Is your church on social media? Part Two (find part one here)
Your church may already have a social media presence, but is it enough? How can a church reach those in need, their local community, or their own congregation?
It’s not possible to reach every single person you hope to, however using social media gives you a better chance in reaching more people than you could offline. Social media gives a church more opportunity to reach its members, the people in their community and those searching for more to life. It’s a way to engage directly with these people in a manner that they’re comfortable with, where they are and in their own time.
Social media for churches can mean becoming known in the local area, and becoming a place that people are talking about… “Hey what’s going on at XXX church?” are the types of conversations that could start from posting on social.
Just watch any group of people, young and old – many are spending their time looking at their phones or mobile devices. The majority will be on Facebook or searching the web for information. They are searching for something significant. Something that gives them substance and a meaning. If a church can get in front of them in their place of ‘go-to’, it can be a step towards growing the church and seeing lives changed.
Where do you start?
Not all churches have the resources to be on every social platform that’s out there. In fact, unless you’ve got a dedicated marketing team that has time to do social, it can be hard for any organisation to spread themselves over all the social media channels. But for churches, as we mentioned in our previous post, social media is often the first thing to be dropped when there’s not enough time in the day. Therefore, it’s good to establish what platforms would work for your church, establishing where people are hanging out, and then focusing on these platforms to grow an effective community.
This could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube … the choice depends on where your church audience is most likely to be. Then when you’ve established what channels will work best, use the strengths that lie within your church team. Are they creative? Are they good at photography? Do they enjoy writing?
Each is a specialty for a social media platform. Use your teams strengths to build a profile and start engaging with your audience.
Once you’ve chosen which platforms to use, it’s important to be active on them. Most churches will have a Facebook page however it doesn’t look good for anyone searching for local churches to land on your page and find that the last post went up over a month ago. In today’s society, people are on social and that’s where they expect to communicate. That may be through an image, a blog post, a quote or bible verse – but they want to see engagement on social media and if it’s not there, they will move on quickly.
There is so much content online that it’s easy for someone in one swipe to be on another church Facebook page, instead of yours. If you’re not familiar with how social works or have tried to stay away from it as much as possible, it’s not time for that to change – or to find someone that can do it for you! It’s important to meet the people where they are.
Churches are not called to sit inside and keep riches for themselves – no, they are called to go and make disciples of all men (and women!). Therefore, it’s time to use social media to spread the gospel, to invite others to Sunday services and midweek meetings, it’s time to bring the children into Sunday school and to youth groups and whatever else you have going on in the church throughout the week.
Talk to people through the church pages and posts, create posts that ask questions or invite comments or feedback. Be proactive in your approach for every post that is delivered. And more importantly, when people do react, take time to respond to each individual – show love, care and attention. If you’re not sure on what type of content to post, try looking a few other church social profiles. You’ll get an idea of whey content people are engaging with, what works well for a church and how you can adapt their ideas to help you grow your audience.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
The church needs to grow. There are people everywhere we go who haven’t heard the good news so it’s your time to make a difference and to show that there is more to life. Your church could be in front of those people on a daily basis if social is handled correctly. You could provide the answer to their problems, if you are there to listen. By being active on social media on a daily basis, you can give hope to a searching crowd. Nothing will kill your online presence more than an inactive social media account. Set up, engage and be proactive – and keep going with it.
It’s a lifeline
Social media is a lifeline to your community and one that needs to be used and exercised if you want your church to thrive and to grow. It’s not about conforming to the ways of the world but it’s about being diverse in the ways that you reach out. Promoting events and showcasing news about the life of the church only enhances your presence and draws people to a place that’s active and on fire for God. Does your church have something to shout about? Do you want to be a lifeline to your neighbours? Use social media to communicate.
Get started with Facebook
Facebook is the place to start when it comes to social media for churches. It’s the most common, most expected and most sought out place for a church to be found, other than a website. If you’re not already on Facebook, this needs to be a priority. From there, a church and its leaders can engage with other church groups, which is a fantastic way to promote your own church page and get people engaging with your content. Facebook is a place where [most] people have a presence, so it’s a brilliant way to let your congregation know what’s on that week. It’s also somewhere to give study notes, to share a countdown to an event, to offer prayer, to give inspiration or motivation, and a place where people feel safe communicating.
People love visuals
While Facebook is the most popular platform for churches, Twitter is slower to catch on and only approximately 13% of churches are using Instagram but still highly effective for those who do use it [well]. However Instagram is popular place to be and especially for the young at heart. Do we want to see youngsters in our churches? They are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today and they need reaching as much as anyone else. Integrating an Instagram strategy into your church marketing could be a brave step to take but so worth it. Instagram users tend to be active on a daily basis. The engagement rate is high and relatively easy to maintain once you’ve set up. 65% of Instagram impression ads are video content, you can use that! Your pastor could do regular 1 minute snippets, the youth group could give matchstick testimonies, you could include a clip from Sunday services.. there are many possibilities and ways to get creative. From there you can promote charity events, mission news, your weekly church diary, bible verses and images from the life of the church. Instagram for churches is a positive step forward in reaching an audience right where they are.
Have a marketing strategy in place
As with anything you that effects other people, there needs to be a policy and your social media is no exception. Planning out a strategy of how to use social media effectively is a key to its success. By implementing the above points and using a designated person(s) to take care of your social, you’ll be able to see effective church growth and a channel for communication taking place. Take the time to understand what the different channels do and the value they can provide and establish which ones will work for your church. Not every church is the same, and not all platforms work for every church. Once you’ve started planning and putting those plans into action, ensure that you monitor the results and be sure that what you’re doing is worthwhile. The idea behind social media is to be social, is that what you’re achieving and if not, how can that change for the better?
For each channel you choose to work with, create a goal or purpose for using it and measure the results that come from it on a regular basis. It can be quite eye opening when you look into the analytics of a social media account to see what posts or content have the most engagement and what is attracting people to your profiles. Engagement is the key to growing an online presence. And finally, be sure to promote your online channels on any offline content; newsletters, notices, on the church notice board outside, flyers and event promotions – wherever you have a chance, share your profiles. You want your audience to engage with you, so they need to know where and how to find you online. The most important step for any church using social media, is to not let it slip or fade away. Where there is a presence, it should be a good one. It’s better to have one or two profiles and do them extremely well, than to have six or seven and for them to not mean anything or provide value.
Use the people in your church who can do social media well, who understand its importance and who have a passion to see it used properly. If the task if given to someone who doesn’t enjoy it, the job will not be done to a high standard. As churches, we should be aiming for excellence, not ‘it will do’. God always gives you the best, He wants the best for all His children, and as a church we should be providing the same in terms of value to others.
If this has got you thinking about a social media strategy for your church but you’re not sure where to start, KJP Creative have a passion to work with churches and Christian organisations and would love to help. Get in touch to find out what we can do to get your church on the social media map. Blessings, Karen. PS. You can also grab our free downloadable 2020 social media awareness days calendar to help you get organised with social.