It’s the start of a new year and with that comes the opportunity to try some new things on social media. Social media and social networking is an ever changing landscape. Websites and apps come and go, ideas and strategies change and evolve. It’s more than just setting up an account and keeping things updated regularly. But don’t let that scare you. It doesn’t mean you have to spend your life keeping up to date with it all – that’s what you have me for (!) Below are some ideas (or challenges if you wish) to keep your social media presence and your knowledge expanding. If you manage all of the ten on the list that’s fantastic, but one or two completed will also have you heading in the right direction. Let me know if you tick any off the list.
Number One: Step Outside Your Comfort zone
Take a risk, try something new. Why not try live-tweeting a service, create a new hashtag campaign or use Twitter’s new poll feature for the first time. You could set up an Instagram account for your church or create a community of local church Tweeters. It doesn’t need to be a big step. It’s about discovering what else is out there and not letting fear of getting it wrong stop you from trying in the first place. Do one thing this year that you’ve never done before.
Number Two: Reach out to others
Don’t just wait for people to come talk to you on social media – start conversations yourself. You can do this by joining in on trending hashtags or just strike up conversations with your followers. Follow other churches on social media and form connections between them. By working together you’ll have a louder voice – there’s power in unity! Share events you’re holding with them, help promote their events and pray for each other.
Number Three: Learn something New
There are two things I think every church should learn how to use: iMovie and Canva. Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google and Facebook’s move into video sharing has been a massive success for them which will only grow over the next 12 months. iMovie, the iPad app is incredibly easy to use with plenty of tools to make simple videos which you can upload straight onto Facebook or Youtube.
Alongside video, visual storytelling using graphics are still a major part of social media marketing. Anything with colour is going to make people stop for a second to see what you’ve posted. The better your design is, the more likely people are stop and read your post. Canva is the perfect tool to create good looking graphics of all shapes and sizes and post them straight to your social media channels.
Number Four: Broadcast something via Periscope
The live broadcasting app from Twitter is incredibly easy to use. All you need is some phone signal or wifi and a smart phone. Why not get involved in the CofE’s ChurchLive project or do some live broadcasting of your own. It could be a service, a fund-raising event or just a tour of your church. Live broadcasting will be big in 2016 so make sure you’re part of it.
Number Five: Teach your congregation how to use it
And by “use it” I mean social media. As your church uses social media more and more, it’s so easy to leave behind those people in the congregation who don’t even know how to turn a computer on, let alone send a tweet. As mentioned in my “quick digital wins” blog, all you need to do is set up some time for the younger ones to show the older ones how to do it. As social media becomes a bigger and bigger part of everyday life, it’s time worth spent making sure a large part of your congregation aren’t alienated by it. And you can give them the tools to stay safe online too.
Number Six: Create a strategy
If you haven’t done this already of course. Starting the year off with a plan of where you’re going and where you want to be is a no brainer. There’s nothing to say you can’t change course or have a few small diversions but if everyone in the church knows what journey you’re on, the easier you’ll find to stick to it. Have a clear idea of what your voice is and how you plan to use it. Pick out key dates in your calendar and how you can make the most of social media on those days. The more you plan ahead the better.
Number Seven: Have More Fun
It’s okay to be silly sometimes. Have a caption competition, use Twitter polls to have quizzes or have a guessing game using photos from around the parish. Get involved in funny hashtags on Twitter, share video of your youth leaders making a fool of themselves to make the kids laugh. Show the church has a fun side (one of many sides – your church is multidimensional!) When people see you having a good time, they’ll want to join in.
Number Eight: Tell Stories
You have a whole Bible’s worth of stories at your fingertips so why not come up with some creative ways of sharing them online? Don’t just share your church online, be your church online. The best way to tell these stories is using video (though anything visually eye-grabbing will work!) like this great Christmas video from All Saints, Peckham or through clever poetry, like that from Miriam Swaffield. Why not share testimonies from the congregation? Share the emotion of baptisms or use stopmotion to create animated tales from the bible. You can find more inspiration in my video ideas blog. There are so many stories to tell, so go and tell them!
Number Nine: Evaluate
Look back at your last year on social media and evaluate how well it went. Look at the analytics that are available to you and see what was popular and what wasn’t popular. Investigate what type of posts do best and what day of the week has the most engagement. Learning what has does well on your account is important in planning your future. Don’t be afraid to ditch a social media platform if it isn’t working for your church. Remember, you’re looking for engagement and communication, not just ‘likes’. If you’re not getting that, it might be time to throw out the current plan and try something new.
Number Ten: Get the Basics Right
Make sure all your bio is filled in properly including things like your web address. Not only does a half filled in bio make your account hard to find, it’s incredibly frustrating to visit your page and not be able to find your website or any information about your church. Have an eye catching header picture, something that’ll make people stop and want to investigate further. It’s these areas which are some people’s first impression of your church so you need to get it right first time. Your bio and your visual identity on your social media accounts are your shop window.
Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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