When you want to reach people, it is easier to go to them than it is to convince them to come to you. The best forms of advertising are put in front of people exactly where they are, in a place it can’t be missed.
Billboards are placed on main roads where people walk and drive past every day. Commercials are placed in the middle of TV shows with a captive audience already sitting there. If you want to get your message out, you need to go where the people are.
For churches, church events, and church services, the same thing applies. A large number of churches have a noticeboard outside that anybody can see, but it is often small, and not every church has a lot of people passing by regularly.
Social media bypasses the physical limitations of the reach of your church, and with paid-for advertising or members of your church sharing content, it will be seen by more and more people.
But what exactly should you be posting on your social media platforms?
Social Media is not a Digital Noticeboard
It is very tempting for church social media managers to post about their upcoming services, jumble sales, and anything else that is happening, but this gets old very quickly. We know there’s a service on Sunday, and anyone who isn’t part of the church won’t be interested in coming simply because you have a service on Sunday like every other church.
Of course, you should mention upcoming events to show that your church is open, lively, and ready for action. But if 75% plus of your content is dates, times, and announcements, you’re not performing an outreach. In fact, this would be a very inward-looking way to treat platforms that can reach thousands.
Social media should be an extension of your ministry, an extension of pastoral care, and a welcome break from the doom and gloom that may surround it. The reality is that social media is a communication channel, not an announcement platform.
Ask people how they are. Find out what they need. Pose questions and start conversations. You may find that the answers you get are unexpected, and raising engagement with your community – and not just your congregation – is more likely to bring people to your door asking their own questions than inviting them to the Harvest Festival dinner.
Keeping Connected with Church Social Media
The year 2020 taught us that nothing is forever, and church is more about people than buildings. We knew this all along, but staying at home to lessen the effects of a coronavirus pandemic drove it home forcefully.
No longer able to meet in person, social media allowed communication that previously happened face to face. Many churches have gone online with their services, utilizing YouTube and other platforms to get the message out.
Pastors, vicars, priests, and others have found that social media is a great way to reach those they know, and those they don’t know too. Short videos appearing on Facebook midweek lift people’s spirits, and messages of strength and hope abound across all platforms.
There is a rush for some to return to “normal”, but things may never be the same again. Embracing technology and adding it to your ministerial arsenal is vital.
Here are some of the things you should now consider for your social platforms:
- Brief mentions of upcoming events, but not too often
- Videos/live streams of services
- Videos/live streams of events such as communion
- Post encouraging verses to lift the spirit
- Put up questions for your community – how are you doing? What do you need? What are your worries?
- Add photographs of the church before lockdown, and photos of what is happening now. Are you decorating the church in anticipation of reopening? Show and share.
- Share information. Know of a food bank or a service offering help? Point people to it.
- Don’t be afraid to share posts from other churches. Strengthen the community by building bridges and forging links.
- Keep to a schedule. Post regularly, for if your posts are random, people may worry that you are no longer there. Even if it is only once a week, people will quickly come to understand your process and look forward to your next post.
- Post content that can be shared. It doesn’t have to be a verse from the Bible, it can be a quote from a leader of the past, even something from a film or show. If it connects and resonates with those who don’t attend church, so much the better, just as long as it is in line with the teaching of the church
And don’t forget to utilize video with YouTube and Facebook, as well as recording podcasts. Many people can be reached just by your words, and they don’t need to see your face – sharing in any way you can, will bring a result.
What about the noticeboard?
If you have a website, it is the ideal place to keep people updated on upcoming events, even if they are online-only. Knowing there is a permanent page with these events will save people the hassle of searching through your social media posts.
But don’t forget to include links to your social media channels on your website!