Social media has exploded in the last few years. While it is a very powerful tool for reaching and building your community, it can also be incredibly taxing on your time. Small churches generally have fewer staff members, volunteers and resources (such as a church management system) to help with this workload. Below are some questions small churches ask and answers that will, hopefully, help ease that burden.
What networks should we be on?
When determining which social networks your church should be on, the biggest question is what do you hope to accomplish? Facebook is great for building community. Twitter is great for sharing articles and quick take-aways. Instagram is built for sharing information visually. And the list goes on. While different networks have their strengths, small churches especially need to be laser-focused in their approach to social media. Choose one or a small few to actively engage with. Do not overdo it. There is no advantage to using all networks poorly, but tremendous advantage lies in using a few really well. Facebook is really the best place to start.
It should be noted that if you are looking to use social media for specific ministries, you need to consider the demographic of that ministry. While Facebook is generally recommended as a good starting place for churches, Instagram might be the best place to start for a student ministry, as teenagers seem to be more active on sites like that.
How quickly should we adopt new sites?
Slowly. Sure, there is something to be said for being hip and trendy, but this is a tortoise and hare race. It is wise to see what the market does instead of pulling your social media person into a new site just so you can be trendy. Consider the case of Woo Woo. Once a site has generated enough attention and seems to be sticking around, then it might be worth considering adding it to your portfolio, but only if you have enough time to properly manage it.
How often should we post?
Regularly. Different networks respond to different post schedules and different experts recommend different things, but all can agree that consistency is critical. You probably should not post to Facebook more than once a day, but Twitter responds well to multiple posts a day. Ask your church people how often they want to hear from you. Set a schedule and stick to that schedule. Here’s a pro-tip for you, use a service like Buffer to schedule posts in advance. This can also be done natively in Facebook pages, but is not native to other networks. This means you can spend just a few minutes and have posts scheduled out for weeks.
What kind of content should we post?
Again, what’s your ultimate goal? If you are hoping to increase engagement, post a variety of things. A video, a blog post, an audio or video clip from a Sunday service, announcements. Keep it fresh and fun, not boring. You never want any of your social media channels just to read like a digital bulletin (unless your bulletin is awesome, but let’s face it, few are).
How do we get more users to see our stuff?
This is especially troubling on networks that curate content. Facebook is the biggest culprit. There are all kinds of things people recommend. Boosting your post costs money, but many people say it is very beneficial. If you want to save money, you need to get people interacting with your stuff. If a post gets a lot of comments and shares, it is more likely to show up in other people’s news feeds. Instead of just posting a quote from Sunday, post a quote and ask how it impacted them. That sets them up to answer the question and helps organically boost that post. Another option would be to turn the quote into an image that users would be inclined to share.
What other questions do you have about using social media in your church?