Social media is the church’s modern-day extension of phone call invitations, pamphlets, sign waving, and more. If your church is looking to promote an event, increase service attendance, serve its community with uplifting news, and more, social media is the tool to make it happen! Almost half of the world’s population is on social media. Sixty-nine percent of adult Americans use at least one social network and spend, on average, two and a half hours on their social networks per day.
To get your church’s message in front of supporters and potential members on the platforms they use daily, you need a social media strategy. Keep reading for six steps to build a social media strategy for your church!
1. Identify Your Audience
Identifying your target audience is a necessary step for any communications plan. Identifying your target audience will impact how you write your posts (formal versus informal for example) and will help you determine what platforms your church should be active on.
Look at your current congregation—what is its demographic makeup? Different demographics (age groups, genders, etc.) flock to different social media platforms. The platforms your congregants are most likely on are the platforms you want to invest time in.
Facebook – Facebook is the most popular social media platform. 68% of adult social media users are on Facebook. 74% of female social media users use Facebook while 62% of male social media users use Facebook. 51% of social media users ages 13 to 17 are on Facebook, 81% of 18 to 29-year-olds, 78% of 30 to 49-year-olds, 65% of 50 to 64-year-olds, and 41% of social media users over 65 use Facebook.
Instagram– Instagram has one billion active monthly users and 400 million active daily users. 39% of female social media users use Instagram while 30% of male social media users use Instagram. 72% of social media users between the ages of 13-17 are on Instagram, 64% of 18 to 29-year-olds, 40% of 30 to 49-year-olds, 21% of 50 to 64-year-olds, and 10% of social media users over 65 use Instagram.
X–24% of female social media users use X while 23% of male social media users use X. 32% of social media users ages 13 to 17 are on X, 40% of 18 to 29-year-olds, 27% of 30 to 49-year-olds, 19% of 50 to 64-year-olds, and 8% of social media users over 65 use X.
LinkedIn– LinkedIn is primarily used for B2B marketing and connecting professionals. LinkedIn has over 660 million registered users. Gender wise, LinkedIn is evenly split with 25% of female and male social media users using the site. 29% of social media users aged 18 to 29 use LinkedIn, 33% of 30 to 49-year-olds, 24% of 50 to 64-year-olds, and 9% of social media users over 65 use LinkedIn.
If your church is looking to diversify its congregation, look at platforms outside of what may be used by your current members. If you do this, maintain your church’s voice—don’t change the way you represent your church. You want new visitors who come to a service or event to feel comfortable and like what they saw on social media was an accurate portrayal of your church.
2. Create Clear Goals for Your Social Media Presence
According to the Sprout Social Index report, the top three goals marketers have for the social media channels they manage are to increase brand/organization awareness, generate leads/sales (to your church this may mean generating new members or converts), and increasing engagement. These three broad goals should guide your post content and overall social media strategy.
When you create social media goals for your church try to make them concise and measurable. Who is your goal targeting? When do you want to reach your goal by? Follow the EGAD acronym outlined in Managing Public Relations by Peter Smudde: Effect, Goal, Audience, Deadline. View the examples below to see EGAD in action!
- Increase awareness of our church by gaining 100 new Facebook page likes from Tampa Facebook users by April 1, 2020.
- Increase our X engagement rate by 3% by posting visual content and polls by January 1st.
- Reach more people with the good news by increasing the number of clicks to our sermon video landing page from social by 5% by January 1st.
If this is your church’s first time to sit down and talk about goals for social media, feel free to start broad and then narrow your focus. Read more about goal setting for social media here.
3. Use Platforms That Cater to Your Audience and Your Church Has Time to Manage
Each social media platform has its own expectations and posting “norms.” Posting regularly is an expectation that comes with social media. If you don’t post regularly your followers won’t know what to expect and the value of following or liking your church’s page becomes unclear.
Try and post daily on Facebook and LinkedIn. X best practice is to post at least three times per day (this can include retweets of other users’ content). Post at least once per day on Instagram, even if you’re just posting to your story. If your church is only able to post on X once per week, for example, try sticking to Facebook and posting daily on that platform till you have the bandwidth to expand managing other platforms.
In addition to evaluating what you have the time to manage, look at your congregation’s demographics to determine what social media platforms you should manage. If you have an older congregation, for example, investing your time and resources into Facebook instead of X is a good choice. If you have a booming youth program X and Instagram would be great platforms to invest time in.
