Churches (and individuals) can quickly extend their ministry by using social media. It’s mostly a free signup and costs you only time. More than three quarters of Americans are using social media so our reach can be amazing. We connect to people who know us and other people who are interested in what we have to share.
Most of us know our posts will either endear us or repel us from our followers. It’s so easy to unfollow or unlike therefore we need to be savvy. Or we’ll lose our groups! They’re not as forgiving as the ones who attend our services because people can find another group, page, or online stream to replace us quite quickly.
Here are 3 tricks for getting it right:
1. Choose Social Media Platforms based on Audience and Content. Facebook is the most evenly demographic-represented platform; you can truly “reach everyone” there. But LinkedIn reaches mainly business people, twitter is younger urban, and Google+ is skewed young male. Every platform starts with an audience. It’s like you’ve entered a party already in progress. You wouldn’t prepare the same for a child’s birthday party and you would for a Presidential party. Make sure you cater to the potential audience. Then consider the type of content that’s on a platform. Instagram and Pinterest says pictures, Twitter says “just in time” news, and YouTube says video. Don’t try to break the content assumptions.
2. Talk to individuals; not to groups. This is an error larger churches tend to do. Determine what group(s) you want to target and imagine one person in that demographic. Post material for that one fictitious person (although they are a representative of a real person). It’ll feel more genuine. Entertain and educate about 80%+ of the time and promote less than 20% of the time remainder. And ensure you respond when someone engages with you.
3. Add an image and get more engagement. A picture is worth more than a thousand words. Every “written” social media platform gains “sharing” and “comments” when a picture is posted with it. Make them appropriate to the platform (size and style) with not much text on it. Make the picture enhance or extend the message. Be clever!
We quickly learn social skills in middle school but on social media we’re still learning. Some of us feel like we’re the awkward kid on the sideline but we truly need to get up and meet more people to understand what they’re looking for. Keep watching analytics and see when your groups are reading your content. Make sure you show up when people are there (or schedule your posts to appear at that time). But most of all, be engaging and not an annoying salesperson who only talks about meetings, programs, and giving opportunities. People don’t tune in to watch continuous commercials.
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This post originally appeared for the digital Worship Facilities Magazine. Mark MacDonald is a regular writer for this and other national publications.