Social media, sites like Facebook and Twitter, have given even the smallest church the opportunity to connect with their parishioners, members of the community and the greater population at large. One post has the potential to reach thousands of readers. However, unless your church’s social media effort is done correctly, it can actually have negative results or at least be ineffective. Below are five things you absolutely DON’T want to do with your church’s social media campaign.
Social media marketing (and isn’t marketing really what a church is doing?) works best when it’s done often and regularly. If you just put up a Facebook page or open a Twitter account and leave it to languish, no one is going to look at it, no matter how terrific your design and graphics. “Social Media Today” addresses how often to post on social media sites for optimum results in this article. [divider]
Not assign someone to spearhead the effort.
Since most church work is volunteer work, it’s too easy to leave social marketing to the next person if no one is responsible for the Facebook or Twitter pages. That doesn’t mean the pastor has to do all of the work, but it does make sense to assign the job to someone. A good strategy is to create a team based on various skills sets like writing, graphics, and photographers. I would also recommend having a team leader that has the ultimate responsibility. Check out this blog post on How to create a social media volunteer dream team. [divider]
Preaching only to “the choir.”
There a lot of truth in the cliche, “preaching to the choir.” If you’re only talking to the people who attend your church’s services regularly, you’re missing an opportunity to not only grow your congregation, but to extend your social media ministry far beyond the walls of your church and touch people you wouldn’t necessarily come in contact with outside of the Internet. According to this article on Pastors.com, 80 percent of the people view your website and Facebook page before attending services. The article offers advice on speaking to these unknown, potential parishioners. [divider]
Limit your efforts to one site.
Although Facebook has more than one billion registered users, it’s not the only social media site available. There are other networks that are becoming more relevant including Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As time permits, using a combination of sites will extend your church’s reach several-fold. For instance, younger users are more prone to use Instagram and middle-aged women favor Pinterest. If your church is known for its writing or its art, you might also try one of the sites that appeal to book and art lovers. Apps like HootSuite and Buffer can help make it easier to post on multiple sites by allowing you to schedule your posts in advance. [divider]
It’s easy for churches to fall into a familiar pattern of inside jokes and comments. This isn’t meant to shut out anyone. It’s just that when you attend church regularly, the people seem like family and you form a unique bond. However, avoid the appearance of being clique-ish in your Facebook and Twitter posts, lest you turn away the very people you are trying to reach. [divider]
This thoughtful blog post offers several good ideas about how to make sure your content is reaching out to new readers. Although she’s talking about how to diversify a blog, the ideas work just as well on Twitter, Facebook and the like.
The potential for churches to spread the Good News via social Internet channels is exciting. Done right, your church’s Internet ministry can reach out to those too timid, too ill or too lonely to come to services as well as consolidate your existing congregation. There is no one right way for a church to handle social media. You’ll have to find the way that works best for your church. Avoiding our five pitfalls is a good place to start.
Need more help? Check out our FREE Social Media Tune-up Guide for Churches.
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