With church attendance at a decline and social media activity skyrocketing, your next growth, outreach, and communications strategy is right in front of your face. Literally. Your next step as a church is to get online, or more specifically, social media.
With everybody from grandmas, parents, to even family pets on social media, the digital world is the new neighborhood meeting place. Seven in ten Americans use social media to connect with friends, family, and businesses (Pew Research). Think of those ten people who sit upfront during service—seven of them use social media to engage with news, receive event reminders, share information, and seek encouragement. And they are looking for your ministry to interactive with and share your posts, podcasts, and announcements. Are you where your congregation and community are hanging out?
Establishing a social media presence can be the supercharge that churches need. And when optimized, social media can grow your congregation and church interaction.
It’s no secret people are constantly on social media, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. In fact, 76% of Facebook users use the social platform daily (Pew Research). And they are not online to simply post selfies or a snapshot of their meal; they are engaging in community. Yes, it’s a very different community than ever before, but people are looking to connect online, not only with friends, but also with companies and churches that they strongly identify with.
Instead of running away from this new type of connecting, churches should use every positive tool to reach the masses. Ministries can engage in community online and introduce people to what the body of Christ looks like face-to-face and online.
The beauty of social media is that people love to share. Passing on news articles, funny GIFs, and encouraging scripture is what drives social media content—if it makes people laugh, cry, groan, or smile, they will share it with their friends.
Once your congregation follows your church social media platforms, they share content with their personal community…and you get an introduction to their crew and family members that otherwise may have zero contact with your ministry. While an official postcard invite can appear too structured and intimidating to the unchurched, a Facebook event invite or casual tag on a community post is welcoming and understood.
Churches can create their social media strategy around content that is encouraging and inviting for your followers to share or tag a friend. While not omitting sermons or more serious posts, integrating shareable content like this will give you a proverbial handshake with thousands of people you may have never met.
Whether you like it or not, having a social media presence indicates your awareness of trends and shows that you are prepared for the unique struggles of the American Christian. If you are not on social media, your church can be perceived as outdated and incompetent. Yes, it’s a harsh judgment, but it’s the measuring stick used to determine if a company, nonprofit, or church is legitimate and ready for “business”.
Not only is being on social media important, but posting frequently and professional graphics will positively or negatively impact your first impression. Stay away from blurry images or hard-to-hear videos; instead, lean towards sharp, non-pixelated, and easy to understand content. The average consumer is trained to correlate good design with good business, so give people something to comment on and share with their friends.
Social media can be an extension of your weekly church service announcements and ministry.
Bulletin announcements and inserts are great for Sunday updates, but when Monday comes, that slip of paper is lost on the kitchen table, stuffed between car seats, or forgotten at church.
Churches can use Facebook to remind their members of weekly updates, event announcements, or even last-minute cancellations. Push out a few weekly posts repeating what’s in your paper bulletin: include the week’s small groups, event updates, volunteer needs, and special service notifications.
Your church communication is no longer constrained to Sunday service. You can now connect with your congregation, engage in prayer, and support the body of Christ using platforms that your congregation uses every day.
It can be difficult for staff to engage with and follow up with every single member each church service, but social media can be used as a tool to extend your ministry and increase your ministry team’s accessibility.
Let your church culture flow into your Facebook posts, Instagram Stories, and Tweets. Real humans with real joys, sorrows, victories, and challenges make up your church leadership, so be transparent and real. Ask for prayer requests or share your favorite scripture to connect with your congregation outside of service. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and post your worship set list, quotes or scripture from past sermons, pictures of the church staff, and thoughtful articles to encourage your members in their walk with Christ.