In this episode, we’ll walk through The CMU 500 Comment Challenge. I’ll explain what it is, the social media superpowers it unlocks, why it is huge for your church, and how to pull it off.

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Included in this episode

1) The 500 Comment Challenge Explained

Church was never meant to be a spectator sport. Or, put another way, church is not content to be binged but a community to belong to!  The comments section is where you invite people into participating in the life of the church during your live stream!

2) Comments Solve Issues

Reach & Attendance Tracking.  Wondering who’s *actually* watching your services?  Encouraging people to leave comments is the most accurate way to track your online attendance & reach.

Follow-Up.  If someone leaves a comment on your Facebook page, you can immediately send them a message!  The simple act of someone commenting on your stream opens the opportunity to develop a relationship with them & inviting them back.  Commenting also opens up a TON of superpowers when it comes to:

    • Connection.
    • Discipleship.
    • Getting people to take their next steps.
    • Helping them to feel like they’re a part of your community.
    • Transitioning them from online attendance to in-person visits.

If you can get comments, about 90% of these problems are solved!  If you can’t get people to comment, then solving all of these problems becomes a monumental challenge.

3) Engagement Unlocks Social Media Superpowers!

  • Superpower #1:  Reach.  When you get people to have conversations on your content, Facebook sees that people are interacting with your post & spending more time on Facebook because of it.  The longer people spend on Facebook, the more money Facebook makes, so the algorithm will push your service into more people feeds with every conversation.
  • Superpower#2:  Page likes.  When people react to your content by clicking the “like,” “love” or other reaction buttons, it unlocks the Facebook superpower of allowing you to invite them to like your page.
  • Superpower #3:  Message feature.  When someone leaves a comment on your post, you are granted the ability to send them a message from your church’s page!
  • Superpower #4:  Custom audiences.  Customizing your Facebook ads audiences based on people who have interacted with your content in the past is a killer strategy for increasing reach and decreasing cost.  See the episodes on this in the Coronavirus Course, Facebook Ads Conference & Facebook Ads Course for more information on how to create custom audiences.

4) From View To Visit

Want to effectively move people from being online watchers to thriving members of your in-person community?  This starts with a long-term view of relationships and ministry.  When you sow seed, you don’t expect to reap a harvest the next day- you have to amend the soil, water the seeds, and tend your crop.  Seasons later, you can reap the harvest.  The same is true of digital ministry!  If you want to reach people who are far from God or who are wary of the church, that starts with building relationships- and relationships take time.

So how does this actually play out if your team puts what we’ve been learning into practice?  It might look something like this:

    1. Reach.  If you create a highly engaging service, your reach becomes greater & the algorithm pushes your service into someone’s timeline who isn’t connected to your church.
    2. Views.  They watch your service when it comes across their feed.
    3. React & a Page Like Invite.  If they react to your service, it unlocks the superpower that allows you to invite them to like your page.
    4. Comment, Follow-Up Message, and a Group Invite.  If they comment on your service, it unlocks the superpower of being able to message them from your page.  Now you can follow up with them and invite them to join your community via a Facebook group! ????  But wait!  There’s more.
    5. Community, Facebook Group Connect Card.  When they request to join the group, have them fill out your “Digital Connect Card,” also known as the membership questions on your Facebook group.  Ask for their best email & mobile number, how long they’ve been attending the church, and if there’s anything you can be praying for the!  Have an admin in charge of reviewing people’s requests for access to your group and entering the information into your church’s database.  Which leads us to…
    6. Database, Ministry Opportunity.  With the information they provided when they joined your Facebook group, you can now start to minister directly to them!  Plug them into your database so you can start your follow-up plan, and find thoughtful ways to connect with them on their prayer requests.
    7. Invite to Visit.  Forming relationships with people to the point where you can effectively invite them to come in person doesn’t happen by accident.  It’s not magic, it’s ministry.

5) The 500 Comment Challenge Process

  1. Use “The Million Dollar Challenge.”
  2. Cast the vision to your team: talk about why your community needs the church more than ever before, and explain how the 500-comment challenge will help you reach them.  Commenting comes before coming.
  3. Have your leaders lead the way in commenting & engaging- what they do, others will follow.  The first ten comments after a question had better be from your leaders and board members.  If your “leaders” aren’t leading the way in engagement, then they’re not leaders.  It’s time to return to vision-casting or remove them from leadership.
  4. Use an engaging content framework:  At least every 5 minutes, have some sort of call-to-action for comments.
    1. Don’t start with a countdown timer!  You have 10 seconds to greet your audience, give them a good reason to stick around, and then give them one easy way to engage: usually, a question that’s easy to answer and starts a conversation!  Then you can start your countdown timer as people start commenting and conversing.
    2. Even during worship time & the message, you can put some kind of call-to-action in the comments!  For example, if you’re singing a song about thankfulness, your worship leader can ask people to say what they’re thankful for in the comments.
  5. Have your leaders get your volunteers involved.  At Summit Park, we do this using volunteer huddles beforehand.  Leadership casts the vision for how we can be responding to comments, greeting, reacting, and praying with people who comment throughout the service.
  6. Follow-up with people who comment.  Start developing the relationship & eventually moving them to your digital connect card & your Facebook group.

This isn’t about the number of comments.  It never has been.  But we want to make heaven more crowded & see lives transformed, and if we can get people to comment, we can lead them on a discipleship journey.  If we can get people to comment, we can help them find and follow Jesus.  That’s what it’s really all about.

Let’s continue the conversation over in the Church Marketers Facebook Group. If you complete the 500 Comment Challange be sure to post that in the group. We want to celebrate with you!

Ryan Wakefield Church Marketing University

Ryan is the founder of Church Marketing University, where he helps churches all over the world get more visitors each week. He and his wife, Amy, and daughter, Katelyn, are a part of Summit Park Church in Kansas City, Missouri.  Ryan has many years of experie... read more