It’s no secret that social media is a great tool for marketing your church. In fact, 50% of faith-based organizations label social media as a “very important” communication tool. The importance of social media begins and ends with your strategy. Strategy is the foundation for all of your actions on social media. There are many aspects that go into creating a strategy, but here are five “special ingredients” that should launch your social media to the next level.
Tie Your Strategy to Churches Objectives
Think about what sparked your passion for starting a new church, or lead the flock of an existing one. What did you set out to do? Who were you trying to reach? These goals should be fundamental, but tend to get forgotten over time and repetition. Every action taken on the Internet should be focused to reflect that passion.
Get strategic about how you post. Use a social media dashboard (like Hootsuite™) that lets you schedule updates in advance. Sure, you can still check in to see who’s talking about you once or twice a day, but you can be smart about it. Set up a stream with your church’s profile or name as the search term and you can quickly scan it for new mentions and respond appropriately.
Know Your Audience
First, know the audience you want to reach. Research and ask around to get demographic information on who you want to target. Second, establish a presence on a social media platform where your target audience is. Not sure who’s on what? Ask your existing members what social platforms they are on (or better yet, which one they use the most). It may not be exact, but it gives you a place to start. Once you have selected the platforms, create a different strategy for each based on what your audience wants. The content you deliver to your audience should be relevant, interesting and valuable to them.
Do the Most With What You Have
Despite what you may believe, you can have a successful strategy without ever spending a penny. We hear you exhaling sighs of relief! The best way to be a social media expert on a church’s budget is to analyze data as often as possible. Fortunately, most major social media platforms have free analytics for you to use. Some are extensive (Facebook’s Insights), while others only give general follower data (Twitter’s Analytics). Remember that follower data is still useful for getting to know your audience (See Point #2). Use this data extensively and let it be your resource when you trial-and-error new ideas.
Content may be one of the most important factors to a successful social media strategy, but right below is making sure to post at optimal times with optimal frequency. Each platform has its own rules when it comes to timing. For instance, Facebook will reach your audience if they meet the timing requirements of its algorithm. Twitter, on the other hand, depends on when the audience checks their feed and how far back in time they look. Timing your post can make a significant difference in reach. Posting too often can also cannibalize the reach of your posts. A good post sent at an inopportune time could get buried, while one sent at the right time could help it go viral.
Twitter: The optimal times to tweet are 12–3 p.m., with a peak best time at 5 p.m. During the workweek is the best, though some niches might have more active audiences on the weekend.
Wednesday at noon and 5–6 p.m.
Experiment with 2–3 a.m., 6–7 a.m., and 9–10 p.m.
Facebook: The best time to post on Facebook is 1–4 p.m. late into the week and on weekends.
Saturday and Sunday at 12–1 p.m.
Thursday and Friday at 1–4 p.m.
Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Social media changes quickly. Be sure to utilize the latest features that the rest of your audience is using. Check your data and adjust your strategy accordingly, when necessary. Don’t get stuck in an outdated strategy. When social media stops becoming part of your routine, you break consistency with your audience. At that point, it’s hard to get their attention back.