One Seismic Shift Churches & Non-Profits Need To Make Now In Social Media

Steve Fogg —  February 11, 2014 — 13 Comments


One great recurring theme about social media is change. Change is constant and swift. If your social media plan was written in 2013 can may already be out of date with all of the recent shifts that have been going on. I have seen a many changes over the last year on social media, but there is one dramatic seismic shift that I want you to be able to plan for in social media that is coming in 2014/2015.

Is it a new social network? No, at least not this week. Has Facebook been sold to Murdoch already? Nope. This seismic shift will have more impact on you than any other change you will need to make if you are a church or non-profit.


Because it involves something that is scarce and hard to find around churches and non-profits. What is it?

It’s money.

The big seismic shift is this.

Social media is no longer free

For some of you this isn’t such a shock. And you’ve been spending a bit of money here and there. Most of us however have been riding the wave for the free that has been social media experience up until now.

Even if a church or non-profit has been investing a little bit of budget, for most it hasn’t been significant percentage of their overall marketing and communications spend.

Why the is there a seismic shift?

Social media is all grown up and wants some pocket-money. Seriously though, generally speaking social media is now not a new innovative passing fad, it is now a mature platform that is naturally part of most people’s everyday life. The innovators who started the platforms are moving on/selling up/out and the new wave of investors who have given them truck loads of money now want a return on their investment.

How will this impact you?

Facebook pages have been impacted for the last 6-12 months, lower reach which means less engagement has been a very noticeable trend which will only increase as Facebook matures it’s monetisation strategy (By the way Facebook did this on purpose so that we would all pay, sucks to be us huh?).

Twitter hasn’t been impacted so much in terms of your brand losing reach, yet. But money talks and seeing the folks over at Facebook rake in the dough will only increase pressure for increasing revenue returns. How they do this and how it can benefit or impact churches and non-profits is yet to be fully realised.

Instagram is the dark horse. Owned by Facebook, it is taking up a significant market share of the young audience from Facebook. It will monetise. It’s only a matter of time.

Google+ I’m still undecided about G+. But for search ranking alone it rocks. How Google step up the monetisation in the coming two years will be interesting to see.

There are of course different ways to monetise a social network. Some will impact you in the short-term, like Facebook and the reach issue. Some will take a few years to see how or if your brand is impacted at all.

You have a choice right now. Be the most visible, be in-front of the pack or slip back into the noise of the pack. Because soon paying for social will be just like paying for your email marketing software, TV, radio, PR, database, web hosting, app development. We all take those for granted now. Paying for social will be the new norm for the vast majority of organisations very soon. This is your opportunity to stay out in front.

What you need to plan and deliver now in 2014

1) Demonstrate/Convince your leaders on the why social media needs a budget line. What is the ROI for your church or non-profit? It’s no longer just about likes. Show pictures. Demonstrate the value. Inside tip: Leaders love to measure ‘reach’. (If you are a church or non-profit leader reading this, invest in social media. It is still very good value and gives you real reach to very specific audiences that traditional media can’t do.)

2) Budget and plan for 2015, that isn’t just spend on social, that is also staffing like design, video and photography.

3) Integrate social sharing throughout your digital presence/

4) Highlight your social media channels in every possible touchpoint. For us that is in our foyer screens, in our Sundays services, with staff, on our email communications, App, website. Make it easy for people to like, follow you in one click. 

Here’s what I did in 2013

1) Budgeted  for the first time a line item called ‘social media’. I highlighted it as a line item in my budget (which I don’t generally do for other communications channels) but I need to help the culture shift from ‘isn’t it free?’. My social media budget was 10% of my total marketing/communications spend in 2013. I saw shift coming in June 2012 and wanted to be ready for the changes ahead.

2) Regularly reported the ROI for my church to demonstrate the value it brings as the one of the primary communications channels we have moving forward.

3) Upped the social media emphasis on every touchpoint I had influence over.

Your turn

What changes are you seeing in social media? Do you already budget on social media or are you against it? Comment below.



