Many social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter started out with no solid business model. They were homegrown startups dreamed up by people who wanted to enable something amazing. Soon millions of people engaged with each other via these outlets. To create a sustainable business model, it became a "pay to play" world for businesses. In this article I will discuss what this new realm of social media marketing is. I will explore what types exists, and what your church can do to get the most out of them.
Social media platforms have grown and had huge success in recent years. Yet as these projects grew, the creators needed to generate revenue. Several models have evolved over time. Nearly all features are free to individual users. Yet to reach those millions of users, businesses have some possible costs. The primary models they use are ads and boosted posts. Both cost money, but they have different objectives.
Advertising for Awareness
Are you starting something new and you need to simply get the word out? Putting an advertisement on Google may be the answer. But you want to tighten the scope of your ad beyond a geographic area, browser, or keyword search. Your new young women's ministry can easily focus on a target demographic with social media marketing. Many social media outlets have that precise demographic information. This means less waste and more concentrated results. Posting an ad with social media is like showing a billboard to only the drivers you want to attract.
What does it mean to boost your content's reach? Those people that follow you on Twitter, or "like" your page on Facebook do not always see your content. In fact, Facebook currently limits your posts and updates to roughly 15% of your followers. If you want to increase that, you need to pay. This may seem underhanded, but understand that these companies need to make money. Servers and development teams do not work for free. If you invest with some advertising, you will build your church. As a bonus, you support the platforms you rely on every day to get your message out.
What Else? A Call to Action!
It seems that everyone has a page on Facebook and/or a Twitter account. Just as common is their request for you to follow them on that platform. What many fail to do is provide something to do. They follow you, and that's it. That will result in them occasionally seeing your posted content. Push it a step further and offer a piece of content in exchange for signing up for your email list. Ask your pastoral team to create an eBook, such as a "15 day daily devotional for new believers". If you have digital audio of your church worship band, offer a free song. Remember that email lists reach everyone, compared to the 15% of your Facebook followers. Plus a digital gift will show you want to give back to your audience. I discussed this concept more deeply in my Content Marketing article.
If your are confident that your target audience is online and using social media, invest in that market. Instead of dumping money into advertising that has no tracking, invest in social media marketing. Many platforms provide tools that show what your reach and click-through rates are. Plus if you combine that with a strong call to action, you can bring them closer. Signing up for a mailing list is a great idea for this. Just be sure to explain what you will contact them about and how often you will send it. Adding a digital download such as a song or eBook is an easy incentive to boost those numbers. Prayerfully set some goals, create a plan, and spend a little bit of money. Then sit back and see what your return on investment is.
Photo courtesy of Marius Muresan