Social media is a part of daily life for many people. In fact, according to a study released by Pew Research Center, 76% of the Internet users are active on one or more social media sites. It’s crazy! We use our computers, tablets, and smart phones to tap into this ever expanding world of communication, news updates, and cat videos on a daily basis.
With so many users on social media, it’s no surprise that churches want to use this powerful tool to reach out to their community. The real question is; how do you do it?
So, about two weeks ago I set out on a mission to identify what churches wanted to know and then hunt down the answers. I’m no expert but, personally, I don’t think there is a “perfect formula” to an awesome social media presence. However, I do think there are some good rules to follow to keep things organized and generate some movement.
First, I created a survey and posted it to a Facebook group I’m apart of; Church Communications. I wanted to get an idea of what churches are currently doing and what they were struggling with. I got a total of 90 responses from all across the US. I was stoked by the wide range of feedback I received and I created an infographic of the results. Feel free to download this PDF if you’d like to use it for reference!
The last question on the survey was, “If you were to sit down with a successful Church Social Media Strategist, what are some questions you would ask?” Let me tell you, I got a lot of questions! So I rolled up my sleeves, dug through the responses, and compiled a list of the most popular questions from all 90 surveys.
Before we get into the questions, let me introduce you to some incredible people that were kind enough to give me their insight on this crazy thing called social media.
I just gotta say it, this girl is awesome! I met Emily in Las Vegas at Central Christian Church in 2013 and since then I’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow her personal planning and development business and impact the lives of so many women through BecomingMe.TV. In April she hosted an event for BecomingMe.TV to empower women and it was a huge success! Click here to watch her encouraging and challenging message on becoming who God made you to be!
In April of this year I had the opportunity to meet this awesome guy. He’s an incredible photographer, his heart behind The Elsie Project is inspiring, and he consistently creates engaging and effective social media content at 12 Stone . He also has some awesome t-shirts, pillows, and other cool stuff for sale to spread the word about The Elsie Project. If you’re not following him already, you should be!
When I started this social media adventure I knew I wanted to reach out to Life.Church. Not only are they pioneers in online church and social media, they also offer over 30,000 free resources on open.church. I was ecstatic when Beau Coffron, the Social Media Director at Life.Church, made the time to answer some of my questions! Beau also runs a blog called Lunch Box Dad where his goal is to make your life as a parent easier while keeping lunches exciting and fun for your kids. Head over to his blog and check out his collection of “The Top 10 Star Wars Lunches of All-Time”. You won’t be disappointed!
Keep reading to see their answers to the most popular social media questions from my 2016 survey…
Social Media Q&A
The majority of the questions submitted revolved around two things; how frequently to post and what time of day to post. What’s a good strategy for churches to follow?
Emily: The “why” behind social media—the win for utilizing it—is in partnering with people, opening up conversation, and connecting with people where they’re at. To know when and how often to post, the best strategy lies in knowing who you’re talking with! When are your people on social media? How often? Knowing your target audience allows you to best partner with them.
Andrew: Think about when you, your friends, and social circles are looking at your phone most often, and why. From there, formulate an opinion about when you feel you should be posting.
Beau: It all depends on what channel you are talking about. We post as much as possible on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. For Instagram we post 2-4 times per day based on what content we have to share. When to post is really dependent on when your followers are online. Look at your analytics and experiment with different times to see what works for you.
Emily: I love them—they help us plan & utilize time intentionally to best partner with people to discover in Christ we have hope!
Andrew: Sprout Social seems to work well for organizing outgoing posts without over-complicating anything… currently testing out Buffer‘s algorithm for sensing optimum post times and posting for us- so far, not so good.
Beau:They are very handy but make sure and not forget about actually being social on social media. Bad social media is a bullhorn. Always respond to comments and ask questions.
Do you schedule out future posts? If so, how far in advance?
Emily: Absolutely! Typically I schedule 1-2 weeks in advance knowing that even though posts are scheduled, I must remain active and engaged in the case that adjustments must be made.
