Most churches these days understand their social media presence is no longer an optional part of their communication strategy. To be absent from social media in the second decade of the 21st century is largely not to exist (at least in the minds of most people under the age of 35). This will only get worse with time.
But just because you’re on social media doesn’t mean you’re effective. Take a look at nine of the most common mistakes churches make everyday—and the solutions for them:
1. Poor grammar
Your social media posts represent your church. Just because social media posts are typically informal doesn’t mean they should read like they’re written by a second grader. Take a breath and check your post before you hit send. Mistakes happen, but do whatever you can to keep them rare. If possible, schedule your posts ahead of time and run your list of posts by another person to double check your grammar and spelling. Services like Grammarly will also spell check your content before you post. Don’t rely totally on these tools, but they can be another layer of protection for you.
2. Not responding to questions
There are only two words in the phrase “social media.” “Social” is at least half of social media! To not respond to questions and comments on your social media platforms is to miss the entire point of your involvement in these channels. Make a commitment to respond and to do so quickly. Try to respond to all posts within 24 hours. During a typical workday, you might want to respond within four hours if you can swing it. Engagement is what gets your content viewed and shared. Your engagement will inspire others to respond.
3. Posting the same content on multiple platforms
In the early days of social media, this was all the rage. You’d see individuals and churches (and even a few business brands) run the exact same content regardless of the platforms. Twitter and Facebook make this easy to do. But don’t do it! Each platform is a bit different. An effective tweet isn’t remotely the same as an effective Facebook post. Plus, double-posting will make you look lazy!
4. Forgetting the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule simply states that 80 percent of your social media content should inform, educate, and entertain your audience, and only 20 percent should push your own agenda. If all you do is promote your church’s events and publicize your ministry efforts, you’ll be glossed over as white noise. Look for ways to serve your audience. Encourage them. Give them hope. There’s so little of that on social media. You’ll set yourself apart in no time when you do so.
5. Not incorporating photos and videos in an effective way
The algorithms for Facebook and Twitter prioritize photos and videos. Do what you can to make sure you use as much visual media content as possible in your posts. Don’t stop with just including photos and videos either. Make sure what you post makes sense in a social (and likely) mobile context. For example, include captions in your videos so that your audience can understand your videos even if they aren’t in a position to listen to them. Know the ideal photo dimensions on various social channels and be sure you use those as well.
6. Posting too often
Many churches have the idea that if one social media post is good, 20 must be better. Wrong! The algorithms that determine which posts get viewed and which don’t by most of the people in your audience depend heavily at how a person interacts with your church. In other words, if you send out 20 posts but a person only engages with one of them, that person is less likely to see your future content than if you posted twice and they engaged with one. There’s no set rule for how often you should post. You’ll have to keep an eye on your metrics to see how frequency impacts your engagement and reach.
7. Posting too infrequently
Consistency is key in social media. These days, when people check out your church, they’re not looking you up in the Yellow Pages. They’re viewing your website (probably on a mobile phone), and they’re checking your social media streams. Make sure they are updated on a regular basis. Use one of the many social scheduling apps out there to develop a consistent cadence on your posting.
8. Managing too many platforms at once
Too many churches are tempted to get involved in every new platform that comes along. While it’s important to stay flexible and try new platforms when it makes sense, it’s more important to master the ones you’re on. Make the effort to find out what platforms your audience prefers. (It’s highly likely Facebook will be one of those choices.) Start with the most-used platforms and then branch out in time.
9. Not keeping an eye on their metrics
You only value what you measure. It’s an old saying, but it’s particularly true with social media. Most of what you do as a church can’t be effectively measured, but social media is not one of those areas. Nearly everything related to social media can be counted. Make sure you look at the metrics often. You’ll never really know if the kinds of posts you’re running are connecting with your audience unless you look at those metrics. You’ll also want to make sure you’re posting an ideal number of times and during an ideal time of the day. You don’t need to overdo it, but at least scan key metrics on a weekly basis.
What are some of the social media mistakes your church has made (and learned from) throughout the years? We’d love to hear about them! Tweet us at @echurchgiving with your examples.