Pros and Cons of Major Social Media Platforms for Churches

If you’re trying to put together a social media strategy for your church, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Every social media platform is portrayed in the various articles you read as the most important one for your church. This means that there are a lot of churches out there juggling too many platforms poorly instead of really succeeding at one.

The best social media decision your church can make is to pick one or two platforms to focus on. Once you feel like you’re flourishing there, you can add another.

To help you decide which platform is ideal for you, we’ve put together a list of church pros and cons of the major social media platforms.

 

Facebook

With more than 1 billion people on Facebook, it’s fair to call it the social media home for most people. All over the world, they’re logging in every day to share opinions, news stories, photos, and memories. All this traffic makes it the world’s more robust data marketing engine on earth.

Advantages for churches

  1. Everyone’s on Facebook: If you had an opportunity to communicate your vision and message in a venue where everyone hung out daily, you’d use it right? That’s exactly what Facebook represents.
  2. You can target your audience: Being a marketing powerhouse, Facebook empowers you to finely target your audience based on a number of critical parameters.

Disadvantages for churches

  1. It’s pay to play: The fact that everyone’s on Facebook and so easily targeted is only a benefit if you’re willing to pay to reach them. Luckily, the pricing is extremely reasonable.
  2. You need to zero in on your demographic: In any marketing, you’re going to want to focus on your target audience, but it’s more of an imperative on Facebook. Since there are so many other churches vying for the same audience, you’ll have to be intentional about hitting a bullseye every time.

Pro-tip

Use the Facebook pixel to retarget people who have visited your website. And make sure that you diligently watch your Facebook page’s insights. Facebook wants your marketing to be a success (how else will they keep you coming back?), so they’re pretty intent on giving you the best information to help you.

 

Twitter

Twitter is a very personality-driven platform that trades in short, pithy content (currently 140 characters a tweet). Tweets generally have a fairly short shelf life, but Google has recently made tweets much more searchable.

Advantages for churches

  1. There’s no penalty for posting often: By its very nature, Twitter’s constant stream of conversation actually rewards you for posting often.
  2. Networking is a breeze: One of the greatest things about Twitter is the access to other notable figures and churches. They’re literally only a private message away. If building relationships with influencers is important for you, Twitter’s a must.

Disadvantages for churches

  1. There’s a bit of a learning curve: Twitter can be hard for people to understand at first. You start without an audience and it can feel like a waste of time. Twitter has a real high attrition rate with new users.
  2. It’s time consuming: Building an audience takes a lot of effort. Most of that work is invested in interactions with other users. Unlike Facebook, you can’t really post occasionally on Twitter and expect to have any kind of success.
  3. It can be a minefield: There are a lot of strong personalities and cliques on Twitter, and the better you are at the platform, the more likely you’re going to end up in their crosshairs. It’s a platform that seems to really pit personalities against each other.

Pro-tip

Being a very personality-driven platform, it’s more advantageous to focus on ministry leader accounts rather than organizational (church) accounts.

 

Pinterest

To the average user, Pinterest is all about pictures related to individual interests. For people looking for wedding ideas or home decor tips, Pinterest is a treasure trove. Utilitarian content is king on Pinterest, so anything explaining how to do or create something is going to get a lot of traction.
Pinterest is really more of a search engine than a social media network. But that doesn’t mean that your church can’t benefit for finding a home there.

Advantages for churches

  1. Great for ministry partnerships: If you have a local food bank or youth group program that your church partners with, it can be a great way to increase visibility for both.
  2. Perfect if you have hyper-targeted content: If someone in your church is making great how-to style content related to children or worship ministry, it is an amazing way to send traffic to there.
  3. Content has a long shelf life: If your content is tagged well, people can find it for years after it’s uploaded.

Disadvantages for churches

  1. Your imagery game needs to be strong: It doesn’t matter how good your written content is. If it doesn’t have an engaging and unique visual component, you’re not going to get any traction.
  2. It’s about playing a long game: Don’t expect fast returns with Pinterest. You’re building a flywheel with strong content that it will eventually drive people to your website.
  3. There’s some gender stigma: In the United States, Pinterest took off with women immediately, and it has been trying to court a growing male demographic ever since. Even though more men have started using the platform, it still suffers from a for-women-only stigma.

