If you want to boost engagement for your church, especially online, you have to stay on top of the latest social media trends. The great part about 2020’s trends is they’re all great strategies for years to come.
Now is a great time to create a better social media strategy that not only gets people to follow your church, but engage with you and each other.
Between social media and a church website, you’re able to create a thriving online community. Plus, you’re creating a more positive place for people to gather online.
Focus On Conversations Versus Likes
How often have you been told to create the next viral post or video to get attention and boost engagement? One of the best social media trends for 2020 is the focus on conversations versus likes.
In fact, Instagram announced the platform was testing removing likes completely. And, since Facebook owns Instagram, Facebook is doing the same thing. Part of the reason is to make social media more enjoyable. Users become so focused on likes that they actually get depressed if their posts don’t take off. It’s also a way to encourage creating more meaningful content.
So, with likes possibly disappearing, there’s even more reason to place your church’s focus on conversations on social media versus just something to gather likes. Use the quality of conversations as a way to gauge engagement versus more technical numbers. Also, post content that encourages conversations, such as questions, inspiring quotes and engaging videos.
Groups Are More Appealing
Social media is great, but people are concerned about privacy. They’d rather engage in groups or communities versus on a public page or profile. In addition to privacy, groups tend to be more interest-oriented. This gives group members more in common, leading to more interactions.
As a church, consider creating at least a few groups. While Facebook has Groups, Instagram has Threads. Threads work a little differently, but let your church share content with a small group at a time. You could even consider creating sub-reddits on Reddit or specific channels on YouTube.
Instagram Stories And Facebook Stories Are A Must
Short-lived content instantly boosts engagement. With standard posts, users can check them out whenever. For Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, the content disappears, meaning if they want to see it, they have to act quickly.
The way this increases engagement is by encouraging your church’s followers to keep coming back. Even with Facebook’s abysmal organic reach for brand pages, your followers will still make a point of checking out your church’s page on the days you regularly post a new story.
Stories include short video clips, a series of images, a set of posts or a mix. Both platforms only show a story for 24 hours before it’s gone. Thanks to FOMO (fear of missing out), users definitely don’t want to miss your latest content.
Try to create your stories on a schedule so users know when to check things out. While they’re there, they’ll view more of your posts too. While some brands opt for daily stories, your church may only want to do one or two, depending on how much time you have for social media.
Engage Through User Generated Content
User generated content isn’t something new, but it’s an often overlooked marketing and engagement strategy. It’s also one of the top rising social media trends for 2020. UGC is simply content that your followers create.
For instance, a brand might run a campaign for users to share their experience with a specific product using a set hashtag. Users post content with the hashtag, giving the brand a steady stream of content for everyone to view while encouraging more engagement among followers.
People crave authenticity. So, what’s more authentic than content created not by your church, but by your members, volunteers and online followers? This is why brands in general love it. It’s truly authentic content that resonates with followers.
Surprisingly, UGC has been shown to be up to five times more effective in targeted ads and 10 times more effective than influencer content. Some great ways to encourage your own followers to create content include:
- Ask for inspiring moments or stories
- Create different picture campaigns, such as favorite moments at church or most inspiring places
- Favorite scripture and why
- Hold contests and let followers vote
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Ask your members what types of things they’d like to participate in. This will give you a nearly endless supply of ideas.
Video Isn’t Going Away
We’ve mentioned this in the past, but video isn’t going away. It’s a trend that’s here to stay. It’s also one of the fastest growing social media trends of 2020. People love video and there are plenty of statistics to back this up.
You don’t have to invest a lot of time or money either. Even the smallest churches can include video on social media posts. Use a smartphone to shoot a short clip of your volunteers hard at work on a community project with the teaser text “Check back to see the final result.” This gets people talking, shows what your church is up to at the moment and gets people to come back to see how the project turned out.
Obviously, you can post sermons, live streams, events, interviews and most anything else related to your church. You could even record short videos that are 3-5 minutes that are quick sermons for followers on the go.
Videos get more shares, increasing your number of followers and boosting overall engagement. Plus, they’re fairly easy to create and upload.
Reduce Your Social Media Platforms
If one social media network is working, you should add more, right? Not always. While there are plenty of great networks to join, you probably don’t have the time to be on all of them. The thinner you stretch yourself, the less you’ll be able to connect with your followers.
So, pick a few networks where your audience gathers most. While Facebook tends to be the top choice, it’s not a requirement. Use Instagram and YouTube. Or, mix Facebook with Twitter or Instagram.
At most, opt for three social media networks unless you have a dedicated social media team. You’ll connect with your followers better, leading to increased engagement.
