YouTube continues to be a very popular social media site. More than 122 million people watch over a billion videos every day.
Still, many churches have yet to capitalize on its popularity.
Here are a few ways your church can go beyond Sunday services to reach more people with YouTube.
Complete the first steps
Set up a YouTube account using a church email address. Then follow the step-by-step instructions to set up a channel. This is where you will upload videos and manage your account.
Make it easy for your church members to locate and recognize your channel. Use your church name — not an abbreviation — as the name of the account. Customize your channel with header images and icons that match your church branding.
Kick off your YouTube channel with a short welcoming post. Enlist your pastor or a church representative to welcome viewers and explain what makes your channel unique. Promote your new channel on other social media sites and invite members of your congregation to like and subscribe.
Once you have met YouTube’s requirements (more on that later), you can create a custom URL that is easier to remember.
Create a variety of content
While YouTube is a great place to post recorded or live sermons, there are many other types of content to consider:
- Roundtable discussions on hot topics.
- Behind-the-scene footage of service prep.
- Virtual tours of your church and facilities.
- Volunteers in action.
- Personal interviews or Q&A segments.
- Mission or service projects.
- Testimonies or stories.
- Video blogs.
- Online training.
- Bible studies or devotionals.
- Promotions for church events or sermon series.
Consider converting old sermons or historic footage from VHS tape to MP4s for post content.
Create YouTube shorts — videos that are less than one minute. Ask members to share praise reports or to describe why they love their church.
Remember to engage your YouTube audience. Answer viewers’ questions and respond to their comments.
Post and monitor your videos
Like what you're reading and the tools we provide?
When you post content, YouTube automatically chooses a thumbnail image from the video as your first image. You can choose your own image. Consider one that includes your church name and logo.
Create an engaging title and customize your video descriptions. Use SEO-laced keywords to increase your video’s visibility.
YouTube offers a variety of features to enhance your videos. Include calls to action and ways to give in banners that run across the bottom of the screen. At the end of the video, post your church's contact information. Post links to notes or more resources in your comments.
Make the video public and share the link. If your video is for a private group, restrict the audience and send a link to those who need access.
After you post a video, use YouTube Studio to optimize details and descriptions, monitor analytics and manage comments. As with most social media, consistency is key. Post often to receive better results.
Consider ways to monetize
A great thing about YouTube beyond it being free is that you also can use it to help your church earn money.
After you meet certain requirements — such as 1,000 viewers and 4,000 watch hours — you will have the opportunity to partner with YouTube to include ads on your channel. For every ad that is watched, your church will earn a small amount of money.
Another way your church can make money via YouTube is by selling custom merchandise such as T-shirts or water bottles with your church’s name and logo.
Pay attention to tips and tricks
You do not have to be a professional videographer to make a YouTube video. There are plenty of tips and tricks to create better videos, even when using a smartphone.
If you are filming a worship service, start the video a couple of minutes early. Then use a countdown clock to lead into the service.
Once you have posted several videos, create playlists of those that have a common theme. When a viewer finishes watching one video in your playlist, the next one will automatically load and start. This is especially useful if you have a series of sermons or messages that should be watched in a particular order.
You should be aware of YouTube’s content standards and copyright rules. While YouTube — which is owned by Google — claims to value and protect free speech, it can also exercise the right to remove content and delete accounts that don’t meet its acceptability standards.
Problems can arise as a result of complicated rules regarding monetization issues and the use of copyrighted music. If you violate a rule, even accidentally, YouTube may delete your account, including your videos and other data. Because YouTube uses an algorithm to detect offenders, even creators who have appropriate licenses sometimes fall victim to this. Thus, you should always maintain backup copies of your videos.
Show YouTube videos with caution
If you want to share a YouTube video with your church on Sunday morning or with your midweek youth group, it’s important that you obtain permission to do so. While it may be a hassle to hunt down the owner of the content and request written permission, it is the best way to be an honest and wise steward.
By being creative, consistent and responsible, you can use YouTube to expand ministry.
Tricia K. Brown is an author, speaker and Bible teacher. You can read her blog at The Girls Get Together or purchase her devotional book, ”A Year of Yearning,” from Amazon.