Ten parishes from seven states accepted my offer of a free customized Ash Wednesday video to reach out to all active and inactive parishioners. The goal of the video was to remind viewers that Ash Wednesday was at hand and that they were welcome to join the parish community in receiving ashes. The physical and web addresses of the parish were provided. The video was less than one minute long.
Why use video? It gets much more engagement than any other media.
The ministers who requested the video wore many different hats: pastor, pastoral associate, webmaster, liturgist and music director, parish secretary, bulletin editor, social media specialist, finance secretary, RCIA team member, and communications director. This is indicative of where websites and social media are in parishes. They are an “and” ministry. I am a (fill in the blank) AND I also do the website and social media. These are the pioneers of Internet ministry.
The parishes posted the video or a link to the video to one or more of the following:
- Email newsletter
In evaluating a video that you either are creating yourself or getting from someone else, here are my recommendations:
- Short is best. One minute or less is ideal. Up to two minutes is okay if it is compelling. But anything longer is not as effective as the shorter ones. This forces you to be direct and to the point. What is your message? What do you want the viewers to do? Get that across quickly, creatively and as simply as possible.
- Timing is important. If, as in the case of the Ash Wednesday video, you are inviting people to an event or service, post it far enough ahead of the event that they can plan ahead, but close enough so that they won’t forget it. You probably don’t want to post this video more than 4-7 days ahead of the event.
- Placement on the website makes a difference. Embed the video as close to the top of your homepage as possible. When visitors come to your site looking for information on Ash Wednesday, Christmas or Easter services—the video is your welcome message. Get it to them immediately or they might not see it at all.
- Post the video on as many platforms as possible. Use all the Internet and social media platforms that you have access to. Different viewers use different platforms.
- Remember your audiences. Be sure that the video includes the information that someone who is new to the area or not a regular at your Church needs to participate i.e. physical and web addresses. The beauty of using the Internet and social media is that you can reach those who are not in the pews. Be sure to provide the information they need to participate and to learn more about you.
Thank you to the ten parishes who used the Ash Wednesday video created by Catholic Web Solutions. If you are reading this post today, please take a moment to tell us your experience in the comments below. For those of you who had the resources to create your own Ash Wednesday video, please share that experience as well. Thank you.
Now we can look forward to Easter. I have created an Easter video which can be customized for your parish. See the details here. Give video a try, you will be glad that you did.