You’ve probably run into this: you want to send out a newsletter or important announcement but some people prefer email, some text and some social media. Who has time to manage multiple communication channels?
One of the ironies of our age of communication is that communicating as a organization can be harder. It’s easier and faster in some respects, but the proliferation of channels means that your audience is going to be fragmented by personal preference.
The Obvious Choices
There is no perfect solution or channel. The common or obvious ways to get the word out are:
- Email (including from your church management software)
- Social Media
- Mobile App
Every church runs into this on an ongoing basis with newsletters, events and other important announcements.
There have been two basic approaches for churches to manage communication channels until recently:
- Force everyone to conform to your preferred channel
- Copy & paste to each platform every time you want to send something out
Fortunately, a new option is emerging and even becoming more and more reliable.
There is a growing category of software that creates bridges between other popular apps. It’s a pretty simple idea: you set up a trigger that then fires an action. For example, whenever you create a new post on your church Facebook page, the service will automatically send a group text.
The ones I’ve tested out are:
And I was pleasantly surprised to find almost a dozen other options that do the same thing.
This will take a few minutes to set up, but will save you hours over the course of a year.
First, decide on which communication channel will be your master. One inherent challenge will be the length of your message:
- Short to Long – Twitter & text give you limited real estate, which is fine for their own platforms, but
140[now 280] characters is unimpressive as a blog post or email newsletter
- Long to Short – You can say more but you’ll have to figure out how to automatically shorten it for Twitter & text
Then build your automations and set them in motion.
One way you could do this is to set up Mailchimp as your master, then set up the following automations:
- post the message to your Facebook page using their native integration
- post to your Facebook group using Zapier (group vs. page)
- post to Twitter using their native integration (creates a hyperlink to full message)
- send the shortened tweet as a group text using Zapier and Twilio (a paid app)
- create a post on your WordPress website (perhaps on a news or announcements page?)
- posting to your Mobile App will depend on your app developer
With this set up, every time you send a new Mailchimp, it automatically gets broadcast across all the different channels.
Another inherent challenge will be managing your contact lists. All of this sounds simple enough on the sending end, but there’s the whole matter of getting people to sign up for their preferred channel(s) and keeping their contact info and preferences up to date. But that’s a post for another day.
Don’t be discouraged when faced with having to manage multiple communication channels. Make automation do the redundant stuff for you so that you can use your time for more important ministry!