With a brief hesitation and gathering-of-wits, I check my email.
Without fail each day, there’s a ton of Chinese spam which somehow slips past the firewall. But almost as numerous are the updates and action alerts and notifications from church entities. Emails from the church committees, district events, conference upcoming notices, and worldwide organizational calls-to-action or mundane updates. Each one claiming to be as important or time-sensitive as the rest. And don’t get me started on the Obama, Amazon.com, or other entities that also flood my inbox.
But email isn’t the only source. Increasingly, my pastor friends have been using Facebook and Twitter to do announcements and messages to their parishioners. Saturdays and Sundays are filled with “come to church on Sunday” updates that fill up my feed. They are my friends, so I’m not going to silence them, but it is still a glut of communications that people think will work and cut through the clutter.
So the question is: in this digital age, how do you get your message through? This question that was posed on a private forum on Facebook. One response that supports the above comments was this one:
The biggest challenge of [any] UM agency may be the overload of communications that come to pastors and members from all directions — including from every general agency of the UMC, every Annual Conference agency of one’s own AC, and every district, each of which might as well be marked “urgent.”
You didn’t ask me but I do have a few responses. I know there’s not a way to reduce the flood of notifications, but I do have a few suggestions to help church communicators think through making their notifications work better:
- Clergy on Facebook: separate your professional updates from your personal ones. I’ve outlined a way to do it here. But simply: start a page for your church and invite parishioners to “like” the page and post those updates there. That way if I want to hear how your church is doing or Scriptures-of-the-day, I can opt in while still being FB friends with you.
- Advocacy Organizations: Stagger your email and social media updates. It irritates me when I read an update on my email, then I login to Facebook and see it there, and still see it also on Twitter. If I didn’t check it then, it would have been lost to the flood. Instead, stagger them out: send the email, update the Facebook 2 hours later, send the Tweet 2 hours after that. Pay attention to your metrics to see when the maximum response time is and go from there. Some people may still get all 3+ updates, but at least you aren’t flooding your own advocates’ streams. Church folks with an iPhone: Buffer is your friend.
- Local Church updates: Topic AND meeting time in the email subject. That way my availability and my interest define whether I am able to attend and I can know at a glance. While as pastor I tend to go to everything, for everyone else that information needs to be in the subject so they can balance interest and availability.
Other suggestions for taming notifications?
- Readers: Post your workflow for taming church notifications or your suggestions below! Thanks for your wisdom.
- Church communicators: how do you have your message cut through the clutter?
Thanks for your comments!