Some Basic Strategy Do's and Don'ts
Social media is more than just announcements, bulletin boards and important messages. It’s a place where you can connect with your church community and communicate with those outside of your church’s four walls as well! It used to be said that church started in the parking lot, but now, your church has the opportunity to start – and reach people before they even step foot in your church doors. Here are some best practices to follow when posting on social media:
- Just post a church announcement! If that’s all you post, you’re going to bore your members and you’re definitely going to bore your audience.
- Attempt to plan and execute strategy alone. Alone, you’ll be less effective in planning and executing a strategy. You need a team to help!
- Avoid talking about your social media in your weekend services.
- Post inspirational and encouraging posts, which could be straight out of scripture or could be an uplifting quote that is relevant to your church members.
- Find somebody in your organization or in your church who is willing and ready to serve the church by joining the social media team.
- Talk about your social media platform to your members. It’s important that you grow your online community from within so that your church members can support your digital efforts and share them with their friends.
One of the tools that we use at Outreach and one that I helped create, is Outreach Social. Outreach Social has a library full of thousands of graphics that are broken down into categories such as inspirational quotes, spiritual events, etc. Choose a graphic from a category, schedule it on your social calendar, and Outreach Social automatically posts your image to your church’s Facebook Page. From there, your community can engage with your posts and share the posts with their friends and family.
Elements of a Good Social Media Strategy
What are some elements of a good social media strategy? There are three elements that we should consider when developing a social media strategy as a church.
Consistency in social media refers to how often you communicate with your audience. Your audience is those who follows your Facebook page or those that you’re targeting with an ad. And there’s a really fine line between too much and too little communication.
Consistency has two different roads, right? One is for a post and one is for ads. Let’s talk about consistency for a post first. The thing to understand about a post, is that these go out to people who follow your page and you can post daily, up to twice a day.
The consistency is really about how often you post and following through with that through a plan. If your church members seem to respond to a post that happens on a daily basis, then keep going with that and be consistent about posting daily.
The second road is having consistency with ads. A Facebook Ad is something you pay for that reaches people in your community who don’t necessarily follow you. We call the frequency rate, or a touch, is how often somebody sees your ad on Facebook. I like to stick between a 6-8 frequency rate because we know that it takes about seven touches for somebody to accept an invite. Seven touches! What can I say – it’s the number of completion.
I recommend you keep that frequency rate in between the 6-8 touches. You can control that through optimizing your ad. The ad will be distributed to anybody who’s on Facebook matching your demographics. At Outreach, we run ads for churches based on the radius from around their church. So we usually would do a six mile radius from your church address and then an ad will reach anybody through the ages of 18 to 65, or male/female, or on a mobile or desktop device. You can control all of that with your Facebook Ad.
Relevancy is another key element to your social media strategy. With a post and an ad, you have two different strategies for consistency, but for relevancy, it’s all about utilizing the same strategy. You need to figure out your community and what is relevant to them at the time. There will inevitably be certain events that happen in your community that you want to acknowledge. Maybe that event is a tornado in Kansas and you want to promote your church giving away water bottles, or giving away backpacks for back to school outreach, or whatever other way you are engaging in your community. The point is, you need to find a relevant topic to communicate about in social ads and your organic posts.
Community in social media is the third and final element we’ll discuss. It’s vitally important that you’re building a community online, similar to how you are building a community in your brick and mortar church. For high impact, your community experience on Sunday mornings needs to flow through the week with a strong game in social media.
You can accomplish that goal through building followers on your page. Although, I recommend you build this impact through groups. Facebook groups are a great way for you to connect your small groups, your ministry leaders, or connect your church attendees to a place that makes it feel like they’re in community with others.
There are two different types of Facebook groups – a public group and a private group. A lot of what you will do is going to be through private groups. This is where you have a leader, a small group leader, a children’s ministry leader – someone that can manage that group privately and accept invites.
A public group would be a group that you could promote through your Facebook page and through your ads or through your organic posts to get anybody in the community to join your page. When you’re doing something local, it will not necessarily require an ad or an additional post. You can post inside of the group and rally your members to come and join you at whatever that event is.
Another way that you can build community is by using Facebook events. This tool allows you to create a calendar event for anyone on Facebook. You can use the strategy for Facebook ads, or you can use the strategy for Facebook posts, or even your next sermon series. Promoting a Facebook event through an ad, will show anyone within a mile radius of your church that you have an event coming up.
Who is Your Audience?
One way that you can implement your social media strategy is to determine who your audience is. I can’t tell you the types of people or the age groups that are in your community, because I don’t know. But you do! You know the types of people that come to your church on a regular basis, the types of people you write your messages for, and the types of people that will enjoy and feel the presence of God because you’ve created an atmosphere specifically for them. Now, if that’s a wide variety, that’s great. If that’s very specific, then that’s great too. You just need to know your audience so that you can implement that into your consistency, relevancy and your community when you’re going through your social media strategy.
Define Your Audience
Determining your audience for a Facebook ad is just as important as determining who’s in your community. If you’re going to run a Facebook ad for a specific event in your church, let’s call it a Women’s Ministry Event, you’re going to want to change the targeted demographic in the ad so that you’re only targeting people for whom the ad would be relevant.
For a Women’s Ministry event, you may want to target only women of certain ages or you may want to target women that have certain interests in studies, like the Purpose Driven Life. Whatever the book is or whatever the interest is, this could be extremely important to your event and getting an ad that’s relevant to that audience.
When implementing your social media strategy, it can be difficult to determine which platform you want to use so let me talk a little bit about each platform so you have an idea of which platform you should choose for your audience.
- Large Range of Users
- Most people that are on social media are on Facebook.
- This platform should be a base starter pack for you. The first platform you start on.
- Your church should have a Facebook page, and you should try to grow that social media with your strong social media strategy.
- Large Range of Younger / Millennial Users
- Do you have a lot of people who are engaged in photography
- This platform should be used if you have a hashtag strategy? ( If you don’t know what a hashtag is, probably stick to Facebook for now :) )
- Large Range of Younger / Millennial Users
- Do you / another pastor at your write blog post or written content that can easily be broken down to tweets or thoughtful content for your audience?
- This platform should be used if you plan on publishing more though provoking content. Content that starts conversations!
You Are a Leader - Set the Example
Let’s shift gears a little bit. We’ve talked about having a good social strategy and what your church should do to foster that. But you personally, as a church leader, have a unique opportunity to leverage social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to your advantage. If you already have a personal Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page, and you’re already posting, I’m sure that you’re posting things that you believe that you should be posting.
But let’s take a minute and strategize about how you should be posting and when you should be posting. Some of the things that you post could be personal or could be about the church. But there’s a balance that you need to make knowing that you’re in the limelight.
You are the church leader and church members will follow you on these platforms so that they can get to know you better. This is an opportunity for you to build community with the people around you without having to spend a ton of time having full long conversations. Let them into your life a little bit, show some personality in your social media posts, whether that’s through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you’re on Instagram, give them a funny hashtag. Give them something that gives you a little bit of personality so that they can feel like they’re connected to their leader.
In closing, I want you to think about one thing so clear your mind: We’re called to reach people where they are and connect them to what God has for them. Where people are is on social media platforms. We talk about social media being a way to connect with people. So you need to connect with them. If you’re still debating and still saying I may or may not want to do social media, I think you should contemplate all of the things that we’ve talked about… building community, staying relevant and being consistent. There’s a lot of tools out there. I’ve mentioned several of them. But YOU can find tools to help you do this effectively. And I think it’s important that we reach people where they are in order to connect them to what God has for them.