Being a church planter I know what it is like to need to connect with people and build your church. I also know what it is like to have very little funds to market and advertise yourself. But here is the kicker you don’t need large advertising dollars to grow your church and to get your name out there. At the time of writing this we are less than 4 years old and when we started we had 21 people on our launch team. Since then we have grown to over a thousand people calling Bloom their church and I haven’t spent any money advertising our church except for online. No mailers, no radio, no television, and no billboards. We live in a day in age where social media if used right is the easiest way to connect with people in their homes and grab their attention in ways no other medium has been able to do!
So let us look at how you can do that as we dive into some do’s and don’ts when it comes to using social media!
- BE YOURSELF! Nothing is more damaging than trying to be something you are not online. Many churches think that they must be “cool” to reach this next generation and to grow their church so they copy the style of other churches that they think are “cool” and brand themselves that online. The problem here is when people attend your church you look nothing like that in real life and that is called false advertisement. The goal is to build a community not have guest flood through your doors never to come back. Many times this happens because a Pastor will put a young person in charge of social media and they post what they personally like not what is aligned with the identity of their church. What we don’t realize is people don’t want “cool” they want “authentic” they want to connect with something that is really where they can see our real hearts and passions for Jesus and this world. I love Rick Warren but I venture to say that not many people have ever confused Rick with being hip, yet his church is filled with young people. Why is that? Because Rick is extremely authentic and when Rick speaks you know he cares! Authenticity is the only thing that builds trust and trust is what builds loyalty. So just be you!
- QUIT SELLING YOURSELF. Become a voice online that people want to listen to not ignore. So many organizations online only see social media as a selling platform and not as a way to connect with people and invest in people. Social media is not a place that you advertise yourself 24/7. It is not the yellow pages, it is not craigslist, and it is not an announcement board. It is literally your fist opportunity to build a relationship with someone, pour into their lives, and see that relationship go from online to in person. If we can understand that then we start producing content that reflects that. Create content that encourages people, inspires people, makes people laugh, and gives people hope. Make content people want to see and want to share because it is meaningful to them. Now I am not saying that you should never advertise something, but I am saying for every post that is an “ask” there needs to be 3 to 5 posts that are “gives” where you are giving them meaningful content!
- BE CONSISTENT. Social media is not a quick game! It takes time and commitment and you must be committed for the long haul. People slowly start following you and it slowly starts growing, but when it does it gets faster and faster. Most people quit after several weeks, but it is like anything of value it takes discipline to go the distance. Also, you need to be posting regularly. Now some people will tell you there is some magic formula that you need to post “x” amount of times a day at these exact times. I have found that every community is different and so we try to post 1 to 2 times a day on average. Some days may be more, but that is a good goal to shoot for and if you go on your Facebook page under analytics you can get a break down of what times your post are viewed the most to help you know when to post!
- BE VISUAL. Post things that are visually appealing. Post pictures and videos. Make the majority of your content something that catches people eyes. Make sure you are posting pictures of your people. Studies have shown that we will naturally look at a post with people in them more than post without. Post pictures of your people doing church, highlight a volunteer of the week, post about a small group, worship, greeters, a picture with of the pastor with a sermon quote, etc… These are great visuals that allow people to get a first look at your church without ever visiting which causes them to become more comfortable when they do come. Facebook live or do quick videos of the Pastor sharing a bit about his message coming up or a quick story about a win that has happened in the church. This is the perfect place to show a broad audience who you are as a church community.
- CHECK-INS ARE GOLD! Every week we make it a point to say from the stage “make sure you check-in online to let all your friends and family know that Bloom is the place to be on Sundays”. We have had more people come to our church based on seeing a check-in than probably anything else. Seeing a check-in is basically seeing a referral from people that you know and trust. Think about it this way when you are on Facebook and you see one of your friends’ check-in somewhere and talk about their experience what is first instinct. You click on that page to see what it is all about for yourself. That is free advertising and if you have been producing quality content then they are going to like what they see and that will get them to follow your page. If they follow your page long enough and your post keeps investing in them then that follow will turn into a visit. Check-ins are gold!
- TOOLS. Let me give some quick tools to leave you with.
*First thing you need to do is download the WordSwag app. Most peoples complaint is that they cannot create good graphics and WordSwag is the perfect tool to create content fast and easy for social media. There are so many tools that a beginner can use now that just didn’t exist 5 to 10 years ago. There is also website like canva.com to help you create all sorts of graphics for your church.
*Boost posts on Facebook. We try to boost a post on Facebook about every 2 to 3 weeks to get past the Facebook algorithm that limits your posts reach. So we will boost a compelling video, huge event, powerful sermon quote that goes out to all our followers and their friends. This allows us to expand our reach and we also gain new followers.
*Ask questions. Conversations should be had online so make posts periodically that asks questions for your followers to respond to. What is your favorite worship song, bible story, Christmas movie, etc…. Conversations make people feel more involved.
*Respond to comments and messages quickly. Be involved in the conversation and always interact when people are taking their time to interact with you!
*Lastly visit the pages of other healthy churches to get an idea of the content they are producing and then use that as an inspiration to know what type of content to build to reflect your church.
We truly do live in a great time when our ability to get our message out is easier than ever and when we can build a platform that can reach more people than ever before. Get online, post valuable content, be patient, and watch your platform start to grow!
If you have any questions about social media comment below and also I would love to hear about any of your social media “wins” your organization has experienced!