uses it. It's cheap, fast and easy. But it's a good idea to use a proper emailing service if you're sending large amounts of email. It will improve deliverability (i.e. avoid spam filters), keep your own web server off of blacklists, make sure you're legally compliant (like giving people easy, immediate ways to subscribe and unsubscribe), make your newsletters beautiful and - if you use Flocknote - empower all of your ministry leaders to manage their distribution lists as a team and communicate professionally and effectively. How are you continuing your relationship in between Sundays? This is one of the easiest and essential ways you can expand and bolster your social network. It's more than worth the costs, too.
6) Consider your audience - Too many churches get caught only listening and catering to the vocal minority or the already engaged. So they shouldn't be surprised when they don't seem to reach anyone else. If you want to engage the unengaged, you need to consider that particular audience. Don't just say things that are interesting to you. Say things that are interesting to them and in a way that they will understand and be intrigued.
7) Remember that communication goes both ways - Communication is as much (or more) about listening as it is about talking. What are you doing to listen first to your people? Find out where they are and what they're thinking. Then you'll know where to meet them with the message you'd like to ultimately communicate.
8) Don't be scared - Many churches are scared to communicate. They're either intimidated by the latest technologies or frozen in fear of breaking burdensome guidelines and making mistakes. So they do little or nothing. There is really no such thing as not communicating. Not communicating is still communicating something. It communicates fear. It communicates apathy. It communicates maybe we don't have something worth communicating. And since we work for the Church, none of these could be further from the truth.
We are not afraid. And we have the most important message to communicate in the entire world. Let's help each other do it better!
Please share your own tips and best practices in the comments below!