Many churches will set up their Facebook or Twitter accounts, update them sporadically, and then wonder why they don’t produce anything or help them in any way.
Social media can be a great way for churches to reach their current members and also help them attract new members. Churches often use social media to reach out to the local community by posting about local issues, events, and their own concerns. Posting about local topics not only helps churches reach their community, but when members share your social media posts with their local networks, it can engage non-members and generate new interest in your church. In addition, it’s a great way for churches to communicate internally to their current members, inform them about events, share videos and podcasts, and make themselves more available to their members.
It’s not unusual for church leaders to become overwhelmed when setting up their social media accounts because they don’t know how to use them, and then social media begins to look like a huge task. In these cases, the reason your accounts aren’t doing you any good is because you’re not implementing them effectively.
Here are some tips and tools to help you implement social media in your church in the best and easiest possible way.
Facebook is a great way to begin your social media efforts. However, there’s more to it than just creating a page. Here are a few key things you should work on:
- First of all, make sure that you use a Facebook page, and not a personal account, and allow members and non-members to post and communicate with each other on the wall. Lifechurch.tv has a good example of a church Facebook page, and so does New Life Christian Church.
- Next, set a good profile picture. Use your logo (make sure it is readable at different sizes), and use up-to-date event artwork or a current sermon series for your cover photo.
- Add Facebook “like” and “share” buttons to your website. Check out the full set of social plugins. The Like Button is the one you will definitely want to use, though—it allows users to like your Facebook page directly from your website and also gives them the option to share with their friends.
You want to make sure that you update regularly—and post everything that is important and relevant to your members! That could be sermon podcasts, news, Bible verses, and upcoming events and fundraisers.
The evening, from around 6-9 p.m., is typically the best time to post, as it is more likely that people will see it.
Twitter can often be even more effective in reaching your members than Facebook in that it can reach and influence people outside of your own community. It is easy to learn, easier than Facebook to develop relationships on, and is also another great way to share news and information with your own people.
The first thing to do is to complete your profile—this shows that you take Twitter conversations seriously, you’ve put thought into it, and aren’t simply going with the defaults. The four things you should have are:
- A photo
- Your website address
- A background image (don’t use the default Twitter ones as it seems unprofessional), and
- A bio (set it up as a person representing your church, not as the church, since people want to interact with an individual and not an organization)
Update your Twitter regularly: this survey states that the best tweeting frequency is 1-4 tweets per hour. Also, make sure to tweet relevant information that will help your followers, such as upcoming church activities, scripture passages, new content on your website, requests for feedback, or helpful resources, etc.
Take the time, before you start tweeting, to read and listen to what other people are saying before you just start spewing information. Also, talk with people, not at them. Don’t be preachy. Twitter is a conversational social outlet, and talking at people will render your efforts less effective.
Follow and retweet as many people as you can—the more you follow, the more followers you will gain. Try to follow back the people who are following you. Retweeting also gives you a way to balance your tweets out—if you are only tweeting your own information and thoughts, that might seem too self-promotional for some people and it will turn them off. Also try to schedule your tweets in advance. A good way to manage all of this is Hootsuite or Tweetdeck—they are great tools to help you survey and update your accounts, schedule tweets, etc., all at once.
Video is becoming an important part of churches, for broadcasting messages, church marketing, sermon series, and more. If you use video effectively, it can be a great benefit to your church by helping you to better engage your current members and also spread the word more effectively and gain new members.
Start with uploading a picture for your profile, and fill in your other account details so people know who you are and what you do. In your videos, include a call to action to get viewers to click the subscribe button. Tell your viewers why they should subscribe (for example, in order to keep up with your latest videos and tips, they should subscribe, etc.) and how to do it.
Another way to gain more subscribers is to consistently interact with other members of the YouTube community. Comment, like and subscribe to other churches as often as you can and then wait for them to reciprocate. Take some time every day to find relevant YouTube channels and leave comments.
A good way to share your videos is to create playlists—this allows you to put a series of videos all in one place. So, for example, you could put all your favorite videos, or all videos pertaining to a particular topic, and put them into their respective playlists to make it easier for your viewers to find and watch.
YouTube video shorts can be posted with one click into Facebook or Twitter, which is another great way to share your content. Also make sure that you use descriptions and tags—descriptions are a great way to give some more context to your viewers and also to give search engines the subject matter of your content, and tags are an important way for YouTube to index your videos and also to help others find them.
Google Plus, although relatively new in the social media world, is growing quickly. It has circles that will allow you to share information to either a wide or a narrow audience, and can be an effective tool for your church. While some people may complain that it’s yet another social media site they have to use and that Facebook is good enough, there are a few good reasons why your church should be on Google Plus.
- You get unlimited post length—this is great as it enables you to post a full thought or event.
- Hangouts—hangouts are a useful way for your staff to meet when they are at different locations.
- Visibility—Google Plus helps you increase your church’s visibility in search engine results and Google Plus posts can be seen in search results as well.
- Friend requests don’t exist—you can just add someone to your circles without waiting for them to grant your permission. If they want to and they enjoy reading your posts they will add you back.
These are just a few of the benefits of Google Plus. Here are some tips for setting up your church profile:
- Include your church keywords in your tagline and in your introduction
- Also include all of your other social site links
- Don’t forget to include your website, and your location
- Use your circles to help you to send out updates to targeted groups
- Join communities to help get more reach with your updates and participate in conversations
- Get your Google+ button on your website!
Have any other tips for implementing social media for churches? Share them in the comments below!
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