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13 responses to One Seismic Shift Churches & Non-Profits Need To Make Now In Social Media

  1. I’ve been looking at this Steve and about to jump in the deep end of the pool

    I’d like to hear more of your thoughts of how to get the best bang for your buck on Facebook

    I find Google+ a ghost town for response but stay active on it just for SEO

    Thanks for your work in this realm

  2. We already have a budget for social media, and advertise on a fairly consistent basis. It was disappointing, then, to get a call from Facebook suggesting we start advertising, less than a month after we’d just run a big campaign. For such a ‘social’ network, you’d think they’d at least look at your recent history to suggest improvements or adjustments, rather than just saying “Please spend money.”

    • Hi Maria,

      thanks for commenting. Despite their lack of insight, there are some great advantages of taking up a free assistance from the Facebook marketing team. They will help you for free if you spend a certain amount in a calendar month. I trailed it with them and found it really useful.

  3. Spot on Steve!! Very very well done here!! informative and educational!!

  4. The question is, is paying Facebook for promoted posts really worth it? As ministers of the Gospel, and stewards of the resources faithfully placed into our hands (ie, people’s tithes and offerings), should we be buying into, what Derek Muller is referring to as “Facebook Fraud”. He has become so concerned about it that he has posted two videos on his YouTube channels (Veritasium and Veritasium2) that are off-topic from his primary subject matter of pop-science. They are well worth watching and raise some excellent questions that you need to answer BEFORE you start spending somebody else’s money.

    – Facebook Fraud:
    – The problem with Facebook:

    • Thanks Neil, I’ve seen this video and he does make a very compelling case that at some level there is deception going on. But then it’s the wild west of the internet. He was focussing on new likes and engagement after that.

      I probably wouldn’t say that is enough not to spend money though. If I had a choice to put the right message in-front of the right people and pay for it then I will. I know that our reach is very real and we really don’t have any in the countries he was talking about.

      I do know that Facebook is intentionally scaling back our reach so that we will pay to take it back.

      • Hey Steve,
        I’m not proposing that one should or should not pay to promote on Facebook, just that good stewardship needs to be exercised. One could argue (I’m not, I’m just putting it out there), that because Facebook are artificially limiting the reach of both paid and unpaid posts, that they are engaging in extortion. On the flipside, Facebook as a publically listed company, need to make a return on investment, and will take commercial measures to do so. In this sense I don’t see the Facebook model to be that different to traditional media, being that if you want to advertise you have to pay (can anyone say “Superbowl”?).
        To that end, does traditional media still play a role? Might an ad on the back of a bus been seen by more eyeballs than something you’re hoping will spread via new/social media? Might it be a better return on your advertising marketing communications budget? Of course there is no simple answer to that, it depends on the message, the context, the target and the desired response. Of course in our case, the message is the love and salvation of Jesus Christ, and thus we should (appropriately) use all and every resource at our disposal. Just no Superbowl ads, unless it’s a blibvert

    • I wouldn’t buy into Derek Muller’s attempt at a viral video based on a lot of faulty ways of doing ads via Facebook.

      The biggest things these videos point out are how BAD those guys know little about how to do ads on Facebook. Spending money in that way I would agree is not being a steward.

      There is no place on the planet where as many people are gathered in a day than on Facebook. If God has called us to reach the world then we need to learn to do ads the right way.

  5. Superb post and I’m glad it’s making the rounds among church social media types on Twitter. I’ll be pushing it elsewhere as well. Some items of whatever:
    * I’m with you re: Google+. I realize it’s essential to be there in some form for SEO but I remain underwhelmed by the hangouts. I have yet to be on one with tech that isn’t dodgy beyond the point of (my) tolerance.
    * FB remains my #1 recommendation for churches (local and judicatory level), with Pinterest following as second. That noted, I’ll add that without strategy they’re near-worthless. Too harsh? Maybe. Without strategy, they’re underutilized. Better?
    * Re: line items. Even two years ago I was strong recommending (read: begging) churches to reduce their print products (e.g. magazines, collateral, ads) and move that money to social media, noting that it would be a much-reduced line item. Slow adoption of that recommendation, but maybe now?

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