Social media is a brilliant opportunity for your church or non-profit to communicate with existing or new audiences in a way that no other communication channel allows. The traditional gatekeepers of media aren’t there. Social media is the digital campfire of today. Being around for a while I’ve seen some use social media really well and unfortunately some use it really badly. Here are 22 common mistakes most churches & non-profits make on social media:

1. Treat social media like a news channel

Social media isn’t just another broadcast news channel to put every announcement on. People aren’t on social media to get more news, they are their to engage with who and what they love. Social media is a way that people express who they are and interact on that basis. There is a place for news announcements, but don’t expect as much engagement as engagement style posts.

2. Don’t interact

This doesn’t just extend to corporate accounts. Church leaders are especially guilty here. If someone connects with your account interact with them! That is why the word social is in social media. (Church leaders you can make it up to me by adopting these 12 principles on social media I wrote especially for you) 🙂

3. Post infrequently

Don’t start of posting then go silent. Keep to a sustainable pace of posting so that your audience can know when to expect to hear from you, because they actually do love hearing from you. There is nothing worse than starting quickly out of the blocks to fade to nothing.

4. Don’t link to your website

Your social media presence isn’t an end in itself. Your social media presence is a ‘digital outpost’. Link it back to your digital ‘home-base’. A pro-tip here for Facebook, link your URL not where they tell you to, but in the first 3 lines of your page bio. That way it will appear on your timeline and is easier to click-through to. This removes a pointless step and lowers friction.

5. Don’t include a call to action

Some of you will disagree with me I know but my stats for the community I manage back me up on this. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Tell people to click “Like” “share” “RT” “Give a one word answer” occasionally. I have seen the audience participation increase every time there is an explicit call to action.

6. Never Ask Questions

Sometimes the best way to engage your audience is to ask them a very brief and succinct question. Make sure they can answer the question quickly in one or two words. Here is a great example I have used before.

7. Link Twitter with Facebook (or vice-versa)

Just. Don’t do it. Okay? If I see another … blah blah link on Twitter I know for sure that you will never engage with me on social media. Guess what? I won’t engage with you. That is how your audience feels. So. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

8. Don’t invest

Social media isn’t free. It will need your time, your energy, dedication and also once you’ve discovered it does work, some budget to invest in it. We primarily invest in growing our community and people.

9. Frequently tell us about nothing

Boring your audience to death is almost as bad as starting out on your social media platforms and not posting. You will just become the awkward kid at the party that no one talks to. What do you think is interesting and engaging for your audience? Here are a few examples that work and are easy to do.

10. Don’t Experiment

If you try and fail at least you know what not to do the next time around. Being stuck doing the same old, same old can actually lower the engagement with you over time. It’s good to try fresh things. Here is a completely spontaneous post I did that is probably is the nearest I will get to being ‘viral’.

11. Don’t change your tactics

I wrote about this yesterday. Tactics will always need to change at some-point. That is exactly why you need to experiment. Today’s experiment is tomorrow’s tactic.

12. Don’t have a strategy

Again I’ve written before on why it is so important to find the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘how’ before starting out. Ignoring the ‘why’ is a fundamental error.

13. Don’t be spontaneous

Sometimes the best posts are the ones you make in the moment. If you didn’t click on it in #10 you can see the most viral post I created was a spontaneous experiment.

14. Fail to report to your senior leadership how many people you are reaching

Don’t keep your successes to yourself. Demonstrate the effectiveness of your reach to your leaders. Strategic leaders love seeing results and will back you.

15. Ignore #hashtag conversations

I’m going to write about this more at length in the future. But #hashtags are a great way to enter into a global conversation on a topic or trend. For example did your church engage with the huge audiences around the Bible Series? That trended off the charts in Australia and the US. There is a large audience on Twitter who don’t go to church. Opportunity knocks to engage with them. Are you taking it up?

16. Don’t measure your clicks

Being able to measure the effectiveness of a post is gold. Information is our friend and can help you decide if the style of post is worth doing again. We use at present. I’d like to move to a custom shortened link that people will trust even more and are even more likely to click-through to.

17. Tailor content for different platforms

On Facebook the picture generally leads the engagement. On Twitter it’s the words first. Don’t just use the same content. Change it up to suit the platform you are on.

18. Don’t plan ahead

This is huge. “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” so the saying goes and it’s true in social media. Plan your content out. Look how your content supports your organisations goals and plan accordingly to create the content. Here is a free template calendar with some more tips I created to help you get your started.

19. Social media is your servant, not your master

At the end of the day social media is just a tool. It is a means to an end. Not the end in itself. You should be driving it, rather than it driving you.

20. Be everywhere now

If you haven’t started out on social media yet, start small. Be sustainable. Resist the temptation to be everywhere.

21. Do it yourself

You can’t do it alone. You need a team. I have a team who helps me coordinate and deliver our social media presence. Find people who can help. A graphic designer, a community manager. They are out there.

22. Avoid scheduling posts

Scheduling posts is a smart for two reasons. Firstly, it is a great way to use your time efficiently. Secondly, posting when your audience is online means higher engagement. Who doesn’t want that? I think that scheduling posts is perfectly fine as long as you engage with your audience and keep your ear to the ground so as not to schedule a post that can be taken the wrong way because of a local or national news event. I won’t post an example but I can think of a very high-profile church leader that did that recently.

Your turn

What would you add to this list? Do you agree or disagree with some of my thoughts? Comment below.