By Tiffany Deluccia, contributing writer
If the apostles were alive today, I bet they would use social media to spread the Gospel and disciple congregations. The potential for these tools goes far beyond free advertising. Fundamentally, social media is about communicating with people, as opposed to talking at them. It can reach people while they wait in line at Walmart or during a 15-minute break at the office. With that kind of reach, churches should take seriously their plan for using social media.
As a public relations professional, I counsel clients on how to make social media work for their communities. I see some of the same mistakes being made by churches that I see in corporations. What if the church made social media more about ministry and less about marketing? A few thoughts on using social media for ministry:
- Start with prayer, just like you would do for any other ministry. Pray over what to post on Facebook, what questions to ask, and what verses to share.
- Ask questions when you post. Ministry only happens when people open up. If your communication is one-way, you’ll have a hard time gauging your impact in this space. Pay special attention to asking questions when posting video content. This dramatically increases sharing and engagement.
- Allow for anonymity when addressing sensitive topics. Possibly start the conversation on Facebook but offer a way to take it offline. Take advantage of the fact that people are often more comfortable discussing difficult subjects online than in person.
- Create a new page for members of your church to share the ways they minister in the community. Nothing motivates people to get involved like realizing they have support. Demonstrating firsthand the ways your church is making a difference is a great way to foster excitement for outreach. The things people share could also help you identify stories to highlight in future videos or more in-depth pieces for your website.
- Mix up the content. Share information that interest the young, middle-aged and older crowds. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, people ages 65 and older are the fastest-growing group of social networking users. Your church Facebook page has the potential to reach many different people if you are intentional about creating content that relates to the different stages in life.
I’m sure some of you are already using social media as a ministry tool. How is your church creatively using social media for more than just marketing?
Tiffany Deluccia handles social media consulting and media relations at JDPR in Greenville, SC. She graduated from Clemson University and has experience working with various nonprofits and churches on social media strategy and content creation. She also writes at WastingPerfume.com, a devotional blog for young women.