The social scene: Choosing the best social media networks for your church
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Almost every few months, a new social networking website emerges. Long-established social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are popular and well-known, but newcomers like Instagram and Snapchat have quickly gained ground.
For most of us — especially busy church administrators — learning the ins and outs of social media can be time-consuming and even overwhelming. With the rise (and fall) of many social media networks over the past decade, choosing which ones work best for your church is tough.
If you manage your church's social media, here are some tips to help.
Create a social media identity for your church
Having a presence on social media isn't enough — a recognizable brand identity makes your church's presence stronger. When you launch your church's page or profile on a social media network, use your church's full name, logo and photos on that site. Be sure to include the city where your church is located and a link to your church's website.
Managing your brand and profiles on multiple sites may seem overwhelming, but you only need one page on each network. You don't need to create separate social media identities for every single ministry in your church. Just make sure your church's social media profile clearly identifies your church to newcomers.
Choose networks where you have an audience
In terms of brand management, it's a good idea to secure your church's name when a new social network launches. However, this doesn't mean you must establish a presence there, especially if you don't have an audience that would make your time investment worthwhile.
Hashtags are a great way to determine whether you have an audience on a social media network. For example, if your church uses hashtags in Facebook posts and is considering an Instagram account, monitor those hashtags there. If you see quality posts using those hashtags, you might discover that some of your church's congregants, or those you follow on other social networks are on Instagram.
You could also consider polling your church members or congregants to see which social media networks they use.
Choose networks that fit into your daily workflow
While you don't have to post daily on every social network, you should choose social network websites that fit into your regular workflow. If you rarely use videos in social networking, you probably don't need a YouTube account. You may be able to accomplish your goals by uploading those videos to Facebook, especially if you already have an account there.
Church blogs are a great idea for many congregations, but not if you have trouble carving out the time to post or find writers. If you're long-winded with posts, Twitter's 140 characters may not be enough for you.
If you like a social network, and it connects you to inspiring content, you'll be more likely to put forth the time and effort into making it work.
Ditch networks that aren't working for you
Your time is worthwhile, and you have limited resources. If you give a social media network a chance but find that you don't have an audience or have trouble finding content, it's OK to stop posting.
If your church's website contains social media buttons for networks you don't use or stop using, removing those buttons is a smart idea. You don't want to send traffic away from your site, especially to a social networking profile that's not active.
If you leave a social media network, you can always revisit and reconsider your decision in the future. Every congregation is different, so don't focus your time and energy on a platform that isn't working for you.
Hopefully, these tips will help you choose and manage your church's social media networks. Social media is here to stay, and it can be an effective ministry tool to spread the gospel.
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