chasing social media trends for your church

Should Churches Try To Chase Social Media Trends

Thomas CostelloWeb Leave a Comment

It might seem like a great idea to chase social media trends. From using trending hashtags to jumping on to the latest network, trends do get you noticed.

However, they’ll also burn you out quickly. Trends never last that long on social media.

In most cases, trends aren’t worth chasing. If they don’t fit naturally with your church, it’s better to focus on more important things.

You Might Not Understand The Trend

You see a trending hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and happily start posting away. But, does your church really understand the trend? If you haven’t paid much attention to posts using the hashtag, your church might come off as confused.

However, in your hurry to chase social media trends, using a hashtag incorrectly could also offend someone. This looks incredibly insensitive for your church.

Always take the time to fully understand what a trend is about before jumping onboard. You could easily start participating in an anti-Christian trend before realizing it. If you’re not certain, skip the trend completely and post something more relevant to your church. All it takes is a few social media mistakes to hurt your church.

Social media users get bored easily. There’s a reason why new social networks take off so quickly. They’re new and offer different ways to socialize. However, by the time your church develops a new strategy for a new network or even just a passing trend, the trend might be over.

For instance, Facebook used to be the place to be if you wanted to connect with a younger audience. But, your older members probably didn’t use it all. Now, ages 25-34 are the biggest audience and 70% of adults in the US use Facebook regularly. This means it’s not the hotspot for teens anymore, but a general network for everyone.

You might remember the popularity of Vine. Seemingly overnight, it was shut down. Now, teens prefer TikTok for quick video clips. In fact, 44% of the network’s audience is between 16 and 24.

But, here’s an example of why it’s so hard to chase social media trends. With all the controversy surround TikTok, many teens are already flocking to Byte, a similar network. It doesn’t take long for trends to change.

Of course, those are just changes in the popularity and demographics of social platforms. Trends on individual platforms, such as what types of posts people love, change even more rapidly.

Trying to invest numerous hours on every trend could just leave your church jumping on board too late.

Younger Generations Might Think You’re Trying Too Hard

Why do are teens always looking for new social networks? Their parents start joining. Nothing aggravates teens quite like adults trying to be trendy. Even if the adults are nailing the trend, teens often see adults and brands as trying way too hard if they’re chasing every trend.

If the trend doesn’t seem appropriate or you come off as just another old person trying to be cool, you could easily lose the respect of any younger users.

You should still try to engage them, but just be authentic. Have a personality, but don’t try to come off as a fellow teen. If you want to impress them, let a few of your church’s teen members manage your social media posts on networks with younger demographics.

Some social media trends get out of hand quickly. Something starts off as cute or funny and then becomes incredibly weird or obnoxious. For example, was anyone else glad when the Harlem Shake videos started to slow down or the everything should be dyed rainbow colors trend stopped?

There becomes a point when the trend is so popular that it over-saturates social media. People stop paying attention. If your church is trying to chase these trends, you might become one of the many brands that get ignored for posting yet another “trendy” post.

Of course, there are also the trends that turn dangerous. Usually, brands are smart enough to avoid these completely. However, it’s easy to make a mistake and misunderstand some trends. Typically, social media networks work hard to ban any posts for dangerous trends to avoid anyone getting hurt, such as the whole Tide Pods and cinnamon challenges.

Most brands, including churches, have good intentions when they chase social media trends. They just want to engage their followers and gain new ones. However, trends sometimes backfire if you don’t do them right.

For example, an arms manufacturer wanted to take part in the #WorldPhotoDay celebration while the hashtag was trending. While it was a good trend to follow, asking people to post images of weapons didn’t exactly go over well with Twitter users.

Another example is when the YouTube Creators account on Twitter posted the wrong flag in a tweet for a trending Independence day hashtag.

These are major social media fails that can actually do far more harm than good. All the best intentions in the world won’t save your church when you bring down the wrath of a social media network on you. Users are passionate about what they believe in. If your church doesn’t get a trend right, it could backfire on you horribly.

It’s Too Time Consuming

Church staff already have extremely limited time. Trying to constantly stay on top of social media trends is time consuming. From which network to use to what are people talking about most today, it’s easy to spend all your time just on this.

Remember, millions of others are also trying to chase social media trends. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Then, all that time you spent is for nothing. It may pay off once in a while, but going viral is a long shot. Typically, it happens when you least expect it.

