As part of the digital transformation of SAT-7’s Arabic media, both our social media and our Audience Relations departments are making a vital shift. Once, both acted only as support functions for SAT-7’s satellite broadcasts. While they will continue to do this, they are now also becoming platforms for God’s love in their own right – platforms that interact seamlessly to support viewers on their journey.

“My aim is for SAT-7 to become the largest online distributor of Arabic Christian media,” says Shady Francis, SAT-7’s Arabic Digital Director. Shady’s first step toward this goal has been to completely revamp SAT-7’s social media presence, distilling its many Facebook pages to eight “brands”. SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 KIDS, and SAT-7 ACADEMY remained – and five new brands were launched: SAT-7 Family, SAT-7 Youth, SAT-7 Woman, SAT-7 Worship, and SAT-7 Daily Bread, which shares discipleship content.

The benefit of this, Shady explains, is that by following the most relevant brand, audience members are consistently reached by content that speaks to them. “We are building what our viewers need,” he says. “Instead of being satellite program-driven on social media, we are driven by the needs of this audience, who are younger than our television viewers.”

Driven by what viewers need

Each brand guides its Facebook and Instagram audience through a series of themes, which work towards the same objectives as SAT-7’s satellite programming. SAT-7 Woman, for example, is moving through the topics of society’s treatment of women, a woman’s value in God’s eyes, her role in her family and community, and how she can find her own passion. Each week, the topic is introduced through eye-catching graphics and text, and these posts prompt conversations in the comments box and in private messages from viewers. In between these posts, the teams share relevant video clips from SAT-7’s programs. SAT-7 Worship, the only brand not based on themes, makes Arabic worship music and church services available 24/7.

 Shady’s team have also launched two closed groups for special demographics: one for audience members learning online with SAT-7 ACADEMY, and another for SAT-7 KIDS viewers. “A lot of parents are sharing their kids’ videos, and children who are old enough for social media accounts are really engaging themselves, too. Last month a child from Egypt and a child from Algeria made friends in the comments section. We are building a true, safe online community for children through SAT-7.”

Shady’s team is responsible for the content SAT-7 shares on social media. But the minute a viewer begins to interact, the Audience Relations team, headed by Marianne Awaraji Daou, takes over.

“Follow-up is a journey; it is not merely answering our viewers’ questions,” says Marianne. “Our viewers have certain spiritual needs; that is why they watch our shows or follow us on social media. We want to accompany them on a journey that leads them through, and out of, the tunnel they are in.”

The viewer’s journey might progress through messaging, calls, prayer, counselling, direction to other services, and eventually connection to local Christian fellowship. “Our ultimate goal is hearing testimonies from viewers whose lives were changed by SAT-7,” Marianne says. To help make this happen, the team has been taking part in counselling training and building a large network of volunteer counsellors, psychologists, and church leaders, including in Iraq, Jordan, Dubai, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, and – to support refugees – Germany and the United States.

 “More than ever, they need to be loved” 

But Marianne and her team, again, are not waiting for viewers to come to them. They are designing Zoom workshops, led by Christians who are specialists in various disciplines, to engage audience members on a series of topics. The first workshop focused on family counselling, the second on empowering children.

“We are reaching a whole new audience now,” says Marianne. “Everyone is so isolated today, and it has become the norm to reach out to others online. This was a strategic moment to develop our work, one not to be missed. We took this opportunity to build a dynamic online community, based on empathy, availability, authenticity, friendship, and – after we have demonstrated these principles – sound theology. This is what people need today. More than ever, they need to feel accepted and loved.” 

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