There's no question that social media marketing is taking over the Internet. All it seems people are doing is chatting on Facebook or scrolling miles with their thumb on Instagram. What are they doing when they're not on these platforms? Probably something they can post about later. So, what does this mean for your church marketing? Should you spend time trying to reach out on social media to create a presence for your church?
The online marketing choices for your church are overwhelming: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging, or all of the above?
Despite this growing social media presence, the question remains whether investing in social media makes sense for your church and what that investment should look like. When compared to other forms of marketing, it becomes hard to defend not employing some form of social media strategy.
Why should churches be focused on social media? It allows them to communicate directly with their members and potential visitors. It’s also where their congregation, share recommendations and information, thereby allowing for exponential growth and exposure.
Investing in social media has its pitfalls as well. Social media campaigns are very easy to initiate without setting any expectations. As a result, churches and particularly small churches can quickly be overwhelmed trying to maintain a presence socially without first establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) or any type of direction.
Maintaining relevance in social media requires constant updates, fresh content, regular announcements, tweets and can take the focus off of the core message of God. Without setting guidelines and maintaining a strategic focus, a church can wind up devoting more and more resources to its social media presence. These unfocused social media efforts rarely result in new business.
While a social media presence can be effective for many churches, the approach needs to be measurable and should follow some sort of plan based on desired results and preliminary evaluation of the existing customer base.
- Who are you trying to connect to? How do they use social media? What social media outlets do they use? Why invest in Twitter if your customers are on Facebook?
- What is your goal in employing social media? Are you looking to expand your membership or provide a better understanding of your church for visitors?
- What is a reasonable level of resource to commit to your campaign in terms of expense, man hours, and response time?
- How are you going to respond to visitor inquiries when they come and they will come? If you initiate a social media campaign you will need to be prepared to respond to negative feedback.
There are social media tools available to help with these questions. Many social media applications like Hootsuite and Sprout Social provide their own analytics to answer many of the questions and help to measure against a wide variety of KPIs. There are also social media experts like FaithConnections.net who can provide valuable advice to a growing church as well as help to establish a social media strategy. The best approach is to use these resources to develop a focused strategy that works for your church. By taking the time to understand how social media will best help your church and planning your efforts in advance, you will more effectively harness the power of social media resulting in not just new visitors but also growing membership.