Robert Rose is a content marketing strategist, author, and storyteller. If you’re interested in learning to market your church, you would be wise to check him out, because he’s an expert on the content marketing process. One of the things Rose teaches is that there are archetypes of content creation: promoter, preacher, professor, and poet.
- Promoter: creates content that facilitates the sale of (or participation in) a product or service.
- Preacher: creates content that drives awareness of your “approach,” which helps you to be found and which serves as your digital evangelist.
- Professor: creates content that builds trust, clarifies how you are different, and grows relationships.
- Poet: creates content that binds your brand to your audience’s belief systems, using emotional content that builds affinity.
What is content marketing?
For Rose, the “magic” comes when we mix these together in various combinations (more about this later), because that’s when our content creation will have a big impact. He says, “In today’s marketplace, it’s not only important that we GRAB attention. We must HOLD it as well.”
But for a lot of churches, content creation is just plain hard, so the infrequent posts don’t hold people’s attention. Or perhaps more exactly, effective content creation is what’s difficult. Pastors and church leaders already create sermons, slides, articles and much more…but this content may not always translate into a social media setting effectively. Sermons are too long for the person skimming through their feed. Slides are visual but sometimes are too focused on “insider” activities of a church. Articles take a long time to write and are often written to speak to church members and regulars. And to cap it all off, many pastors and church staff members have rudimentary graphic design skills.
So to help churches create shareable content, a variety of companies have stepped up to help. Some of them offer scheduling tools that make it easier to post and track content, such as Hootsuite and Buffer. Some of them have tools for creating content, such as PromoRepublic (which we use at Aboundant) and Quuu. Some offer images for churches, such as the included social graphics that come with a monthly or annual membership at Lightstock.
Now, a new company has stepped into the arena, and you’re going to want to get to know them.
Church Butler provides daily, non-branded social graphics & video that you can brand (if you wish) with your logo and use in your social media or blog. In addition, members get access to monthly training modules on topics related to digital ministry, as well as a private facebook Group.
Kenny Jahng is the Owner and Founder of Church Butler, the Founder at Generosity Labs, and Owner and Founder / Digital Strategist at Big Click Syndicate LLC. I chatted with Kenny for about 45 minutes recently and was definitely impressed with his wide knowledge base and experience with all things social media. Here’s a summary of what I learned.
Church Butler came out of a lot of the consulting work he has done for churches. According to Jahng, 55 percent of churches are 100 members or less, and pastors in these congregations tend to struggle with social media. They often can’t keep up with the time demands of content creation and also need training, both for themselves and for their team members. Time is of course the most valuable commodity for a pastor, he says, so Church Butler is designed to zero in on making things simpler and easier for churches.
The core resource in Church Butler is the downloadable graphics. At this writing, here’s what a member would get:
- Monthly scripture squares. Each month, members can download zipped file with an shareable image in PNG format for each day of the month. These are 800×800 pixels in size, with enough space at the top of bottom for a church to add its own logo. In the June downloads, for example, the pack included 34 scripture squares and 10 themed squares for other special days or uses (see image 1 here for a sample). The scripture used is frequently the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) though others are also used as well.
- Facebook covers that can be customized as desired. In the June pack, there were 4 of these. (See Image 2 for an example.)
- Content squares specific to United Methodist churches. In the June pack, there were 6 of these, which related to special Sundays (Peace with Justice Sunday) and the week in the church season (e.g. First Sunday after Pentecost). Jahng works very closely with many United Methodist churches and the denomination as a whole, which is why this is the first denomination to get these specialized graphics. (See image 3 for an example.)
- Access to all past months of social graphics. Church Butler launched in February 2017, so you can do the math.
- Suggested text to use along with the graphics. This text is very brief but will give you some ideas about possible words to add to your image-based posts.
- Weekly “Lunch & Learn” podcasts, where Kenny interviews experts from around the country.
- Monthly in-depth trainings on a wide variety of social media-related topics, such as a comprehensive look at stock photo websites and a 30-day Twitter bootcamp. At this writing, those are sent out to subscribers via email, but in the very, very near future they’ll be available in the membership area. Some of these are video trainings while others will be ebooks.
