Today, reaching teens and young adults with messages that resonate with them is very different from what it was in the past.
The constant flood of news and information has decreased attention spans drastically. Everywhere you look, there's something new demanding attention.
Jennifer Rodia, United Methodist Communications’ Chief Communications Officer, knows a thing or two about engaging younger audiences and recently shared some tips.
Create content where your audience is.
"Sometimes when I think about creating content," says Rodia, "I think about creating content for the culture we are in right now. We go where our audience is."
And where is the younger generation? Approximately 40% are on TikTok and Instagram.
"So, we created a TikTok account to ensure The United Methodist Church had a presence there," says Rodia. "So, we could reach out to that group."
Be creative. Think outside the box.
"We try to go beyond the normal," says Rodia. "We've done things like created a 'holy mischief ' challenge to hopefully create viral moments for people to engage, copy great ideas, and have wholesome content. We've had a lot of success creating content around things that are currently active in culture, like new movies and album drops. Find a way to connect that back to your message. Find a way to connect that back to faith and what's going on in your church and ministry."
Consider how people are consuming content.
Rodia says that the popularity of podcasts has changed some ways people consume content. "People are listening to a lot of articles now," says Rodia. "So, what we've done, for example on UMC.org, we've added a place where people can listen to the article. Maybe you want to listen to an article while you're doing the dishes, or maybe you're driving - now, you can do that with a playlist of our stories. We know that's how more people want to consume content now."
Don't assume every piece of content needs to be an article.
"We're not automatically assuming that every new piece of content needs to be written," says Rodia. "It very well may need to be a video, and it may need to be something more visual, a picture gallery, or just a bulleted list. We seek to make the content much more digestible.
Use diverse voices.
"In reaching this new generation, they are not just accepting of diversity, they expect it," Rodia says. "They don't accept having the same voices talking all the time. They want a diverse group. So think about that when you create your content, especially visual content. Use a wide variety of people in your content."
Be genuine and authentic.
"This new generation is intolerant of anything that seems insincere, and they will reject it," Rodia says. "So, allow people to speak their truth. Things don't have to be perfect, and they won't be, but they have to be authentic. Ask yourself: What excites me? What do I enjoy? Then create around that. Chances are that it will also resonate with others, and someone will relate to that content. This is another good reason to use diverse voices.”
Mix up your content.
"This goes back to not assuming that everything has to be one way," says Rodia. "Mix it all up through a variety of content. Do some picture posts, video posts, try quizzes, Q&A's, etc. Just keep changing it up to give a wide variety."
OK. Now it's time to create some great content. Use these tips to connect and cultivate community in your church and ministry.
*Aaron Crisler is a Senior Public Relations Specialist at United Methodist Communications.
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