Your Church Can’t Ignore Social
These days churches ignore social media at their own peril. Churches without a vibrant social media presence face a daunting challenge when reaching Millennials and the emerging Gen Z (and even older generations who have grown accustomed to social media in recent years). While the cost of entry into the social media space is nearly nothing for churches, it’s tougher than ever for them to thrive on it. Every moment, people (and organizations) post more than 5,000 status updates on Facebook. They also send out 7,878 tweets every second.
For your church to stand out in that barrage of social content, you can’t rely on average. You can’t just count on the tech wizard in the youth group. You need to kick your social media strategy up a notch.
But before your church hires a fancy social media consultant to improve your social-media strategy, consider sitting down with 15 of them.
Yep, it’s possible.
Practical Instruction on Using Social in the Church
That’s what reading Trending Up: Social Media Strategies for Today’s Church feels like. Stacked with chapters from 15 of the most experienced social media experts from around the church world, this relatively short book allows you to engage some of the important topics your church will face as you try to level up your social media accounts.
These social media experts tackle practical topics like:
- How do you determine your goals for social media?
- What should I post based upon my goals?
- How can I use social media to tell a bigger story?
- How do I use social media as a tool to foster community?
- What can we do to amplify special events at our church?
The book allows all church leaders to peer into a private conversation between these social media leaders that started after a lunch during a 2012 conference. The day following the lunch, one of these social-media champions started an online peer-to-peer group to continue the conversation after they went their separate ways. Through this forum, they’ve shared ideas, analyzed failures, and dreamed about how to use social media to help their churches grow. Along the way, they’ve gotten tons of questions from other churches looking to implement a more effective social media strategy. Together they’ve brainstorm answers through their forum. This book came out of those online conversations.
Written by church leaders passionate and knowledgeable about the potential of social media, the book centers around practical applications in this growing communication avenue.
“Social media offers tools to share your church’s news, but more importantly it gives you the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of people who may never step foot inside the doors of your church,” writes evangelist and author Matt Brown in the first chapter. “Not only is social media a mind-boggling opportunity, I and my friends who share in this book believe it is a sacred responsibility: ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded’ (Luke 12:48).”
Each of the book’s five chapters builds upon one another, from making a case for social media in the church to content strategy to tying your strategy to telling a bigger story to connecting to your church family and the larger community. Each chapter answers three specific questions related to the broader issue.
How to Use Social Media to Connect with Your Church
For example, chapter four focuses on using social to connect internally within your church body. Allyson Siwajian, the digital engagement and communication liaison for The Foursquare Church, answers the question: “Are multiple social media accounts better than a single account from my church?” She generally recommends churches use a single account to communicate about all of their ministries and not try to segment them out on different accounts. She writes, “Variety keeps members engaged and excited, and it shows potential guests you’re no one-trick pony.” Posting from a singular account, she argues, allows you to connect your community to your church’s whole mission instead of building silos.
But Siwajian provides for a few nuanced exceptions to this. For example, if you have ministries that regularly exceed 1,000 in attendance, these ministries might have their own unique websites, etc.
Hillsong Worship’s Jose Huergo answers the question, “How do I use social media as a tool to foster community?” She recommends, among other things, that churches develop a schedule for posting—Friday posts create excitement around the weekend, Saturday and Sunday posts invite people to church, and Monday posts share highlights and scripture from the weekend services, etc.
Maybe most importantly, Huergo recommends churches regularly interact with those in its community. He writes, “To engage in genuine, encouraging exchanges, we first have to initiate and participate in more meaningful back-and-forth conversations. Social media is a two-way street. Don’t let anyone try to tell you different.”
Saddleback Church’s Haley Veturis finishes up the chapter by answering the question, “How do I tap into volunteer potential to manage social media?” It’s a topic she has also described in detail during a recent free echurch webinar.
Trending Up is one of those books you want to get into the hands of anyone in your church responsible for your social media channels. It’s a great tutorial on some of the most important issues churches face when attempting to minister through social media.