These days it feels like everyone, from your little niece to your great-grandma, is on social media. While not everyone is out there tweeting, posting, and updating, at least 3.5 billion people are— and that’s no small number.
Over the last decade or so, the biggest social media platforms (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) have evolved. You can create groups, share events, even advertise yourself to a specific target audience…all while still checking out your college roommate’s dog’s vacation photos.
Social media transcends boundaries to connect people in ways unlike anything before, and leveraging it as a space to share your church with the community is a 21st-century no-brainer. But the difference between having a social media page and having an effective social media page exists. To help you gravitate towards the latter, we’ve got a few tips that are sure to pave the way.
Social media, like any other kind of marketing, works best when it’s driven by a goal. In the case of religious groups, social media is often most effectively used for driving engagement and outreach.
People attend your services to listen to your words and socialize with their community. But that special time on Sundays only lasts about an hour or two. Social media allows you to extend that feeling from your parish, making it available to everyone 24/7.
By posting relevant material to the lives of your parishioners, you engage with them on a personal and spiritual level. You can also repost members of your parish, giving their voices a space on your platform helping them to feel heard. The beauty of social media is that it’s a two-way street, the main ingredient for any successful engagement strategy.
Making sure that newcomers feel welcomed, informed, and prepared are some of the best things you can do for them. Creating a social space where they can learn about your church, values, and mission is a great way for them to preview you with no fear or pressure. People are naturally drawn to spaces where they perceive excitement and life. If your church’s social pages are full of those demonstrations, they’ll be an enticing advertisement to any and all interested newcomers.
However, your engagement and your outreach efforts simply won’t be as effective if your pages aren’t considered active in the eyes of your viewers.
Having an active social media page is also a way of saying it’s a page that’s kept up-to-date. This tends to look like updated information, hours of operation, ways to contact you, as well as recent photos and semi-regular postings on your feed.
Because social media engagement looks different for everyone, there is no magic number or activity requirement for your page to exist. However, know that if you do create a profile for your parish, people can and will find it. When they find it, you can encourage them to sign up for your church notification system. That way, you can reach them even when they’re not online.
To be met with a page with outdated information, photos, and a general lack of insight can leave people feeling frustrated. It’s like the modern equivalent to leaving someone a voicemail with a question and never getting a response.
An active page, on the other hand, can be a wonderful extension of your church. We’ll go into some tips for keeping your page active and engaging shortly, but first let’s evaluate why you should put forth the time and effort to do so.
Creating and managing social media pages for your parish may feel like an extra or optional task, but there’s a fair amount of research that begs to differ. Did you know…
We could go on, but we think we’ve made our point! Social media and mobile communication are simply the way people are trending toward sharing and receiving information.
We wouldn’t just tell you that social media is the future for your church without giving you some actions to take! So without any further ado, we present the main event.
There are so many social media platforms out there. Each one offers something a little different: Facebook is great for reaching a variety of age groups. Instagram is preferred for photo sharing. Twitter is perfect for dropping in with short, quick nuggets of wisdom. But here’s the thing—you don’t need to be crushing it on every single platform. It’s far better to devote a majority of your attention and care to making one strong, unique platform, than having a presence on all of them. Especially if you know you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate hours to posting and interacting with followers!
💡 SimpleTexting Tip: A great way to engage your parishioners, specifically young adults, is by giving them the opportunity to volunteer manage your platforms!
Thinking about your social media strategy like a conversation, it’s not very enjoyable if one person is doing all the talking. It’s important then that you interact with your followers and posts just as much as you push out your own content. Respond to comments, retweet/post other people, share the stage with perspectives outside your own. That will make your page a more dynamic space that encourages more engagement from viewers.
Social media has gotten a tough reputation for putting a rose-colored lens onto the lives of others. It’s often a space for people and businesses to present their best selves only. We encourage you as a parish to break that mold and opt instead for radical honesty on your pages. Make sure your posts are a true reflection of your parish, and your people. In return, you’ll be met with increased trust and enthusiasm from all your followers who are getting a break from the non-reality splashed across their feeds.
One of the most memorable and effective ways to communicate with people is through stories. There’s a reason urban legends spread like wildfire and last past lifetimes! If you have something you want to post, find a way to keep it anecdotal. That way your information will resonate even if it’s not directly relatable to your audience.
We already mentioned that there’s no magic number for active social media posting. However, we’d wager that answer might have made you roll your eyes. So in an effort to give you something a little more concrete, here is the general industry consensus on target postings per week for your page:
Social media can become a casual space where people feel they can say things hiding behind a screen that they wouldn’t normally say in person. And when it comes to religion, the internet has a lot of opinions. It’s important that your church posts about and stays active in conversations that speak to your values, even if you know it will bring on debate. However, these actions should be done intentionally. Instead of deleting the words of trolls, respond when appropriate with love, honesty, and empathy. By setting this tone you show the world that you’re ready and willing to communicate with everyone, despite their opinion. And that respect can move mountains.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your social media presence. It takes time to build a following, but know that your efforts will pay off. Just stay consistent, stay honest, and always strive to add value to the lives of your followers.