Gone are the days of simply leaving a flyer on someone’s door or putting up a poster around town to spread word about your church. While those elements may still have their place in present-day church marketing, it shouldn't be your main avenue. Instead, church social media marketing should be the focus of every church today.
Social media, for better or worse, dominates every aspect of modern life. And every business, company, and person wishing to make an impact today is using it to maximize their spread. So, why shouldn’t churches be doing the same?
I previously worked in a leadership role for a church in Los Angeles, California, and know firsthand the importance of social media. It was one of the most important reasons for our growth during my time there and it can be for your church, too.
Social media is daunting and even concerning to some church leaders. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what I have learned about church social media marketing and how you can use this knowledge to enhance your church’s presence online.
- What Is Social Media Marketing For Churches?
- Why Should Churches Care About Social Media Marketing?
- What Is A Church Social Media Strategy?
- How To Create A Church Social Media Strategy?
- Finding the Right Social Media Staff Is Key
What Is Social Media Marketing For Churches?
Before we go any further, you should first understand what church social media marketing is. It’s not the same as social media marketing for businesses or celebrities since your goals, mission, and even methods are different.
When it comes to social media for churches, this form of marketing is all about utilizing different social media sites to grow and inform your church members. It is the primary way of integrating new members into your congregation through sharing your church’s purpose and information about who you are.
Social media marketing for churches is the gateway from which you share the Gospel and, hopefully, draw people to your various events and church services. It is the first tool that you have at your disposal for promoting your church and interacting with your community.
Church social media marketing is crucial for newcomers to your church and your most dedicated members alike. When face-to-face interaction isn’t available, social media creates opportunities to build up our community with love, joy, unity, and encouragement. It is part of the church identity and branding that you create.
Why Should Churches Care About Social Media Marketing?
There are plenty of churches that sit around and do nothing when it comes to marketing and social media. Or, they focus solely on the traditional methods of spreading news. I have seen far too many churches that simply don’t care about social media.
Ignoring social media marketing is one of the gravest mistakes that I’ve seen in modern churches and it can be easily avoided. You should care about church social media marketing because it is the most successful way of influencing your community and the people around you.
Before someone can ever join your church, they need to know about you. Without social media, you are essentially up creek without a paddle, so to speak, when it comes to informing potential members. They won’t know about your church at all, let alone have a desire to attend there.
If you have aspirations or goals for growing your church, you need social media marketing. If you want to have a church identity that is known in your community, you need to be on social media. And if you want to appeal to the current generation of young adults and the ones to come, you absolutely have to use social media marketing.
What Is A Church Social Media Strategy?
Social media can be a land mine for some churches to navigate. Figuring out which sites to be on, how to interact with the younger generations, and even what can and can’t be said can be challenging.
You need a church social media strategy where you put together a physical plan and some guidelines for how to handle your social media content. This strategy will determine what your church chooses to do or not do when it comes to various social media platforms.
A church social media strategy is where you decide the boundaries for how you will handle marketing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. What will you post on those platforms? How will you engage with your church members? And how will you grow your brand through active engagement?
These are the parameters that this type of strategy determines.
How To Create A Church Social Media Strategy?
Creating a social media strategy for your church can be daunting, especially if you aren’t an active user yourself. To help with this, I have come up with some basic steps that I believe are easy enough to follow that can help you come up with a church social media strategy of your own.
1. Selecting the Right Social Channels
Above all else, social media can be daunting because there are so many channels. Before you can hone in on specializing in certain goals and missions, you need to figure out where you’ll do it.
You don’t have to be on every social media platform out there, but I generally find that the more, the better. Here are the social media channels that you absolutely should be considering:
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the more obvious choices that everyone is likely aware of. I think that most churches on social media have a mix of those three and a clear understanding of each of them. TikTok, on the other hand, is the one that puts off a lot of churches.
I understand that since it has a very specific style and requires short-form video content that not all churches can adhere to. However, I think that TikTok is far more important than the other three combined. Few churches use it to the fullest and they are missing out on an entire generation of possible church members.
TikTok is all about those bite-sized videos and it can be great for sharing news, making religious memes, or providing a short inspirational message for anyone coming across it. There are so few churches out there doing this and there is such untapped potential because of that.
Beyond those four required channels, it is up to you where you go from there. If your church is prepared and ready for longer video content, then YouTube or even Twitch might be worth checking out. Discord is another underrated one that I could see churches with lots of small groups handling quite well.
Not every church is the same so I recommend starting small with the standard sites and then seeing what works best for you after that.
2. Crafting Manageable Goals
Once you have your channels in mind, it is time to figure out what your goals are when it comes to your presence on the internet. First and foremost, don’t go too crazy and immediately plan to reach a million followers. Instead, start smaller with more manageable and realistic goals.
