The biggest pitfall churches fall into with social media is posting only event announcements. Of course you want to let your followers know about your upcoming spaghetti dinner. But those kinds of updates is not what it is all about. I discuss six types of content you can post to your website, social media, and email newsletters. Done well, they should drive traffic and increase engagement.
There are many things you can share that are not “churchy” and help the local community. During the summer you can share local visitor guides for your city. Perhaps you are hosting an event at your church for a local non-profit group. You want to post information that is not directly related to your church. But the fact that you shared it means your church’s name is associated.
There are many quotes and images that can encourage your followers. Much like your awareness posts, they do not have to be connected to your faith. A cute picture and the text “Smile, somebody loves you” could be all you need. This is an opportunity to post scripture quotes, but they should be positive. Save rebukes for more personal platforms. Here is where you can allow God’s word to speak hope into people’s lives.
Easter and Christmas are two times of year the church gets a pass on posting more content. This is because these times of year see the most guest invitations. Also, many churches put on pageants, plays, and concerts. These seasonal additions make great vehicles to bring in new people. First, post your seasonal content. Then ask members to share your image, and talk with a friend about it.
Nobody wants to bring a friend when your pastor is talking about tithing. Unless they are familiar with the concept, they often feel like the church is just after their money. Yet there are often services with sermons and worship that are very inviting. Depending on your church and denomination, you may have Sundays where you are encouraged to invite a friend. Unlike a seasonal invitation, these often have longer-lasting results. People are more likely to attend your church if they are invited by a friend. So make it easy for members to publicly and privately share content with someone they know.
Blasting out announcements is indeed a valuable content type. They show your church’s culture and that it has an active community. You save bulletin space and reduce time on the pulpit if you transition content to newsletters and social media. Plus you make those invitations shareable to friends. These events may be at your church, but are friendly for someone who has never been inside one. Enjoying a dinner is far easier than attending a service.
The best way to get engagement on your social media channels is to ask questions. Keep them open-ended so that both members and non-members can respond. You can pair these questions with other types of content. Send out an announcement about an upcoming Christmas concert. Then later post a question asking what was their favorite song from last year’s show. Even something simple as asking who could use prayer is helpful. Just ask that they respect theirs and other’s privacy. Give your church’s phone number if they require counseling or wish to talk in a more personal setting. But generally speaking, asking questions to your followers can be fun. Plus, if done right, it can generate some buzz about an upcoming event.
Review the six content types I mentioned above. Next create a publishing schedule for each type. Then count how often you intend to post in each category. Adjust those numbers to reflect your church leadership’s goals. Prepare ahead of time to meet those expectations. Your encouragement posts should be the easiest to make. They are short and require less effort. Also, quick questions are easy and solicit engagement. This is good as you do not want to sound like a megaphone blasting out impersonal announcements. As the name social media suggests, be personal and make a connection. Your followers should reward your efforts with both online and offline activity.
Photo courtesy of Henrique Lopes and David Willeboordse