Posting on social media can be one of the most challenging aspects of church communication – especially for those who are just jumping in. If you’ve felt frustrated or confused, you’re not alone.
For starters, running a church’s social pages is particularly unique. These accounts represent your entire organization – your lead pastor, the staff, the volunteers, and the congregation. (No pressure!)
Plus, these accounts reach people both inside and outside your walls, so it can be confusing to try to make content that is relevant to everyone.
In a best case scenario, a church’s social pages are useful for:
- Engaging insiders beyond your normal worship times
- Reaching outsiders in your community and world
- Communicating important information
To add to the complexity, things are always changing. Just when it feels like you’ve started to have a clear understanding of how things work, a new platform pops up like TikTok. Or, a new feature is introduced to Instagram that suddenly gets all the attention. Or, the worst is when the Facebook algorithm changes without warning causing your reliable go-to posts to not reach anyone.
The truth is, because social media is always changing and success is a moving target, you must rely on a consistent philosophy for posting content. Your method – the type of post, the look of a post, frequency, and delivery method – will change constantly. But, the purpose and passion behind your social media posts should always stay the same.
If you want to keep your posts aligned to a steady vision, I recommend having a set of rules in place to analyze every social post that comes from your church. No matter how trendy or compelling a post idea is, if it doesn’t meet these qualifications, it should not go up on your social accounts.
Before you post anything from your church’s social pages, ask these three questions:
1. Does This Provide Value?
I’ve listed this question first because I believe it’s the most important. Too often, I see churches posting things on their social pages that don’t mean anything to their online audience. This often looks like ministries who constantly post every little announcement (you know the ones) OR posting graphics that look cool, but don’t really mean anything.
If your goal is to engage your congregation outside of Sunday, consider posts that will brighten their day, increase their faith, and generate conversation. This is much more valuable than graphics or photos that simply look good on your feed.
If your goal is to reach new people, consider what is important to these newcomers. Instead of just listing your service times, express how making time for church can make their week better, show how your current sermon series can help them, or invite them to ask questions they’re wondering about your church.
If your goal is to communicate information, make sure that it’s relevant to a large portion of your online audience. If it’s only crucial for a small group of people, another means of communication should be used instead.
Once you’ve picked up the habit of framing your posts in this way, begin challenging yourself to add more and more value. What can you post that’s useful to your online community?
2. Does This Represent Us Well?
I have to remind myself of this question often because it’s so easy to get caught up in popular posting styles. Just because something is interesting or eye-catching doesn’t mean it belongs on your church’s social pages.
Does it follow the vision of your ministry? Does it represent your pastor well? Is it the kind of post that matches the culture and style of your church?
Let me ask a harder question. If this post is someone’s only interaction with your organization, would it represent you accurately?
While this may seem extreme and turn up the pressure for posting, it may very well be a reality for your church. Someone in your community may only see one post from you all year across their timeline. Because of this, aim to reflect your church’s values in everything you post.
Does this mean you shouldn’t post anything fun? Well, it depends. Is your church the kind of place where people have fun? It might not be. Post according to the unique culture of your congregation.
3. Is It The Right Time For This?
Timing is crucial for social media. Ask yourself what is going on in the lives of your audience during the time of your post. If the rest of the world is focused on one thing and you’re talking about something else, your post is going to fall flat.
A simple (and admittedly extreme) example of this would be posting tips for fasting on Thanksgiving day. Not only would you appear wildly out of touch, but it simply is not useful on that day where people make plans to feast together. It would be much for beneficial to anticipate that this is a day for coming together, being thankful, and eating a meal. Instead, sharing posts that spark gratefulness and encourage family bonding will get much more traction.
Aim to join in on the conversation that your audience is already having.
Another example of poor timing would be posting a fun, interactive poll at a time when the nation is mourning the loss of a public figure or is experiencing some sort of tragedy. In ways big and small…do your best to read the room.
Something else to remember about timing is that you should make sure that the necessary people in your congregation, especially leaders and volunteers, have been informed before announcing to the masses. For those who are involved, it can make them feel out of the loop to find out news on Facebook rather than being told in a more formal way. When in doubt, check with your pastor or leader before making announcements or sharing important details.
Every church is unique. What works for the church down the street or the really popular ministry you follow on Instagram may not work best for you. And that’s okay. Stay true to who you are as an organization. Keep these guidelines close and take them seriously. The more that your social pages grow and you gain traction, you’ll be happy that you built them on who you are as a church.