Lesser known social media platforms are gaining on Facebook. Last year, Facebook lost 2.8 million users. 2018 doesn’t look much better with the research firm eMarketer estimating another 2.1 million Facebook users under the age of 25 will move to other social media platforms.
The numbers might cause churches to rethink their love of Facebook.
According to a recent LifeWay study, 84 percent of churches have a Facebook page to inform the congregation, recruit volunteers, let people know about their ministries and even give financially. Such a dramatic decline in Facebook users means the church’s social media efforts will likely be impacted if their only social media platform is Facebook.
While Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, there are alternatives. This year, Instagram will add 1.6 million users younger than 24, while Snapchat will add 1.9 million, eMarketer says. Those are social media platforms that LifeWay research found churches are not using.
But different platforms come with different strategies. Here are a few ideas if your church is considering branching out.
Alternative Social Media Platforms
Elevation Church uses Instagram for the usual purposes such as promoting an upcoming series or event, showing off the church or recapping something that has already happened. But every week or so, they drop a fresh set of phone backgrounds, and instead of driving you to a website, you only have to hold down on the screen and take a screenshot to get your new wallpaper.
And you can also play the game, “Can you guess this sermon series?” It’s produced sporadically and gives viewers an interactive element to their Instagram that causes everyone to engage automatically.
Hillsong Church NYC uses captions to share stories. Instagram is all about pictures but captions can be impactful. Sometimes the pictures and captions talk about a sermon, others tell the stories of others.
“I always grew up in the church, so to be honest I always had a relationship with God and Jesus but it wasn’t until I took a leap of faith and I moved here with no job, no family, no friends. It’s a terrible place to live and that journey was when God really walked in… God really sat down with me, and that’s when I realize what he has done with everyone else in my family, he can actually do for me.” – Christopher Flores #HillsongNYCStory
Vous Church wants its Instagram followers to know that its culture is all about its people. There’s not a lot of sermon series promos, shots of the stage or social cards, it’s just a lot of great Kodak moments from around the church plus events with their people.
Brandon Swain, the Youth Pastor at Lakeshore Baptist Church in Cicero, N.Y., gives three reasons why churches should be on Snapchap.
- Snapchap hits the demographic that Facebook is losing: youth and young adults. The platform boasts 100 million users with more than 70 percent under 34; 45 percent between 18-24.
- Snapchat encourages authenticity. It gives people a window into your organizations day-to-day operations.
- Snapchat has one of the best ROI’s. Snapchat allows you to create filters that impose over people’s snaps with your custom-designed messaging for a small fee. On-Demand filters equip your audience to share your visuals with their friends. The amount of reach you can get with a small upload fee is outstanding.
Whatever your social media strategy and platform, the experts say keep the content fresh and mix it up daily to get your users coming back often to see what’s new.