In today's world if a congregation wishes to reach out to the Youth, new members, or existing members, they must have a Church Social Media Strategy. There are many aspects and many forms of Social Media. Let's discuss some of the things we can do with each.
Facebook is one of the best known forms of Social Media available. An extremely high number of your youth, members, and potential members will be on Facebook. You can create a Group or a Page for your church. These each give you different functionality. I personally recommend using a Facebook Page, to represent your church, and use Facebook Groups to represent your Youth Groups, and your Sunday School classes. The Facebook page gives you a central location, that you can make public and anyone can go to the page to find out what is happening and make comments on. This is an extension of a Church Website.
A group is more of controlled access, allowing only those who belong to have access, so that they can discuss and plan events. It allows them to communicate amongst themselves without have to make it public and open to the entire world.
Another aspect of Facebook, is the Event system it offers you. if your Church is having an event, and you want to spread the word out to as many people as possible, then the Facebook Event is exactly what your needing. Create an Event, provide all the details, and location information, with the Date/Time. Then change the Privacy to Public. Final step click "Invite Friends" and invites all your friends. Speak to your friends and encourage them to invite there friends, and so on. Very quickly and easily you can reach out hundreds, or thousands of people.
This is the Social Media of NOW! Limited in size, limited in content, your tweet must be masterful, targeted and short. A tweet is 140 characters in length. It may contain an URL, Tags, and a GeoTag. Now the question comes how to make 140 characters useful? Here are some example Tweets that are excellent choices:
- Post a new Article on your website, your Tweet should be: [Article Name] by [Author] [Short URL to post]
- An event is announced, your Tweet should be: [Event Name] [Date] [Time] [GeoTag for Event Location] [Short URL to Event Details]
- Event is starting, your Tweet should be: [Event Name] is starting at [GeoTag for Event Location] [Short URL to Event Details]
Hasttags are words/letters in the form: #Church, #Youth. These can add so much power to you by helping you select your target audience. Here are some suggestions:
- #[AbbreiviatedChurchName][City][State] – Will represent your Church in general on Twitter, we’ll call this #[ChurchName] for simplicity moving forward.
- #[ChurchName]Youth – Will represent your Youth in the church, allowing your youth to use a consistent hashtag to communicate, and your Youth Minister a consistent hashtag to communicate with the youth.
- #[ChurchName][GroupName] – Great way for any group to have consistent hashtag for communication purposes.
- #[ChurchName][EventName] – Create hype for an event by tweet about it, and the great things to come from it.
- #[ChurchName]Worship – Single hashtag for people to tweet about your worship service. Providing a great way to keep things consolidated.
These may or may not work for you, but the important thing is to make them known and consistently used around the church.
This is similar to Facebook. You have Events, that you can share, instead of Groups you have Circles, and instead of Pages you have Hangouts. Overall a very nice system with gaining popularity. They do toss in the Twitter hashtag ability as well. Worth your effort to setup and use.
This is the one that confuses many people, why would a church want to be on LinkedIn? Well it's not, but it is. Your ministers, and those who work consistently with the church should be. They should have links to their LinkedIn profiles in there Church Website Profiles as well. In addition the church should be a place in LinkedIn to work. Also you should start a group in LinkedIn for your church. Keep it simple just a single group representing your church, encourage all members of your church on LinkedIn to join the group. The reason being? When someone moves to an area they are going to look at contacts in the area and for guidance. This is an very important step that is often overlooked.
This one is simple, you should be taking Video of everything you can around your church and posting to YouTube to share. Whether you edit them and clean them up nicely or you just put the raw video up this can help show people what is going on in your church.
Add your church to Foursquare, setup your managers on it for running Campaigns. Your campaigns can be things as simple as the first youth to check gets to choose the first game. Or new people checking into your church the first time, receive a Welcome Bag. Be sure to post the sticker you will be sent so people know your church is a Foursquare location.
This is the lifesaver of websites. It's not a Social Media site itself, what it does is so much more. Your able to associate your social media accounts from all of these sites with ifttt. Once you have done that your able to setup triggers. These triggers can be extremely elaborate. For instance when you make a new post on your Website, it's automatically tweeted on Twitter, posted to your Facebook Page, and Google+. Upload a new video to YouTube, and that video can be shared automatically to Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, shared on Google+, and added to your website if your using a blogging software such as WordPress or Blogger for your website. These are very simple to setup, but thousands of recipes already exist, and can be used very easily.
A Church's Social Media Strategy can me the make or break scenario for many churches. These mediums provide many ways for your ministry to reach to people who need it, and for your existing members to communicate effect lively. This should never be taken lightly, and much care needs to go into the details. Decide on who will be settings these sites up, who will have access to make posts. Speak to people within your congregation about participating. Be consistent with names, hashtags, and updates. Automate things as much as possible.