Effective communication is a significant part of leadership. Those who communicate well will have a better chance of leading well. At an organizational level, this includes social media. Below are 9 Ways you can make your church or small business social media work well for you.
As I typed this I realized it is a lot to take in at one time. So read through this, but do not feel like you have to get this all done at once. To help, I’ve included a FREE check list you can download and work your way though at your own pace.
1. Use an account specifically for your organization. Don’t use your personal account as the primary delivery method. Sure using your personal account is easy, but it does not put the focus in the right place. When you post pictures of the church mission trip, hiking trip, or latest service project on your personal page, all you are saying is, “look what I did with some other people.” That is a fine message to say. A greater message is, “Look what __________ Church is doing” or “_________, INC is serving the community.” Organizational awareness is communicated by posting pictures, videos, and text on the church/business social media page. You can still post on your personal page, but try to limit that to one picture and put the rest on the organization’s page. Better than that, post the pictures on the church page then interact with the church’s post (share, retweet, like or comment).
2. Use a Common Naming scheme. This is one of the biggest marketing must do’s!!! When picking your unique name, handle, tag, or URL (web address), do everything you can to make them all the same. NOT similar, but the same. Just like a clearly communicated message, online addresses should be consistent. For example:
Event my Skype account: TheDavidRussell
3. Have a consistent image. Just like the common naming scheme, you need to have a consistent image that identifies you. The most logical image to use is your logo. You also need to make the banners the same. When it comes to banners there are two possibilities. Use an image that connects well with your logo or something that represents your organizaiton. This is the best choice if you plan to leave it alone for an extended period of time (several months or longer). If you want to make a bigger impact, consider changing the banners on your social media pages which each sermon series or holiday season. Just make sure to change them all (Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, etc). If one is out of date, it does not look good.
4. Make it a priority. Social media is great for a number of reasons. The two biggest are: (1) it is free and (2) most of your congregation is already using it, as are their friends who do not attend your church. Make a social media plan. That plan consists of events, sermon series, service projects, trips, etc. that the staff knows is coming up. At your staff meetings make it a point to talk about social media and how it will be employed to spread the word of your involvement in the community and the world.
5. Have some checks and balances. Many times the social media outlet for a church or small business is handled by one person. If that is the case, make sure to have some checks and balances. When I am preparing the week’s sermon point posts, I type them all up, include any pictures or video I may use, and run that by the preacher. That way it can be double checked making sure the message I’ve prepared in a social media post will reflect the same message the congregation is expected to take home after the sermon. For a small business, run this by someone who can give informed feedback. This process will also gives you back-up on potential spelling errors or poor placement/timing of a post.
6. Educate your church. Inform your people how social media affects others who are not connected with your church. Liking, commenting, and sharing on Facebook each do different things and have a different effect on the visibility of a post. Likewise, retweeting as well as liking and commenting and tagging others on Instagram will raise the level of visibility. Encourage your members to interact with your posts in ways that will help spread the news. For example, about once a year we remind our congregation that when they “like” a Facebook post it tells all their Facebook friends they think something is neat. When they comment on a Facebook post, it tells their friends, “this is very interesting.” When a church member shares a Facebook post, it tell their friends, “This is something I find highly important and want to make sure my friends see it too.” I don’t recommend your members share every post the church makes, but when there is an even that is open to the community, that post should be shared by as many people as possible.
7. Vary your content. To make content more appealing and to be more organic (“Organic” is code word for natural), your postings should not be the same all the time. If you always post text, it will get old. If you always post a link to your latest sermon or your online bulleting, it will get old. Do your best to vary the content between text, pictures, video, and links. It is best to NOT have a specific rotation (e.g. text, then picture, then link, then text, then picture, then link). That is much the same problem. It is predictable. A natural variety will be one that although planned out, it is not predictable and does not look planned out.
8. Use scheduling tools. Facebook has made it easy to schedule posts in the future. This is perfect for a preaching series or even points from the current weeks lesson. The best way to accomplish this is to get the major points of the sermon from the preacher in advance. Use those points to develop post content for a given week. For example, if the Sunday sermon has 3 main points, schedule them to post the week after the sermon: one on Monday, one on Wednesday, and one on Friday. Use whatever schedule works best for your situation.
Another scheduling tool is Buffer (buffer.com). A free version of buffer will allow you to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter. However, Buffer does not integrate with Instagram at this time. Do not use Buffer if you are going to tie your accounts together (which is the next tip).
9. Tie your accounts together. There is a lot of debate on this topic. However, unless you are a very large church (over 600) you are safe interlinking your social media accounts. By interlinking your accounts it allows you to post something to Facebook and have it show up on Twitter. Post a picture to Instagram and have that same picture automatically post to Facebook. This is a work smarter not harder approach. It is not the perfect answer to every situation, but for those who are working on a budget or a one-man-show, this is a must. Remember, do not tie your accounts together if you are going to use Buffer. If you do both, you will get double posts and it will be a big mess.
Social media can be done well. It take a little knowledge and some planning. As always, if you need consulting on this topic or other leadership issues, contact me by asking a question.