You’ve been asked to help your church with Social Media. Whether you’ve been hired as a part of the marketing team, or maybe in a volunteer capacity, here are some questions to get clear about the expectations and ideas on where to start moving forward.
Whether you’re starting at ground zero, or taking over existing accounts, here is a checklist to get your efforts launched on the right foot. Take it to your next meeting with the person you’re accountable to, whether that’s your Pastor, the marketing manager, someone else on staff or another volunteer. Talk through it with them and create a game plan for your first 30 days. Set a meeting in 30 days to evaluate the results. If you need ideas, here are 31 social media post ideas!
Here’s your checklist for discussion:
1. Who is our target audience?
Are we aiming to provide information to our current members, or is the goal of our Social Media to reach and invite new people? This will help identify the content and the network you’d like to focus on. Start by considering the target audience of your church. If you’re not yet sure about that, here is a way to start a discussion about your church’s target audience.
2. What Network(s) will we focus on?
There is no shortage of Social Media networks and opportunities to spend time online. Refer back to your target audience. It’s easier to get out in the community on twitter (you can follow local organizations and comment on their tweets) or snapchat and it’s easier to provide information on Instagram of Facebook.
If you have to choose one, Facebook still has the largest audience, but you could also take a poll with your people to find out which networks they’re already on. Here’s a link to figure out if you need a Facebook page or Facebook group. and a bit different perspective if you want to hear another opinion from Jonathan Talley about Facebook pages or Facebook groups.
3. Do we need to push the limits or stick to what is safe?
What kind of community do you want to build, and how do you want to build it? Does your leadership want you to create an opportunity for people to take a strong stance or keep the waters calm? Will I post about the church’s stance on current issues, or do I stick to promoting upcoming events and ministries?
4. Will someone need to pre-approve our posts?
The answer could be “Yes, always…” or it may be “Yes, for now…” or maybe “no, just go for it and we’ll discuss as we go.” but as the person posting, don’t take it personal if it’s decided that your posts go through a second set of eyes before they go live. This helps you get an idea of what’s expected and how your ideas for advertising the church on Social Media represent the branding and marketing of your church.
Setup a schedule for pre-approval… is it every Friday afternoon the posts are approved for the next week by email, and then they start to roll out the following Monday? Is it every other week, or every day before a post goes live it gets sent as a text message and approved? Not one is right or wrong, but what works best for your team.
5. How frequent will the posts be?
Set the expectation and find out up front. Don’t submit once a week posts if your leader is hoping for daily posts. Don’t commit to daily posts on 4 networks if you’re a volunteer who can only commit to once a day. Have a discussion about what you’re capable of committing to and how close that comes to the expectations.
Don’t make a commitment you can’t keep, and suggest bringing in another team member to focus on a different channel in order to meet the expectations.
6. How far will we have Social Media oversight?
If another department in the church wants to have their own page (like kids or youth) who is ultimately responsible for their content? Who approves their posting, and do you have a minimum standard you want to maintain for content, image or video quality, etc?
If someone on staff posts something that you feel may reflect poorly on the church, do you have an open door to have a discussion with them, or is their personal social media considered entirely separate?
7. How will we handle comments?
If a comment is positive, is the expectation that it’s acknowledged? Is that a like, a Retweet, a favorite, or will we type a reply to every positive comment? If a comment is negative, what are the parameters to address it?
My personal opinion is as much as possible to address a negative comment in a positive way… “We’re sorry your experience didn’t match our values. We would be happy to discuss a resolution if you’d call the office and ask to speak with…” but some times when a comment is vulgar or contains profanity, it’s clear that a phone conversation isn’t going to address the concern. In that case, I would just delete the comment. If the person persists, block them from your account. It’s not going to change their mind, and if they truly wish to make restitution, they’ll reach out in person – blocking them form Social Media probably won’t affect their change of heart.
If there’s a private message sent requesting prayer, or seeking financial aid or asking a question I don’t have an answer to, who do I forward that to?
8. What are the quantifiable goals in the first 30 days?
Quantifiable like ‘How many likes?’ or ‘How many followers?’ or ‘How Many interactions: comments or shares?’ not things like ‘To spread the Gospel’ or ‘To keep people informed’. Quantifiable goals allow you to discover what’s working, and what could change. The success of unquantifiable goals are a matter of opinion.
9. How frequent do we share our own content compared to sharing other people’s content?
There may be a great video on youtube that matches up with your current series topic or a funny quote from a famous preacher. What is the balance between finding other content and generating our own?
Is the content I’m sharing accurately reflecting our core values (read more about having your Social Media reflect your church’s core values in our ebook: Trust Glue)
10. Is there anything I need to stay away from?
Specifically. Is there someone who is popular on Social Media but doesn’t line up with our beliefs? Is there something that could become a distraction from our goals? Do we address prayer requests in the church with permission, or is this not the forum?
Asking these 10 questions when you take over your church’s social media will help you get clear on your leader’s expectations and the opportunities that you have to work within. Remember, these are a discussion starter – try and use them to ask more questions and be sure you’re on the same page with your leader. Also, remember that the digital world is always changing, and it’s probably a good idea to have this discussion again in another 30 days to evaluate your progress.
I’d love to hear about your experience in taking over your church’s social media and what you learned in that process. Leave a comment below!