As with most generations now, you’ll find Gen Z on social media. But, you’ll need a specific Gen Z social media strategy to reach them.
Each generation uses social media differently. This means catering your church’s approach to better appeal to this younger generation.
While you’ll still need a main strategy for connecting with all ages, a few tweaks will help you reach Gen Z as well as other generations.
Know Where Gen Z Is Online
The single most important part of your Gen Z social media strategy is making sure your church is on the same networks as they are. Despite how popular Facebook is as a general social network, it’s not Gen Z’s favorite. You’ll usually find millennials and even boomers hanging out there more often.
With Gen Z, they’re more visual. This means they’re favorite networks are Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Surprisingly, they don’t use TikTok as often as you might suspect, but that’s still a popular platform for a variety of ages..
Before you give up on Facebook, though, Gen Z still uses it, some. However, it’s considered fourth on the most used list for this generation. To show just how far behind Facebook is, Business Insider did a survey about daily social media use and these were the usage results:
- Instagram – 65%
- YouTube – 62%
- Snapchat – 51%
- Facebook – 34%
- TikTok – 11%
With those numbers in mind, most churches will get more benefit out of investing time and energy into Instagram (boomers love Instagram too) and YouTube over Snapchat. We even have a guide to helping your church get started on Instagram.
As far as YouTube goes, use it to upload sermons, special podcasts, special events and more. You can even host videos on YouTube and embed them on your website to make the most of out of them.
Gen Z Needs Connection
Gen Z social media use often revolves around two things – entertainment and connection. We’ll focus on the entertainment part a little later. For now, let’s talk about connection.
In one study, Gen Z was discovered to have the highest loneliness score at 48.3. They often have fewer person to person interactions, which can negatively affect their mental and physical health. Turning to social media gives them a way to make meaningful connections, but as everyone knows, social media can have just as much lies as truth.
This is where your church can help give Gen Z something they need and crave – real connection. They’re looking for answers and truth, which you can provide them.
To show how hard it is for this generation to connect, they often create two Instagram accounts – one public account that’s carefully curated to be the perfect version of themselves for others to follow and another private account to be the more real version of themselves for select friends.
Focus on providing highly useful and engaging content that starts conversations. Stay active on the platforms to provide a consistent connection. You can even invite them to join your church’s Facebook groups to connect with your members and other online followers to build lasting friendships with like-minded people.
Create Active Communities
To provide connection and entertainment, you need to create active communities for better Gen Z social media results. If you’re not posting regularly and responding, Gen Z users will move on.
You have to work to gain their trust and keep them engaged. Since they’re used to multi-tasking between networks, you have to give them a reason to keep interacting with you versus just scrolling.
This also means getting your members involved. Have them respond to comments, post comments themselves, share your posts, be active participants in groups and more. They can even help you create content, such as pictures and videos, for you to share.
Gen Z wants to know they’re going to be part of something great. Ask your members and online followers to show them exactly how great your social media community is.
Provide Safe Communication
Social media isn’t always the safest place to be able to be honest and yourself. For example, if a teen posted a question asking about God on their main feed, they could easily be setting themselves up to be ridiculed by any friends who don’t believe.
Use your church’s social media pages to provide a safe place for Gen Z to communicate. Keep it free of bullying and insults. Show them it’s okay to have questions. More importantly, be open to answering their questions as they figure out what they believe and what it means for their lives.
You’ll need volunteers to help moderate comments and remove anything inappropriate. They can also help answer questions when possible and welcome your new Gen Z followers. As a side note, you can use social media to help increase your volunteers. You can even offer online volunteer opportunities for increased involvement.
The more comfortable users feel being themselves, the more likely they are to trust you. With so much misinformation online, having a trusted place to discuss faith means more than you might realize to this generation.
Offer Useful, Relevant Content
Before going any further, this one is incredibly important for every generation. Everyone wants to see useful, relevant content. You’ve probably seen churches that post generic content, but nothing else to go with it. Sadly, these churches are missing out on a major opportunity to grow closer to their followers.
With so many things vying for attention on social media, you need something that’ll make an impact in a person’s life. They want to laugh, be informed, get inspired and learn something new. Your church can do all of this.
Take the time to think about the type of content you want to post. Let’s go back to the generic content, which is typically a nature picture with scripture or a simple Christian quote. You can do so much more with this.
If you’re on Instagram, add a link in your bio to a sermon or blog post that dives deeper on the subject. You can have themes for a week or two at a time. Or, use Instagram Stories to show more than just one picture, while providing more information.
