In case you didn’t notice I have a passion about churches using social media more effectively. I think I have more to say and write about social media than any other communication channel. I had to stop myself at twenty-one for this post. And I could have kept going.
Here are twenty-one of the latest tips I’ve learnt (most of which I practice daily) from around the web:
Tip #1: Audit your social media
Understanding your current reality is so important if you want to reach more people and create more impact. Here is an excellent social media audit template from Hootsuite which you can fill in the blanks before you start your journey to reach more people.
Tip #2: Schedule ahead
Creating a consistent and sustainable social media presence in my humble opinion can only be done if you schedule your posts where possible (Here are some excellent free scheduling tools I use to do that. I also wrote a longer blog post about the pros and cons of scheduling your social media).
Tip #3: Create a social media calendar
You can of course randomly schedule your social media. But you can also plan ahead and see what is happening in your ministry world to see what you may want to create content around. (I have created a free social media calendar template here that you can use)
Tip #4: Engage with your audience!
There is nothing worse than not replying or engaging with your audience. Engagement looks different on different platforms. For example on Instagram you can look at your followers and see what they are posting about and comment on their feeds. On Twitter it could be as simple as liking a mention or replying to a comment. I’ve said it before that social media is an engagement channel, not a broadcast channel. If you want to reach more people then a great way to do that is to engage with your audience (If you are on Instagram come and say hello. Here is my profile).
Tip #5: Invest with budget
A few years ago just ahead of the monetisation of Facebook I made this prediction about having to have a budget. And it is now fact. Social media is an incredibly cost-effective way to reach new people and grow your audience.
Tip #6: Use photos
Studies show that on Twitter an increase Retweets by 150% when photos are used. Who doesn’t want that? Facebook and Instagram obviously travel further with video and photos, but you can stand out from the crowd sooner on Twitter if you use photos (Read more about Twitter visuals here). Here is an insightful post on people from different areas who are experts at creating stunning visual content on a budget.
Tip #7: Post the same content more than once
You may write and post links about what is going on in your church community, but did you know that you can actually link to that same content more than once? Your audience isn’t online all at the same time so by reposting you will give them a higher opportunity to read your content if you post more than once.
Tip #8: Develop a keen ear for social listening
Social media isn’t just all about what you have to say. Did you know that your audience is already talking about you? You can find out what people are saying for search around hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, check-ins on Facebook and Instagram or mentions on all of those platforms.
Tip #9: Find out when the best time to post is
You can reach more people by posting your content at the right time. For example people scan their social media feeds when they wake up. It makes sense to have content there for them to engage with. There are some great tools to use to find out what the best times to post are find them here.
Tip #10: Post the right kind of post at the right time
Like I said in the previous post some people check their feeds the first thing in the morning. Choosing the right content for that moment is so important. We regularly post short scannable scriptures in the morning as we know many people are in the mindset to basically get a quick summary of what they missed on social and in their news feeds. (Here are five different examples of scripture posts you can create.)
Tip #11: Use hashtags strategically
Hashtags can be a great way of being discovered on social networks like Instagram. On Twitter hashtags can be used in the same way, but you can also create hashtags as a way to centralise a conversation around your brand. We use #crossway as our hashtag and it is helpful for me to see what else is being tweeted about around that hashtag so that I can engage around those conversations.
Tip #12: Follow back your tribe
On Instagram and Twitter follow back those who are regular sharing your content or part of your tribe. It shows they matter to you.
Tip #13: Finish filling in ALL the details
On Facebook you will lose out if you don’t complete your address. No one will be able to check in. While that is a #firstworldproblem it means that you will lower the engagement and not be able to build your loyal tribe of followers if you don’t finish this feature.
Tip #14: Increase your subscribers on YouTube with one small piece of code
I like making it easier for more people to find content without having to search for it. By adding a small piece of code you can bring up a small subscriber light-box. (See point six here) Very simple but highly effective. While YouTube isn’t a massive channel for us I know some who it is huge for and they swear by this. Thanks Nate)
Tip #15: Don’t take yourself too seriously
So many Christian social media posts have deep meaning and are serious or profound in their tone of voice. From time to time it is a great idea to introduce lighter posts and change up your tone of voice. If you can make people smile they will spread your content for you! (Read what Richard Branson says about that here. Richard also has a great tip on being genuine which is good too.)
Tip #16: Be concise
Twitter forces you to be concise which is fantastic. But do the same on other platforms. People are scanning your content and you have approximately 2 seconds of their attention. Help them engage by keeping it simple and readable.
Tip #17: Ignore the ‘competition’ but learn from them
You aren’t competing with other churches, so don’t try to compete with them. They aren’t your competition. But what you can do is learn from them. See which posts have higher engagement and test them out similar style posts on your own feeds.
Tip #18: Understand what your audience loves about your church
In the church space people are passionate their churches especially on particular topics. Learn what they are by test posting and use that as a basis of your content on an ongoing basis. If they are motivated, they will share your content for you.
Tip #19: Be realistic
Have a realistic perspective about social media. It isn’t the end, it is a means by which your existing congregation and new audiences will come to hear about faith and your community.
Tip #20: Be picky about what you share
You may choose to share content from other sources but not everything that is sharable is worth sharing. Choose wisely and ask yourself how this supports your overall social media strategy and how relevant it is to your audience.
Tip #21: Give people a reason to follow you
Why should people follow your church on social media? What is the compelling reason why they would? What reasons are you giving people to regularly engage with your feeds? People have a thousand choices on any single day. Choose your content wisely and give them no excuse not to follow you on social media.
Bonus Tip #22: Use video
I said at the start of this year (listen here) that video was going to be huge this year. And all of the different major platforms are increasing their video content. They know ultimately that is where the digital convergence is. Did you know that on Facebook you will automagically reach more people with native Facebook embedded video? Read how I leveraged this and how you can too here.
Bonus Tip #23: Stay up-to-date with the changes
Social media changes all the time. What you can do, new channels emerge like Periscope (read what I have to about how your church can leverage that here). It is important if you want to reach more people and create more impact that you use every new tool in your social media toolbox. My last tip about video is another great example of where Facebook want more people and brands to use video on Facebook so they seemed to have tweaked their algorithm so that your posts reach more of your existing audience than static posts.
Oh and here is a small bonus for you. If you are a leader here are twelve social media tips for church leaders that are still as relevant today as when I originally wrote them.
Do you have any questions or tips you can share? I’d love to hear them. Comment below.