Keeping members engaged and connected is one of the most important aspects of any ministry. People are busy and it can be easy to forget about church or to feel disconnected from the congregation. When people feel like they are not connected to their church, they are far less inclined to actually get involved and participate with that church. You might have the best congregation in town, but if people do not feel connected to you, they will not bother to show up to experience it. Here are some tips for keeping your church members connected through social media:
Create a Facebook group.
Social media can sometimes seem like a tornado of negativity. People are sharing and posting negative or, at the very least, stressful news stories and opinions. It seems like all people want to do is scream at each other online. Your church can bring a little bit of light to the darkness by creating a Facebook group that your members can join and connect with one another. This is a great place to post about events and activities, as well as to reach out for help if you need volunteers.
Use your group to post uplifting messages.
Your Facebook group should be so much more than just a place for your members to learn about upcoming meetings or activities. It should also be a place for you and your staff to post uplifting messages. These can be tied to a holiday or they can simply be a reminder about the teachings of your church. Posting both text and imagines provides a great opportunity for members to be uplifted and then to share those messages on their own feeds. These things do not have to be overtly church-related. They can also simply be messages of calm and happiness that everyone needs to hear from time to time.
Get on Twitter.
Twitter has fewer group options than Facebook does, but you might still want to start one, if not for your church, then definitely for your pastoral staff. The staff can then tweet out information about events or about the church, answer questions on an individual basis, and interact with church members as needed. Twitter is a great way to give your church a human face, which is extremely important in this day and age. Use hashtags to get involved in conversations or create a hashtag so your members can get involved with you. One of the great parts about Twitter is the ability to interact not just with those who are members of your church, but other people, too. Just remember to keep it light and professional. Some people will always want to argue or spew hate. Don’t stoop to their level.
No matter what social media you choose, it’s a good idea to post regularly. Not only will your followers and members come to expect you to post regularly, this means that the people who do follow you will always have a dose of churchiness in their feed. They will know when and where to look for a message from you and they will also know when and where they can interact with you or find information about the church, should they need to. Social media is a great way to share a devotional thought, share content that someone else has written that you find uplifting, or talk about an issue that you might want to address in an upcoming sermon or lesson. Many of your congregation members are going to spend a lot of time on social media—it’s where they live online. On average, more than half of your members are going to be using social media on a very regular basis, so that’s where you need to be.
Keep your profiles updated.
If someone finds the social media profile for your church and sees that your last post was three years (or even just three months) ago, they will probably assume that your church is no longer active or, at the very least, that you are out of date (not just in your profile, but in your views and ideas, too). You should strive to keep your profile updated, even if you just post a thought or a picture regularly. If your church members follow your profile but you never update it, they will eventually unfollow it. When you do eventually come back to it to post something, you’ll find your following depleted and you will not be able to connect with your members in the way you wanted to.
Carefully consider tone.
One of the most important things to consider when you are using social media is the tone you are going to use in your posts. If you are posting on behalf of your entire church, you want to use a tone that will mirror the personality and beliefs of your church. If there is dissonance there, you are not likely to be able to connect with the people who attend your church in person and then seek you out online. Think about how you should approach your posts and the responses to questions and comments. Try to retain a tone that is engaging and is congruent with your church’s tone.