I meet pastors and church leaders all the time who are asking the same question: How do we use social media properly?
This is a great question to be asking. In our culture people are spending time on social media everyday. In fact, research shows us that people are spending an average of 1.72 hours a day on social media.
Those numbers will only continue to rise.
Here is a shocking reality......
"People in your church are spending more time on social media in one day than they normally spend at your church in a whole week."
So how can your Church thrive on social media?
5 Easy Ways
1. Know where your people are gathering online.
This may seem too simple but it is in fact the first place to start. You as the leader need to see where people from your church are gathering online. This varies depending on where your Church is located.
Some regions of the world are more likely to use Facebook more than Twitter. The different ages of your Church will utilize different social media platforms. For example, teenagers and college age kids are big users of Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
You need to think through the makeup of your organization and the target age of people you are trying to reach and ask: Which social network would they be on?
P.S. This means you as a church leader need to be active on social media. Be authentic. You can only reach people where you are.
2. Realize that less is more.
Almost every year there is a new platform or network that launches. Your church could try to be on everyone of those. The question is whether you can literally be active in all those platforms. Just because you can be on 5 different social networks doesn't mean you should be. Start small. Start where the majority of your people are and slowly branch out as needed.
You need to be effective wherever you are on Social Media, not just be there.
3. Have more conversations and less advertisements.
People don't want to see your megaphone announcements all the time. They want to have conversations. If you engage with your congregation online throughout the week and know what is going on in their life, they feel valued and it actually will enhance the weekend experience for them because they will feel known and feel community no matter how big your church is. Treat people online like they are real people, not just passive avatars.
4. Be consistent.
If you know that people are spending almost 2 hours a day online, then that means you have the opportunity to have a regular voice into their life. Too often though, Churches think that just because they have a "presence" on Facebook, Twitter, etc, that they are being successful. That is not true. You are not successful if you are posting once or twice a month. That means barely anyone is seeing your content and as a result, conversations and reach are not happening.
To remedy this....
- Decide what days you will post each week
- What times you will post
- What type of content you will post (text, picture, video etc.)
When you start doing that, people will begin to get a feel for how often they will get content from you. This will result in more engagement.
5. Add value to people's lives.
At the end of the day, people don't engage with things that don't add value to their lives. That means that whatever you post needs to be filtered through the lens of value. How will this post, picture or video add value to someones life by them seeing it. In fact, this way of thinking will actually help you craft your post and stories that you do share on your social media networks.
People are asking the tough questions online. People are searching for truth. People are looking for community. They are searching for value.
Are you bringing God's light, hope and truth into peoples lives on Social Media, or are you just advertising your latest event?
Always remember, add value to peoples lives with your online presence.
David Hearne (SocialMediaPastor.com) is the Lead Pastor at GraceOnline.Church and also the Venue & Production Pastor at GraceSeaford.Church in Seaford, DE. In addition to speaking and teaching at his Church, David is a Consultant for Churches on how to use Technology and Social Media to reach their community. As part of this mission, David is the Editor-In-Chief of the SocialMedia.Church Blog. He is married to Kristin and they have two adorable kids, Noah and Gracie. Connect with David on Twitter at @SocMediaPastor.