As many churches start to stream their services live or pre-recorded, many have worked out how to do this and are now asking where they should be streaming — Facebook, YouTube, somewhere else?
Firstly, my encouragement would be to look objectively at where your church is located and who you are trying to reach.
You should be thinking through how to effectively and consistently reach your church and local community, which may not be on the platform that you personally prefer. You also need to set yourself up to do this for an unknown amount of time, so use the platform that you can for the foreseeable future.
A starter for 10
Here are some questions to ask yourselves and your team, as you think this through.
- What are your existing platforms?
- Where is the majority of your church?
- What do the numbers look like on those?
- Where have you had the most success in the past?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What would you need to do to not exclude anyone?
- How will your church and community know where to find you?
Answers to these might help you, alongside the information below, to make an informed decision rather than the best guess. Bear in mind that directing people using your social media channels is easy and can direct people anywhere.
Before the coronavirus, websites were predominantly for the visitor. This has changed and it now needs to be the central signpost and gathering point for your church AND your visitor.
Relying too heavily on social media excludes those not on these platforms or those too busy on the frontline to engage.
A centralised, regularly updated page (eg. yourchurch.com/live), with updates which are pushed out through emails, leadership channels and social media, allows everyone to be kept in the loop.
Before deciding to use Facebook Live, it is well worth taking time to understand who is using Facebook, as this might give you a better understanding of the demographics on each platform.
Facebook — 37 million UK users
What you might find helpful
- There are significant numbers of people without an active Facebook account, who will not watch you on Facebook, either because they distrust Facebook or have never wanted / needed to have an account.
- If you solely rely on Facebook you risk missing a section of your community.
- Zoom meetings and webinars can be pushed out to Facebook Live and YouTube simultaneously (with some technical know-how).
- Embedding a Facebook live stream into a website is possible but not simple. See this link for more details on how to do this.
- 79% of Facebook users only access it using their mobile device. Making the content more disposable.
37.1 million people use YouTube every month, very similar to Facebook and the two are forever battling it out to be number one.
What you might find helpful
- YouTube videos are simple to embed into a website. See this user guide for instructions.
- The YouTube Premiere function allows you to set up a pre-recorded video to go live at a specific time, reassuring your church that they are in the right place for the next service.
- Zoom meetings and webinars can be pushed out to YouTube Live.
- 79% of Internet users have a YouTube account.
- YouTube is the second most visited website in the world (after Google).
- Every day people watch one billion hours of videos on YouTube.
- 90 percent of people say they discover new brands or products on YouTube.
- Smart TVs come with YouTube as an app, allowing your church to watch as a household.
Whatever you decide
- Know that your churches are grateful.
- Make sure everyone knows where and when.
- Set expectations for your church.
- Plan your service.
- Be kind to yourselves.
For more information, visit https://covid.churcheshandbook.co.uk/ a live document being updated regularly by church communications teams from a range of movements, denominations and networks.