Your church online community is probably one of the most important parts of your ministry. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about millennials, it’s that they are more active than previous generations and that traditional church structures are failing them. Church online communities are an excellent way for churches to reach out to their members, as well as those who have demonstrated an interest in joining.
You’re convinced that you need to ramp up your church online community. But you’re not exactly sure how to do that. This article will give you several tips for creating an online community that your church members (and potential new members) will love.
There are four things the staff member tasked with running the online church community must consider. Let’s look at each of them individually.
Which platform is best for your church’s needs?
There are dozens of social media platforms in our new digital age. Should you pick one and run with it? Or should you try to spread yourself across all of the platforms? That really depends on how much time you have or if you have people willing to run these platforms for you.
The clear winner, however, is Facebook. Not only can you post long messages, pictures, and videos, but the Facebook Live feature is perfect for streaming your church services and messages. Not to mention that 7 out 10 adults use Facebook.
Your church needs a Facebook page, but is that it? Consider adding Instagram and Snapchat to your social media presence as well, especially if you want to target young people.
How will you keep community members engaged?
Maintaining a social media presence is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not enough to just have a Facebook or Twitter page. You need to consider how often you are going to post.
This depends on how many followers/friends/connections you have…
- If you have a significant number of Facebook followers (upwards of 10,000), aim to post a few times a day. If you only have a couple thousand or less, you’re probably safe to post only once or twice a day.
- However, you should post several times per day on Twitter, regardless of how many followers you have.
It’s also not enough to just post three times per day. You should have a goal for each social media platform that you use. Monitor the channels for feedback and use various tools to analyze how people are engaging with the content on your page. If you find that intimidating, consider contacting us for individualized help on how to make the most of your online church community.
How will you monitor issues within the community and address any issues that arise?
You’ve picked your platform. You’ve decided how you are going to engage your followers. Now comes the hard part: how to monitor the issues that arise within your church online community. It doesn’t do your church much good if the people following your page are disrespecting your church’s beliefs and values on social media.
Here is a good list of dos and don’ts for your church online community:
- DO have a dedicated person monitoring your social media presence.
- DO utilize social media management tools such as Hootsuite or MeetEdgar.
- DO respond to every engagement where possible (i.e., when people comment on your posts, try to engage with as many of them as you can).
- DON’T lose your cool (this is especially true for churches, as you are trying to set an example for your followers).
- DON’T ignore questions or feedback on your pages.
- DON’T allow your pages to be spammed.
The big thing is to never forget why you are there in the first place. These social media platforms are essentially marketing tools for your church. And, often, they are the first point of contact between your church and new members.
So, choose to make your page inspiring and helpful beyond anything your followers would ever expect. Go above and beyond for them. People will want to join a church that is vibrant, fun, and engaging. Inspire and help your followers wherever you can, and you’ll see your numbers increase over time.
How will you measure growth/activity on your social media page?
There are three major metrics you should be tracking with any social media page you run. Sure, there are other metrics to track and other articles will tell you of those things. If you are just starting out, however, you should put the majority of your focus on these three things:
- Track Follower Growth. How is your page growing? How many people are liking your page on a weekly/monthly basis?
- Figure out the optimal times for engagement. It’s important to know when your audience is most likely to engage with your content. It will help you choose the times for your automated posts as well as when you should be actively monitoring your page for issues.
- Track likes and reactions to your posts. What types of posts get more reactions from your followers? While you should never water down your message or change who you are fundamentally to reach new followers, you should definitely be considering what types of needs your followers have and address those needs.
It’s easy to track these things through your Facebook analytics, but there are other tools you can use as well. Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to monitor, engage, schedule, and analyze your social media accounts.
As you can see, running your church online community can easily become a full-time job for someone in your congregation. If your church’s reach is large enough, you might need a whole team to monitor your social media presence. That’s a good problem to have.
You should also consider allowing a team of professionals to help you get started. Viral Solutions can help you set up your social media pages, give you one-on-one advice and coaching, and even help you set up online tithing and training platforms so that you can grow your online church community the way you want it.
In doing all of these things, the church can build a stronger, more loyal community, which is important in the digital age.