Many churches are run by a generation that does not understand social media and how to use it effectively. But, social media can get your church the exposure that you need to build your congregation and get your message out to the public. If you have tried to build a social media presence but it hasn’t been working, it may be because you need to have a social media strategy and plan that builds out your online brand. So, how do you build an effective social presence for your church?
Designate a social media manager
Establishing a social media plan requires that you designate a social media manager that is responsible for building out your social media presence. The benefit to having one person responsible for your plan is that there is no miscommunication between team members and the church staff knows exactly who to speak to if they need something posted to the church social media channels. This also helps with accountability if the social media accounts are being mismanaged or posting is not consistent according to your agreed upon schedule for posting. Inconsistent posting can actually hurt your church reputation so keep this in mind.
Learn the differences between social media platforms
What works on one social media platform doesn’t work on others. For instance, links work well on Facebook but are not active on Instagram. So, learning what content to post on what platforms and when is the most important part of building a social media presence beside posting consistently.
See more tips about which platform to choose by checking out this article by Social Media Examiner.
Create content based upon what you are already sharing
Use your weekly events calendar, bulletin, and newsletter to shape the scope of what you are going to post on social media. You want to offer a consistent message between your verbal/written communication and your social media communication so you don’t confuse your audience. Whatever you are putting out to the congregation during church meetings should be included in your online content. Also, ask yourself before posting material if you would share this post yourself on your personal Facebook page.
Whenever possible, include photos or images with your posts. Social Media is not a text only landscape so making sure your posts are visually appealing is very important. Check out a free tool like Canva – also known as Photoshop for Dummies. Include video as often as possible because most of the major social networks not only support video, they give it additional organic reach.
Use a content management tool for scheduling posts like Sprout Social that will allow you to schedule posts ahead of time so you don’t have to remember to post on Sunday morning. A tool like Sprout will also show you reports and allow you to monitor for keywords or phrases that potential members of your congregation are saying.
I would suggest adding in the phrase “looking for a church” or “going to church Sunday” into your social media management software and then responding to Twitter users who are tweeting these phrases. With a tool like Sprout Social you can also set a zip code area so that you’re only responding to folks nearby.
(Full disclosure: I am a Sprout All-Star and the links above are affiliate links. Learn more about the Sprout All-Star program by clicking here: All-Stars)
Respond to feedback
Social media is about being social and engaging with your audience. Be sure to respond to anyone that comments on your statuses to keep the conversation going. Respond even if the comments are negative and turn the conversation into something positive and use this as an opportunity to share a message of love. If you find that you are getting the same questions or comments repeatedly about your church then consider adding a Frequently Asked Questions page to your Facebook profile or posting the answers on a regular basis using different formats.
Set clear goals
Why did you create a social media profile for your church? What do you hope to accomplish by posting on social media? Set goals for your social media plan and stick to that plan. Don’t set a goal for how many new followers you are going to try to get, instead focus on how many people are engaging with your content.
I (David Pride) attend Eastpoint Christian Church and while I do not have a role in their social media strategy I was very impressed last Sunday when one of the Pastors encourage the congregation to share on their Facebook Wall what Small Groups they would be taking part in – and why. Imagine if you expanded on this idea and had your congregation share on your Facebook page why they attend? A simple action like that could reach thousand of people in your target area.
Building an effective social media presence requires time, patience, and commitment but is a great way to spread the word about your church. What tips have you used to build a following for your church on social media?