We recently began using Google Analytics to look at our website traffic.  I really wish we had done this two years ago.  We are now paying attention to what people are actually looking at.  In particular we are paying attention to what people who find our site through a search are looking at.  I’ll be posting about Google Analytics sometime soon, but what I want to share today is that we have discovered that 22% of all visitors to our website who come through a search engine visit our “Who’s Who on Staff” page.  This is the top visited page on our site.  It was until recently one of the least developed pages on our website.  We are still working on it.  So the key learning here is that prospective visitors to St. James want to learn about the Pastor.  Ok so that should have been obvious.  What wasn’t obvious was that this group of visitors were 2-4 times more interested in this page than the next most popular pages.  That is an important learning.  Most Pastors don’t want their pictures on the home page.  Clearly though, if a parish want to grow the Pastor has to be easy to find on the website.  I’m betting it also helps if the pastor has a welcome video on the site.  We are going to try this and see what the results are.

In this age of media it is easier than ever to create a short video and place it on Facebook and on your Website.  Most smart phones shoot video in 720p which is all the resolution you need for web videos.  You can shoot in 1080p if you want but honestly for deploying on websites and Facebook will just take longer to load without an appreciable increase in quality.  I have an iPhone 4, but chose to buy a Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black) instead.  This camera is similar to a Flip Video Camera but supports external microphones.  It also has image stabilization, which the iPhone doesn’t have.  The Z18 also features a tripod mount.  To use my iPhone as a video camera on a tripod I would need to buy a $20 case to hold the phone securely on a tripod.  I would also need to buy a microphone adapter plug to work with the iPhone: another $20.  So for an additional $40 I could use my iPhone and still not have any form of image stabilization.  To be fair to Apple, if you have iLife you can apply image stabilization during the editing process.  This is too complex a workflow for me.  I want to be able to point, film, trim, and upload a video.  We are not going for high production quality.  I might eventually do some post editing, but before I do this I need to get more experience in front of a camera. So back to the camera: I was able to buy a reconditioned Z18 on Amazon for less than $100.  I also needed to buy a memory card for storage.  As it happens I already had one.  I also have a cheap tripod.  So for about the cost of $100 I was able to shoot video and import it to my laptop. The camera shoots 30fps in 1080p or 60fps in 720p.  I use it to shoot at 30fps in 720p, which it seems to be able to do all day long with great results. Importing the video is done via a built in usb plug on the Z18.  It folds out and plugs in to your computers usb port.  Very Nice. Very simple. This camera saves to a .mov format which is super convenient if you work on a Mac.

It took me a few minutes to learn how to trim the video in Quicktime.  Its really easy, once you figure out the controls.  Then it is a simple upload to YouTube and the video is ready to be shared.  St. James has a Facebook Page, so I posted it there.  It then appears in people’s FaceBook News Feed for them to watch.  I haven’t put it on our website yet, but could easily do this as well.  I’m posting the video here so you can see the quality of it. Creating video for engaging with your congregation and with visitors to your website has never been simpler.