Church storytelling tips: Social media edition
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
We've all been there. You're in a church service listening to the teaching. Your mind wanders to the game that'll happen in the afternoon or where you'll eat after the service.
Then the pastor pauses and starts, "The funniest thing happened to me yesterday at the grocery store" and almost audibly you hear everyone's attention directed to the stage.
We all love a good story.
Churches have discovered the need to tell more stories. About themselves, their community, their congregation. It attracts people's attention. Of course, you must use that attention to point to a greater truth.
Hopefully you're using video, drama, spoken word and other forms of storytelling in your services. But what about social media? How do you do that?
Gather an audience. I was on someone's Facebook page recently. They had dozens of posts but only three followers. Social media shouldn't be done unless you have an audience. Don't sit down to tell a great story unless people are there to listen.
Use ads or promoted post tools to attract people to your feeds (it's quite inexpensive). Start adding great content on your feed while you build the audience. But if you're not attracting an audience, you're probably wasting your time.
Know the form. There are many social mediums and each one is known for something. Telling a long story on Twitter is like doing a mime for radio broadcast.
Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are about the visual story; YouTube and Vine are about short video stories; Twitter is about short, pithy stories; and Facebook (the largest of all platforms) is about a variety of forms.
Discover the stories. This is the hardest part. I would recommend brainstorming your church's overall "story" — what you are known for. And then try to find internal and external stories that reinforce your larger story.
Create an easy way for your members to share these stories. Perhaps by following them on social media, you'll discover great stories. Then choose the medium it's best suited for.
Edit them. Every form needs to be edited. Twitter down to 140 characters, YouTube to 1 minute. Pinterest and Instagram need to be edited to a good image with a few words.
Make the story about one truth. Stop overcomplicating stories. Break them into several separate stories instead of boring people with too much in one.
Track the engagement. Use analytical data to let you know what people find interesting. Remember a "like" or "favorite" is the entry level to engagement. You want them to comment and ultimately you want the "share." When people push your content, they are fully engaged.
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