No matter how hard you try, without paying to promote your content, it can be difficult to reach people through social media.
This is contrary to the promise – social media provides a platform that anyone can use to reach the world. In days gone by, new posts were presented on every platform in reverse chronological order, which could mean that timing was important. Now, posts are sorted by popularity or the potential to interest you (or make the platform money), so there are many things you simply won’t see.
Boosting a post on Facebook or other platforms can help with visibility, but when you’re running a non-profit, advertising funds can be difficult to come by.
So here’s the question – how to you get better social media engagement?
The answer is quite paradoxical.
The Engagement Paradox
When a post or profile has interactions, such as likes and shares, social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all take this as an indication that the content posted is informative or relevant.
This “popular” content is then shown to more people, increasing the interactions it receives. The next post produced by the profile or page gets similar treatment, and if the interactions continue, the cycle repeats.
When a post gets limited interaction from the core group of fans, it isn’t spread wider – in fact, not all the people who follow the page or profile will get to see it.
Success breeds success, failure breeds failure. It’s not great, it’s not pretty, but is it the state of social media. It’s how echo chambers are built – people with certain opinions share the content with their audience, boosting its reach and the interactions it receives, and it begins the self-perpetuating cycle.
In simple terms, to get good engagement, you need good engagement to begin with.
A Game of Numbers
Some people get featured on the news, shared by a celebrity, or have some other way of suddenly becoming known. For a church social media profile, this is unlikely to happen (at least for the reasons you’d want).
If you gain a high number of followers, if only a small percentage of them see your posts, it can begin to drive the engagement cycle. But first, you need to reach them!
The easiest way to do it is through advertising. Boost posts, advertise your page, and so on – this will slowly increase the numbers and bring you toward self-sustainability.
To do it without spending money is harder, but make a start by announcing your social media channels during services. Ask people to follow, and ask them to interact when they see posts. The more likes, comments, and shares you get, the better.
Go one step further and ask them to turn on notifications for posts, or to hunt them down every day with the idea of adding a like or comment.
Add links to social media in your church newsletter or bulletin, add links to your livestream, even mention other social media platforms on your existing ones – like what you see on Facebook? Why not follow us on YouTube and Twitter?
Put the links on your church website, put them in a prominent place on your promotional posters or flyers. Got a business card? Stick the link on there too!
With patience, consistency, and a congregation that plays the game with you, you’ll be able to drive engagements by decisive action. Remember, the more engagement you can build organically, the more people will see your content, and the greater the return overall.
Don’t just post it and pray – remember Proverbs 14:23 – All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Engagement poverty can be avoided when you and your congregation are willing to put the work in.