“Oh, I think my mom has that.”
This is what one of my (male) friends told me when I first got Pinterest two years ago. I remember being impressed that he even knew about Pinterest, since not many in my circle had explored, let alone heard of, the social media website, which has been around since 2010.
Fortunately, Pinterest is no longer just your mother’s social media website. According to recent data, 28% of online adults (male and female) use Pinterest, and that number is rising steadily. Also, 22% of teens use an online pinboard like Pinterest.
All this to say, Pinterest can be a wonderful way for your church to extend your outreach to a broader, more diverse community. Read on to hear some great tips on how to put Pinterest to work for you:
Since Pinterest is perhaps not as well known to you as some of the other social media sites, here’s a short primer on how to set up your account:
- Decide which existing social media account you want Pinterest tied to. I chose to sign up using my email account, but you can also use your Google+ or church’s Facebook account. You’ll need to decide whether you want to use a personal account (that of the church’s social media coordinator, for example) or the account used by the church for official business. Either way, it’s a good idea to have one specific person in charge of your church’s Pinterest. (This step is optional, but I highly recommend it as a good first step towards amassing a substantial number of followers on Pinterest.)
- Once you’ve signed up, you can now easily harness your existing following on social media networks to gather a new following on Pinterest. On Pinterest’s “Account Settings” page, you can associate the Pinterest account with some or all of your social networks, like Twitter. This will allow you to easily connect with people you already know through those networks. Also, make sure you include a link to your church’s website in the “About” section of your profile.“Classy,” “Most Important Meal of the Day,” and “Green Thumb” are all names of boards I’ve created on Pinterest. On them you can find pins about fashion, breakfast foods, and gardening, respectively.
- Now that you have an account, you too are ready to create some fun and useful boards. You can make boards that only you can pin to, or you can create group boards and invite others to pin to them (more on this later). Creating either kind is easy: Click on your profile icon and then choose “Create a board.” This will open a dialog box with options you can fill out to personalize your board. Make sure you follow my example and name your boards creatively, so people will want to check them out.
See how easy that was? Now it’s time to decide…
Who Are You Trying to Reach?
I have a grand total of 12 followers on Pinterest (and one of them is my sister!). Most of them only follow one or two of my boards, only occasionally repinning something I’ve posted. As far as I can tell, my dozen followers don’t fall into a specific category of people.
Can you guess why I don’t have a larger following? One reason is that I didn’t follow my own advice–I have not connected my Pinterest account to any of my other social media platforms.
However, the more important reason is that I do not have a specific audience in mind for my pins. In other words, because I don’t have to use Pinterest as a marketing tool for myself, there is no particular group of people whom I want to view and repin my pins.
This is not true of your church. Because you are trying to both reach out to your congregation and attract new members, you need to be very intentional about what you pin and how you market your pins towards your audience. This audience should consist of three (probably overlapping) groups:
Pinterest is a great forum for team collaboration. You probably already have some established method for organizing groups, perhaps using church management software. However, Pinterest can add a new layer to collaborative efforts by allowing team members to easily communicate visual information to each other via group boards.
How do group boards work? Simple: You create the board and invite team members to pin to it. These members can then add their own posts to the board.
All sorts of teams can put group boards to good use: The decorating team can use one to post pictures of possible flower arrangements for an upcoming wedding; the prayer team can collect compelling Bible verses; and children’s ministry volunteers can curate a collection of fun worksheets, games, and crafts.
Don’t forget that it’s possible to create private and public boards on Pinterest. If you make your team boards public, it will open up opportunities to collaborate with other churches’ teams (while still maintaining only that core group who can actually edit the board). Group boards can thus help your church coordinate internally and foster good relationships with other churches.
Despite a somewhat more diverse base of users, Pinterest’s users are still made up of about three times as many women as men. This means that Pinterest is the ideal platform from which to reach out to the women in your congregation, especially since many of them are already Pinterest users.
No doubt many of these women are team leaders/members who can take advantage of your group boards. However, you can use your other boards as well to post content specifically aimed at the female members of your church. This content can include:
- Christian tips on how to be a good parent/spouse–including book recommendations and relevant Bible passages.
- Blogging advice–for the “mommy-bloggers” in your congregation.
- Christian music–links to videos or quotes from the lyrics.
- Arts and crafts–especially good for homeschool moms!
- Recipes–with a focus on “Recipes for a frugal household” and similar.
Women are a crucial part of your church’s ministry, so you should make sure they feel included in your church’s social media outreach. Pinterest offers a great way to do this.
Pinterest is certainly a useful tool for communicating with those people who are already members of your church. However, the Pinterest community is much broader and can provide you with the perfect opportunity to reach out beyond the confines of your church’s walls and attract new members.
One way to appeal to a broader audience of both believers and unbelievers is to pin content that is not specifically church-related. Examples of this type of content are inspirational quotes from religious and non-religious leaders and texts; links to leadership resources; or recommendations for great books, musics, blogs, and more.
On the other hand, you want to maintain your outreach to your existing community of churchgoers. To this end, make sure you consistently post resources they will find useful, such as Bible study recommendations and event updates. Also, you can solicit posts from your congregation by opening a group board for pictures from Sunday’s services and other special events and encouraging them to post their own pictures there.
3 Boards You Should Create Right Now
When you first open your Pinterest account, you can jump right in to sharing content. I would suggest that there are three boards you should not wait to create:
1. “Welcome, Friends”
Right off the bat, you need to create a board that shares some information about your church. Here is the perfect place to link to content from your website. Update it regularly with your church’s latest podcast, photos from recent events, and information about charitable organizations your church supports. Current members of your church can use this board to stay up-to-date on the activities of your church, and potential members can use it find out more about your church.
I’ve already mentioned several times how you should have something similar to this, but I’ll say it again: People are always looking for inspirational quotes online–why not make it so they come across quotes that really mean something? Create a board devoted to encouraging, hopeful, or just plain beautiful quotations from the Bible, great figures in history, or even poetry. This board will be sure to attract the attention of both members of your church and other people seeking a little spiritual refreshment.
3. “Sunday School Brainstorming”
(If you don’t have a Sunday School, pick your church’s most important ministry and create a similar board for that ministry instead.)
This board should definitely be a group board. Make this the hotspot for Sunday School ideas and encourage team members and volunteers to post craft ideas, downloadable content such as worksheets and templates, and snack recipes. Whenever one of the team tries one of these ideas, have them comment or “like” the corresponding pin if the idea worked well. This way, you can know which activities to repeat in future. Also, even after a volunteer leaves, you will be able to keep track of his or her ideas.
These three boards are a perfect place to start building your church’s Pinterest presence.
Need Church Pinterest Examples?
If you need some examples of churches that have built great Pinterest accounts, look no further:
- Carbonton United Methodist Church–Notice their nice mixture of spiritual and non-spiritual content.
- Crossroads Church
- Cross Point Church–Take special note of their “Guest Experience” board.
- Highland Mills United Methodist Church
- Holy Family Catholic Church–They even have a “Catholic Humor” board!
Or check out this link to a curated list of all the churches on Pinterest.
Pinterest is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing, and I guarantee it will soon become one of your church’s favorite new tools for outreach and evangelization!
Did I miss anything?
Have another great idea for church Pinterest content? Does your church have an awesome Pinterest account? Share it with me in the comments below!
Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.