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metadata for ministry

How You Can Use Video Metadata to Grow Your Ministry

Congratulations, your ministry has committed to using video! Maybe you are planning to stream your services, or maybe your pastor would like to start sharing some video content on your website.

If you, your team or Pastor has asked themselves this one important question – How can we make sure that people will find our video content and messages? – this article will give you the information you need to start you need to start thinking about developing an effective metadata strategy.

Let us start with a little background on metadata. Metadata and metatags have been around on the internet for a while. Web pages and other pieces of online content are found through the use of search engines every day and those search engines match searchers to content with the use of metadata.

Web pages and other web content that contain keywords within their text are easy to find in a web search. However, video content does not contain keywords. So how do we make sure that your video content is found by these search engines?

This is where your online video platform (OVP) comes in. Your OVP should provide the ability to assign specific metadata to your video (and audio) content for search and targeted discovery. There are three main kinds of metadata: descriptive, structural and administrative.

Descriptive Metadata is used for very basic discovery and typically includes itemized information about the content like the title, subject and keywords.

Structural Metadata is used to define how content is assembled so as to better promote content in search engine page rankings and results.

Administrative Metadata defines resource-related data. This can come from a camera or recording device and may include closed captioning information, copyright or ownership information and archival data.

Current Practice

Many ministries only use descriptive metadata for their online video content when they should be deploying a more overarching strategy to include structural and administrative metadata with the idea being that whenever you publish your video, all of this metadata travels along with it.

Since 2009, an increase in the sophistication of search engine algorithms has helped to mitigate the frequency of “clickbait” (irrelevant content that contains enough keywords to divert a user or search engine) in search results. What does this mean for you? It means that cramming too many keywords into your metadata will actually impair your search engine ranking. You need to ensure that you are choosing your keywords carefully, and only inserting those that are relevant to your content. The rest of your metadata should include accurate and up to date information – this will help search engine algorithms to identify your content as reliable.

Casting a Light into the Dark

In the last paragraph, I cautioned to only use keywords that were relevant to your content. This did not mean only to use keywords that describe your content. Relevant is the important word here. When working to share the Gospel message, the right metadata and keywords can make a huge difference in reaching your target audience, especially when it comes to engaging with those who may not know they are looking for your content.

We have seen many ministries that have deployed a rather bold keyword strategy in their metadata, seeking to deliver their content to those who were initially seeking more unsavory online content. The keywords which these ministries are using would not necessarily fit into what one would expect from a ministry spreading the word of the Lord, but when they are relevant to the content at hand, these “sinful” terms can help to pull in the lost into the light.

Moving Towards the Future

Digital content is evolving at a rapid pace. More content than ever is being delivered over mobile devices, and the use of home-based devices like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, has been skyrocketing. These home-based devices are learning – Amazon recently announced that Alexa will be able to learn your voice pattern in such a way that if you become ill with a cold, Alexa will notice this and offer to order medication for you.

One can only imagine how this type of technology might play out for ministry. Imagine a person has fallen into depression, and your ministry’s messages include an encouraging word for those feeling depressed. A simple change in their voice cadence or tone could trigger their home device to find a comforting message. If your video content has the right metadata, that search might just find one of your pastor’s sermons, which could bring them great comfort in their difficult time.

Growing with Metadata

Ministries continue to grow and expand through the use of technology to spread the Word. Intelligent use of video content effectively distributed across web and social media portals will continue to drive this growth.

Search engine optimization will continue to deliver content to the world at large while machine learning and voice recognition technology continues to develop rapidly.  All major players including Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are investing heavily in the future of this technology and its possibilities.

As a media minister or executive pastor, your ministry should consider the impacts of a well-executed metadata strategy when deploying video or any other media on the web so as to allow for meaningful engagement with the online audience for the Kingdom.  

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Worship Facilities, and republished with permission. You can see more of Phil’s articles for Worship Facilities here.

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