Faced with a lack of budget and time resources, churches often lag behind in the social media world. If your church hasn’t made the leap into Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social sharing sites, the task can seem daunting.
There are many issues to consider when setting up your social media presence. If you’re evaluating your options and strategy, here are a few things to keep in mind.
As a trusted voice in the community, you must be prepared to be transparent in order to maintain that trust and authority. Engaging in social media can often bring about the unexpected. People may ask questions you’re unprepared to answer in public or air issues that are best kept private.
Sweeping problems under the rug by ignoring or deleting posts you don’t care for isn’t the answer. You must be ready to deal with these issues openly and honestly, or face justified criticism and a potential erosion of trust.
Churches, like many other organizations, can be slow to adapt to new technology and ways of doing business. The real-time nature of social media can be jarring for the traditionalist.
Suddenly your staff is expected to be “online” and available nearly 24 hours a day, to learn to use the tools and technology of the trade. This transition can feel overwhelming, especially for people who are unfamiliar apps and tweets and likes.
Conversation and Criticism
Social media is a two-way means of communication, not a broadcast medium like radio. People expect responses to questions and concerns in a timely manner–minutes or hours instead of days.
You must be prepared to engage in actual conversation to make your social media efforts worthwhile and valuable.
A Few Tips
- Ask your youth ministry to help train others. The younger generations are generally more comfortable with the online world and can help educate other members.
- Look at what other churches are doing online, and reach out to them with questions. Your best resources are those who came before you. Ask them what works, what doesn’t, and how they might guide you.
- Keep up with blogs and sign up for their email newsletters. Online publications like ChurchMag, ChurchTechToday and The Exchange (or even, say, the Givelify blog and handy articles like this one) have many useful tips, tricks and tools to bring your church into the social media age.
- Search out the answers yourself. I Googled “how to use Twitter” as an example, and got more results than I knew what to do with–like this article called “How to Use Twitter.”