Social media provides churches with an incredible opportunity to reach more people and create deeper, more meaningful connections with people in the pew. But when you combine the various ways churches can use it and challenges around what to post, many churches are still either hesitant to use social media or are using it poorly and not seeing any positive results.
So how do you use social media effectively for ministry? Based on the way churches are effectively using social media today, here are 10 "commandments" to help guide your strategy.
The 10 Commandments of Social Media
1. Be Human
We all agree that the Church is made up of people, not buildings. However, one of the temptations when using social media for ministry is to create a persona around your ministry rather than people. Instead of simply using social media as a platform to share what your church is doing, find ways to humanize your ministry.
2. Be Positive
Take a scroll through your newsfeed and count how many posts are rooted in anger, pessimism, arrogance or other negative stances. One of the greatest opportunities your church has when it comes to social media is to be a light in a place that's becoming increasingly dark. Every time you post something, consider, "Is this adding value and positivity to the people we're trying to reach?"
3. Be Remarkable
Creating compelling visual images or video content is an increasingly important trend for churches. Even if you don't have a designer on staff, there are tools like Canva, Legend and Facebook Ad tools that make creating images and videos easy for the rest of us.
4. Be Strategic
How can you use it to reinforce your ministry vision? How can you use it to create excitement or anticipation for an upcoming project or sermon series? And maybe most importantly of all, how can you leverage the content you're already creating (like your weekly sermon) to distill and disseminate via social media throughout the week? These are all valuable questions to help your church be more strategic in its approach to social media.
5. Be Present
Social media shouldn't be one person's responsibility. One of the easiest ways to increase your social influence is to equip and encourage your staff to leverage their social presence for ministry.
6. Know Your People
Don't feel like you need to be present on every social network. Instead, ask yourself, "Who is my church trying to reach? What channels are they using? How are they using it?" Then look for ways to apply some of the other social media commandments there.
7. Encourage User-Generated Content
One of the best ways to maximize social media for ministry is to create a culture where church members are creating the content. Ask questions that create conversations. Share stories from people in the pew who are doing ministry. Create a Twitter hashtag for your Twitter sermon that prompts people to share.
8. Market Your Social Presence
If you want people to engage with your ministry online, printing social media icons in your bulletin can't be the only way you market your social presence. Instead, look for other ways to promote your social channels from the platform.
9. Reinforce Relationships & Discipleship
Effective discipleship requires more than one hour on a Sunday morning. However, continuing the conversation on social media throughout the week is an incredibly effective way to lead people to deeper conversations. This might include sharing your message notes throughout the week or hosting a Facebook Live Q&A to take questions about Sunday's sermon.
10. Develop a Social Media Policy
Defining what's appropriate to post and how you will handle any negative situation on the front end is critical.
Like everything else your church does, social media is simply another tool to help people grow closer to Jesus. It's not a silver bullet. But, when you use these commandments to guide your strategy, you'll be surprised at how it can help you reach more people, increase engagement in your community and lead people deeper in their commitment to Christ.
What else would you add to the list?
Jeremy Chandler serves as a marketing manager at Pursuant, a fundraising agency serving the nation's leading nonprofits, faith-based ministries and churches. He and his wife Mary live in Nashville, Tennessee. If you're in the area, he jumps at any opportunity to connect with people over coffee.
This article originally appeared at ronedmondson.com.
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