With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people inside for long lengths of time, with many cities, states, and countries under lockdown orders, screen time has increased drastically. Right now people are on their smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs more than ever before, and they need more content.
Add to that the fact that the uncertainty of the pandemic has made people more open to spiritual topics. This situation has created a great opportunity for ministries to release content that will be accepted by people who previously had little to no interest in hearing the Gospel. But it also creates a big challenge: With so much content out there, and content creators working overtime to meet increased demand, how can you cut through the noise? And how can you speak on a relevant topic without sounding tone-deaf.
We’ve all laughed at some of the content we’ve seen lately – assurances from detergent companies that “we’re all in this together” and emails from the company you bought shoes from on 2007 listing the safety steps they are taking “out of an abundance of caution.” Audiences don’t need that content, so how can you create relevant content that speaks to your audience during a crisis?
Recently Eric Coe, a Digital Strategist with New Life Russia, spoke on this topic during an Indigitous Ministry from a Distance webinar. As he watched the coronavirus spread across Europe, knowing it would soon spread to Russia, Eric saw an opportunity. “This is an amazing opportunity to speak hope to the Russia-speaking world at a critical time,” he says.
Because COVID-19 had yet to hit Russia, there was really no content related to the pandemic in the Russian language. Eric and his team had to create new content from scratch. In doing so, they focused first on the audience. “Good content is always audience-centered,” Eric says. For any content you create, you should determine who your audience is and how best to engage with them. Eric suggests asking yourself the following questions.
- Who is my audience? What are they looking for? What brings them value?
- What is my voice, tone, and message?
- Where is the intersection between the COVID-19 crisis, my message, and the needs of the audience I want to engage?
To demonstrate the intersection between message and audience needs, Eric shared two personas that his team works with. The first is Nikita, a spiritually-curious, non-believing student. Her need that is relevant to his message is security and stability in the midst of the unknown. Another persona is Olya, a follower of Jesus who wants to grow in her faith. She is looking to share the hope that she has in Jesus with others.
Starting with your audience and their need is vital to providing content that speaks to your audience, though for many it’s not something that comes naturally. “As people who are entrusted with the Gospel, I feel like I always want to start with what I want to say. I start with the message and that’s not how compelling content works,” Eric says.
What to do with the content
Once you have created the content, you must find a way to deliver it to your audience and create a way for them to engage with it. When thinking through that strategy, Eric suggests asking the below questions.
What platform should it live on? The content could be an article on a website, a social media post, a video on YouTube or Facebook, etc.
How will your audience find it? It doesn’t matter how good your content is if your audience doesn’t see it. Will you share it on social media, use paid advertising, personally message your contacts?
How can you help your audience take their next step in their spiritual journey? “Exposing people to content is not an end in itself; it’s a means toward an end,” Eric says. Their journey could be receiving additional content, reaching out to an online mentor, joining an event, sharing the content with someone else. The possibilities are endless, but you should develop a strategy that uses the content to encourage your audience to take another step.
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
- Think through your audience and create relevant content for them.
- Share the content on the appropriate channels, including a next step on their journey.