4. Create Posts That Meet Your Goals and are Tailored to Your Platform
What are your church’s social media goals? Every post you create should achieve a strategic goal—having clear goals will help legitimize social media as a communication tool to your church leaders and result in quality content that provides a clear value to your followers.
Your posts can be informative (informing your followers of a guest speaker who will be giving a sermon, announcing a partnership with a local food bank for the holidays, releasing Vacation Bible School dates, etc.); and your posts can focus on motivating your audience to take an action (asking for Sunday school volunteers and providing a link to a volunteer signup form, sharing the dates of your Easter service times and asking your followers to share it, releasing your pastor’s podcast with the goal of driving traffic to the podcast webpage, etc.). Whether you’re trying to increase service attendance or volunteer registrations, all your posts will fall into one of these two goals—informing your audience or persuading your audience to take action.
Ask yourself after you’ve drafted a post…what value does this bring to our followers? Is it informing them of something? Or is it offering them an opportunity to take an action? When you craft posts aimed at inspiring action make sure your call to action (CTA) is clear and you provide an avenue for your followers to act (this can be a link to your webpage or the phone number to the church office). The last thing you want is a post asking for volunteers with no clear way for your followers to sign up!
Once you’ve set a goal for your post make sure it meets best practices for each platform.
Always strive for concise copy! Posts should be no longer than 470 characters. The sweet spot ranges from 200-300 characters. Images uploaded with posts should be 1,200 by 630 pixels. Hashtags aren’t used to follow trending topics like they are on X and LinkedIn, so only use hashtags if you’ve branded a series with a hashtag (#PastorToddPodcast or #VBS2020 for example).
Only 280 characters maximum are allowed in a tweet. An image uploaded in a post (shared image) should be 1024 x 512 pixels. Hashtags and emojis are encouraged! Use hashtags to help your posts be found by X users that may be interested in your content.
Posts should be no longer than 500 characters. The sweet spot ranges around 300 characters. An image uploaded in a post (shared image) should be 1104 x 736 pixels. Use hashtags to help users find your content.
Copy should be under 300 characters. Photo thumbnails are 161 x 161 pixels, but images should be uploaded as 1080 x1080 pixels. Rectangular images can be uploaded to Instagram as well, but in the thumbnail view the edges of the photo will be cut off. Use hashtags and emojis in your post description.
5. Brand Your Content
Determining the visuals and messaging you’ll use to represent your church ensures that you have a clear framework to build posts and graphics in. This design and messaging framework make up your church’s brand. Branding done well can add legitimacy to your social media accounts, increase engagement on your posts, and even result in more traffic to your website. To clearly brand your content you should have the following:
Logos sized for social media
On each platform you manage you should have your church’s logo as your profile picture so your account can be easily found by those who attend or recognize your church. This helps solidify your brand identity and is a step in making your church visually recognizable. You can incorporate your church’s logo and mission statement on your cover photo for added brand recognition.
On Facebook a business page profile picture is 180 x 180 pixels and a cover photo is 820 x 312 pixels. On X a profile picture is 400 x 400 pixels and the header photo is 1,500 x 500 pixels. On LinkedIn a business page logo is 300 x 300 pixels and the cover photo is 1536 x 768 pixels. For Instagram your profile image should be 110 x 110 pixels. Sizing your profile and cover photos for each platform is necessary to ensure your photos aren’t blurry or cut-off. Use sites like Canva or editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom to resize your images.
A color scheme that represents your church
Look at your church’s website, pamphlets, and welcome brochures. Any common colors that stand out can be incorporated into your social posts to carry the church’s brand onto your content. Canva and Adobe Spark are great tools for creating social media graphics—you can even create a color pallet to use in all of your posts which creates a branded look.
An important part of creating and maintaining a brand is choosing a font to represent your church. Most organizations have a principle font and two or three sub-fonts. Fonts can vary extremely, so creating visual consistency by limiting the number of different fonts used from one to three in your designs is important.
Social media is an excellent tool for your church to share its mission and communicate with supporters. With these six tips you can begin to create a social media strategy that engages your community and increases awareness of your church.
For more insight on creating a great social media strategy for your church, check out these blogs: