Is there ever a slow time for synagogues?
There are certainly intense times of activity around the various holidays – especially the High Holy Days, Hanukkah, and Pesach. And there seems to be a natural finality, or break, with the end of the school year. Religious School and Pre-School mark the close of another academic year in various ways. The end to the public and private school year follows very quickly. Soon children are off to camp and many people are in vacation mode, a mindset that extends from Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The end of the academic year is also a time when people move. For a new job or just because they want to. And some will be looking for a synagogue. Children are of an age for Religious School. People are looking for community.
How will these seekers find your synagogue? Maybe they will ask a realtor, a neighbor or a friend. Not that long ago, synagogue leaders were encouraged to buy ads in local newspapers – outmoded today when a growing number of people get their news on their smart phones.
Social media is perhaps the most important element today to any synagogue marketing strategy. And in particular, your website, Facebook, and even Snapchat.
Does your website present the synagogue how you want it to? Does it convey the special sauce of your synagogue through copy, pictures and videos?
Is the synagogue website up-to-date? I can’t tell you how many times I have been on a synagogue’s website and clicked on the link to the “Blog” and saw that the most recent posting was from 12-18 months ago. Sometimes, this is even true for event listings.
Your synagogue’s communications plan should call for ongoing website calendar updates. If no one has interest in continuing a blog, maybe it is best to simply archive past blogs and have a message that “this page is down for maintenance”.
Seekers today will be accessing your synagogue’s website from their smart phones. So your website needs to be mobile compatible. Otherwise, they will seek elsewhere.
Your synagogue’s Facebook page is also another social media platform where seekers will find you. Here, too, you need a plan that involves posts of articles, events, pictures and videos. If a really great event happens at the synagogue, post a video using a smart phone on Facebook. If you think Shabbat worship is a part of your synagogue’s special sauce, post a 2-minute video of people singing. Some might take issue with photos and videos on Shabbat. I get that. But for many synagogues, with a Shabbat band and a streaming service, this shouldn’t be an issue.
I have to admit, that I don’t know a whole lot about Instagram. Other than the other members of my family use it a lot to post pictures. A synagogue’s Instagram page certainly will tell a story about what worship and programming through pictures. Seekers may imagine themselves in the pictures, and if this is a community that they can be a part of.