Admit it. You see those two young men dressed in white shirts with name tags park their bikes outside your house then walk up to your door and of course you think about running to the back of the house, pretending to be asleep or busy, or, well, just hiding! It’s OK. Everybody does it. I should know. In full disclosure, I am a practicing member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka “Mormons”, and a former “black tagger” myself.
But, before you run and hide, or worse – slam your door in their faces – remember one thing – the Mormons are probably kicking your company’s butt in best practices for content marketing. So, maybe you should invite them in and talk a little shop. You might learn something.
Since I am both a Latter-day Saint (the proper thing to call a “Mormon”) and an enterprise digital marketer, I have a unique perspective on how the LDS Church executes its digital strategy. Any organization can learn from the LDS Church’s digital strategy.
Before diving into some of their best practices, it’s crucial to understand how the LDS Church is structured. Let’s do the sacrilegious thing and think about church organizations as businesses – only as a metaphor, though. Most christian denominations seem to be structured more like a franchise. A local pastor will setup his or her church and run it with loose oversight from a central organization – Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal and so forth. The LDS Church, however, is organized more like a corporation. There is a central leadership body and a hierarchy that flows all the way to the local levels. So, when it comes to digital marketing, that hierarchical structure enables some powerful digital activities.
Here are some of the best practices the LDS Church employs that we all can learn from.
1) Every Member is an “Influencer”
In a prior post, I talked about influencer engagement as a strategy for content amplification. The LDS Church runs very effective influencer engagement programs. Who are these influencers? Well, they are among the 13 million worldwide members of the Church, who also happen to be your friends, co-workers and neighbors. You trust your friends and neighbors, right? A 2012 Nielsen report showed that a whopping 92% of consumers trusted the recommendation of their family and friends over all other forms of advertising.
Few organizations do a better job motivating their influencers to share their organization’s principles and messages better than the LDS Church. For example, one of the Church’s senior leaders recently unveiled a new initiative – #ShareGoodness. This campaign encourages members of the Church to just share good, uplifting and inspiring messages and is designed to extend reach and engagement around a key topic. The LDS Church will continue to encourage the initiative, waiting patiently for it to peak before introducing new or replacement initiatives. This is just one of dozens of digital tactics the Church uses to motivate and connect influencers with their target market.
2) Activate your SMEs
The Church has an enormous body of subject matter experts in the form of lay leaders, full time and part time missionaries. There are currently over 80,000 full time LDS missionaries serving around the world. The Church is beginning to arm these missionaries – nope, not with new name tags or spiffy colored shirts – but with access to social media platforms. At one time (like when I served a mission 25 years ago) missionaries were well secluded from the rest of the world. There was no access to phone, TV, radio, internet or anything else to distract them from missionary work. Back then, we did things the old fashioned way – we met with people face-to-face. Fast-forward 25 years and we are an electronically connected world. Add to that an enormous army of young, energetic, internet and social media savvy 20-somethings who are totally enthusiastic about your organization’s message and what do you have? – the making of an AWESOME subject matter expert activation program.
Missionaries are now sharing their experiences and the Church’s message on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, where approved. They are able to deliver their message locally, but amplify it globally.
3) Deliver GREAT Content
This is where the LDS Church really shines. I mean, have you ever seen the “I’m a Mormon” campaign? A few years ago, the Church opened up the “I’m a Mormon” site for any member of the Church to post and share their profile. Users can navigate filters to find messages from people to which they relate. Want to find a female who is a former practicing Buddhist, whose age is between 50-64 and has some hispanic roots? Yep, you found Wendy.
Profiles include every day people as well as famous Mormons, such as Brandon Flowers (@BrandonFlowers is lead singer of “The Killers” ), Chad Lewis who played football for the Philadelphia Eagles, and famous TV journalist Jane Clayson Johnson. What was ingenious about the program is that it was an intersection of their content marketing engine AND their influencer engagement strategy. They provided a platform to allow their influencers to speak for the Church, then leveraged the content as a branded message. Brilliant!
The Church also invests in video content. Just one of the Church’s YouTube channels – The Mormon Channel – has over 2000 videos and over 280,000 subscribers. It’s not uncommon to see single videos that have been viewed over 1,000,000 times.
Recently, the LDS Church produced a full-length documentary called “Meet the Mormons” (@MeetTheMormons)? The movie is an official production of the LDS Church. In order to get the film to show in hundreds of theaters across the US, members of the Church ran successful grass-roots petition drives, supported by local LDS PR representatives (who, incidentally, serve voluntarily like everyone else in the LDS Church – more subject matter experts!) The movie even garners a 91% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Fantastic family documentary – go see it if it’s near you and you’ll see what I mean about GREAT content.)
Finally, to activate all of those influencers and SMEs, the Church has almost everything they produce available to members via their website at LDS.org and their target audience content hub – mormon.org. There are also a variety of apps for all devices, enabling members to access this content anywhere, anytime.
4) Serve content locally
The LDS Church is an enormous global organization translating content in over 93 languages.
The number of languages the Church supports with content is only part of the story, though. Every six months, the Church holds a 2 day general conference where leaders of the Church give talks on crucial topics related to the Church’s message. Within 1 day, the Church will have conference videos available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Within 2 weeks, 80 languages will have the entire conference in their local language – in print, audio and video format! What’s even more impressive than that? Oh, nothing much – just worldwide, local translation of conference talks, while they happen in real time! That was a new feature of the latest conference, where speakers were asked to deliver their talks in their native tongue, while translators delivered the talk as a voiceover in the native broadcast language.
So, still think your organization is rocking the content marketing world? Try doing it on the scale of the LDS Church – supporting almost 100 languages, while leveraging several million influencers and keeping over a hundred thousand of your best subject matter experts actively engaged while still delivering some amazing content across dozens of social media and mobile platforms. This is what ENTERPRISE content marketing is all about. We can learn a lot more from the Mormons than just religion.