Guest Blog By Ben Larson.
This post is the third in a series on Church and Social Media. Click here to start from the beginning.
Okay, you’ve got a grasp on the Big Picture of social media and your strategy is in place…now what? Here are some basics of social media management that I’ve picked up from my friends, mentors, mistakes, and reading.
- Make your posts visually appealing. At the writing of this post, memes are the hot ticket on Facebook. A meme, loosely defined, is an image with text on it. They are currently outperforming every other form of post, including statuses, regular images, and videos.
- Play the long game. Build healthy, steady growth into your strategy now, so that after a year or two you have several thousand engaged listeners. You can buy 5,000 listeners and have them in a week, but they aren’t going to pay any attention to your message (if they’re even real people).
- Use tools, but not exclusively. Tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are essential for anyone that intends to tweet and facebook regularly and doesn’t want to spend hours logging in and out of various accounts. But don’t think that they excuse you from ever having to log in. You should still be monitoring your posts to make sure they’re showing up correctly, interacting with other accounts, and monitoring your replies and comments on each of your pages. Take advantage of the cool toys out there, but don’t lose track of what’s actually going on in your accounts.
- Find your peak traffic times. There are apps out there to help you do this, but only if you’re already getting significant traffic. Check out Agora Pulse’s Facebook Barometer, a new Google Chrome plug in that analyzes your Facebook fans and posts, or Tweriod, a Twitter tool that tells you when the majority of your followers are online. While these tools will give you a good head start in this department, keeping tabs on your own successes and failures is always the best way to monitor your social media efforts.
- Get a graphic designer attached to your social media department. A typical organization has more graphic design needs than human resources, and churches are no exception, but if you can carve out an hour or two a month to create new memes and help keep the look of your social media pages up to date and fresh, do it.
- Deal with negative interactions. You shouldn’t respond to EVERY interaction. It makes you look desperate. But you do need to respond to most negative interactions, whether directly or indirectly. Don’t expect everyone to like what you post or agree with your message. Decide how you’ll deal with negative interactions beforehand so you don’t have to think about it in the moment. It’s hard to know whether to delete, ignore, or respond to something negative when you’re still angry that someone had the nerve to say it in the first place. Here are a couple guidelines I use:
o Obcenity/Profanity. Make your own decisions on this one, but I consider obscenity and profanity automatic grounds for deletion. Bad language can offend or turn off visitors that land on your page, even if you aren’t the one who said it. It’s like your family cussing when you have company over: you may not be cussing, but it happened in your house, and your guests won’t want to come back. Just delete it and move on. Same goes for spam. They should know better, and you have the right to moderate the conversation.
o The crazies. If someone isn’t really crossing any social boundaries, but their comment is so out to lunch that there is no appropriate response, bury it in positive comments. Have your friends and family members (that have different last names) leave enough positive comments that the negative comment seems insignificant. DO NOT sic your family and friends on the person to engage and reply to the comment. That’s just asking for trouble from every direction.
o When they’re right. Negativity isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe you’re actually wrong. Maybe your message is missing an important part of an issue. Maybe some healthy dialogue will result, driving more commenters to join the conversation. At the very least, someone thought your message was worth responding to. That’s got to be worth something. Even if you disagree with someone, if their tone is respectful, thank them for commenting and try to continue building the relationship. Remember that this is a conversation you’re having in public, and make sure that it represents you and your message well and respects the other person and their opinion.
o Ignoring a comment on Facebook. Ignoring a negative comment that is all alone on a post is rarely a wise move. I won’t say it’s never appropriate, but I can’t think of a reason to ignore one. Leaving a negative comment all alone on your page is kind of like leaving your dirty underwear on the kitchen table. There’s no law against it, but it isn’t very healthy. It communicates to your audience that you either think it belongs there, don’t care about it, or – worst of all – are so checked out that you don’t know it’s there.
Good luck, and have fun!