Social media can be an incredible tool for ministry if it is used correctly. Sadly, most churches either “set it and forget it”, use it only for event announcements, or avoid it altogether.

In our efforts to spread the word about our new church plant, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and experimenting with social media. In the past few months, our social involvement has proven extremely successful as we’ve added several to our Launch Team and have met many individuals who have expressed interest in our church. Our Lead Pastor even encountered one lady while grocery shopping who recognized him from Twitter! Since we are seven months away from launching, I’d say it’s been a great first step for us.

Whether your church is new like ours or you’ve been around for 100 years, social media has a lot to offer your ministry. Here are eight tips to use it more effectively:

1. Get Involved On The Right Networks

It seems like a new social network pops up daily. It’s impossible to be active on all of them, but it’s easy to manage a few important ones. I recommend having your church active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – in that order. These are the big players in the social realm and you’ll want to invest your time on the networks with the highest potential for impact.

2. Choose Your Words Carefully

Churches are famous for using insider language that only Christians understand. Proofread your posts from the perspective of someone who has never attended church. Also keep in mind that while it may seem like a good idea, sharing bits of scripture can cause confusion since they’re out of context. Twitter’s 140 character limit doesn’t offer a lot of space to explain how they apply to the lives of your followers.

3. Post Content Worth Sharing

One of the best ways to build (and keep) an audience online is to post meaningful phrases, quotes, and information that people enjoy sharing. At Piedmont Chapel, we aim to post quick, encouraging thoughts that reflect the values of our church. We often focus on themes of love, life-change, dreaming for a better tomorrow, generosity, kindness, and making a difference in the lives of others. Our followers love to retweet and share these posts with their friends.

4. Follow People In Your Community

Because the culture of Twitter is built around connecting with people that you don’t know, “cold-call” following works great for reaching new people. Search for users in your area or hashtags from local events, then follow them from your church’s account. Expect follow-backs from only about 10% of these new connections, but it’s estimated that at least half will view your profile.

5. Ask Questions

Social media works best as a two-way street. Asking questions is a great way to spark conversation with your followers. Not only does it grab their attention, but their responses will often show up on their friends’ feeds. Ask questions related to pop culture, big events, or something associated with your current sermon series.

6. Encourage iPhoneography

Build a culture in your church that encourages people to snap photos on Sunday mornings, at their small groups, and during church events. This is a great way to spread the word about your ministry in your community as their friends see their posts. I’ve even seen churches offer small prizes like $5 Starbucks gift cards to the best photo of the week. (Using a hashtag is perfect for keeping track of these posts.)

7. Schedule Your Posts

Use a free program like Hootsuite or Buffer to pre-schedule your posts. This enables you to be consistent in your posting without being tied to a computer. We schedule daily posts about a month in advance and simply add on to these as new topics develop.

8. Make Your Profiles Pretty

A clean, professional look across all of your social profiles is extremely important. Keep a consistent theme and make sure that your bio communicates the necessities – website, lead pastor, and location. It’s also extremely helpful for your bio to include a link to your lead pastor’s social account.

Do you have any other tips that you’d add to the list?

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