Pro-tip

People may be looking at your images, but they’re finding it based on your tagging. Think about all the possible searches people can use to stumble upon your content, and tag it appropriately.

 

Instagram

Instagram showed up on the scene in 2010 as an in-the-moment, photography-based social platform. It took off immediately. Being image oriented, Instagram is much more about demonstrating a lifestyle than communicating information.

Advantages for churches

  1. Marvelous way to display your church culture: Instagram is a great place to post pictures of people in your church serving and enjoying community. It’s also a wonderful place for youth groups to share their character.
  2. A powerful way to reach youth: In 2014 over 90 percent of users were under the age of 35. If you want to reach a younger demographic, Instagram’s a great place to start.
  3. Images are easily sharable: Instagram makes it easy to share to Twitter and Facebook. This gives images shared from Instagram a lot more exposure than images shares on other platforms.
  4. You can expect high engagement: Instagram generally delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more than Twitter.

Disadvantages for churches

  1. The lack of links is a drag: As high as Instagram’s engagement is, it’s diminished because you can’t link from individual posts. Instead, the links have to be in your bio. So it’s hard to get them to engage beyond liking or commenting on your content as they scroll through.
  2. Content’s not easy for users to share: People who like your content can’t share it easily. This dramatically cuts into the ability for people to discover your content through friends.

Pro-tip

There’s no character limit and this means that you can use Instagram as a micro-blogging site with devotional content. Not only that, but you can use as many hashtags as you can imagine, and that’s precisely what you need to do to get your content discovered and shared.

 

LinkedIn

This is the premier social platform for individuals who are career-oriented. Most of the content you’ll find on LinkedIn relates to professional advice, case studies, white papers, and personal accomplishments.

Advantages for churches

  1. Ideal if you have a leadership focus: A lot of churches focus on creating leaders and LinkedIn comes with an audience that seems tailor-made for that sort of content.
  2. Good place to communicate strengths of your organization: Are there elements of your ministry that you think other churches or businesses might be able to emulate? LinkedIn is a good place to showcase them.
  3. It’s helpful for growing your staff: Because of the nature of LinkedIn, there are a lot of great candidates for your any ministry roles you’re trying to fill.

Disadvantages for churches

  1. It has a terrible user interface: Let’s just be honest, LinkedIn doesn’t make itself easy to use. Making sense of the way it’s laid out and how the various sections work can be confusing and annoying.
  2. Momentum building can take a while: Because a lot of people and businesses are using it the same way, you really have to work at establishing some authority in your area of expertise.
  3. Users aren’t regularly engaged: The users that frequent LinkedIn are overshadowed by the users who seem to focus on the platform most when they’re job hunting.
  4. It often rewards the wrong content: There are a lot of users who develop quite a following with rehashed, shallow leadership and marketing content, quotes, and memes. This tendency has created an audience that isn’t looking for game-changing thought leadership, but instead want easily digestible and familiar ideas. If your content is unique and informative, you have an edge—but you’ll have to work hard rise above LinkedIn’s noise and get noticed by the right people.

Pro-tip

This is a good place to network, but unless your target demographic is professional people from generations Y or X, it’s not going to be worth all the effort you pour into it.

 

Find your platform and stick to it

The key to seeing your church succeed at any social platform lies in finding the ideal one for your target demographic, and then committing to it. It’s going to take some trial and error to figure out how to best make it work for your organization, so you have to stick it out.

But once you get the hang of it, you’re going to wonder how you ever got along without it.

 

Incorporate your own church app

Your church app can really be a social-media force magnifier. The more engaged your congregation is through your app, the more they’ll contribute to growing your social-media platform by sharing and promoting your content.

For more information about how to use a church app to your church more engaged, get a free demo of eChurch’s engagement package.

Jayson D. Bradley

Jayson D. Bradley is a writer and pastor in Bellingham, WA. He’s a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine, and his blog JaysonDBradley.com has been voted one of the 25 Christian blogs you should be reading.

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