Communication Trends On the Horizon
Late October to early February is prediction season. Predictions about what’s ahead in the new year – church trends, sports teams, food, worship songs, etc. As humans, it’s in our nature to wonder, and it’s also in our nature to try our best to be prepared for what’s coming. I think that’s why so many of these lists are circling, if we have some sense of expectation of what’s coming next and what to expect, then the unknown of the next 365 days isn’t as intimidating.
Plus, it’s fun to make prediction lists! Why not do your research and make the best-educated guess you can about the latest and greatest technology or social media? Then when the year is over and all is said in done, you can compare your predictions to how things actually played out, and maybe you’ll be right.
At aware3 it’s important for us to be focused on the digital and communication trends of the year so we can better serve our customers who are out spreading the gospel across the country and the world. We’re excited for what’s ahead this year and want you to know what we see as on the horizon for 2017 in digital and communication trends.
Messaging apps, as well as features within apps that allow messaging, are becoming a new primary source of communication, But, why now? There’s a chatbot (robot “helpers” within a chat service) revolution going on, and it’s being brought to the surface by the adoption of them by major social and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google, Microsoft Skype, Slack and Twitter direct message. Now that there are billions of daily users of messaging platforms who are accustomed to engaging with each other in that space, it’s second nature for them to use these messaging platforms in addition to texting and social media.
While this is not a new trend, we see a shifting focus from the pulpit to the community. The vision of the church has always been to serve as a light in a dark world, but with the advances in technology, churches now have a new set of tools that allows them to speak to, engage, and become a force within their broader community. Utilizing the tools of push notifications, real-time interactions and allowing various ways for people to engage, the church is increasing no longer defined by Sunday morning and Wednesday night events. Allowing members to view content, share concerns and engage with each other digitally increases your reach to the community in organic ways.
The importance of people who have a sphere of influence to spread your messages verbally or digitally is growing in 2017. Influencers in your community can play a renewed and central role in your communication mix for 2017. The use of these influencers isn’t new, you can probably find them on your volunteer teams or in your elder board, but it their use outside your doors will mature. As we see more partnerships and community initiatives this year, take the opportunity to educate your key influencers on your church message and creating original content that can’t be found anywhere else and send it out into the community via your identified influencers.
Your Medium Drives Your Experience
Technology has opened up new avenues to leverage the medium as much as the message. What’s the best way to experience your church message? Is it via social media? Or through an app? People are now excited about the experience of communication. If you can find the best medium that allows someone to experience your church brand, you’ll grab their attention that much quicker.
Not everyone needs to provide an on-demand service, but people still have instant expectations, even when interacting with a church. Becoming more instant can take significant time and investment, but starting can be simple. The easiest way to begin is to audit your church’s instant capabilities. Consider each step in someone’s journey to becoming a member at your church to understand where you can provide more instantaneous interaction. From messaging and communication to ministries and classes, there are many ways to optimize how and when we talk to people. Consider the different things that people expect of the church. Is there a way that you can reach them faster? This transformation might take time, but it’s worth it to see where you can reach churchgoers quicker.
And here’s one last overarching prediction for 2017 that trumps them all: Things can change. And that’s ok because as a company rooted in faith we know that there is truth that we can hold on to: the promises of our Savior. But, when the unexpected digital and communication trend does arise in 2017, you know the aware3 team will be excited to learn more about it and use it in it’s best form.