Social media is often spoken of with a negative connotation within churches, and it’s not completely unjustified. There are many detrimental aspects of the way that social media is being used by different individuals and groups. But social media also provides a way for people to instantly get connected to each other and share thoughts and ideas.
People are looking for a way to interact and stay in touch, which is why social media has caught on and spread like wildfire. Did you know that Facebook has 1.73 billion daily active users? With statistics like that, it’s easy to see why being on social media is becoming more and more important to stay relevant. You have to meet people where they are, and right now, they are on social media.
How Social is Your Church’s Media?
Every tool should be used wisely, this includes social media. Have a plan before you begin, someone who can carry it out, and keep your church’s mission at the forefront of all you do.
- Integrate your social media plan with your overall communications program.
Look at the ways that you communicate now and weave social media into that fabric. A totally separate package will make the church feel divided, sort of an in-crowd and out-crowd feel. Post your social media user names in your church bulletin, on the church website and maybe even on your marquis. If you have a current telephone call-out or instant messaging program, send out a Tweet of that message as well. Consider posting your service on Facebook Live if you already video it.
- Use a lens not a mirror as you communicate.
Rather than focusing on your desire for the church to be seen by those on social media, concentrate instead on seeing and fulfilling needs. Read and respond to the comments on a Facebook post. Listen carefully to the questions people ask or the sentiments they express. You may find yourself developing a FAQ page on your website that answers some of these questions and concerns. Then post the link to that page on social media, and a circle is complete.
- Never, ever, ever give up.
Few efforts succeed in a landslide within a short period. Follow your plan and reflect back on it regularly. Continue what is working and adjust what may not be catching on yet. Most of all, keep your church’s mission front and center so that social media remains a tool and not a goal in itself.
Where Do I Begin?
Three particular social media applications are serving churches well across the country: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Any church starting a social media outreach will likely start with these, maybe even in this order.
- Facebook: Churches have found that Facebook is a great way to make people aware of who they are and what they are doing. The calendar is one way. You can create a Facebook event and invite all of the church, just the youth, or the men’s Bible study group. When they RSVP, the event immediately shows up on their own calendars. You can even connect this to your church calendar so that changes are immediate. To make the most of this application, plan on posting something new on Facebook every day.
- Instagram: Instagram is highly visual and therefore a great way to celebrate the vibrant life of your church. Great closeups of volunteers or the youth participating in a church activity can be followed by an artistic quote or meme that tells the story of your mission as a church. Use as much or as little text as you wish as a caption for the image. To keep people aware of your presence, look for ways to post to Instagram daily.
- Twitter: Launch a hashtag such as #PaulPreaching to tie together a Bible study community. Use another for a daily Bible quote or reminder to pray. Use a third as a quick way to share prayer requests and results. Depending on the need, you can Tweet something out from the church four to ten times a day without overwhelming anyone.
Social Media is a Way to Communicate Your Church to the Community
Using social media effectively will help your church to make a strong impression on those who are looking for a place just like yours. Be casual, be formal, but most of all, be yourself. People are looking for connections. Make it easy for them to connect to you.