If you look (not even that hard), you can find 1,000,001 digital tools at your disposal. Truly, you’ll find no shortage of tools to improve your Christian ministry’s web presence.
I enjoy exploring marketing tools and web technologies. So, I thought it might be of some value to you if I list my current favorite for making our lives simpler as we better our digital ministries. I’ll revisit this topic again in the future, looking at additional inexpensive technologies. But for now—behold, 8 tools to improve your Christian ministry’s web presence:
1. Trello. This web-based project management system makes it easy to organize to-do lists, projects and more via “boards,” which contain collections of “cards” that you create. Basically, lists within lists. You can assign due dates, labels, checklists, notes, and even add either personal or business team members who can add their own comments. What’s nice about Trello is that you can move cards (your list items) around, rather than endless copying, cutting or pasting text. But the best thing? It integrates with other productivity tools you might use—your calendar is an example. When you integrate Trello, pull up your calendar, and you’ll see what’s due. I use Trello to keep track of specific blog topics—ideas, due dates, how I want to tag each topic, notes for what I want to include in each topic and what stage each topic is in: upcoming, in process, published or on hold. You also could use Trello for this purpose: your social media calendar, blog calendar or as a tool to manage website development.
2. Pocket. Pocket is your personal reading list. As you find articles and posts across the web, you can save them to Pocket and tag them into categories you’ve created. I use Pocket to save articles I want to read later when I have more time. If I find an article about SEO I want to come back to, I save it to Pocket and tag it #SEO. Also, I turn to my list in Pocket as a source for social media content. If I’m looking for good content to share in Get Found, I’ll look at what I’ve saved in Pocket. Pocket integrates with Twitter—links I “like” on Twitter automatically save to Pocket. It also integrates with other reading apps like feedly (another reading tool I really like). Pocket also has a Chrome extension so you can just save things across the web vs. reading in a specific app.
3. Lightstock. This marketplace describes itself as “faith-focused, cheesy-free stock photos, vectors and footage.” I’ve found that to be true. If you can’t take your own, Lightstock curates very good, speak-to-your-soul images. You won’t find cheese here, typical of most other stock photography sites. Though it isn’t free (prices start at $10 and go up), I’ve found that Lightstock offers more and better image options than many free alternatives.
4. Canva. If you don’t have a graphic designer on staff, check out Canva. Canva makes it sooo easy to create your own social media images, blog images, presentation graphics, marketing materials and more. They offer pre-made templates for $1. Or you can design your own and use your own images and design elements for free. What I like most about Canva is that I don’t have to guess at the correct image sizes, say for a Twitter header or Facebook cover. They’ve already done that work. Canva also offers Canva for Non-Profits, a free subscription for not-for-profits.
5. Buffer. If your organization is on social media, and especially if you manage many social media accounts, you need Buffer. Buffer enables you to schedule and share content from across the web to all your social media accounts. Buffer has a mobile app and integrates into basically everything—Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pocket, feedly and more. I use Buffer to schedule and share content from MissionFound and across the web to four social accounts: G+, my personal G+ account, my personal Twitter account and MissionFound Twitter account (and hopefully will add more social accounts later). One of the best things about Buffer is the analytics it provides around how well social posts perform. Buffer for Business, the paid version, allows you to connect more social media accounts, set multiple social posting schedules and gives you a social media calendar template. Buffer plans are 50% off for non-profits.
6. TinyPNG. It’s a fact that search engines like speedy sites. It’s also a fact that images can get weighty. Particularly large images will cause a web page to slow way down, which isn’t good for SEO or visitor experience (how long do you wait for a page to load before you get frustrated or just click away?). Compress your web images. One of the best ways to do that is via TinyPNG, a free service that will compress your .png or .jpg files.
7. IFTTT. IFTTT (If This Then That) connects almost 300 apps across the web so that you can automate certain functions. The service works via “recipes” that allow you to connect various apps. For example, say you post an Instagram photo and want to add it to your Buffer queue to share to other social accounts later. There’s a recipe for that. Or say you want to watch a YouTube video later via Pocket. There’s a recipe for that. Or maybe you want your Instagram photos to appear as native Twitter photos. There’s a recipe for that. Or maybe you want to automate posting between your WordPress blog and social media accounts. There are recipes for that. If you’re in charge of content and digital media for your ministry, you might be interested in this big list of recipe suggestions.
8. Google Analytics. If you want to know what visitors are interested in on your website, you need Google Analytics. It just takes a few steps to set up, and it can give you a wealth of information like who is and how many people are coming to your website, how they got there, where they first enter your website, the path they take through your site and where they leave. It tells you which of your content is most viewed. It also tells you whether or not people land on your home page and just leave from there without going further into your site. This can be an indicator that they don’t immediately find what they’re looking for (which isn’t great for SEO). One of the best things about Google Analytics is the ability to see whether or not your marketing goals are achieved. This is why it’s important to set up goals in GA, like whether people download media or sign up for your newsletter (as examples). Google Analytics can reveal much about how well your website is doing its job.
So there you go. My current favorite 8 tools to improve your Christian ministry’s web presence. I use these tools daily because they make managing digital life much easier.