We have all stalked that church on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You know the one I mean. The megachurch with the huge media budget that posts such amazing pictures and resources that our brains spin with digital jealousy. Their website is perfect. Their Instagram feed is a Who’s Who of famous speakers passionately preaching to a raving audience. Their stage lighting was borrowed to light up a local Coldplay concert. They pop up on our social feeds and trigger deep longings in us to be just like them. Well, I have good news — you can be! I’m betting it’s safe to assume you don’t have millions of dollars in your budget to make yourselves look like that church. Even without that budget, you really only need the answers to four basic social media questions about how your church will communicate.
1. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
The first step is to understand why you want a social media presence. If your reasoning is even remotely “because everyone thinks we should,” your platform will operate below its potential. Understanding the why helps frame the content you post. For example, if your church wants to use social media to reinforce the Sunday sermon throughout the week, you will post much differently than if your goal is to notify parents of junior-highers what the youth pastor’s latest crazy game idea is. Understanding the why helps you make faster decisions on the what to post.
2. HOW WILL YOU TALK?
Every church has a unique voice. Embrace it! I often find the best way to understand a church’s voice is to discover the style in which the church speaks. How is the speaker typically dressed? Is the message presented from sticky notes, or memorized word for word? What needs are emphasized? Is it formal or casual? Humorous or serious?
Each answer is a clue to how you talk. If the way you talk on social media is the opposite of how your church speaks in real life, it’s not going to translate correctly to those attending your church.
3. WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?
Often the allure of social media is that you have a somewhat captive audience. People will see whatever you post, so let’s post everything! This is actually worse than posting nothing at all.
Each post should have only one goal. A good way for me to remember the end goal is to ask myself: and then what happens? Am I going for a laugh? Do I want them to take action? Where do you want them to go next after they see this Instagram post?
4. WHERE DO YOU BEGIN?
While there are many ways to answer this, a good rule of thumb is consistency in content creation. No matter how you start, every social media account should have a similar feel. They may have different expressions — like the children’s ministry featuring things differently than the college ministry — but all should have consistency in tone and design. All copy, every single bio and contact information, as well as the dates of events, should have the same basic formatting and color scheme. Every platform should feel similar.
Think of every Starbucks store there is. The layout varies from shop to shop, but the branding, tone, and atmosphere are nearly identical anywhere in the world. Every social media account for every department at your church needs to smell similar.
A great social media presence is more than possible for your church! It may be tempting to try to imitate every other church on social media, but just like David wearing King Saul’s armor, it’s not going to be a good fit! Understand your unique and God-given role in the community, and then be yourself!
You got this!
About Joel Schaap: Most churches struggle to talk about what they do in a clear and engaging way. Joel loves helping churches and nonprofits tell their stories in ways that are memorable and create a buzz. Contact Joel if you have questions on focusing your message. This article by Joel originally appeared at Churchjuice and is used by their kind permission.