Six days ago we started a project that gave us content marketing magic.
As of writing this post, Sunday afternoon, we have 557% Facebook reach with 62% engagement (to page likes), and it’s the sixth most popular page on our site this year. Just before the staff list.
Since rejoining the Diocese of Olympia, I’ve been struggling to change the mindset from self-promotion to content-focussed marketing. And I suspect you’re in the same position. But now we have the numbers.
How Did We Pull Off Content Marketing Magic?
It was actually really simple and as much as I’d love to say it was amazing strategy, it wasn’t. All we did was act on an opportunity presented to us. That’s good and bad because it means we can do it again. But because it wasn’t planned in advance it’s going to be hard to do. I also misspeak when I say there was no strategy. We do have a larger content marketing strategy. That’s why I’m on the team.
The opportunity came up when the Pew Research Center released their Religious Landscape Study on Tuesday morning. We’re on the west coast, so Twitter was exploding with posts by the time I got into the office. I shot a quick email to a couple of the priests simply saying, “Hey, we have this opportunity. Anyone have time to write about it?”. No direction or prompters, just a request.
That night, the Rev. Alissa Newton sent me a post, and it was published, with a photo from one of our choirs, the next morning around 11am.
Then the only additional promotion was a news post on our website home page. Otherwise, it was just Facebook and Twitter.
We then sat back and watched the stats. After an hour, the Facebook reach was 612 with 13 post likes, and we had 818 page likes. That was more than our usual average. At seven hours, Facebook reach was 2,316, setting a new record for a single post for us. Page views also put it in the top 50 pages for the previous 12 months. It achieved better than average on Twitter, but our audience is more silent there so I don’t monitor it as closely.
I tweeted the stats at that point, and Raffe responded with the words I’m not willing to use.
The next day, the post had been shared with a congregation in Connecticut, and the Jesuit Northwest community in Portland, Oregon. We crossed the country and denominations. By the end of the day we reached 400% Facebook reach. We only gained three new page likes, but when we engaged our existing people so well, I don’t care.
In among this, our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel also wrote a post on his blog and used his standard, personal promotion. It performed well but didn’t have the reach of the original post by Alissa.
Why Did This Content Marketing Work?
As you saw, this really wasn’t anything special from us. It was all because we took the opportunity presented to us and did it quickly.
The post was timely, topical, personable, and a touch challenging. We knew mainstream media was going to pounce on the fact that fewer people considered themselves religious, let alone Christian. Headlines screamed “the decline of Christianity”, but Alissa and the Bishop, both took the angle of it being more a consolidation. A different, but not contrary view.
Can You Create Content Marketing Magic?
This section could also be titled, “can we repeat this?”. Yes, it’s possible. It wasn’t a conscious act to follow the model, but we did, and that’s what make it work.
We pounced on it straight away. There’s another post coming in the series, but it’ll barely perform because we’ve lost the window. The 24-hour news cycle is now an hour. We were nearly too late, but luckily the touch challenging and a tight audience kept it current a tad longer. This is also why the Bishop’s post only achieved 15% of the original post’s reach. It was 24 hours too late.
Religion is often a favorite whipping boy, and credible research saying religion was declining meant we knew there was interest. Oh, and my primary audience includes nearly 100 congregations, plus missions and ministries also helped.
Alissa wrote from her experiences. All she did was describe what she sees in her congregation, in first person. This made the post honest and relatable.
A Touch Challenging
This is a hard one to get right but is brilliant when you do. Alissa didn’t argue or deny the statistics, but acknowledged it as true and gave a different perspective. In social media, we’re always saying an engaged audience is better than a large one, but it’s not always said in the Church. That was the challenging aspect.
What’s the Follow-Up?
For me, I have the numbers to justify making this a regular thing. It has also shown the team how simple things can touch a lot of people (to put it in ministry terms because they’re my audience and my content writers). The next stage is to try replicating it with different topics to see what works best. I’d love to be able to plan ahead, but I don’t have that data yet.
Have you orchestrated content marketing magic? What was the long-term impact? Please share in the comments. We’d love to celebrate your success and learn from you.