Now that the why has been established, let’s talk about the how.
First, establish who will be running your website and social media accounts (they can be different people).
At the very least, your church should have an updated website and a Facebook page. The Facebook page should be updated at least once a week. This is the minimum. Any less than that, and your social media is considered outdated.
Encourage your congregation to like your Facebook page, and to share the posts there. This will help expand your organic reach on Facebook.
All social media accounts should be connected to and point back to the website, since this is your very own virtual space, and this is where you can really let your values and personality shine.
If I am visiting a church Facebook page, I like to see what events they have coming up, what their songs and sermon are for the coming week, or reflections on the past week’s service.
You don’t need to have an original graphic design for each post, either. Posts can definitely just be shares of a helpful article, a theological quote, or a youtube video that highlights a great song or maybe a new song the church will be singing in the coming weeks.
After the Facebook page has been well-established, Instagram and Twitter are optional additional social media platforms your church and congregation might benefit from.
Instagram is an image-based platform that I also think churches can benefit from*. Our church uses Instagram to highlight events and announcements, and upcoming songs and sermons. We occasionally post verses that relate to our sermons. Instagram should be updated the same as Facebook, at least 1-4 times per week.
Our church also has a fair amount of people regularly engaged using Twitter (and not everyone will be the same). Twitter is a micro-blog platform, and posts have to be 140 characters or less. Our church posts at least 3 Twitter updates a day - usually an announcement, a quote from the sermon, and a verse that relates to it.
If anyone mentions or comments on your posts, make sure that you are responding! This is a way to care for your flock and to care for others in the community. Remember, people value online connection. This is the new age of technology.
Of course, you will come upon trolls (people who are negative for no reason), and they are relentless. (Our church dealt with this about two years ago.) The key is to respond positively and cheerfully, point them in the direction of the pastor if they have a problem (they will usually not agree to meet face to face), and to move on.
Establishing or relaunching your social media in the right direction might seem overwhelming at first. My advice is to start with one platform, and to use that platform really well. Once you have that one established, add another one. Do not take on more than three platforms, at most. More than that is just too much to handle, and you most likely can not do them all well. I would also not give this responsibility to the pastor, as he has a lot of other stuff going on. See if another staff member or even just a member of the church would be willing to head up this ministry.
Social media is not going away any time soon, and it is only going to grow larger. The good news is you can start establishing your presence there today.
Remember that social media IS a ministry!
It is reaching out and caring for other people where they are.
It is a way to make sure that the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ reaches all people in all places. All people may not respond, but let’s not say it was for lack of trying on our part.
“People may hate us because of Jesus, but let's never give them a reason to hate Jesus because of us.” - Jen Hatmaker
*Disclaimer: Please do not use faces of people in your church in online, public images on the website or social media without their consent. This is especially important with children. Make sure you have proper consent first!
Bethany Loginow has been a pastor’s wife for 7+ years, and she is a mom to four children ages 5 and under. In her spare time, she writes Bible Studies for Women at The Happy Household (www.thehappyhousehold.com), and she runs a website design and social media company for small businesses (www.BethanyLoginow.com).