Connect On A Personal Level
This is a strategy that works not only now, but for years to come. If your church can connect with social media followers on a personal level, you’ll instantly boost engagement.
People want brands that understand them. For churches, this is even more important. Even if they’re not attending your church in person, they want to engage with a church that seems to understand their struggles. Post inspiring content that targets what your audience might be going through.
Something as simple as a weekly post that says “Share your struggles this week – we’re listening, no judgment,” means a lot. The idea is to make social media a conversation and not just a digital billboard for marketing messages. Build that trust and you build engagement.
Listen To Feedback
Outside of conversations, the single most important thing you can do to future-proof your social media strategy is to listen to feedback. Are there certain posts that seem to bring out the worst in your followers or rarely even see any engagement?
Ask your followers how they feel. Ask what type of content they want to see. Talk with your members. Also, check out similar churches to see what their followers like.
Since you’re trying to increase engagement with your audience, let them tell you what’s working. It’s much easier to just ask and pay attention than guessing.
Look For Authentic Influencers
Influencers can be a church’s best friend. Believe it or not, there are Christian influencers. Reaching out to them to help increase your church’s reach is a great idea. However, one of 2020’s social media trends is skipping the big names and opting for micro-influencers.
As Social Sprout explains, micro-influencers tend to be more authentic. They’re seen as just normal people who have a flair for building small communities of dedicated followers. Traditional influencers have such large followings that they don’t connect as well with their audience and might not even be seen as trustworthy anymore.
Finding the right micro-influencers will help your church more than the big names. You’ll reach a much more engaged audience who’ll be more likely to be the right audience for your church as well.
Expand Beyond Facebook
Yes, Facebook has billions of active users, but sometimes, you need more than Facebook. With so many Facebook scandals, such as 2020’s Facebook boycotts, some brands and users have left the platform completely.
While Facebook is still incredibly useful for connecting with and building your church’s followers online and off, there are other options. It’s a good idea to use at least one network beyond Facebook. This gives you the chance to connect with users who no longer use it or simply prefer the features of another network. Ask your members, especially younger members, where they prefer to hang out online.
Let All Staff Get Involved
Sometimes, people get bored if the same person is posting all your social media content. Spice things up by letting your staff and even some of your members get involved. Give each person a theme or purpose. Create a variety of voices that fit your church’s mission.
This lets people get to know your church much better. It also creates a deeper level of personal engagement. Of course, there’s also the benefit of some voices connecting with certain parts of your audience better, such as having a few teens posting in addition to adults.
Go Beyond Just Asking People To Attend
Yes, it’s called social media marketing, but among some of the most confusing social media trends is skipping the marketing. When you see this, you’re probably not sure what to do. After all, you want to market your church, but marketing can also hurt engagement.
What do you do? Reduce the among of strict marketing. Look at your posts for the last few months. How many of them are simply posts asking people to come to church or attend an event? Now, how many of them are useful, engaging posts that users would want to interact with?
To increase engagement, the majority of your posts should be about giving your followers something to think about or talk about. Inspire them, bring them closer to God and build a community. You can still invite them to join you at church or check out your sermon online, but give them more than marketing.
Keep YouTube In Mind
When it comes to social media, who’s really the king? While Facebook still has more monthly active users (2.6+ billion), YouTube isn’t far behind with 2+ billion. However, 73% of US adults use YouTube, while only 69% use Facebook. So, YouTube is definitely a threat to Facebook’s crown.
What does this mean for your church? YouTube is a social network. It just happens to focus on video. Remember how video is still a growing trend? It’s worth considering adding YouTube to your social media strategy in 2020. You can even post the same videos you use on other networks or create a unique series just for YouTube.
The great thing is it’s easy for people to share your YouTube content anywhere, no matter what social media networks they prefer.
Niche Platforms Are Useful
While an audience in the billions sounds great, one of the more popular social media trends for 2020 is to use niche platforms instead. These include places like Reddit and TikTok.
Niche networks have a smaller user-base, but more engagement. Plus, your content doesn’t have as much competition with less noise. Influencer Marketing Hub lists over 75 social networks. While you shouldn’t join them all, see if any of the smaller networks might be a good fit for your church.
Targeted Ads Improve Engagement
While your posts shouldn’t be so marketing oriented, targeted ads that are more personalized help improve engagement. Some brands are even using user generated content in their ads to build more trust. If you’re just starting to grow your church’s social following or want to boost interest in an upcoming online or offline event, targeted ads are still one of the best ways to do so.
A church blog is always a great source of content for social media. Plus, a church website is the perfect place to bring your followers back to to learn more. Contact us today to create the perfect church website for your needs.