Social media for small churches might seem pointless with all the larger churches out there seeming to dominate the platforms. However, there is no reason why smaller churches can’t stand out on social media.
Thanks to social media platforms being free, you have a unique opportunity to market your church and reach a much larger audience, just like much larger churches.
With a minimal time investment every week and a bit of creativity, social media could easily be one of your church’s strongest tools for expanding your reach, engaging members and growing your church.
Limit Your Platforms
Every single social media platform you join means less time you have to spend on any one. Yes, you could use a social media management tool and just post the same content on each platform. However, this means people on all those platforms may only follow you on one and not the others.
Instead, make the most of your time. You likely won’t have as many people to focus on your social media strategy. Stand out by becoming a highly engaging church on just a single platform.
For most churches, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is a great starting point. Expand to two platforms at most if you feel you have the time and creativity to make it work.
Many smaller churches opt for Facebook as it offers a variety of features, such as groups, messaging, live streaming and so on. Plus, it easily has the largest user base with 1.59 billion daily active users as of June 2019. However, talk with your members to see which platform they prefer and where they’d engage with your church’s post most often.
Have A Social Media Team
This is one of the biggest mistakes a small church can make is assigning social media to just one or two people. It’s a major challenge and far too time-consuming.
You need a small team to handle social media for small churches. Ideally, five people or more works well. This gives you a team to consider the overall strategy and posting ideas. We have a helpful guide to developing your social media strategy. Plus, you have more people available to interact with commenters, find content to share from other sources, monitor performance and post on a regular basis.
You should try to have at least one member of your church staff on the team. The rest can be volunteers. Try to have a mix of ages as well to truly stand out. Don’t just opt for younger members, either. One or two team members over 50 help you appeal to a wider variety of ages.
Define A Clear Goal
Why is your church on social media? Is it just because that’s what other churches are doing or where you think you’ll find new members?
The main goal of using social media for your church should be to spread the word of God. However, this still won’t help you develop a stand out strategy. Instead, define a clear goal or goals.
For example, do you want to focus more on just engaging your current members? Perhaps you want to help your members grow the church by providing them shareworthy content. Your goal could also be to just create a Christian community to discuss faith-based issues, praise God and meet like-minded people from around the world.
Having a goal in mind helps you to craft posts that better fit your needs. For instance, if you’re trying to reach beyond just your members, you’d want to post more than just upcoming events or thank yous to volunteers (though you should still post both of those things).
Know Your Audience
Who are you posting for? When it comes to social media for small churches, it’s easy to think you already know everything about your members. After all, you probably know them all by name, along with where they work and who their friends are.
However, do you really know your audience on social media? The Internet is different that the real world. While discussing scripture might be appealing in church, your members might be more interested in talking about music or laughing at cat videos when they’re online.
It’s your church’s job to find a way to mix your audience’s interests with your church’s goals. Talk with your members to better understand how they interact on social media. What type of posts do they like best? What makes them want to comment? Why do they share some posts but not others? What are their interests outside of church?
The more you know, the easier it is to create posts members not only want to interact with, but share. If they’re enjoying them, so will others who are led to your page from shared content.
Engage Your Own Members First
It’s wonderful to think big and want to be that small church that has 100 members, but regularly reaches 100,000 online. But, think a bit smaller to begin with.
Even mega churches don’t stand out overnight. They have to work at it. Your smaller church will have to do the same. So, what’s the best starting point? Engage your own members first.
Every single member has their own set of friends and family. These could be people from all walks of life and all over the world. However, if you’re not posting content your members enjoy, their friends and family will never see it either.
This is why you have to know as much as possible about what your members enjoy on social media. If you make them happy and get them interacting with your posts, they’re far more likely to share those posts with others. This is how you expand your reach.
The average number of friends per user on Facebook is over 300. If just one of your members shares a post and one friend shares it, you may have just reached an additional 300 people. Now, imagine what happens if multiple members start sharing?
With Facebook and other social networks always changing algorithms to make it harder for businesses and nonprofits to reach people organically, you need all the engagement you can get from your members. According to HubSpot, Facebook pages with one million followers would likely only have 20,000 of those followers see their posts based on the potential 2% organic reach numbers.
