For most people, social media is a part of everyday life. This light hearted article will give you some basic rules to follow so your church can take advantage of this incredible communication tool.
I. Thou shalt choose the right platform(s) for thy church
With so many choices, it can be tough to decide! Should you start with just one or go big and attempt to juggle five at a time? Especially if you have a small team, it’s best not to bite off more than you can chew.
If you can only choose one, Facebook is a great place to start! It gets a lot of hate, but it’s safe to assume that most of the people in your congregation that use social media have a Facebook page.
54% of Americans are on social media, 47% of all internet users have a Facebook page, and 23% of those Facebook users check their feed five or more times every single day
If the goal is for users to actually see and interact with your posts you’ll want to connect with your congregation on the platform they use most. From there, you’ll be able to decide what account(s) to add next.
II. Thou shalt reply to tweets and comments
So·cial Me·di·a (noun) – Online based platform where users socialize.
Unofficial definition provided by…me.
Bottom line, interaction is key! Social media is based around the concept of socializing with others and in order to take full advantage of these platforms you need to communicate.
Start a conversation, and when people respond, interact! You’d be surprised how much a reply might mean to someone. The best way to get more proactive about this is to view social media as a ministry, because it can be! The response you give to someone may be the only positive interaction they receive all day so make sure you use social media with a focus on the needs of others.
III. Thou shalt be frequent and consistent
We’ve all heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” right? Well, it’s absolutely true.
It’s vital that you are not only consistent with your posts, but that they are frequent enough to be seen. You certainly don’t want to overload the feeds of your followers with nonstop updates but going a week or more between posts is not likely to be successful. Find a schedule that works for you, and stick with it!
Also, if writing content and scheduling it in advance is something you’re interested in, there are many platforms that allow you to connect multiple social media accounts and manage them all in one place. Check out Hootsuite and Buffer.
IV. Thou shalt not steal
Okay, so I know this is a real commandment but it applies here, too.
A good rule is if you or your staff didn’t write it, design it, take the picture, or purchase the license for it, you probably shouldn’t use it.
V. Thou shalt promote thy message
A great way to keep people engaged throughout the week is to post quotes and scripture from the weekend message. This not only encourages them to think about what they were able to take away from the message, it primes them for the next installment in the series.
Posting key points from the message, sermon series graphics with questions about the topic that week, and encouraging scripture will inspire your followers to like, comment, and share your content.
VI. Thou shalt follow the 80/20 rule
Although this is a great commandment to live by to get more veggies, many businesses apply it to social media and it’s effective! Most successful businesses post 80% information and 20% promotions.
For example, post three things that encourage or engage with your audience before posting promotional material about a special event, giving opportunity, or asking for volunteers.
VII. Thou shalt use hashtags wisely
Hashtags are a great way to promote a message or event but it’s easy to go overboard.
“If everything is important, then nothing is important.” – Kendall Conner, Eight Do’s & Dont’s For Church Hashtags
You should be mindful of the message your trying to promote and always check a hashtag before using it. Check out Kendall’s article on Church Hashtags for some awesome information and guidelines.
VIII. Thou shalt post images
We’ve all seen them. Funny sayings on top of a cat picture, encouraging life coach style quotes on a blooming flower, and life hack tips over a spilled bowl of cheerios.
Images get attention!
According to a wishpond study, Facebook posts that include photos have 104% more comments that a text only post. When posting a key point from the weekend, add it on top of your sermon series graphics and post it as a photo instead of just posting the scripture alone.
Check out this awesome cheat sheet with specific image dimensions so you won’t have weird cropping or uploading issues.
IX. Thou shalt practice patience
I know you want your social media presence to grow, but don’t get discouraged when you don’t see the numbers climb. You may need to consider what your definition is for success on social media. I’d say if you’re keeping your congregation informed, they’re engaging with and sharing your content, and there seems to be a better sense of community because of it then you’ve done an excellent job!
If your numbers increase, then that’s great! However, if they don’t it doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. Remember, social media is for socializing. If you’ve successfully accomplished online socializing with your congregation, you’re doing it right.
X. Thou shalt have fun
“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13 (NLT)
Social media is meant to be fun! It doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Bottom line, everyone deals with enough spirit crushing nonsense in their life. Get out there and make some happy faces!
It is better to be excellent at a few things, than mediocre at many things.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
It can be so tempting to sign up for multiple social media accounts at once and start posting about every single ministry area, event, and outreach opportunity at your church but it is very difficult to “work with all your heart” when you’re spread in 10 different directions.
If you have a small team, or maybe just one person, responsible for your social media content then start with one account and a few topics (weekly sermons, basic announcements, encouraging scripture, etc) and give it all you’ve got!
I’d love to hear your feedback! Any commandments you’d like to add?