It’s much better to focus on a solid social media strategy and stick to it. Adjust it a little as major things change, such as a trend toward more video content. Otherwise, trends might cause you to spend less time on ministry and more time playing the social media popularity game.

It’s okay to chase social media trends sometimes. However, only pick trends that fit your church. For instance, if you have a more solemn church, you probably don’t want to try to make trending dance videos. Otherwise, when people visit your church, they might feel like your online personality is completely different than your actual church.

Also, you don’t want to have to spend extra time trying to figure out how to just make something fit. If you don’t see a clear relationship between your church and the trend, move on.

A good idea is to ask your members if they have any ideas on social media trends that might fit your church. If your church staff isn’t exactly social media savvy, having members who are more experienced may help you save time while still finding the right types of trends.

When you pick the right trends, you gain more of the right attention. It also doesn’t seem like you’re trying to hard. Instead, you seem like you’re just a church having fun with your followers on social media.

Trying to pick the right social media networks to use is one of the hardest parts of developing a social media strategy. You have to think about demographics, who you want to target, how to use each network and how much time each network takes.

Now, think about how different every social media network you use is. They all have their own rules. The type of content you post varies greatly. The audiences are unique.

What does all this mean? The trends are different too. Not only do have to manage each network, but you’ll have to chase the trends on them too.

That’s also a good reason why your church might not want to try to be active on too many networks at once. It’s overwhelming and may make it harder to keep your audience on any one network engaged.

You’d Need To Target Multiple Networks At Once

This one might sound obvious, but it’s not so much about targeting multiple networks, but keeping everything straight. For instance, if something is trending on Facebook, but you accidentally start posting the trending content on Twitter, it might not perform well at all.

When you’re juggling multiple trends and networks at once, it’s easy to get confused. Then, you miss out on the trend completely.

Plus, as mentioned before, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This hurts the quality of your posts and engagement.

Try Creating A New Trend Instead

The great thing about trends is they have to start somewhere. You don’t have to chase social media trends to get noticed. Instead, work on creating your own trends. Start a new hashtag. Get your members involved.

Take on the challenge of helping social media become a more positive place. With 64% of Americans feeling as if social media has a negative impact on the country, your church could help start a positive trend.

Ask people to share a video clip or image about one positive thing in the their life. It doesn’t even have to be faith-based. The key is to get people talking about more positive things. While it may start off slowly at first, keep working at it.

You could even focus on day a week on a specific trend you want to get going.

There Are Better Uses For Social Media

Trends are fun. People enjoy them and want to be a part of them. But, that’s not all social media is for. The problem with trends is they’re not always what’s best. That’s also why fake news tends to spread far more rapidly than the truth.

Instead of filling social media with more of the same, use it to inspire people. While people are getting angry over fake news stories, give them something positive to share. Turn your church’s social media presence into a breath of fresh air.

Even if you only reach a small portion of people, you’ve done your job. With every person you help, they feel better and they’re able to help someone else.

Evergreen Strategies Are More Effective

For the most part, evergreen strategies are far more effective than trends. Changing up your strategy every day as you chase social media trends won’t help that much. You might get a temporary increase in followers, but if you pay attention to your social analytics, you’ll find the engagement numbers don’t stay high.

Having a consistent strategy gives your followers something to look forward to. They know that you’ll post scripture or a lesson from your Sunday sermon every Monday. They know you’ll have a cute Friday funny each week for them to share with their friends.

Consistency and a strategy that focuses on consistent engagement versus a viral trend works well in the long term.

Your members want to see more from your church than trends. They can check out trends from the dozens of brands they follow and all their friends. They’re following your church for guidance and connection outside of church.

Give them what they need. You can even create polls to ask them what type of content they want to see most. It’s always better to give your followers what they’re asking for than try to guess which trends they’ll like best.

Overall, trying to chase social media trends isn’t worth it. However, there are a few trends worth chasing, such as those that affect your evergreen strategy. For instance, you want to focus on trends like:

  • Posting more images and video content
  • Working with influencers
  • Asking for user-generated content
  • Focusing on conversations over likes

Some trends are good. But, pick the rights ones to avoid wasting precious time. Plus, your followers will prefer it.

One trend that’s not going way is the need for a church website. Give your social media followers another place to engage with your church. Find out how we can help you create an engaging church website.

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