Andrew: Always one week, sometimes one month when there is an opportunity to do so.
Beau:Yes. One week in advance, but longer out is great if we have the content ready.
What are some web services, software systems, or basic tools that you use to create strategies and manage your social media content?
Each social media platform is unique. Should the content you post be created specifically for each platform, or should you auto-post the same content to multiple accounts at once?
Emily: The win is in sharing content that best partners with people to discover in Christ we have hope. If content points people to Jesus and connects with them sparking engagement, it’s a win!
Andrew: Absolutely the content should be crafted specifically for the platform that it is being posted to. NEVER post identical content to all platforms.
Beau:We rarely autopost the same content to different accounts. Each channel is different with different audiences. At least change the caption to match who you are talking to.
I’m consistently surprised at the wide age range of social media users! That being said, there are also people of various ages that aren’t involved in social media. How do you communicate the importance of social media to those that don’t use it, and are there ways to get them involved?
Emily: Absolutely! There are many fun, creative ways to engage and invite people who aren’t currently on social media to get involved (such as giveaways, etc.). In the process of inviting new people to get involved on social media, don’t forget to engage with those who are on social media too!
Andrew: It depends on the purpose of their job. If a student pastor isn’t on social media, I specifically approach them to inform them that the primary language of the youth IS social media.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Andrew: Jesus first, other leading churches, major brands, the Atlanta Hawks social media team, close social media friends, constant conversation about evangelism online.
Beau: From our church and also from what people are talking about anyway. As the church we need to engage in conversations that are happening around us, not ignore them.
How do you consistently create content without sounding repetitive or cheesy?
Emily: Just be you and be real. People can spot a faker a mile away. Keep it real, keep it engaging and connect with people.
Andrew: Take small, calculated risks, but also keep in mind that social content’s lifespan is only about 48 hours, so when you do something great, it doesn’t last too long… equally as important, when you do something bad, it also only lasts about 48 hours, therefore, take a chance!
How do you increase the engagement on your posts?
Emily: Ask questions! Social media is a two-way street, not a one way monologue. Invite people to engage with you and engage with others as they share content as well.
Andrew: Ask for it. Ask questions. Make the followers think.
Is creating a volunteer social media team a good idea?
Emily: Absolutely! Leaders raise up leaders, encouraging, empowering and equipping them to be who God made them to be.
Andrew: I think it is even though we don’t use one. I have a small volunteer photography team that has become a staple in my functions.
Beau: Absolutely! It not only saves social media directors time but it gives people a chance to serve where they are passionate.
If so, what are some key roles and their responsibilities?
Emily: Photographers to capture photos and stories for social media; content writers and editors to create content for social media; and people who engage with posts on social media following hashtags and account mentions.
Beau:It all depends on your staffing and vision for social media. We use volunteers to answer questions, respond to comments, and to raise awareness in the general public.
Last, but certainly not least, describe the perfect pizza.
Emily: Pepperoni 🙂
Andrew: Shrimp. Andouille sausage. Cheese. Cajun.
Beau: Anything with pesto. Pesto is always the correct answer.
To sum up this article I want you guys to know something really important that I learned from this study; it doesn’t matter if it’s ministry, your hobby, your career, or your personal life, being authentic is something people are drawn to. Emily, Andrew, and Beau are all perfect examples of that. I know it can be tempting to only use social media as a way to get information to your current congregation but we have the ability to reach out to the world around us in a way that we couldn’t 10 years ago.
I truly believe being an authentic church, full of imperfect people, sharing the life changing message and love of Christ is something we should be proud to share on social media. Society craves a tangible hope they can believe in and we have it! Why not share it as much, and as often, as we possibly can?
Lastly, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this article. I gave this piece everything I had and I hope you’ve received some next-level advice and encouragement!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pizzas to order.
Was this article helpful? Would you like to see in depth tutorials and reviews of some web based social media services? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let me know!