Love it or hate it, social media can be a huge asset when trying to share a message, promote an event, and build community. That’s why I think it’s so important for churches to make the most of this free resource to let people know what God is doing in your church, and invite them to join in!
That said, it can be hard to know how to use social media to its full potential, so whether you’re just starting out or trying to take your online presence to the next level, here are a few things to bear in mind…
The term ‘brand’ simply refers to the distinctive story that we tell about ourselves
What story do you want to tell?
The terms ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’ don’t sit comfortably with many Christians, as we don’t like to feel like we’re selling something. While that’s totally understandable, we should be more au fait with the term ‘brand’ as this simply refers to the distinctive story that we tell about ourselves.
As the people of God, we have a unique story of redemption, love and grace through Jesus – that’s our ‘brand’ – and, we want people to feel invited into this story when they see any flier, poster, or Facebook post about us. Therefore, as individual churches, we want to not only reflect this bigger story, but also think about conveying our specific values such as being welcoming, being a safe space, being a vibrant community, etc.
It takes time to cultivate an online brand identity, but the more intentional you are, the more people will see who you are as a church. With everything you post, ask what the key message is that you want people to know about God, your church, and how they can get involved.
Just as our services and events have something to say to believers and non-believers alike, our social media presence should be the same.
Who are you trying to reach?
With your key message in mind, it’s essential to consider whether your social media presence is just an online notice sheet for existing members, or whether it’s an invitation for non-members. As social media is a public platform and you can’t control who views your page, you really need to be aware of both these audiences within everything you post.
Practically, in order to make everyone feel welcome, avoid jargon and acronyms that might not make sense to people who don’t go to your church, and always clearly state the time, date and location of an event – don’t assume knowledge. Just as our services and events have something to say to believers and non-believers alike, our social media presence should be the same.
To get followers regularly engaging with your content, try to be consistent and reliable. People trust a reliable voice that they recognise, so sadly if multiple people post from your social media page, changing the voice, look and feel of your page, then followers might not engage very well. Have clear guidelines for what is acceptable, relevant content for the page, keeping your branding and tone consistent, so followers can rely on your church’s Facebook page as a trusted voice to regularly update them on what’s happening.
To get followers regularly engaging with your content, try to be consistent and reliable.
A fun idea to keep people engaged with church throughout the week is to think of things you could post weekly, such as ‘Follow-up Friday’ where you share a key thought from last Sunday’s sermon and encourage people to comment with how it’s impacted their week. This could be a great way to consistently touch base with people even if they’re not able to make it to mid-week events, and it also helps people outside the church get a flavour of what you get up to.
If you have an event coming up soon, then get a flier, poster or social-media-specific graphic made and ready to post well in advance. Because of the way Facebook algorithms work, it may take 3 or 4 Facebook posts before someone actually engages with your event. Make sure you plan ahead and post enough times that everyone gets a chance to hear about your events, and feels invited to come along!
Let people see inside
For many people, going into a church can be a really daunting prospect, but an easy way to help overcome that fear is through social media. Not only do posts containing photos gain more attention, but photos can give a feel of the layout, atmosphere and people in your church, as well as what to expect at a service or event.
Ultimately, if someone is inviting a friend to church, your social media pages should be a huge asset to their evangelism, providing an easy way to show what your church are about, and how to come along and join in!
There is so much more to say this topic, but a lot of it will take time, patience, and trial and error to discover what works for your church and the community you’re trying to reach. The key thing is not to be afraid to give it a go, and trust that God will use what you post as part of His mission to share the good news of Jesus.