Whenever someone comes up to me requesting help for their church or ministry’s Internet effort, I usually get asked a question such as: “How can we make our website better?” Â In my opinion, this is the wrong question to ask. Â We are now living in a “post-website” world. I don’t know when this happened, but over the past year or so, there has been a shift away from the organization website being the centerpiece of the online world. We need to go where the people are; they are not going to come to us. The advent of social media, including the massive popularity and mainstreaming of Facebook, has changed the game. The question should now be: “What should our online strategy be?”
This is not to say that you don’t need a web site. A web site is your stake in the ground, it is how people will find information about you if they are looking for it. But it is not going to be your primary means of interaction. Sure, you can build your own social network or your own photo-sharing site, but what is going to draw people to it? They are already on Facebook! They are already on Twitter, YouTube, Buzz, MySpace, LinkedIn, and many others! Do your research and find out where the people whom you want to reach are going and then go there yourself! Your strategy should include an intentional focus on specific social media sites based on your research.
So what does this look like? For many, it means Facebook, absolutely. For others, it means getting on board with mobile technologies. Looking forward (as you must do) it should include location-based technologies such as FourSquare or Yelp! And be sure you are getting on board with the augmented reality applications starting to appear! It can be overwhelming, but by making intentional choices, you can move forward in a strategic way that will bring success.Â If your ministry is struggling with strategic decisions regarding online ministry, consider working with someone like me who is keeping on top of these technologies and can provide strategic planning and advice.
So what do you think? Is the web site as the priority Internet presence a thing of the past? Can an organization get away with a minimal website if they focus on social media sites instead?