One of my duties at work is to help manage the different social media pages in and around the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Having worked at a social media marketing firm in the past, this is something I enjoy doing and find increasingly interesting when it comes to looking at what kind of posts engage which audience and so on.
Now that I work for a religious, non-profit organization, a common trend I see is a general question mark when it comes to knowing how to best engage audiences while at the same time putting important information where the most people can see it. That is why I thought I would put together a small, three-step tutorial from someone who might have questions about where to begin when posting for their church on social media.
- Know which platform best suits your needs.
In most cases, I would say Facebook is the social media platform where a church would get “the most bang for your buck.” A wide range of people, from those who are in their later years in life to young people, make up a Facebook audience, which means whatever you choose to communicate has the chance to be seen by the most people on this social medium. For a youth group, Instagram and Twitter are highly used by younger generations; for church-wide information, perhaps an email campaign is the way to go. Explore different social mediums and then commit to keeping fresh content circulating through whichever you choose.
- Make your posts consistent and concise.
In order to keep post-engagement up and ensure that people are reading all of each post that you make, I would suggest keeping your posts frequent, short and sweet. I cannot stress enough that consistent posts are the key to a successful social media account. Don’t let your followers forget that you’re there! You don’t have to re-invent the wheel with each post, just make them consistently. Also, keep your posts short. Twitter used to have a 140 character limit, which oftentimes made users choose their words carefully. Keeping a post to 200 words or less is a good rule of thumb. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and those can be made on a case-by-case basis. But, in general, keep it short, or just like on a Sunday morning when the preacher goes over his normal sermon time and people begin to leave for lunch before he’s finished, you’ll lose engagement on your page if you get too wordy.
- Post pictures and videos as much as possible.
The best way to catch the eye of a social media user is by using graphics, pictures and videos. A post in which the text stands alone runs the risk of being scrolled right past without a second thought. However, when you include imaging, whether the image is an event poster or just a colorful collection of words, you’ll find that people pay more attention to posts that are visually interesting. You can post pictures of past events or share a video of the preacher’s sermon last Sunday. By all means, get creative with what you share. You won’t be sorry you did.
Try to have the same person post for your church or for certain accounts within your church. When more than one person posts for a page, there can be a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation, and it can set the stage for a mumbled overall look. When one person posts, the posts have the same tone. Information doesn’t get left out or repeated, and overall, it makes for a more clear aesthetic and unified social medium.
There a million different suggestions I could spell out to each of you, depending on your church size, the demographics in your congregation and a million other situations, but the truth is, if you are trusted to run a social media site for your church, you know the people best. As I suggest with all forms of ministry, be relational and be open to learning new things each day about how to best run social media for your church.
When used correctly, social media can be an incredible tool that is more far-reaching than a church bulletin or even spoken announcements on a Sunday morning. We are taught as Christians to be good stewards with what the Lord has given us, and while social media is often a two-edged sword, when used correctly it can be a wonderful asset to the ministry of a church.