Guest Blog by Ben Larson.
Now that we’ve talked about why churches need to have a social media presence, here’s my list of things you can do to begin building your own social media strategy. It’s by no means comprehensive, and my first recommendation is actually to go and find more material to read. This information is heavily indebted to conversations with Kemi Ingram and Bobbi Steward, as well as books by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Michael Hyatt.
- Research, research, research.
Here are some great books I’ve read that have shaped the way I approach social media: Twitter for Good and Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Keep your eye on rising trends, apps, websites, and strategies.
- Experiment (but track your results!) There is no perfect formula for succeeding at social media, and even if there was, it would be out of date in about 48 hours. Take risks, expect to fail occasionally, learn from your mistakes, and stick to what works.
- Be yourself. You’ll never impress anyone by trying to fake an online personality. You have to be authentic and be yourself. That implies knowing yourself well enough to know if you’re the wrong person to be posting from your social media account. If you’re the wrong person, find the right one and hand it over to them.
- Don’t be shy about copying other people. There’s nothing impressive or noble about spending five months originating your own successful strategy if you could have found it in five minutes by watching what everybody else is doing. Find the successful organizations with similar goals and audiences to yours and do what they do.
- Have some grace for yourself. If this doesn’t sound like a ton of work to you, maybe you need to reread this post. Or maybe you have too much energy. Don’t expect to succeed right away. Don’t expect your accounts to explode overnight.
- Build a team of advocates. Have the church staff like, comment, favorite, retweet, and share your message every week. Find a network of people in your church that are willing to be your ‘social media team.’ That way you won’t find yourself awkwardly logging in and out of every family member’s account to try to make it look like someone cares about your latest update. Don’t roll your eyes at me…if you haven’t borrowed someone else’s account yet, your time will come.
- The lead pastor’s account IS a church account. Pastors that don’t realize this can easily undermine their message by not treating their personal Facebook or Twitter with the sensitivity they should. If you’re a pastor, don’t say something in a comment you wouldn’t say from the pulpit, even when you’re talking to your friends and family. Facebook conversations are PUBLIC.
- Don’t spread your message too thin. I personally think most churches (especially small ones) only need two accounts per social media site: the church account and the lead pastor account. Everyone on staff should have personal accounts as well to help support the other two, but their role is different. That said, if someone in your church just really HAS to create a Facebook page for their ministry, don’t go to war over it. A social media account isn’t worth wounding someone.
- When you do create a new account, think it through:
- Is the target audience large enough to warrant spending three to five hours a week maintaining a new social media identity? You’ll kill 9 out of 10 potential accounts just by asking this question.
- Who is going to maintain it? If there isn’t anybody to maintain the page, guess what: don’t create it (unless you’re reserving the URL or username for when there is someone).
This post is Part 2 in a three part series. In case you missed it, check out Social Media Part 1