“Reach your audience where they are at.”

We want to start 2017 off with a month of clarity. Throughout January, we will be bringing you leadership development resources and tools that will help refine your processes, as you narrow the focus in your ministries. It is our aim that as we both do this, we will all be more effective in reaching our intended audience and setting ourselves up for success over the long haul.

This week, we want to set our sights on Social Media. In the past, social media has been something the church has either not done, not done effectively, or taken way to much time and energy defining for themselves. The fact is that today, social media is no longer an option, but a requirement to be effective to the current generation, let alone the generation being raised up in it. Here are some things to think about:

  • 78% of your audience is actively engaged on social media.
  • 89% of all guests visit you online before they ever step foot in your lobby.
  • 31% of all web traffic is driven by social media.
  • The right strategy equates to 3x more conversion and 50% more engagement.

If this is true now, imagine how much more true it will be at the end of the year, yet alone at the end of five years. Because our world is becoming increasingly connected to one another and our devices, the church must respond in kind. If the church wants a sustainable path forward, it must curate the proper channels of engagement to meet their audience where they’re at, on their terms.

First, some sudden stops for you in your social media strategy.

  1. Stop posting everything to every channel. Facebook is not Instagram, Twitter, etc … so stop treating everything like they are alike. Your audience uses the various platforms for a reason; respond to them.
  2. Stop having your office manager post your updates. They’re stale and outdated. Instead, utilize them to connect with the younger generation to reach the masses. This could be a great leveraging point for the development of the leadership in your church and can help solve the sudden drop off from high school to college. Team your office team up with a content calendar and youth, and you’re ready to go.
  3. On that note, the content calendar. Stop posting randomly about things. Sure, be organic, but have a set strategy in place that makes sense and that reflects your brand identity. It will become recognizable online and will build trust with your intended audience, making it easier for them to walk through the doors for the first time.
  4. Stop thinking this just isn’t important. Social media is incredibly important, the numbers state exactly that, and your abandonment of a clear social media strategy tells everyone all they need to know about you, your passion for reaching those far from God, and your commitment to the Great Commission in 2017 and beyond.

Now that we’ve gotten some STOPS out of the way, let’s talk about some best practices moving forward for the top social media platforms that are used by the majority of your audience.

  1. Facebook – Facebook is still the 800 pound gorilla in the room. It has the largest reach, the broadest business plan for its future, and a strategy to take social media (and internet) to the entire world. Their vision is to see the world’s population connected, and ours should reflect that. However, the feel of Facebook has changed over the years. It’s gone from a place college students could connect to a place that is rich with live video, private messaging, event management, and so much more. It is by far the most robust platform right now, with no intention of slowing down. That is why we are asking people to start using Facebook as their brand’s personality platform. In essence, this will allow you to showcase who you are at your core, the values that define you, and give your intended audience the greatest potential to see who you are behind the curtain.
  2. Twitter – A few months ago, Twitter finally admitted to everyone what we already knew: That Twitter was now a fully news-centric social media platform. However, you have probably noticed that there are quit a few people using the platform the same way they have always used it: to share the same news on Twitter as they do everywhere else (and still with Instagram image links). That’s not what it is for anymore, so please make the adjustment. Start using Twitter for what it is and what it is becoming: a full blown news platform for your brand.
  3. Instagram – Instagram has done a lot of growing up since its acquisition by Facebook. It’s been a beauty to watch a product develop with Facebook’s money, yet retain its original intent: to show the real you. Its because of this that new see Instagram leading the marketplace by showcasing your brand in real-time. Start leveraging this fact so that your intended audience can see who you are as you are worshiping, serving, leading, speaking, etc … That way they get to know you before they ever meet you.

Are there other social media platforms out there? Absolutely! Snapchat is killing it and becoming a more adult platform. Kik is creating better private messaging resources. Ask is continuing to grow as an anonymous platform for questions. Yes, all these things are scaling large, but the majority of your audience continues to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in their daily lives, and if you can develop a clear and consistent strategy to use the three in tandem, then you are start excelling where so many are failing, and see more of your audience engaged online and in-person in 2017.