Influencer marketing is enjoying a moment right now. It isn’t a new marketing trend, getting people to talk about and endorse something has been around a long, long time.
No, longer than that…
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
That’s right it was a mandate by Christ. The church was created and built to be an influencer network. So if the church practically invented this marketing trend, why aren’t most churches actually taking advantage of it?
It Doesn’t Feel Like It Fits
Not every marketing trend or gimmick is a good fit for the church. Deceptive, shady, or spammy tactics should be avoided. And many people feel that #sponsoredcontent in their instagram feed feels like it falls into that spammy category. And that’s true… when done poorly. Just like in the secular marketing world, endorsements that don’t fit, don’t work. An endorsement from Kim Kardashian for your VBS wouldn’t fit. Even an instagram post about your Easter service from Beth Moore or Tim Keller would be a bad fit if they don’t go to your church.
It Isn’t Authentic
The reason it can feel like it doesn’t fit is because if it isn’t done right, then it isn’t authentic. “Authentic” is almost as big of a marketing buzzword as “narrative” and can be just as vague and useless (sorry Story Tellers). But it is one of those things that you know it when you see it. A YouTube beauty vlogger mentioning a fundraising campaign for your church’s new family life center feels inauthentic. A mom talking about how much fun her kids had at camp is fine.
It Can Be Expensive
Remember how I said that Influencer Marketing is popular right now? It is VERY popular. So popular that mid level and even micro influencers can charge thousands(s)(!!!!) per post(!!!!) Your church can’t afford that! Even if they could technically afford, they shouldn’t pay that much.
It Reaches The Wrong People
Obviously you want to grow your church and reach everyone with the Gospel. But using an influencer is not very targeted. You may have a professional athlete who attends your church who is happy and willing to occasionally post something, but if 99% of their followers don’t live in your area, then you still aren’t reaching the people you need to reach and possibly cluttering up your influencer’s feed.
So Why Should You Use Influencer Marketing Thing?
To sum up, you and your church should never do influencer marketing because it is a bad fit, inauthentic, and way too expensive. Virtually all of these are things that church leaders said about having a website and later getting on social media. And yes, not every marketing or digital trend is worth jumping on (remember Peach?), but as I mentioned previously influencer marketing isn’t a new trend. It is a tried and true mainstay in communication and divinely mandated.
The real question is: If it is something that we should be doing, then how can we do it? Churches by their nature tend to be conservative in practice. Many established churches have gone through periods where they try something new, it doesn’t work out, so it never gets tried again… ever. Modern influencer marketing is still in the pioneer days. If your church dabbles in influencer marketing now, there is a chance things might not work out.
You might set up a campaign, spend time and money that could have gone to other things, and it might not work. But that is true of all evangelism and outreach. If the first person you share the Gospel with listens for a while before saying “nah” then it doesn’t mean you stop trying.
A solid church influencer marketing campaign can and should involve your members. It should involve training, equipping, and discipling volunteers to live out loud the Gospel in a real, authentic way online and off. It may mean building your own influencers that may not have 100,000 followers, but do have 500-1000 who live in your town. A trained and equipped team of 10 moms can impact 10,000 people in your city and amplify your current social media and content efforts. 5-10 volunteers can share data and analytics insights that reveal a whole underserved section of your city.
It takes time and practice, but church influencer marketing is one of only two ways to actually evangelize online (the other being SEO). You can either get started on learning the ropes now, or try playing catch up 5 years from now and learn from scratch. Investing now means greater rewards, so let’s not wait!