For instance, I think starting out with a goal of reaching 100 or 500 followers is a modest and smart start. This can happen quite easily, depending on the size and demographics of your church members.
From there, you can always adjust your goals or have a short-term and long-term mission at the same time. Perhaps in the short-term, you wish to reach 1000 followers but the long-term goal is to have an average of 1000 retweets or shares on every post you make.
It isn’t just about your follower size, either. Other goals with social media should include ones that foster your community and can grow it more, like garnering a certain number of likes, shares, and boosting general engagement.
3. Boosting Engagement With Current Members
Speaking of engagement, this is a part of social media that I think churches miss out on. Many are already on platforms but they just share bible verses and announcements without doing much else. They are speaking into a vacuum that is not helping anyone beyond the same handful of people.
Engagement and interaction is equally important. When it comes to Twitter, for example, reply to people’s tweets and make them feel welcomed and loved. Take time each day or week to make a post asking for prayer requests. Respond and ensure that the commenters know you are praying for them.
Be active on Instagram, liking and commenting on your church member’s pictures, making sure that they know that their home church cares about their lives and what they’re doing.
This is where TikTok can come into play, too, with its live videos. Perhaps go live once a week with your worship team and do a short set of songs or perhaps even take requests from the viewers. Maybe share a daily five minute devotional with a rotation of your pastoral staff.
These are just a few of the ideas that you can use to boost engagement with your current and potential members. This is using social media to the fullest. For reference, I love what Maverick City Music did here by sharing one of their follower’s awesome dance videos.
@maverickcitymusic YASSSS!! 🙌🏾🙌🏾 love this!! 🎶🎶🎶 CRED: @isa #dance #party #youthcamp #trend #trendy #dance #praise #praisebreak #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound - Maverick City Music
4. Carefully Expanding to Potential Members and Beyond
Lastly, it isn’t just about the current churchgoers you have but the potential members that you could reach. Once you have a basis for your social media strategy and you’re reaching the goals you care about, it is time to look forward.
I’m not going to say that you need to bank on every trend out there but it is nice to weigh in on trending topics when they come about. For instance, maybe there is some confusion regarding the state of the world or what is happening in certain countries or situations.
I think it is amazing to carefully give your church or pastor’s thoughts on the matter. This not only can reassure believers but expand to others who are searching for opinions on that particular situation. If you already have an established community, this is one way to grow it further.
I will say that you have to tread lightly here as you don’t want to get too controversial. There is a way to speak the truth without causing harm. Above all else, we should be sharing love, and our intention in everything should be to do just that as Jesus would.
But that is the algorithm of social media; to take advantage of trending topics around the world and be in the midst of the most popular conversations. This can even be lighthearted, too, like using a funny dance, song, or TikTok sound to engage with users like what Elevation Church does these days.
Finding the Right Social Media Staff Is Key
Much of church social media marketing can be overwhelming, and that is understandable. The reality is, not every person in the body of Christ is meant to do all things. The Bible makes it clear that we each have a purpose and talent that we are meant to use for the greater good (see Romans 12:4-5).
That is why you’ll see me diving into outreach, tech equipment, and church marketing because I have passion and experience for those aspects. But you won’t probably find me driving a church bus or leading a young adult’s ministry because those aren’t my forte.
It’s totally fine if you are a pastor and church social media marketing isn’t your thing. That is when you know it is time to find church staff members who do have a passion and talent for that.
If you put the wrong person in charge of social media who doesn’t care about it, it will show in the results. Growth will be minimal, if at all, and the potential of your church’s brand will be wasted. If necessary, look outside of your church’s four walls for a social media or marketing manager and take a risk.
I recommend setting aside a decent budget for social media and church marketing in general. It is a risky venture, for sure, but if done right and with the proper resources, social media marketing can mean the difference between a successful church and an unsuccessful one.
So, don’t throw just anyone into the role of running your social media platforms. Find the right person to put in charge and once you see some success, expand. Promote that person and start to hire fellow passionate social media users to assist them in growing your church’s branding.
Social Media Is Just a Slice of Church Marketing
Without a doubt, social media marketing is essential for churches wishing to be successful and relevant in today’s online age. It may be among the most important slices of the church marketing pie, but it is far from the only one that you need to know about.
Your church environment, church website, the branding that you create, are also key parts of digital marketing. These elements deserve just as much attention as social media does. In fact, pouring resources into these will supplement and even enhance the online presence that you have on social media.
For your next steps, I recommend learning more about these other aspects of church marketing. I’ve previously covered the eight main strategies that you should know about in order to create and foster the best possible marketing for your church.