2013 was a big year for me and the creative & communications team I am privileged of working alongside here at YWAM Newcastle. It took a lot of hard work and prayer through 2012 and into 2013 but the results surprised even me. Those included us seeing a 128% increase in web site traffic from 2012 to 2013 and a 342% increase in enquiries to our training schools. Though the main highlight was the start of our largest training school in our history this January. As a result we are being asked lately for what we think some of the keys to this growth have been. While this list is not extensive, I thought I would share just a few that I have been able to pick out as I look back on these past few years.
Takes lots of work.
One of the common things we all hope for is that fast overnight viral type of growth. Though almost all communications and social media growth happens over time with a lot of hard work. It takes lots of different strategies and just simply trying stuff. If that stuff doesnt work then try other stuff. I once heard a quote from a guy who did some work for Google, he said that "Google has no idea what works, they just try stuff.". So try to keep your ear to the ground with what's happening online, trends etc. (Also check out my post on social media trends.), and simply try stuff out. Though always make sure that trying stuff never comes at the expense of sticking to your values and message as an organisation.
It is good to have stuff written and scheduled out over a period of time instead of just putting everything up at once. The worst mistake I have seen organisations/people make in blogging and social media is that they start strong but then fade away to where they only post once a month, if at all. So know what you can handle and stick with it consistently. We use BufferApp to help us with Social Media scheduling. This allows us more time to engage in conversation with our followers.
Know your audience.
It is important to focus as much as possible when starting out. Know the age groups and countries you want to reach. Then make sure to build up a presence on the platforms where your audience live online. Also pick 2-3 so you dont spread yourself too thin. At YWAM Newcastle I primarily put our effort into FB, Twitter and Instagram because that's what most people use. Then we try stuff out on the lesser known stuff. Who knows maybe your message really takes off on Pinterest for some reason.
Don't rush stuff out for the sake of communicating. Edit blog posts and statuses and be willing to delete stuff that you don't think you would even be that excited by. I do that all the time ;) Also make sure branding is consistent across all platforms. Are you attaching links correctly? You can write the best posts but if it doesn’t correctly link to something where someone can take action it can end up being useless.
The common pursuit of the cheapest, and often free, forms of communication could hinder you from getting a quality result. While those are not bad things in themselves, it is important to have some sort of budget. The age old saying "You get what you pay for" is often very true in the world of communications. Putting actual money and resources into your work adds value to it. So if you think communications is a valuable part of your organisation make sure to put your money where your mouth is. A simple example of this is that we pay for a premium form builder to make our application process more user friendly. It also saves us hours of time that far exceeds that spend. Though once you have invested make sure you really develop the next point...
Don't get to carried away with all the things I already mentioned until you clearly understand the outcomes you are wanting. Then be very clear on how you will measure that. That can be a number of followers you are shooting for, or a number of visitors per day on your web site, or more importantly someone actually taking action and joining your cause. A simple example is spending money promoting a video on Facebook, but then not really getting many views on the actual video. So do you have systems to measure how people are responding to your communication? Or is it simply putting stuff out there and hoping something happens. You are not actually communicating until you have received feedback.
Trust God For The Result.
Don't be fooled into thinking you can do it on your own strength. This is a constant battle I have had to fight. Especially in the midst of growth. Make sure to always go back to God, on your knees, for His direction and vision for your communications. Then as you move forward keep going back, trusting Him for the result. Then when you see a result, praise and thank Him for it!
Find out more about the ministry I am part of here at YWAM Newcastle and check out some of our communication platforms.
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