In this time of social distancing, religious organizations are seeking ways to stay connected with their followers. While a few organizations have found creative ways to keep in touch – like drive-in events – most congregations are unable to attend churches, synagogues, mosques or temples in person and many people are turning to online services for weekly worship.
For over a century, religious groups have utilized new technologies to build stronger connections with their congregants, from radio and television programming to the online services that became popular well before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Whether your house of worship is currently streaming online services or you are providing more types of information and updates online, chances are your website has more traffic than ever. What can you do to ensure a positive experience for your growing number of website visitors?
If your organization doesn’t currently have a website, you can quickly and easily build one to stay connected with your congregation. If you do have a website but aren’t sure if you are prepared for the increased traffic you will likely be receiving, Web.com can help with affordable and reliable web hosting options to keep your online presence up and running strong with additional data capacity.
Remember that your online visitors will access your website in a number of ways. Be sure your site works well on mobile devices with quick downloading pages and easy to read graphics and text. Web.com can help with a site redesign. Additionally, to adapt to the times, consider starting or enhancing an eCommerce page to make donating and supporting your mission fast and efficient. Having your own eCommerce page helps to ensure a safe, secure environment for your followers’ personal and financial information and helps to protect your organization from fraud or financial harm. It’s also important to have an SSL certificate, which guards your followers’ private data and reassures them that your website is trustworthy.
Encryption with SSL is a security feature that donation pages on social channels like Facebook and Twitter can’t offer. Be sure to always drive visitors to your website to safely gather contributions.
During the coronavirus crisis and beyond, staying in touch with your online followers will continue to be an important part of your focus. If you are conducting online services, post a link on your home page and highlight dates and times of the events and be sure to include a private link with a password for your online viewers. This is highly important and will help to prevent any chance of interruptions and reduce vulnerabilities during your meet-ups.
Keep everyone informed by updating your homepage with messages from your religious leaders. Your followers will be glad to see and hear from familiar faces, especially in times of crisis. Keep a website calendar going, even when events are getting canceled. It is a great way to communicate rescheduled dates and give your congregants more to look forward to. Also, tell followers about happenings within your congregation – remember in the absence of on-site services, your website is an important gathering place.
Build on your content efforts by starting or enhancing a blog section on your website to provide a recap of weekly messages from religious leadership and to keep everyone in-the-know regarding upcoming happenings. Coronavirus has presented challenges for us all. Here are some additional considerations for your website messaging during this time.
With more of your followers staying home and spending a greater amount of time online, be sure to reach out to them with social media. However, bear in mind that it is recommended that you set your Facebook and Twitter accounts to private and offer services by invitation only, to avoid your information getting in front of the wrong audience. For security reasons, consider showing specific details about online services behind a login area for members of your congregation only.
Once connected, you can use your social accounts to communicate information about online services. You can also encourage your followers to interact with each other through these channels to promote a feeling of togetherness and to boost morale.
Take advantage of social media opportunities to share video and audio recordings of your events in case followers were not able to watch or listen live. Remember to post any videos on YouTube or other video channels as “private” and “only accessible if the link is provided.” It is not recommended to label videos as “public” as this may leave you open to vulnerabilities. Also, you will want to turn off comments if you are posting videos to prevent any negative engagement that could detract from a positive viewer experience.
Unfortunately, hackers are taking advantage of the coronavirus, using devious means to gain access to the private information of organizations like yours. Be careful if you receive emails that promise monetary relief from government agencies and ask you to click on links within the text.
An increased level of vigilance with email screening is a wise first step, and you should also consider activating a professional email account from Web.com to keep your private messages safe and organized. For added security on mobile devices, Web.com’s Cyber Security Solution offers advanced protection from online hackers so your organization can focus on serving your community and fulfilling your mission.
Religious guidance plays an important role during times like these and thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to reach your followers. Web.com can help you get and stay connected with your congregation both now and in brighter days ahead.