And how to gain traction
Navigating the world of social media for your church can be challenging. It wasn’t long ago that churches were creating their first social media accounts on places like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
Most pastors who lead churches in Canada are Baby Boomers and GenXers. They came into ministry long before the era of smartphones, apps and constant social connectivity. They were never trained in social media as a tool for ministry. Many feel like they’ve been playing catchup ever since the early 2000s.
Leaders from the younger Millennial or Gen Z generations are more likely familiar with the plat forms. But what works is constantly changing and requires regular education to stay up to date.
This is the common obstacle I see in churches and why church social media accounts tend to be boring bulletin boards, not places of en gaging social connection, discipleship or evangelism.
Senior leaders recruit younger staff, interns or volunteers to run social media. But just because younger generations spend time on social media doesn’t mean they can ensure the results on the church accounts that make running them worth while. Your church or organization’s social media needs a road map to success and that comes via strategy. There’s a difference between managing and strategizing. If you can do both, your social media will go from boring and low engagement to a meaningful tool for ministry.
• Social media strategy
A social media strategist is someone who thinks big picture and creates a road map to increased engagement. They aren’t focused on day-to-day tasks – rather their job is to deeply understand social media, see where trends are going, read the data from your accounts and make strategic decisions based on all that information.
A strategist is thinking about systems, structures and overall goals. They are concerned with voice, tone and a proactive plan to engage people in the ways they want to use social media. They typically make and adjust plans based on the data either monthly or quarterly.
Often they will build out a monthly calendar of the kinds of posts needed, at what times and what days. They are not typically writing the posts or creating the images, but the type of posts, from sermon recap content on Mondays to Instagram Live midweek to encouragement or fun on Fridays.
• Social media management
Well-planned strategy without execution is useless. A social media manager complements the strategist by doing the tactical work on the roadmap the strategist creates and regularly revises.
Develop a team of volunteers or staff members who love people and are creative to manage the day-to-day presence.
Social media managers write posts and source images, videos and graphics. So they need to be quite creative in writing and design. And they are the ones to interact with community comments and direct messages. They are the ones who become the pastoral voice behind the account, caring for people and cultivating community.
They ensure you are not just posting and walking away, but engaging in other people’s content as well, liking and commenting on behalf of the church on other profiles. They gather data monthly or quarterly to meet with the strategist to make decisions on next steps.
A lot of church and charity social media are boring and unengaging because they lack strategy or proper execution. You need both. Identify someone in your congregation (or hire an expert) who loves strategy, tech and looking at data to be the strategist. Develop a team of volunteers or staff members who love people and are creative to manage the day-to-day presence. You’ll quickly start to see social media be come an interactive environment that works with how it’s designed to be used and bring people together.
Why does this matter? Simply because the church stewards the best news in the world, so we should become better communicators of that message. There are billions of real people online who need hope, joy and peace in Christ. If we steward social media more wisely, we will see God do the supernatural work of heart transformation right before our eyes (and screens).