Every church should have a social presence. Why? That’s where our communities are. You can make the analogy that social media is the new phone book, newspaper ad, etc. But really, social is an online community, a community that is typically more diverse than your normal community, a community that is just as sinful but can seem to be more depraved than your average community. God has given us a message—the gospel—and we should spread our message in the avenues through which we can communicate it to our communities.
1. Don’t be afraid to follow
Don’t be afraid to emulate what other churches do with their social media accounts. They are successful for a reason! Originality is key when it comes to the content you produce, but it is not the most important thing when it comes to the delivery of the message.
Also, in a more practical sense, in the social networks that allow for following (twitter, Instagram), follow your community and interact with them.
2. Spend time scheduling
I spend no less than 3 hours on Tuesday mornings scheduling our content for Tuesday-Monday. These are posts like sermon quotes, general announcements and other posts that can be scheduled ahead of time. This post from Kendall at The Creative Pastor is a great template for scheduling.
Generally speaking, there are two services that you can use to schedule your content, one is Buffer, the other is HootSuite. Personally, I use HootSuite. HootSuite allows you to connect your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and Wordpress. In the free version, you can only attach three accounts, but that is all that we use, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My scheduling goes like this, I sit down and write out each post with the time and which account(s) the post will be going to. Then I create the posts within HootSuite and then create any images that need to accompany these posts. For the images I use Photoshop, Over (iPhone app), and Adobe Post (also an app).
3. Be available
Turn on push notifications. I know these can sometimes be disruptive, but they are one of the keys to gain the trust of your community. Having these notifications on will give you the opportunity to respond almost immediately, which is what we are all looking for really. I don’t know how many times I’ve tweeted or messaged a company and they either took too long to respond or didn’t respond at all, too frustrating!
4. Social Media is not an end, but a means
Social media can many times be the first interaction people have with your church. But, most of those people won’t just decide to visit on a Sunday because they saw you on Facebook or Twitter. Our general rule of thumb is to produce content that pushes people to our website. People are much more likely to visit your church after visiting your website.
Church sites communicate more information than your social media page will ever have!
5. Be people-centered
I saved the most important for last. If your social presence is more about people bringing something to your community rather than you contributing to your community, then you are missing the point of church social media. When churches act like a corporation rather than a human being then then people will be less likely to interact with you.
Our content should also be people-centered. We see a marked increase in interaction when our content focuses on people or pictures that feature our community. When we write about our community in our blog, when we feature volunteers on Instagram, give updates with what is happening in the church, those are the posts that generally gain the most momentum.
The last small tid-bit I’d give you is to get your leaders involved. When our community sees that the leaders share content, it gives more weight to what we’re sharing.