The 2 categories of your church’s social media content:
We’re past the point of needing to have a discussion about the value of using Social Media to reach your community. Hey, if your church is still having that discussion, that’s cool, but most of us are on social media so much that we’re using it like skip button on our PVR.
For most of us, it would be like discussing whether or not to have the name of your church on your building or signage outside your portable church to let people know where to find you. Social Media has become second nature to most of us, and with the simplicity of setting up an managing an account, it should be taken for granted that your church is using Social Media to connect and engage with people in your community.
That being said, we’re now moving into a world where Social Media is getting noisy – there are facebook ads, pop-ups, event reminders, notification, friend request, DMs and way more than I can handle listing here, so like social media has evolved, your strategy around social media has to evolve as well.
There are 2 categories to consider when posting on your church’s social media accounts.
Internal or External:
Think of a big brand – Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Hilton, Disney – imagine they used Facebook on Tuesday to let their customers know about a new product, then used their facebook page on Wednesday to remind their staff that there’s a mandatory staff meeting on Monday morning.
Whatever engagement they garnered from their new product promotion would be crushed by very few people in their followers finding any value in a reminder about a staff meeting on Monday.
Consider your church members like the front line of your church making it all happen – the cashiers, shelf stockers, maintenance, customer service, guest relations, chefs in the kitchen.
Too many times when I’m stalking a church’s social media channel (side note: Yes, I do this in my spare time) I see an all-too-familiar mix of internal memos and external promotions which is taking your audience on a confusing roller coaster of “Cool, I’ll like and share this” to “What does that have to do with me?”
I’ve been guilty of this myself, both in business and with churches I’ve worked with. It’s possible for all of us to fall into this trap.
Ultimately, too many posts that are irrelevant to the end-user is going to cause them to unfollow your account – Maybe not the first or second time, but eventually seeing what could be considered “ads” for irrelevant products is going to find it’s limit.
The litmus test for internal and external content:
If I don’t yet go to your church, do I care or could it affect me?
Pretty simple: If I know nothing about your church, other than it’s in the same city as me, do I care about what you’re going to post.
We have to move away from using our facebook page, twitter account, snap chat and Instagram (or whatever else you’re on this week) to communicate things to our church members and focus that content on content for our community to engage with.
Men’s Breakfast Invitation: External. We need people to bring eggs to the Men’s breakfast: Internal.
Family circus day: External. We need someone to work in the nursery this Sunday since our teacher is sick: Internal.
Here is a sermon clip with some tips from Pastor Bob on parenting: External. In future services, we’re asking parents to please take your kids to the foyer to watch service if they’re causing a distraction: Internal.
We’re looking for community volunteers to help with our Christmas Dinner for our city. External. Sister so and so just got home from the hospital. Click this link to volunteer to bring her a meal. Internal.
Just imagine for a second a billboard in a city that says “Mary is sick this weekend. Please call the office if you know someone who can fill in the nursery on Sunday.”
BUT, what about the children?!
Ok, maybe not “the children” but what about the people in our church? This is the pushback I get all the time as if your facebook page is the only way to communicate with your church during the week.
(side note: if announcements are the “Holy Grail” of communication at church, then a social media post is perceived as the “Holy Grail” during the week.)
Tools that are perfect for internal communication:
- Email Newsletter segmented to specific audiences (ie. men/women, parents of kids/parents of youth, singles, young married couples, middle-aged couples, retired couples – you get the idea. Many people will fall into more than one category).
- Facebook Group – Build facebook groups for your small groups, or demographics of people at your church, or areas of the city where they live, etc. Groups are perfect for connecting and having conversations, plus great for mentioning a need or encouraging an internal effort without promoting it to your community audience.
- Text message services, like Text In Church, allow you to build multiple segmented lists so you can get the right information to the right people. Text beats out an email for urgent needs, or reminders (ie. Thanks for volunteering to help at the family fun day tomorrow. Setup starts at 4 pm! See you there!)
- Provide a 2-3 sentence announcement for your small group leaders to announce to their groups. Be sure the information matches the people represented in the small group.
Internal Communication goal: Right information to the right people at the right time.
Forget telling your retired couples about the singles night, or your young parents about youth retreat, or your campus 1 families about a campus 2 event in another town. Get the right information to the right people at the right time – including information you provide to your community.
To sum it up; Tools for Internal or External communication
- Facebook Groups
- Small-Group Leaders
- Service Announcements
- Signage in your church
- Social Media pages
- External Advertising – billboards, radio ads, mailers
How have you seen this working for your church? Leave a comment below so we can all learn together!