Videos create emotional connection

Kathy Mansfield and Tim Stephenson sit on their couch with their dog.
In a video for the diocese, Kathy Mansfield and Tim Stephenson speak about their experience hosting a refugee in their home.
 on June 1, 2017
Nicholas Bradford-Ewart

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth?

Well, a video on Facebook receives, on average, 135 per cent more organic reach than a photo. Recent studies tell us that Facebook users watch more than 8 billion videos every day, while more than 500 million hours of video per day are viewed on YouTube. By 2019, nearly a million minutes of video will be shared online every second.

Videos can be used to share a message, provoke a thought or spur an action. Even more simply, they can show a quick snippet of life in particular place. Much of their power lies in their ability to create an emotional connection with viewers.

The diocese has seen much recent success with its videos. Archbishop Colin Johnson’s Christmas and Easter messages have earned steadily more views and interactions since the first video was released in March 2015. With the help of a modest budget for ads on Facebook and Twitter, his recent Maundy Thursday message reached 48,000 people and received 24,000 views in its first week. Much of that success is thanks to Anglicans sharing the video online, spreading the message of God’s love among their own friends.

An example of the tangible power of video came this past January when, following up on his column in The Anglican, Archbishop Johnson appeared in a video urging Anglicans to provide short-term housing for refugee claimants through Romero House. Touched by the story of Tim, Kathy and Marino, Facebook and Twitter users shared the video more than 200 times, making it the diocese’s most-shared video. Within a week, it had reached 26,500 people without the help of paid social media ads. Romero House reported several instances of families joining its Community Host Program after seeing the video in their social media feeds.

Videos are also connecting people with the ongoing life of the diocese. Interviews with the nominees in last year’s episcopal elections were viewed nearly 15,500 times. The consecration of our three new bishops in January has been watched 4,000 times so far. Bishop Peter Fenty’s consecration, posted on YouTube in 2013, has nearly 20,000 views, many of them from well-wishers in Barbados.

But videos don’t need to be professionally produced, expensive or even long to reach people. The most effective online videos are less than two minutes long. On platforms like Instagram, videos as short as a few seconds can be incredibly effective. A choir singing an anthem on Sunday morning. Pealing church bells. Balloons floating up to the ceiling in celebration. A swinging thurible. A child’s shriek of joy during a baptism. These moments, easily captured, give viewers a taste of life in your community.

It has also never been easier to create and share simple videos. Facebook has a built-in tool that will let your church’s page create a slideshow of photos with music. On Instagram, you can record videos in the app itself or import them from your phone. Tools like Boomerang create short, looping videos that can be shared straight to Facebook or Instagram. Even livestreaming can be as simple as holding up a phone and tapping a button. Facebook and Twitter both have built-in live video functions that are easy to use. Smartphone cameras are getting better and better, and for simple moments, online audiences generally don’t expect the highest quality.

That isn’t to say we should indiscriminately record and post video of everything we see. As with any communication tool, video is best used in a strategic way to help achieve a certain goal. Will this video resonate with an audience we’re trying to speak to? Does it help us spread a message we’re trying to get across? Does it show something about our community we want to share?

I encourage churches to think about the ways they can incorporate video into their digital lives to show how God is working in their communities. Grab a phone, hit “record” and have fun!


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