Social media is “working” for your members and prospective members. So if it isn’t part of your church marketing, you’re losing opportunities to reach out and engage with people.
Social media is all about building awareness and interaction. The fact that your church isn’t “selling” anything will be a welcome respite for your audience. Should social media become a major focus of your church marketing? Probably not, but it definitely has its place. Consider all these ways in which church social media can help grow your congregation:
- Invite people to special events such as your upcoming live Nativity presentation or Christmas Eve Mass celebration.
- Promote special fundraising campaigns.
- Add another way to distribute information and give your members another way to access that information – you could easily see a noticeable uptick in response.
- Reinforce your monthly postcard marketing messages.
- Listening – churches are generally more gifted at listening than other types of businesses, and being a good listener on social media is a very strong positive. What’s on your members’ minds? What are non-members thinking about or concerned about in their spiritual lives? What you learn from listening can make your church more relevant and more powerful on behalf of your ministry.
- Post pictures.
- Share inspiring stories or something relevant you recently heard or read.
- Spread the word about your mission, religious philosophy and good works projects.
- Start a conversation
- Create informal online religious dialogue or a regular Bible study group.
- Talk about the ongoing progress of your special projects. These are excellent opportunities to share photos or short videos of your members in action helping others.
Church social media gives you a wider outreach presence that can have significant value even if your church doesn’t rack up the same number of followers as a movie star, sports celebrity or big name retailer. You’re building your image and awareness of your mission. You never know when or where your message will resonate in just the right way with someone searching for what your ministry or congregation has to offer.
If you’re going to use social media, you have to do it right.
Like all your marketing, social media will reflect on your church and membership. You wouldn’t mail shoddy-looking postcards or allow your church itself to look as if you don’t care. Your social media profiles also need to positively and accurately reflect your church. Here are some tips:
- Include a photo that is visually inviting.
- Create a Facebook page, not a personal account – your church is a business on social media.
- “Attendance” counts to keep you top-of-mind on social media, so regularly updating posts is as important as regularly mailing your monthly church marketing postcards.
- Monitor other people’s postings and follow up – the whole point is engagement.
- Twitter is a modern way to deliver the Thought of the Day from your pastor.
- If you produce audio or video messages or excerpts of your pastor’s sermons, post them on YouTube and link to them via Facebook and Twitter.
- Make sure your have a Google+ page. It has become a requirement for every local business, and that’s you. Google+ makes it easy for people to see key information about your church at a glance – things like your worship schedule, contact information, location including a map and directions.
- You can target who receives your various social media posts, making it even more valuable for specific interest or age groups within your congregation, from teens to choir to study groups.
The fact that your church marketing includes use of social media tells people you’re up to date, even if your mission and message are very traditional. You can build relationships within your congregation and throughout the surrounding community. And you can reach those not able to physically attend worship services or fellowship activities, whether they’re shut-ins or congregation members away at school or in the military.