Since you’re working to engage your members first, you’re able to advertise your social media presence for free by making announcements in church. Then, they’ll be sharing your posts. Facebook sees posts coming from individual users as more important and shows them to users more often. This increases your overall reach and makes it easier to stand out.
Create A Posting Calendar
Posting haphazardly can ruin social media for small churches. It’s difficult to keep track of, your followers get frustrated and it’s impossible to monitor performance. Instead, create a posting calendar.
For example, you might post Bible study content or suggested reading on Tuesdays, a thought-provoking question on Thursdays and something humorous on Saturdays. Each morning might be an inspirational message to start the day.
You could schedule links to your church’s blog, dates and times to share content from other sources and so on. The idea is to create a schedule so it’s easier to know what to post and when. This is especially helpful for smaller churches to stay on top of their posting and stand out in terms of consistency and engagement.
Mix Up Your Posts
Are you posting all videos, all pictures or all text? Is every post about your church? Mix things up. Coming up with ideas can be daunting, especially with so much other great content out there, but it’s easy when you have a list of ideas handy.
Pro Church Tools has a wonderful podcast episode that dives into 15 highly engaging post types. Seth Muse also offers up 88 great ideas, but you have to subscribe to his newsletter to get the full list. Using a temporary email address works well if you don’t want to manage yet another subscription.
Engage With Your Audience
This is another reason why you need a small team to manage social media for small churches. You can’t just post something and then never think of it again.
Followers are going to comment and even ask questions. While you don’t have to interact with every single comment, take the time to reply back to some of them. If someone has a question, try to answer it.
Seeing you engage online makes people see that your church isn’t being selfish or focused just on marketing. People want to engage with a church that’s about the people and creating a community. You can only do that if you’re participating in the conversation.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes on social media, but if you make too many or one major mistake, it could ruin your church’s chances. A common mistake is only talking about your church, such as upcoming events, fundraisers, invitations to services, work you’re doing on the church and so on.
Of course, getting angry, diving into politics and airing dirty laundry are all major mistakes. We’ve put together several posts to help you avoid making common social media mistakes so you can stand out:
- 5 Social Media Mistakes Hurting Your Church
- Why Your Church Facebook Page Is Missing The Mark
- 18 Things Your Church Should Never Share On Social Media
Use Unique Visuals
Plain, solid-colored backgrounds and stock photos might make your church’s posts look pretty, but they won’t stand out. Every church is using this strategy, along with every business page too.
You have to stop the scroll if you want users to interact with your posts. A unique visual will do this. A weird color combination, a picture of your actual church and members, a unique font over an image, a custom drawing or anything else that’s different will stand out.
Simply using more real pictures versus stock photos will help immensely. Take them with your smartphone and do some minor editing. It’s quick, simple and doesn’t cost anything.
Social media for small churches may actually be easier than larger churches. Why? You’re already more used to encouraging conversations within your church. It’s a much more personal environment. Do the same on social media.
Don’t just post a bunch of scripture or memes. Mix in questions with those types of posts. Post scripture and ask people what it means to them. Ask how your church could pray for them. Ask how church has changed lives or even why someone may have left the church.
Once conversations get started, they draw more people in. Plus, they give you a chance to interact with your members and social media followers.
Post Shareworthy Content
This should go without saying, but post shareworthy content. Simple posts such as “Hi, we’re glad to have you here” or “Have you prayed today,” aren’t going to be shared much, if at all.
Think about what you and your members share. What makes all of you click the Share button? That’s the type of posts your church needs to be creating to gain traction and a thriving online community.
Monitor Results And Adjust
Most social media platforms have built-in analytics. Use these to your advantage. See what types of posts get the most engagement. Notice what times seem to work best for your audience.
The more you can fine-tune your strategy, the easier it’ll be for your smaller church to stand out on social media.
Invest In Ads
Finally, if you want to jump-start your efforts or promote a specific event, consider investing at least a little in ads. You don’t have to invest much, but ads can be a great way to increase your social media page’s visibility and boost engagement faster.
Facebook ads typically reach the most people and are highly targeted. Plus, they’re fairly easy to set up and use. Use these now and again to boost visibility. Even if you only get five more people checking out your church’s page, that’s as much as 1500 more people who may see the posts they share from your church.
If you want to master social media for small churches, start with a church website to share content from. If you don’t have a site yet, contact us today to create a highly engaging site for your church today.