I wish I knew these 9 tips before I started using social media for my church. The wild, wild west of social media can be overwhelming because there are just so many choices out there. I hope this post sets you up for social media success.
#1 Know your time limitations – How much time do you have? Don't launch a gazillion outposts on every social media site if you can't keep them all regulary updated. Focus on what you can do well and keep it updated regulary. Fresh content is King.
#2 Look who is already talking - Who is talking already? People in your church are probably already using social media. How are you connecting with them? I know that when I went to set up Crossway's first official group page Alistair Cameron, a blogologist who attends our church had beat me to it. Instead of shutting the unofficial page down, I turned it into our official group page. Those who are using social media already are probably going to be your biggest supporters. Get them on board volunteering for you.
#3 Have your content and site ready to roll out: It's really bad practice to launch your blog/facebook/twitter feed then to leave it not updated for weeks on end. Social media has a daily or hourly shelf life. Blogs need refreshing weekly at a minimum. Old news becomes stale very quickly. Set up a weekly communications routine to create the content for the coming week (or if you are really on top of your game – the upcoming month)
#4 Invite your congregation to be your friends - Let your church know about your social media outposts. Don't just expect them to find it. They will then tell their friends, who will tell their friends. Who may even invite their friends. If you have the resources to train them to use social media for outreach do it.
#5 Post your most viral content - Post the content you think your congregation and people who are checking your church out would be most interested in. Your online presence should be not limited to an advert for an event your church has on. Provide links to value added content that can help them take their next step in their spiritual journey.
#6 Keep reviewing - Take the time to keep reviewing what you are doing. Ask yourself, Is your content aligned with your church mission? Ask others who you trust what they think about the content.
#7 Direct your social network to your church website – Add value and make your social media fun, but also provide links to send people to your website. You never know what next step in their faith journey they may take.
#8 Use social media tools to increase your efficiency - Because you use social media doesn't mean you have to be on Facebook or Twitter every hour of every day. Use TweetDeck, Hootsuite or CoTweet and post your whole week in less than one hour (we use Hootsuite). I have a volunteer who comes in once a week that posts all the updates in that time. Ensure you time your posts for your twitter feed or Facebook page for the peak times your tribe is actually on it.
#9 Learn from the experts – There are many people out there with tons of experience in blogging, and social media. One of the world's top bloggers even created a video for churches giving some priceless wisdom. Saddleback Church created brilliant social media training videos for their congregations. LifeChurch.tv and Park Community Church have two of the best Facebook pages I've seen.
Are you using social media? What have you learnt?
If you are starting out on the blogging/social media journey, what would you like to know?