10 May 2024

Salvationist online: Putting people first

Bethany Gibson

Online Content Editor Bethany Gibson talks to Salvationist about salvationist.org.uk and Salvationist Radio.

The website launched almost two years ago. How’s it going?

Our aim was to be the go-to place for people linked to The Salvation Army and anyone who wants to explore faith with us. People have embraced that and use it for resources, information, articles and events. A big shout-out to Carl Jobson and the Resource Hub, as well as Lisa Little and the Territorial Events Unit, for all they do.

What kind of people use the site?

There’s a diverse range, which is exciting. The main demographic tends to be aged 25 to 44, but lots of older people use it as well. Our peak times of year tend to be around Together in July and also the build-up to Christmas. The number of users has grown by 70 per cent in the past year and we’re seeing high engagement rates, with people spending significant time on the site.

What are the most popular webpages?

The homepage and the resources and appointments sections. A big surprise recently has been the Becoming a Christian page – lots of people search the internet and discover it. It has some foundational information about what we believe, as well as a prayer of commitment by Nicky Gumbel that’s printed in the War Cry.

How do you see salvationist.org.uk playing a missional role?

The website, like the Salvationist magazine and Salvationist Radio, plays a key role in helping people feel connected to something bigger than their local Army expression. It’s inherently missional, not just a broadcasting tool. There’s more we can do, but we’re trying to be intentional in reflecting and serving the beautiful diversity of the UKI Territory.

We want to make sure we publish content from and for people at different stages in their faith journeys and with different perspectives. This content plays a dynamic role in telling the Salvation Army story and developing our understanding of our God-given vision, mission and values. The potential and responsibility are huge!

What kind of work is going on behind the scenes?

We’re always working to keep on top of compliance and data protection, for example tracking user activity can help us better understand our users but we need to do that ethically and transparently. We’re also working with an accessibility agency to make sure we’re as accessible as possible, for example helping people who use screen readers.

How are you ensuring older users are included too?

It’s important we don’t treat age groups with a one-size-fits-all approach: some older people are very digitally literate and others are unable or prefer not to use the internet. I recently led a session with the retired officers group in London about the website, which was a great learning experience.

What are your goals for the future?

We want to serve our users and put their needs and preferences at the centre. Before we launched, we created a user feedback group. The group initially met quarterly and has recently been integral to the creation of a strategic road map for the site. Each goal has users at the heart, such as enhancing user experience and fostering a community-centric platform.

We've just launched a survey at salvationist.org.uk/survey, which is a great opportunity for people to tell us why they visit the website, what content they enjoy, and what they'd like to see more of.

Salvationist Radio is just over a year old. How has that grown? 

We’re really pleased with how Salvationist Radio is developing, with a broad range of programming, from Morning Praise with Kids Alive! to Sing to the Lord with the ISS. We have also partnered with Older People’s Ministries to produce No Age Limit – we’re mindful that the radio can be an especially valuable medium for older people. For some people who can’t attend a corps in person, Sunday Worship is their connection with the Army – they’re part of our congregation.

Who listens to Salvationist Radio?

Most listeners are from the UKI Territory, but we have listeners from the Americas, Australia and beyond! It helps that people can listen to it anywhere, through the app, on the website or with Alexa smart speakers.

What’s the most popular programme or podcast?

Me and My Playlist, which is exciting as it’s a podcast that gives young people a platform. Radio listening tends to peak on Sundays and usually during Sunday Wake-Up with Lyndall Bywater from 7am to 9am.

What’s coming up on Salvationist Radio?

More collaboration! We work closely with the Salvationist editorial team, so for example at the end of April, Sunday Worship will tie in with the magazine’s children and youth special. We both also work together with the Resources team in how we approach Lent, Easter and Christmas, which is really special.

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