Use your social media posts to make an impact. When you do, users pay more attention and engage with you more, especially Gen Z. The reason is you’re showing that you understand them and respect their time.
Build Trust With Authentic Content
For your Gen Z social media strategy to work, you have to be authentic to your church. Posting something trendy just for the sake of trending won’t work with this generation. In fact, it could even hurt your reputation with them.
With so many stereotypes about Gen Z, you can pretty much expect that the generation will work hard to go against them. This is especially true with social media.
Instead of haphazardly engaging with brands simply because they have pretty images or numerous videos, they won’t engage until they’ve seen if the brand’s authentic. This includes churches.
For example, if your church promotes helping the community, but all your content focuses on helping other countries or simply fundraising to build a bigger church, Gen Z won’t engage with you. They want to engage with a church that stands true to its values and mission.
Align your social media content strategy, and blog strategy too, with your church’s mission. Naturally, you can still get creative and have fun with your content if you want. Just make sure it fits with your church and not just the latest trends.
Visuals Are Not Optional
If you haven’t started incorporating more visual content, Gen Z might just pass you by. Growing up on digital, this generation loves images and videos. This is also why they prefer Instagram and YouTube.
You don’t have to make everything visual, unless you’re on a video/image style social network. You can still have some text-based posts on Facebook or Twitter, of course. But, images get noticed more. Incorporating visuals helps your overall social media strategy, not just with Gen Z.
Start by thinking up ideas for video content people will want to share. After all, the best way to reach Gen Z initially is if someone they know shares your content with them.
You can also keep with an authentic theme by creating your own images as well. Use pictures you take around your church and turn them into graphics with scripture or announcements. Or, just edit them to highlight volunteers, upcoming events, special guests and more.
Offer Up Entertaining Content
While Gen Z social media usage still includes connecting with friends, they tend to use it more to find entertaining content. They want something to fill their time or help distract them from whatever else is going on in their lives.
The content still should be authentic. It’s important to note that when talking about this generation, entertaining content is considered useful as long as it fits with your church.
A church that can grab a Gen Z user’s attention with a comedic skit or an engaging podcast with another Christian leader is able to start building a relationship with them. Not to mention, that user is more likely to share your content with others their age.
Inspiring Content Makes Them Happier
This actually applies to everyone. However, Gen Z is constantly bombarded with negative content online that inspiring content gives them a welcome reprieve. They don’t only want something that makes them feel good about themselves, but shows that there is also good in the world.
Show videos of how your church is helping others. Show them that they can get involved and make the world around them better too.
Of course, give them content that reminds them they’re not alone. Since they’re considered the loneliest generation, they need to know that God is always with them. Also point out that your church and your online community is always there too.
Get Them Involved
An often overlooked part of a successful Gen Z social media strategy is user generated content. This is content that users create and you share.
Gen Z doesn’t just like to scroll through social media. They want to be an active part of it. Give them opportunities through various campaigns, such as “share a picture of what makes you feel closer to God.”
All you have to do is create a hashtag and ask users to start creating content. This creates a much more active community for your church online as well. And, it gives Gen Z a chance to share more of who they are with your church. It’s a win for everyone.
Create Short Video Content
While we’ve already talked about visuals, there’s one more thing to know about how Gen Z consumes video content. In a study of Gen Z and millennials, 82% preferred short-form video content and consumed it daily.
In fact, 56% said a full-length TV series was too much for them. They’d rather watch multiple short videos instead.
So, instead of trying to come up with long videos, do short ones. Something that’s just 5-10 minutes can make more of an impact than a 30-60 minute video. Plus, shorter videos are easier to make and you can make more of them, giving you more content to share.
If you’re not sure what type of content Gen Z is watching, YPulse lists the top 10 video types by age group.
Talk To Your Gen Z Members
If you have any Gen Z members in your church, talk to them. Ask them to check out your church’s social media presence to see what’s working and what’s not.
They’ll appreciate being asked and enjoy giving feedback. Just don’t take anything to heart if they don’t like what you’re currently doing. After all, they’re a different a generation and like different things. Simply ask them what you could add or change that would make your account more engaging to them.
Make sure you have a great church website to send your new Gen Z social media followers to. Try our free website review today to see how your site could improve.
you don’t mention Signal Gab or Telegraph….trending and secure …Facebook etc are old news now
You are right David, this stuff is changing daily. I just started using Signal this week.
Facebook/Instagram may be the old dog here, but I wouldn’t count them out just yet.