How to Make the Most of your Church Online Community
Due to the times, your church online community has moved from important to critical. As a pastor or leader of your church, you’ve quickly discovered the key to reaching your current congregation is through your church online community and presence.
Many of you have found that your church online community has actually grown during this time of social distancing. Through research, we’ve seen this engagement spike is directly attributed to a church’s ability to pivot and leverage their online presence quickly. Those that did this didn’t skip a beat.
When you have a strong church online community and presence, it feels like you’re turning around a kayak rather than the Titanic when a storm hits, and you need to switch directions.
A strong online presence makes it easier for you to go where the fish are. And isn’t that your goal, to be fishers of men?
Are you convinced that you need to ramp up your church online community and presence, but don’t know where to start?
You don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Here are 4 questions to help you get started. It’s time to ramp up your church online community and presence.
4 Questions to Ask When Growing Your Church Online Community
- 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?
- 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. You need to consider how often you are going to post. There is a direct correlation between number of posts and the amount of engagement.
The number of times you should post 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 a FREE consultation. We will discuss how to make the most of your online church community.
- How will you monitor issues within the community and address any questions or concerns?
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.
As you know, when a community develops disagreements can rise. However, this shouldn’t deter you from creating a church online community.
See the guidelines below, or join our online community of church leaders HERE and get their feedback.
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.
- 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. We like to think of social media as a way to socially serve others, critical during times.
- Keep this in mind: If you’ve used social media to engage with people during social distancing, don’t stop even when your church re-opens! People will still look for you online, especially if this is how they started engaging with you in the first place.
People want to join an online church community vibrant, encouraging, 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 3 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 3 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 the meantime, we invite you to join our FREE online community! The Church Marketing SOS Facebook group is a private community designed to provide you support during these times of shifting.
Click HERE and get support from the Church Marketing SOS Facebook group!
Ask questions about marketing, digital tools, messaging, platforms, CRMs… whatever you need! There’s a community of people who are navigating the same waters you are. So let’s turn the boat together.