Our ministry websites are important channels of communication and we want to provide our visitors with the best experience possible. We also want to make a positive impression as quickly as possible. We can do that through photos and short videos.
Use photos to tell the story of your community. Photos make a web page much more interesting. They draw in the visitor. If you have not been using photos, start collecting good photos now. Let people know that the photos will be used for the parish website and social media sites. Get parent’s permission for photos of children. Encourage staff and other members to take photos at events and activities. Many people have camera phones and would be happy to email you their takes. For some photos, you may even want to use a professional photographer—volunteer or paid. You can purchase and use stock photos for some of your pages. And there are also photos with Creative Commons licenses that you can use for free.
Use photos that:
- communicate joy. Pope Francis is a big proponent for letting people know that there is joy in living the Gospel. Do the images on your website reveal a happy community?
- represent different generations and other diversities. Hopefully, there is at least one image on the home page that the visitor can relate to. Do you want to attract younger adults to your parish or religious community? Be sure that they see one of their own generation on the homepage.
- show your members engaged in service, or social or religious activities. People want to be part of something positive and meaningful. Show they can do that in your community.
- showcase your church, your chapel, any part of your environment that people identify you with i.e the statue of a patron saint, a Mary garden, or special crucifix, a food pantry, etc.
Here I am talking about animated videos where the creator brings together images, text and music in an artful and engaging way. A short video (less than 60 seconds) with rich images, select text and appropriate background music can greatly enhance a website or social media post. There are various software programs that can be used such as the popular Animoto or you can save a PowerPoint presentation as a video. This past year, I purchased VideoMakerFX (I am also a VMFX Affiliate.) and have been using it to create videos. You can see some of them here. It takes me 10-20 hours to create a 30 to 90 second video. I do not know if that is typical, but it is my experience. Creating this type of video is both a ministry and a creative work that uses the media of the day. If you have someone on your staff or in your community who can do it for you, then by all means go for it. If not, you may wish to hire someone.
Videos can be used to welcome visitors, share events or experiences, impart information, inspire, console, or entertain.
Websites and social media posts that include photos and videos get more attention and engagement from visitors. Visitors also tend to stay longer on sites that include photos and videos. That’s what we want to happen.
How do you use photos and videos in your online ministry? Where do you get your photos? If you make your own videos, what software do you use and how long does it usually take you to create a short video? Your experience can help the rest of us. Please share. Thank you.