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Social Media Ministry Management Tips

I recently was asked to assist with the management of social media for one of the fastest growing churches in the United States. I am still in the discovery process of what all social media strategies and presences they have in place right now but it hasn’t taken me long to figure out that they have worked pretty hard to get to where they are at presently. For instance, they have multiple campuses across the state and are opening new ones quite frequently. For each existing campus I have discovered that there are individual Facebook pages / places for each campus in place presenting us with some challenges in terms of management and consistency. Fortunately, there is only Twitter account so that end of the spectrum is less complicated. Over time we plan to tweak the existing social media strategy to make it more effective, but everything we will do will be gradual.

I sat down this evening to discuss social media with a friend from another Church, located out of state, and he was asking me for some suggestions in terms of managing their social media more effectively. We talked for the better part of three hours and I shared a lot of things that he hadn’t considered. I will share a few of the basics we discussed below in hopes that they will help you manage your social media ministry more effectively…

Utilize Both Facebook & Twitter

You have to realize that there are particular people that you are trying to connect to that are going to be on Facebook exclusively and won’t have any interest in Twitter whatsoever, and vise versa. You will find that your older demographic will primarily be Facebook and your younger demographic will lean more toward Twitter.  It’s for this reason that it’s very important to utilize both networks in your strategy.

Learn the Rules for Engagement Before Jumping In…

Saavy Twitter users are turned off by organizations or brands that are all about promoting their agenda (products, upcoming events, etc.) and do very little actual interaction with their followers. It’s important to keep an eye on your Twitter stream to make sure you are interacting with your followers just as much as you are promoting your agenda. If you are all about broadcasting content and don’t take into consideration that your followers are following you for a reason and want to interact with you, you might actually find yourself spinning your wheels and not having near the impact you could have potentially…

Pretty much the same rule applies to Facebook as it does Twitter, you should use Facebook to engage your audience. Instead of posting a link to an upcoming event to your wall, try elaborating on the link in your status message, or asking your users a question related to the event. This seems to work a lot better than just posting content like you would on a bulletin board. Another recommendation I make to just about everyone I know that manages their company or organizations page on Facebook is to pay attention to their stream. Not only should you concern yourself with what others are saying or posting on your wall, but you should also be sure not to broadcast the same message over and over again. Let’s say you have an event coming up in two weeks, you definitely want to post the event to your wall several times leading up to the event, but never post these updates back to back. By doing this you could find your fan base unfollowing you because you are a broken record, posting the same message, over and over again. I highly recommend breaking your posts up and posting some fun, engaging status updates or videos in between your posts promoting your event.

With Twitter and Facebook both, it’s very important to respond quickly to your followers / fans when they ask questions. I have found that the Twitter generation especially expects a rapid response when they ask a question, when you fail to respond quickly to questions or comments on Facebook and Twitter both, you run the risk of the user losing interest and moving on.

Think Out of the Box…

When engaging people using social media you have to keep in mind that you need to make an impression very early if you are going to influence them to use your product, brand, or organization. You also have to keep in mind that during the course of a normal day they are engaged hundreds, if not thousands, of times by other brands competing for their time. It helps to think outside the box. I am presently running a trivia campaign for our church that asks users to answer three simple questions related to a popular movie that our weekend service is going to be based upon. As an added perk, we are throwing in some tangible prizes like blu-ray movie players, netflix subscriptions, and movie tickets as an incentive to participate.

For the same series I referenced above, we also have a landing page inside of Facebook that allows visitors to see previews of our upcoming services, to share a link to the page on their walls or inbox to their friends, and finally they can click on a link and receive a free cup of coffee prior to the service if they should decide to attend. I have found that plans like this really do work and have an impact.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Off Topic…

Today I posted a question on Facebook asking our fans what college football team they thought would win the Southeastern Conference Championship. I posted this question on the page for Wimpy’s Burgers & Fries. Granted, the post had nothing to do with Burgers & Fries, but at the end of the day, who wants to hear us talk about Burgers & Fries all the time? College Football just started last weekend and in the south, our target market, College Football is a big deal. I think our users, or fans, appreciate the fact that we share similar interests with them and are not all about selling them hamburgers on gameday!

Geosocial Has Arrived…

I am a huge fan of Geosocial networking, like Gowalla and Foursquare. These companies are maturing rapidly and will continue to do so over time. Both of the services I mentioned offer some great tools for ministries and non-profits to engage their audience and know who is visiting their campuses and what they are saying. There are way too many dynamic aspects to geosocial for me to go into this post but I highly recommend checking out these services.

Also, I wouldn’t waste a lot of time on Facebook Places as they have announced they are discontinuing Facebook Places for the time being.

About Cotton Rohrscheib

I've been an entrepreneur my entire life and have been blessed to have been associated with hundreds of startups and projects throughout my career. A few years ago I started offloading many of my business interests to spend more time w/ my family and retool my focus toward the agricultural industry, ultimately I landed at Farmers Business Network, Inc. w/ a great team of people w/ shared mission / vision and the rest is history! I still operate my personal website & blog occasionally on topics of interest to me including; parenting, agriculture, technology, and whatever else comes my direction! My blog, cotton.buzz, is the product of over 20yrs worth of content, photos, podcasts, videos, etc., and all of the content I produce is mine personally, and only represent my views and/or opinions on topics and do not represent any of the businesses or associations I'm affiliated with.

Comments

  1. I don’t know if it is still possible but it’s worth checking out to see if you can claim a place and link it to a Facebook page. Facebook is still using checkins and that way the any checkin would link directly to your page.

    Concerning GeoSocial: We need to bounce some ideas. I created a Historical Gowalla trip for our church, and I’m considering a 4sq page to share tips and ministry events.

    Also – start following the #chsocm tag on Twitter. @MeredithGould:twitter create the weekly twitter chat and stream is full of good ideas and people. The twitter chat is Tue 8pm

  2. Yes Keith, it is still possible. In fact, it appears even easier. When I had read about it in the past there seemed to be a lot of hoops to jump through, but not any more.

Questions or Comments?