If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to explain to you how social media has changed the entire game when it comes to communicating to people in general, but more specifically, when it comes to communicating, as a church, to the people in your community.

But a successful social media strategy isn’t something that just happens.  In fact, some of the most common questions about social media management are: “When do I post?” and “What do I post?” Although those are good questions to ask, those two answers are hardly going to equal a successful social media strategy.

Let’s look at 10 things that can deliver a successful strategy for your church:

1. Know Your Intended Audience

Social media usage is going to be different, based on the demographic you are trying to reach.  Facebook is a great place to start, but you may find that your church youth group doesn’t use Facebook at all.  In fact, it’s likely your church youth group is using social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.  While it may be best to start by focusing on a single platform, understand that there are people that you won’t reach on certain platforms. Know who your audience is and where to find them.

2. Give Yourself Time to Create Content

It’s important that you think through the goal and the message of everything you post.

Yes, there are times that posting something quick and fresh will be necessary.  But, if you can establish where the ‘spur of the moment’ post fits into your strategy, it works. The important thing here is that when you develop a strategy, you take the time to consider that every post matches up with your overall goals.

3. Identify Your Platforms

You may not have a cross-platform strategy from day one. But you do need to know how you’ll use each platform.  Will you have some of the same content on every platform? Probably. But you may need to present it differently.  On your website, for instance, you can probably just cut straight to the bottom line.  People that visit your website expect to get information from you in a very direct manner.  However, on every social media platform you use, you’re fighting for attention with every other friend they have, the page they’ve liked and account they’ve followed.  You probably need to work a little harder to grab their attention.  It’s important to note, this will be done differently on each platform.  Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and even your website are all great platforms to use, but you need to identify each one and understand how you’ll use them.

4. Stay True to Your Brand

This is simple but often overlooked.  A branding guide could really help.  Make sure your logo matches on every account.  Make sure the colors are the same and the fonts match. This is one of those subtle things that can really pull away from the congruency that you’re trying to achieve across platforms.

5. Change it Up

A lot of social media managers will fall into the trap of keeping the same schedule.  While there is a place for “Thankful Thursday” or whatever clever tool that you’re using consistently, you have to remember that your audience will get bored if they know what to expect.  Perhaps you’ve noticed this before: You do something new, it performs well, everybody loves it!  Then you tell yourself, “I’ve figured something out, I need to keep doing this.” But soon you notice that exact thing isn’t working so well anymore.  The truth is, there could be a lot of reasons, there are a lot of variables in fact, but it could be– you just got too predictable.

6. Create Your Own Engagement

Ask questions, create polls, ask for prayer request, these are all great ways to create engagement. This may sound obvious, but the more engagement you create, the more you’ll get. When one person engages with a post (Like, Share, Comment) it pushes that post in front of more people.  The key here is that it needs to be organic. Simply asking a random question with every post probably won’t give you the desired results. Look for ways to create natural engagement.  Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “Will you share this post.”

7. Minimize Self Promotion

There are several thoughts and varying opinions on this matter. But most experts agree that anything above 30% of your posts aimed at promoting your church directly is too high.  That means, 70% of your posts need to be simply aimed at engaging your audience.  Make them feel good, tell a story, remind them that Jesus loves them, but 70% of the time, you shouldn’t be asking them to do anything. (i.e. Come to this event, sign up for this, pray for this situation, etc)

8. Check the Numbers

This is the only thing that can confirm that your strategy is effective.  Social platforms are providing us with incredible analytics and we have to utilize them. Look at what performs well and look at why something else might perform better.

It’s also important that you define goals. Let’s face it, ten thousand likes won’t pay for the new Youth Center. The overall goal should be to see people added to the church, don’t get caught up in likes and shares if they don’t convert to people setting foot into your church.

9. Stay Alert

Follow social media trends and take advantage of them. Social platforms are constantly adding new features. Over the years Facebook has added live video, gifs, reactions, all kinds of things that you could use to keep yourself top-of-mind with your audience.

Beyond that, you need to stay alert for potential problems. If you schedule your post ahead of time and the world is mourning a tragedy, you might have to cancel a post that will make your ministry seem callous to the community around them.

10. Constantly Adjust Your Strategy

Social platforms change every week. Perhaps your audience is changing. Maybe something you did last week isn’t working this week. You need to constantly look at this analytics and make informed decisions and changes based on the data. This is an ever changing world and you’ll need an ever changing strategy.

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