The local grapevine has always been a way of finding out what is happening in your community, a mixture of gossip and real information. Churches need to know what is happening in their community so that they can be both proactive and responsive. Facebook groups have supercharged the local grapevine to new heights and they provide local churches with an insight into the pulse of the local community and its needs. (more…)
Churches are increasingly cottoning on to the amazing opportunity that social media presents. Churches are increasingly establishing a presence on Facebook. However, how many people are looking at what they post let alone engaging with them?
The short answer of course is to post engaging content. Easier said than done. Here’s some tips on how to actually engage with people through your social media:
- Ask for a response.
Rather than simply posting something and just leaving it there, ask for a response. You’ll be surprised by the increase in engagement if you ask for a response. People like to give their opinion or to make a comment or contribution, especially if it piques their interest. Sample: “We would like to know what the greatest needs of our community are, what needs do you think there are?”.
2. Tag people.
Tagging people makes posts personal and exposes your content to a much bigger audience. If you tag and invite response then that increases the reach even further. By linking real live people to your content you create more trust and credibility by helping people see the kinds of people you connect with.
3. Use video.
Facebook is seeking to supplant YouTube as the primary home for videos on the internet. Marketing futurists predict that in five years time Facebook will be all video. Apart from uploading pre-filmed video content you can also use Facebook live from events or simply to make spoken content. This helps make a connection with real live people rather than a glossy website. If you don’t have a big budget you can still produce high quality video on a smartphone using a directional mic for under $80.
4. Be humorous.
People have an expectation that church folk are rigid and boring. Most Christians aren’t and most churches are fantastic places to be. In my experience there is a lot of laughter in church communities. Humour will help people see through common preconceptions and expectations. Upset the apple cart and use appropriate humour where possible.
5. Tell stories.
The most successful Facebook page I know is Humans Of New York (HONY). It started off featuring photos of every day people on the streets of NYC with a snapshot of their story. As of writing this article it has 18,072,137 likes. Money can’t buy that, literally it can’t. That is the power of stories told well. Your church is full of stories. They don’t have to be the ‘saved from a life of crime and drugs’ miracles. HONY is about every day people and their stories. People always have and always will take interest in stories. Social proof is important when trying to establish trust and credibility.
6. Unique content.
Simply posting memes isn’t going to do the trick. People’s social media feed is filled with memes, 99% of which were created by someone else and simply re-shared. Make time to create unique content. Post about your events, preview and review them. Celebrate your successes, thank people, express gratitude and model the qualities your church community professes to believe in. Bless people through your content.
7. Post pictures.
Pictures help build a window into which people can see the life of your church. They also provide the capacity for tagging people and interacting with them. If the future of Facebook is video it’s cousin will be pictures and text only will be the forgotten aunt. Don’t be the forgotten Aunt that nobody takes notice of. Be colourful and visual.
I don’t want to brag but I know a lot about my local community. Those police helicopters buzzing around this morning: I know the address of the house the police were surrounding. That family that lost their house in a fire, I know where they live. I know who got broken into last night and where they live. (more…)
Facebook was a gift for churches when it came along. Social media is people networking, and churches are in the business of people networking. Or should I say churches should be in the business of people networking. Often churches feel safer retreating within and relating to people within their bubble rather than growing networks from the outside. To illustrate this someone in my church recently asked exasperatedly “who are all these new people?!”. (more…)
Many churches are missing out on the amazing potential that Facebook provides for connecting effectively with our people networks. In this beginner level podcast we looked at why churches need to be on Facebook and some guidelines on how to post content that engages. (more…)
Making Your Church Web Presence Evangelistic
One of the greatest tools ever made available to Christians is the internet. Many churches however use their web and social media presence as an echo chamber, reaching out mainly to their own people. Churches who are strategic about their web presence are able to use the various platforms as an extension of their evangelistic reach.
Many Australians are not game to enter through the doors of a church. But what if they could have a good look around from a safe distance? Here’s some tips on your web and social media strategy:
1. Target Audience
Have in mind a very clear target audience who your website or social media postings are aimed at. If your aspiration is that your web presence is for people who don’t normally come to church then this should affect your content and language.
2. Engaging Content
Churches are often the best kept secret of many a community. The world outside doesn’t understand what goes on inside, and the media often conjures up an image of a bunch of judgmental people gathering around planning how to stop same sex marriage. The truth is that our churches are the salt and light of their local communities: loving and serving people sacrificially. Within our churches people experience love, acceptance, growth, healing, etc.
Post content that shows the church in action and provide an opportunity for those on the outside looking in to get a better picture of what happens in a church community. Take photos of all you get up to and be as graphic as possible.
3. Contextual Language
In case you haven’t noticed Christians have a language all of their own. If you want your content to be understood first (let alone engaging) you may need to look carefully at the language that you use. In the same way that missionaries study the culture and language of their host culture we need to understand the language those we are trying to reach and adjust accordingly.
4. Invite Response
Don’t just post something, invite or provoke a response through humour and questions. There has to be a ‘so what’ rule run over your content. Each post needs to have a strategic purpose, and must be designed to invite a particular response. Make sure you check your platforms regularly and reply to anyone who engages with you.
5. Keep Up To Date
Nobody visits websites or social media accounts that have old or infrequent content. Keep it bubbling and make sure people are keen to come back for more.
Stan Fetting – Crossover Operations Manager
The arrival of Google + has been good news for churches who face a range of delicate issues presented by social media. Since Google announced the security features allowing selective broadcast of updates to defined groups, you can bet your bottom dollar that developers at Facebook were burning the midnight oil rushing out similar features to stem the hemorrhaging of users which began with the launching of Google+ which is just in its testing phase and still out of reach of the average user. Facebook have announced a dramatic overhaul of security options and the result is good for your average user and especially social media in the church context. (more…)
Prac interview with Daniel Harding
The missional church values connection to people and the potential of hyper connectivity, offered by social media, should be something that we harness for our benefit. The most prevalent social media platform in the Australian context is Facebook. Crossover Online ran a series of interviews in 2010 with ‘Facebook Pastors’; Pastors who use the medium to great effect in their ministry. One such pastor is Dan Harding, Executive Pastor of City Life Christian Church in Brisbane (Now Life Point Church). We spoke to Dan about the integral part Facebook plays in the life and ministry of City Life. (more…)
One of the most common debates I have about Facebook is with people who are fixated on content. If content is your focus then you appear to have a very good case that Facebook it a total waste of time and could well possible lead to your brain rotting and the economy losing billions of dollars in productivity. Finally I have an authoritative book to recommend which helps explain what the main focus is: connection. (more…)