- A subscribers-only facebook group, where Kenny promises to answer ANY social media question you might have.
- Do It For You options. As if all of this wasn’t enough, Kenny also offers a “white glove” service (for an additional fee) where he’ll manage all of the posting for you! You can find details on their pricing page.
- Even more coming soon! Here’s a hot scoop. Church Butler is coming out with a daily line of content called The Social Devotional™. These will be Instagram-worthy quote card graphics paired with a short devotional that pastors or staff members can copy and paste to use on any social media platform (or even email) on a daily basis. The first 100 or so are created, and Kenny expects to launch this offering by September.
Here’s are some of my takeaways after looking at all of the resources (except the forthcoming one) closely:
1. These are really terrific graphics for the church without much budget for social media or graphic design. For $20/month – $0.67/day – you can have an easy-to-use graphic that will increase readership of your facebook page or other social media. And let’s face it…you’d spend a LOT more if you tried to do it yourself.
2. Training resources for your whole team are included. Let me say that again…you entire team can utilize the training videos and ebooks as they are released. That is a darn good deal, and the ones I reviewed were definitely helpful.
3. Church Butler is new. I definitely got the sense from my conversations with Kenny that there are lots of exciting plans for this site down the road. Get in now while the price is so reasonable – but know that there are a few minor issues still to be worked out. And know that Kenny definitely has a heart for churches that are small and that lack a highly tech-savvy staff. You won’t feel stupid for not knowing something.
4. Here’s a personal pet peeve, which he and I chatted about recently. I have a preference for images which more closely relate to the Bible verse or quote than ones which are just a nature image. For example, take this one (Image 4): I’d love to see an image like this paired with an image of people caring for one another rather than an image of water. To me, this enhances the meaning of the quote…but I know that’s not true for everyone. Just be aware that with any service like Church Butler, there are bound to be times when you just don’t like the images for one reason or another. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal…it’s just that tastes vary, and what makes sense in one context is not always what works well in another.
5. I REALLY like the fact that they are diving into the HUGE need for denomination-specific graphics. Hopefully more denominations will be forthcoming soon. Why aren’t more church-related companies doing this?!? (Perhaps it’s for the same reasons many of the graphic companies out there seem to only use the NIV or KJV…sigh…)
Now, let’s get back to where we started: the 4 archetypes of content creation. Where does Church Butler fall in?
- These kinds of social graphics work best for your “poet” and “preacher” social media posts. They help both your core audience and a potential audience to discover something about your congregation without you having to be heavily promotional about your events. A good rule of thumb is that about 80% of your posts should inform, educate, and entertain your audience, while only 20% should directly promote your church and its events. Church Butler can make it really easy to hit that 80 percent mark.
- The denominational-specific posts fit well with a “professor” approach. They help to distinguish your congregation from others in the community by highlighting your specific denomination. They would work well with some simple educational posts that help your followers to understand the nuances and important meanings of each part of the church year.
- Church Butler doesn’t do as much (yet) to help with the “promoter” aspect of your social media, since your situation and your events are unique. However, that will change soon..Here’s some copy for some upcoming graphics Kenny gave me that have been submitted to the design queue already: “Have you signed-up?” “Mark your calendar this August!” “Get all the details” and “Join a Group!” These short phrases are meant to be paired with your text and links to more specific, event-based content, registration forms, and so on. I also think that through studying the images and beginning to create images of your own, you’ll find that you’ll also develop your own authentic, visual way of telling people about your events.
- Although these images are created particularly for social media, there really is no reason you couldn’t use them on your church website or in print media. I think, though, that you should be aware of the particular content archetype you are utilizing and then create related content to go with the imagery.
Kenny says that he is “trying to give grace and joy to people in churches who need it, and hopefully this will spill over” and have a positive effect on church ministries as well as non-members who see the posts when they are shared. Jahng noted that an incredible 81 percent of practicing Christian millennials shared a Bible verse on social media during the past year. Let that sink in for a moment…and then ask yourself, why aren’t we doing this right now?
All in all, I’d give Church Butler 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, and I think it’s off to a tremendous start. Your church should definitely give it a try to see if it’s a good fit for you!