This blog post is one I’ve been holding back on for ages. Think one year and you are close time wise. Why? I don’t know about you, but for some church leaders and Communications Directors, just mentioning the word ‘social media strategy’ can bring feelings of a bored, glazed over ‘not interested’ feeling, or feelings of inadequacy because they don’t have it all figured out. Or more importantly, in some cases they simply don’t have much of a financial budget to fund their social strategy.

But it needn’t be that way.

Some social media ‘experts’ will tell you social strategy is very complicated and will put all kinds of jargon filled sentences in front of you to justify their worth. I’m not saying that it isn’t worth paying for advice. But if you are, make sure the experts are practitioners, rather than just consultants. Ensure that they live in the social media trenches every day and understand what it is like in the real social world, rather than just in the ideal social world (There are a few über experienced fine upstanding ‘in the trenches’ experts I can highly recommend, including this one 😉 ).

But I digress.

So how can you develop the perfect social media strategy on a shoestring budget?

It’s simple and it won’t cost you the earth.

1. Review your current social media platforms

If you are already have some social media platforms that are operating then look down the various timelines and see how your audience is engaging with your current content. Highlight the posts that have the most engagement and look for trends/topics that in them. Ask yourself – is there a reason why your audience is engaging with this content rather than other styles of posts. Make a list of your top ten.

Chances are in your current stream are some posts that get reasonable engagement. This is a really good place to start building from.

In the last two months I have had the honour of sitting down with a few significant national ministries and do this. In five minutes I have been able to tell them what is working and what isn’t working from an audience engagement point of view.

2. Discover your purpose

Reviewing your existing situation is a great place to start, but you shouldn’t stay there. Firstly, you need to understand the ‘why’ before you dive down into the ‘how’.

Ask yourself – why are you on social media? What is the purpose?

There are many different reasons why people/organisations/churches are on social media. Are you fundraising, sharing your story, marketing a product or service?

The beauty of answering this question is that so far you have spent zero dollars. Zip. Nada.

See, when I said shoestring budget, I really meant it.

Fill in the blank “My _______________ is on social media because ____________________”

It’s that simple.

You may fill in the blank like this “My church is on social media because we want our congregation to be able share what they did on Sunday with their friends


“My organisation is on social media because we want to tell the story of the difference our audiences fundraising is making in Africa


My business is on social media because we want to become a thought leader in our industry to gain new sales”

Getting this right is so important. I recently chatted with an international ministry that has massive untapped potential with their social media to be proactively engaging in a helpful interactive way with their audience, rather than limiting themselves just to broadcasting engagement style posts. When I say massive, I mean thousands of engagements every single day.

3. Discover your audience

The great thing about social media is that you can get great analytics around your existing audience right now. Facebook has exceptional analytics that will tell you the age, demographics of your audience, which segments of your audience are engaging with you right now. Twitter has a few free third-party apps that can help you segment your audience too.

Again, you haven’t spent one cent. Yet.

4. Create a profile/persona of your audience

By now you have an idea of who your audience is. Now is the time to create a persona of your audience. Basically you are moving from demographics to psychographics. Here is one great example from Justin Wise (Thanks bud!) and another super example from Darren Rowse, ProBlogger

By creating your persona you will start to understand what will scratch your audiences itch. (For example I know this example works really, REALLY well with my church’s Facebook and Instagram audience.)

Got questions so far?

I’m over 800 words in and just getting started. So there will definitely be a part two to this post and maybe more. I’d love to hear your feedback so far and anything you disagree with or just want to comment on. Comment below please!