It?s 2016, so chances are high that your church is on social media. (If not, stop reading this right now and go create a Facebook page for your church!) Hopefully you?re even utilizing several different social media platforms to communicate. I?m sure your church has plenty of groups, classes, and events to promote through these channels. I?m also sure there?s no shortage of information you can share about service times and children?s programs and student camps and worship nights and everything in between.
All of these things are good. People need to know about the next big event. Guests need to be able to find out what your service times are. You should be sharing about what opportunities exist for kids and for students. These are all very important elements to highlight in your church?s social media plan. But if that?s all you?re using it for, you?re missing the mark.
Let?s consider two additional areas of focus for your church?s social media presence?
The sad truth is, there?s an overwhelming amount of negativity on social media these days. We?ve all seen it. And your church has the chance to step in and combat some of that negativity with a whole lot of the opposite. How often are you encouraging people online? This will look different depending on the situation, but here are some ideas of what you could post to help get you thinking:[quote]There?s an overwhelming amount of negativity on social media these days.[/quote]
- Inspiring quotes or Bible verses.
- Links to relevant blog posts.
- Volunteer highlights.
- Baptism celebrations.
- Attendance records.
- Serving stories.
- Mission trip recaps.
And those are just a few ideas! Not every post should be a promotion. So take what is happening around you every single day and look for ways to share and encourage others with it. There should never be a shortage of these kinds of ideas to pull from![quote]Not every post should be a promotion.[/quote]
In addition to doing a lot of promoting, churches also get wrapped up in numbers. It?s hard not to! A high follower count or hundreds of likes on your Instagram post feels good. It looks successful. And it?s not an altogether bad way to measure your impact online. If those numbers continue to go up, that?s great. But a true litmus test for your church?s value on social media is to look at your engagement. This is two-fold: your engagement (as the church) and the engagement of your audience. Let?s think about your engagement first: Are you talking with your audience or at them? Are you answering questions in a timely manner? Are you replying to comments? Are you taking time to like and comment on tweets and posts that may not be directly related to church activity? Are you listening and responding often, or at all? It?s not enough to just post content.[quote]A true litmus test for your church?s value on social media is to look at your engagement.[/quote]
On the other side of this evaluation, you need to look at your followers and their level of engagement with your social media posts: Are people commenting when you ask them a question? Are they sharing Facebook posts? Do they engage in Twitter polls? Are they posting photos and using relevant hashtags during church events? If they?re not doing these things, then they haven?t bought in to what you?re putting out. You haven?t given them a good enough reason to be engaged. Try being consistent with some of the suggestions in the previous paragraph. With time, the engagement you get from your followers should begin to change.
Social media is an incredible tool that gives us immediate and direct access to the people in our churches and to those who are supporters outside of our walls. It?s an amazing window into the culture and heart of our faith communities. But it can?t be all about promoting what?s next. We have to dig a little deeper to get the most out of social media for our churches and for our audience.