Whether you are a world-renown brand or a local handyman, you can’t get away from social media.
Social Media is often the first way people will encounter you. It’s a contributing factor to your search rankings. It’s a sign that you are alive and participating in today’s world.
Social media is not sexy. It’s not (necessarily) going to drive a lot of traffic to your website. It’s not going to make you the coolest new church or ministry in town.
It is like one of my clients has said, “table stakes.” Like the phone book decades back, it’s part of doing business.
In my day job, I help individuals, businesses and non-profits tell their story with content and social media marketing. I try to apply the same rules to myself, and to our church community, Austin Mustard Seed. Although, as a landscaper too busy to care for his ugly yard, I don’t always represent the ideal I want for others.
Churches have to be on social media. But they need to be there thoughtfully, purposefully and personally. Here are eight
ways that your Church should be using social media
1. Know when to turn off your social media
For Churches, embracing social media does not mean wholesale acceptance and rampant use. It means defining and clearly teaching how to engage with it. Church Leaders should take time to consider some “dos” and “don’ts,” and then speak about them publicly.
A few might include:
- Do post about upcoming events
- Do post quotes from scripture or like minded thinkers
- Do connect with first time visitors ASAP.
- Don’t be online all the time. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
- Don’t get involved in whatever viral argument is happening on Facebook
- Don’t post anything that would take explaining to an outsider
2. Having presence is more important than coolness
What’s more important than having the world’s coolest Facebook page?
1. Having one.
2. Having accurate information (contact, location, website).
3. Updating enough (multiple times a week) to be clearly alive and involved.
Get those things down and then you might try to be cool.
3. Post about people, not just the band
Former worship leader Glen Packiam makes the point that many churches talk about Jesus but post pictures of the band. It’s an easy mistake, especially for churches than come from a strongly “event” focused mentality.
My favorite moments on social media with Austin Mustard Seed is hearing when someone is sick, seeing pictures of new babies or hearing about a cool trip. In other words, our best use of social media as a church is about connecting to each other, not about promoting our “brand.”
4. Start with about content for outsiders
Good Social Media informs people about the content they need.
Always start with content before social.
Specifically, start with content for outsiders. Those who become a part of your Church community might not always be paying attention to your Church’s social media. Those who are trying to learn more about your church community will be.
The key is to make sure you are using your website to answer questions, and then using social media to point people to the answers.
Take a moment to consider “who are the outsiders I’d love to see come to my church?” Then go write a blog post for them. Then post on social media.
You can be on Social Media without being on Social Media all the time. The key is to plan ahead, and have access to the tools that will help with that. A few include:
- Facebook’s native scheduling tool
- Hootsuite or Buffer to manage and schedule multiple accounts and platforms
- IFTTT to easily post in different places at once
6. Have a plan
You might be asking now “yeah, but what do I post?” This is a really silly question for churches, since they are content machines.
Consider what it would take to publish consistently. Put it on a calendar, then execute. For instance, on Twitter, you might publish three times a day:
Morning: Scripture or thoughtful quote
Afternoon: Link to latest blog post
Evening: Link to a FAQ page
7. Focus on community over statistics
Define what your social media win is. Define it around experiencing community. Don’t just try to get a lot of Facebook likes or Twitter Followers.
Who are those people, anyways?
A win might include:
- Seeing new visitors become Facebook friends with longtime members
- Church members “liking” eachother’s posts
8. Create share worthy moments
People like to post about thoughtful ideas and evocative moments. Are you teaching in a way that’s Tweetable? Are you creating Instagram-worthy environments?
This is not pandering, and it’s nothing new.
Great preachers always have a clear concise point they want to make. They often use pneumonic devices to make their ideas stick. Make a compelling point in 140 characters. Put it up on your screen, and if it’s good, it will get shared.
The easiest way to do this is by having experiences that are, well, FUN. Create opportunities people enjoy and want to talk about, and they’ll talk about it on social media.
This is simply contextualized ministry. Serving in a way that makes sense to the environment of your people.
What do you wish you more churches were doing on social media?