By Tina Wilson
If your church isn’t using social media—and using it well—you’re likely missing a great opportunity. Social media is the widest form of advertising available—and it costs little to nothing.
Early on, social media may have been used mostly by younger people, but these platforms have expanded so much that most people across generations now get their information from them. The reach of social media is broad with regard to age and target audience. Social media speaks to church members and seekers alike, while most communication from the church—bulletins, email blasts, billboards—target one or the other.
Beyond the wide generational range and mix of members and seekers you can reach with effective social media, a specific benefit to Restoration churches is the ability to connect congregations in our tribe. Among the easiest ways to improve your church’s social media presence is to follow other Christian churches who are using it effectively and learn from their examples.
How to Improve Your Presence
How can your church improve its social media presence? Highly visual posts gain the most attention. Words are important, but they become more impactful when paired with photos or graphics. Engaging posts that garner responses make social media more fun. Social media trends change quickly; it can be challenging to stay current. Again, follow churches who are nailing it, and stay true to your church or organization’s DNA. Trendiness doesn’t trump polite and clear communication by a church. As you learn what posts elicit reactions, speak best to your followers, and increase your reach, lean into that.
Social media algorithms can be confusing, but in general, the more attention your posts receive, the more visible they are. Our church has a “share the love” team that rallies around social media posts, and that has helped increase our church’s reach. Love the post. Share the post. On Facebook, share it on your own timeline and in Messenger.
Facebook encourages the use of Pages to “build community around groups,” which is a great strategy. Social media groups specific to individual church ministries—women, students, volunteers, etc.—provide social media administrators with places to share posts and encourage these private groups to engage in dialogue.
Also, consider paying to boost certain social media posts, and consider paying to advertise through a page that has a massive following to direct people back to your accounts. As an example, our church paid a news outlet with a following of 140,000-plus people to visit our new worship facility and community center for a live video walk-through on Facebook. More than 13,000 people tuned in!
How to Engage and Grow Your Audience
Here are six easy tips to engage and grow your audience, help prevent people from unfollowing your pages, and keep your posts visible.
- Avoid personal pronouns when you’re posting as your church—use we, not I.
- Don’t be contentious. Contending for the faith in a discipleship relationship is a great strategy, but social media posts about how you’re right and others are wrong will cause people to tune out.
- Don’t be overly wordy, as quick scrolling shortens the time people are going to spend on your post. If you’ve got a lot to say, post an appealing graphic with a powerful quote and link it to a blog.
- However, don’t post a ton of outside links or you risk dropping your rating in the algorithm. After all, Facebook and Instagram have the same goal: to maximize the time users spend on their platforms.
- Keep your posts fresh. Repetitive posts may prove boring to your followers. Post Scripture, but post other things as well.
- Be genuine in what you share. This is probably the most important social media tactic. Everyone is annoyed with sales pitches. We’re all marketing something, and the only way to make it not too “salesy” is to deeply and sincerely love what you’re sharing.
How to Expand Your Influence
Your church’s social media admin team should constantly be looking to capture something to share because they recognize the power of those moments to bring people closer to Jesus. Many people consider social media a time killer or rather silly, but these platforms have become great influencers in our culture. We need to recognize, appreciate, and leverage these tools.
The second of our church’s five core values guides our social media practice: “We expand in influence. We make Christ and his church famous by growing his kingdom.”
Every time something happens that we can use to make Jesus known—which is all the time—those things go on social media.
Baptism posts get the most feedback and they certainly best depict our mission. Restoration churches have a consistent opportunity to share these moments via social media. The testimony of daily and weekly photos and videos celebrating individuals submitting to Jesus in baptism wins favor from Christ followers across denominations.
How to Use Your Platforms Well
Ekklesia Christian Church started as a small mobile group meeting on a college campus in 2014. We had no advertising budget, so Facebook and Instagram were our means of sharing with and inviting our community; social media also was our method for communicating with our members.
More than five years have passed since then. Our church has grown considerably and we now have a home of our own, but we continue to rely on these platforms because they’ve proven so effective.
We’ve added a database that enables us to communicate via blast texts and emails, but our greatest means of reaching new people, aside from personal evangelism and discipleship, is social media. No mailer, newspaper ad or TV commercial can reach the audience we have on these platforms.
We are in a section of the country where storm evacuations cause a weekend cancellation virtually every year; when that happens, a recorded service can help maintain unity and engagement.
People who travel often plug into our livestream. Committed viewers give to support the mission.
Social media is available to our churches for free; it is highly influential and the potential audience available through it is incredible. It would be negligent of a church not to utilize this tool well. Any means of making Christ and his New Testament church famous is worthy kingdom work.
The Spirit prompted Peter and John to go to the temple courts to preach to the widest possible audience, and so our Lord surely is pleased when we proclaim his message in one of the world’s most populated spaces . . . social media.
Tina Wilson is the wife of church planter and pastor Matthew Wilson, homeschool mom of seven awesome kids whose names all start with “R”, and social media manager for Ekklesia Christian Church in Conway and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her life goals are to raise kingdom workers and to make Christ and his church famous.