Is Snapchat An Effective Ministry Marketing Medium?

Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 by .

snapchat


If you are in ministry today, you understand the value of promotion and marketing.

Social media has drastically changed how everyone approaches marketing and has turned us ministry workers into DIY publicists. So it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and know which platforms work for our context and which features can be more or less effective. Snapchat’s Geofilters have been gaining a lot of traction and I never would have thought of actually using one until a fellow youth pastor pointed me in that direction.

If you are unfamiliar with Geofilters, they essentially are promotional banners in Snapchat that can be added to photos you send to friends or post to your story. After taking a picture you can swipe left or right to find which Geofilters are available for you in your current time and location. Typically there is at least one filter to promote new TV shows, movies or video game; city, county or landmark specific filters,and then there are event based ones for national holidays, concerts or political events. They are also incredibly popular on college and high school campuses.

It is easy and relatively inexpensive to create a custom Geofilter. However, it is important to take a few things into consideration before deciding to use one of these for your next ministry event.

1. Time and location of event

The cost of a custom Geofilter is determined by both the time and location of an event. The greater the area you wish to cover and the longer you want it to be available for, the greater the cost. When you upload your custom graphic, you will be directed to an online map. Here you can click to create multiple points on the map that will serve as a geofence, and the area inside of your perimeter is the area in which you your filter will be available. The only real way to figure out how much it will cost you is to upload a .png and play with the points on the map and the time which you wish for it to be live.

These two variables will help you determine if this is a valid option for your event. A three day conference at a large Christian camp may be a great time for people to take plenty of Snaps with your filter, but might be more likely to break the bank. We used a Geofilter for a two hour back-to-school bash in the church parking lot, and it cost us just under $50. This felt like a no brainer to our team.

2. The age of your target audience

Snapchat is a young person’s app. In fact it is said that 86% of all snap chat users are between the ages of 13-34. It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding to use Geofilters to promote your event. These are great for youth events, but what about church wide programs? If the event has enough students participating in it, you may want to consider this new marketing tool. It’s a nice way of letting younger people feel included in a unique way to something that they may not otherwise feel connected to, like a church dinner or Easter service.

Understand too that a Geofilter is something that will not only be seen by younger people, but promoted by younger people. Unlike other marketing tools, this medium relies on users taking pictures and choosing your specific filter. So keep them in mind when creating the filter and deciding when to use it. An event like Trunk-or-Treat, VBS or special holiday related services may be a perfect way for younger audiences to get excited about being at church and sharing that with others.

3. A new wave of marketing

It is important to note that using Snapchat as a promotional tool falls into a different wave of thinking. For years, marketing experts have tried hard to create ads that would move a person to an action. “Click here,” “sign up there,” “visit our website”… etc. All valid approaches, but we are moving into a new era and way of doing things.

 

While there are ways to use a Geofilter for promotion of future events, for the most part, it is used to promote events as they are happening. Keeping this in mind, it is unlikely that a member or target audience would see a filter in use and decide to get in their car and head over to the church for a specific event. Instead, people’s stories that are using your custom filter will likely create a buzz for your church and contribute to creating and image of what you are like. It helps create a positive, and frankly trendy, picture of your church or ministry. It is a way to promote your brand and hopefully, one day, make it easier or more inviting to someone visiting or deciding to attend. A pastor friend of mine used to say that digital marketing is a way for outsiders to look inside the walls of the church that they may drive by each and every day. What they see will often determine if they will stop in.

 

Using Snapchat and Geofilters for promotional purposes is still a relatively new market area. It is gaining popularity and with that, it’s scope may change as well over time. For now it’s effective in creating a positive church image with younger generations and is especially useful to promote events and special services.

Digital marketing is a way for outsiders to look inside the walls of the church. @wyldestallion Click To Tweet

About the Author_02

Daniel Stevanus

Middle School and Assimilation Director
Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church | Lexington SC
mthorebumc.com

Daniel Stevanus grew up overseas in Bari, Italy as a missionary kid. There he developed his passion for people and call to ministry. After high school he moved back to the United States to attend Columbia International University, where he earned his degrees in Pastoral Ministry as well as Bible. He then served as a youth pastor on Long Island, NY for 5 years and is currently the co-director of Student Ministry at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, SC where he has served for the past 2 years.
Ultimately, he is passionate about the church and seeing God’s people grow in their relationship with him through discipleship and the relevant teaching of His Word.

Daniel is also excited about the use of technology in ministry and working with students allows him to use this avenue to better reach those he is trying to minister to.

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