Getting your message out to the public and making sure people see it is a key piece of growing a church in today’s culture. After all, if people don’t know about you, how do you expect them to walk through your front doors?
Creating a dynamic marketing team is one solution to enhance the growth of your church. But simply focusing on your website and where you appear when people Google your church can only go so far. How do you spark a relationship with those wanting to know more about you? How do you maintain a relationship outside of a face-to-face interaction at church once a week? Is it even possible to grow a church through digital content?
In 2011, the answers to that question were sparse because there was little data to collect when it came to users in the church searching for info digitally, including downloading or using a Bible app. However fast forward a few years, and research shows that 43% of Christians surveyed said they have downloaded and regularly use a Bible app on their digital device. 53% of these believers say they regularly use their device to find Biblical content and Bible verses. So is it important to have a digital presence? Absolutely.
So what exactly does that look like? What social media accounts would benefit you and your church? Well that primarily depends on the average age of your congregation. If your members range in age from 40-60 years old, Facebook will be the most used social media. Now if your members range in ages 18-35, Twitter and Instagram will be your best choice as most users in this age range use these two platforms.
Now that you know more about social media and your current members, you’re probably wondering how to use social media to grow your church. Since the top three social media accounts are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is wise to incorporate all three into your marketing strategy. But each of these mediums have their own strategy to grow followers, increase engagement and reach the masses. So let’s break it down.
Facebook is all about quality rather than quantity. Users want valuable and applicable content rather than promotional pieces. Users tend to jump ship on brands that promote themselves too much. Use this baseline as a way to promote your church messages and other things that center around the person and not your church.
Another key piece to Facebook is making sure all of your contact information is up to date and accurate. Make sure the service times, phone numbers, addresses, website and other contact pieces are correct. Nothing is worse than having inaccurate information that leads people astray.
To create and increase engagement with content on Facebook, develop posts that ask questions correlating with previous content you posted. Did you already post content containing information about fasting? Then create an additional post asking people what they typically fast from. Food? Internet? Their phone? These engagement pieces should make the user take your information, apply it to their lives and create an internal response that they use to respond to your engagement strategy.
Instagram is designed to share visually appealing content alongside valuable written content. The perk of Instagram for your church? You’re able to share your church’s culture more strategically. You can also share people’s stories and how God is moving in your church with visual content of the person or events.
If possible make sure all photos are high quality and have the same feel to them, (i.e. same color tones, filters, etc.). You want people to be able to recognize your church from just looking at your picture without even seeing who posted it. Delegating an able and talented person on your team to take high quality pictures is a great way to start.
Instagram engagement is unique in that you simply have to double tap a picture or click the heart to like it. Instagram has made it easy for people to simply tell you they’ve seen your content. To increase in comments and further interaction, pose questions on topics that get the most likes. Create Instagram stories that connect your followers to your content. Start creating live stories that share your churches heart and messages each week. The more opportunities you offer people to engage with, the better.
Before you start tweeting away, the first thing you need to do to make your Twitter presence great is to have an optimal profile. Make sure you have a well written bio, updated picture with your logo, updated contact info, and are verified by Twitter. Creating a credible space right off the bat will assist in a successful account.
When it comes to Twitter content, make sure this information is something useful to your readers. Whether it connects with them on a personal basis (such as a short sentence from your Sunday sermon) or helps them in some way (such as providing a time and location for a canned food drive or other event) it should be straight and to the point. Twitter’s limited character usage will force you to be concise, so think short, powerful messages.
Using strategic hashtags will also help expand your church’s reach. Don’t know what hashtags to use? Spend some time following other successful Twitter accounts that have the same message as your church. What hashtags do they use? What hashtags can you come up with that might be applicable? Incorporate as many as possible into each post.
Including photos, videos and other multimedia with your post will also help increase your engagement. You want people to interact with you in as many ways as possible, and using valuable graphics alongside each post will help.
Tweet at the right time. Start with the industry standards of tweeting at 12 PM, 5 PM, and 6 PM. Then once you get the hang of regularly tweeting, start tweaking your tweeting times to meet the needs of your audience. Using Twitter’s analytics can help you define these times. If you’re nervous about missing a set time or are out of the office when you need to schedule a tweet, schedule it ahead of time so you know what information is going out at certain times.
With Any Social Media Account
Define Your Goals
Before you begin, make sure you and the rest of your church staff are on the same page when it comes to growing your social media accounts. Are you more interested in engagement, followers or something else? Do you have a solid way to define if someone coming through your doors found you via social media, phone book, Google, word of mouth, or another way? Make sure you are prepared before diving in.
Set Your Target Audience
Setting your target audience will help with the words, phrases and content you post. If you primarily have an audience in their 20’s, talking about things such as retirement and raising teenagers is not an applicable way to connect with them. By knowing your audience and setting goals to reach that audience, you can tailor your wording to be successful.
Find Like-Minded Successful Social Accounts for Each Platform
Find other churches or organizations with similar messages and follow them. What are they posting? What engagement pieces work for them? What hasn’t worked? How do they represent themselves? Having social media role models is helpful to know how to grow your message.
Posting at the same times throughout the day and week allows your followers to not only gather your information easily, it also allows you to send information to the targeted audience members who commonly appear online during those times. This helps you know how to set and tweak goals as needed.
Engage With Those Engaging With You
If you had a relationship with someone who never talked back, it wouldn’t be much of a relationship would it? Answering questions, responding to comments, liking comments and any other way you can respond back will help create credibility and loyalty when it comes to your followers. Responding to your followers quickly and within just a couple hours also creates loyalty among your followers.
Consistently looking at analytics and understanding your strength and weaknesses when it comes to social media, will help to set new goals, improve old goals, and provide a sturdy foundation to move forward. This foundation will help you spread your message to the masses and allow you to keep running in the right direction.
Overall, having an active social media presence will help you spread the word about your church. Don’t be afraid to jump in and get your feet wet. You can do this. One step at a time.