If you've ever met and/or worked with me in-person, then you know I'm incredibly passionate about the Local Church using digital and social media to spread the Gospel. It's probably my favorite thing to help pastors and church leaders implement and my favorite subject to speak about at summits and conferences. I wouldn't be surprised if I eventually wind up writing a book on the subject.
This week, I wanted to jot down a few tips, musings, and suggestions on church social media management, as well as some of the lessons I've learnt from my 20-plus years in this ministry niche.
#1. Keep your social media pages and profiles clean and professional.
First impressions are critical in Church Comms and when it comes to social media, an unprofessional, poorly designed, or cluttered page can be an instant turn-off for a potential visitor. This is especially true for the Gen Zers and millennials. (You may find this annoying, but that doesn't change the reality.) If there's one thing psychology has repeatedly told us about the human brain, it's that we make concrete decisions based on first impressions. These decisions are often difficult to change. Think about the time you resolved you would never return to that one restaurant or movie theatre because of the terrible experience you had. We've all been there.
Remember: Your church's social media presence communicates volumes about your church and, unlike your physical building, it's viewable and accessible by the entire world (and all before they ever decide to attend.)
To make an outstanding first impression, you need to have the right social media tools, design programs, strategies, posting methodologies, and a game plan for engagement. You need to have a professionally managed page with well-designed content and well-worded posts. People can tell when you're being lazy and just phoning it in. Don't do it.
#2. Highlight your volunteers.
Use video or photo mediums to shoutout your volunteers on your church's Facebook and Instagram pages. This is a great way to let your followers meet new faces or get to know longtime volunteers even better. It also adds an element of authenticity to your page (more on that later), something which is desperately needed within digital marketing these days, and particularly within the Local Church.
#3. Use recurring posts.
Did you know it's ok to post the same content more than once? In fact, it's a good thing. Your entire audience isn't online at the same time. They have different lives and their schedules will vary dramatically. Reposting important content will give them the chance to see it in the feed again later, especially with the way all of the crazy Facebook algorithms are working these days.
#4. Always engage. Always.
I mentioned earlier that I've been doing this Church Comms thing for quite a while now. There may be nothing that grinds my gears worse than a church page moderated by folks who never reply to comments or direct messages. The Local Church is called to be relational. Social media is exactly that: It's SOCIAL. Ask questions and respond to your people when they leave comments. Make them feel included in the online community.
Also, if we're going to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the digital sphere, we must reply to comments and messages, particularly from visitors and seekers. If we ignore them, they will move on.
#5. Don't compare yourself to or be intimidated by 'the competition.'
Although there are several basic rules of professionalism, neatness, and orderliness you should undoubtedly follow, you shouldn't become so immersed in this way of thinking that you start copying or mirroring successful churches. Maintain your own special digital identity on social media and be unique in your posts. You have no need to be better than or similar to another church on social media. You can always learn from them and adapt their successful formulas to your own strategies.
#6. Be Authentic.
This tip piggybacks off of number five. People are drawn to truth, credibility, and honesty. In a world full of lies, scandals, and cover-ups, we've grown to deeply appreciate people who are real, genuine, and authentic. Posting deeply personal testimonies and stories of spiritual victories to your page is a great way to maintain authenticity. (Everyone loves a great story.) You never want your church to be perceived as fake or full of goody-goodies.
#7. Utilize humor.
Far too many Christian social media pages and church pages exude a deeply theological or profound tone of voice. In other words, everything they write sounds super serious. There's nothing wrong with this for posts about Scripture or sermon content. But your page should be posting engagement posts as well and some of those should be lighthearted and fun. If you can make your audience laugh and smile, they will continue to return to your page and will be more inclined to share your content.
#8. Brevity is [usually] your friend.
In the world of social media, you have two seconds or less to capture someone's attention in the Newsfeed. They will typically not read a paragraph-long post, much less a multi-paragraph post. Just because it's called "Facebook" doesn't mean you need to write a book. Also, video content is more engaging and can stop the scroll. People love watching videos, especially short ones. If your pastor is posting daily devotional videos, be sure to share them every once in a while to the main church page. Keep things simple, short, and to the point.
#9. You can't and don't have to be everywhere at once on social media.
This is especially true for a lot of the small churches I have worked with where limited staff and lack of volunteers is an issue. If you're a lead, assistant, or worship pastor trying to juggle your regular responsibilities with managing the church's social media accounts, my guess is that you're feeling overwhelmed. The truth is that you don't need to feel the pressure to be everywhere and on every platform. Facebook is an excellent start and from there you can move on to Instagram and Twitter if/when you're able to handle it. It's far better to devote your time and attention to having a high-quality presence on one singular platform, rather than attempting to be everywhere at the same time and ultimately wind up accomplishing nothing in terms of digital ministry.
#10. Become a masterful storyteller.
I've discussed the importance of storytelling in a previous post and in a podcast episode of Rescuing Churches, so I won't belabor this point, but it really does matter. Storytelling is literally one of the most powerful and effective ways in which human beings communicate with one another. There's a reason that myths, folklore, legends, ancient fables, and centuries-old parables have always spread throughout the world over the course of global history and continue to resonate. As a broadcast journalism major in college, storytelling was a big part of my education. Even if you don't consider yourself to be strong in this area, I would challenge you to become a student of quality storytelling. Read books and blogs on the subject. Have coffee with people who excel at it. Then, strive to weave intriguing narratives through some of the posts on your church's social media platforms. Your content will resound more powerfully if a memorable story is attached.
Ok, I'm stopping here at 10 because, well, I have to be up early in the morning and there's almost an infinite number of tips and strategies for social media. What did I leave out? Are there some tips that have been helpful for you? Did you find my list to be beneficial? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail!