Five Simple Steps For Creating A Social Media Strategy For Moving Pastors

8/12/2021

By Rev. Jessica Blackwood

The moving truck is long gone, and you are probably unpacking the last of your boxes, or maybe you're more like me and have those last few tucked away in the back of your closet! You’ve settled into your new office. Your bookshelves are loaded with great reads, seminary books, Bible studies, and your favorite photos. You’ve walked the halls, prayed in the sanctuary, and have delivered your first few messages in the pulpit. You are learning the community by driving through town, shopping at the local grocery store, and finding the best places to eat.

And, like most of your community, you’ve visited your church’s website, Facebook page, and other digital platforms. If you have not, this is a great time to check these platforms for correct basic information. Especially, double-check stated worship times and locations, staff listings, and contact information that may have changed these last 18 months, or maybe changing headed into the fall.

The idea of creating sacred spaces in digital spaces may still feel daunting, even after a year and a half of pivoting online. But we know that faith communities who engage reasonable and contextual expressions of In-Person and Digital ministry - Hybrid Ministry - increase their opportunities to build community, share the Gospel, and make disciples for Christ. So. How do you do the digital part well?

Whether you’ve just moved or not, serving in a large or small church, here are five simple steps for creating a social media strategy that will further the engagement and reach for your church’s digital platforms:

#1 Make a posting schedule.

One of the most overwhelming parts of running social media platforms is feeling the need to constantly create content, leading to burnout and low-quality posts. Spend some time thinking about the content you would like to see on your page. How do you want to celebrate your church and community?  As you begin to discern how your church can best utilize social media to share its stories, create a posting schedule that reflects your community. 

Pacing your posts will prevent burnout and allow you time to focus on other aspects of your new ministry. It is better to produce two to three quality posts per week, as opposed to two low-quality posts a day. Not only does this give you consistency, but communicates that you are intentional about the space you are creating because you value quality. The more reliable you are in showing up to that space, the more your followers will engage. Create a schedule and stick with it.

Check out a sample posting schedule from one North Georgia pastor here

#2 Keep it reasonable.

A best practice, and possibly worst practice, is watching what everyone else is doing. Learning and innovation require us to be observant, but adaptation reminds us that we must do what is authentically going to work for us. Your first urge may be trying to replicate your favorite action movie by adding in a lot of camera angles, special effects, and surround sound. However, it is unlikely that you or your social media team have that kind of bandwidth! So when you are creating your social media strategy, do what is reasonable within your means.

If you are a one-person team right now (see step 3), don’t spend hours trying to learn Photoshop! You can do a lot with a smartphone, ring light, and a good microphone. Canva.com is a great option for creating simple graphics that are professional in quality.

Posts should consist of familiar faces and spaces that represent your congregation. Celebrate your volunteers with spotlights on Monday morning. Share a devotion and prayer on Wednesdays, and finish the week with an engaging question on Friday. There are a few churches that keep announcements down to one day, “Three Things to Know Thursday” or “Two Minute Tuesday.” Instagram and TikTok are great places to find creators using simple setups.

Here are 12 tips to help you brainstorm on how to make your next post.

#3 Build a team. 

There are two fast ways to burn out when it comes to creating digital content for your platforms: overposting and doing it alone. Create a team. With so many of us carrying smartphones, we have quality cameras at our fingertips. Ask some of your youth and young adults to run "stories" for you. They will be your resident experts! If you have an amateur photographer within your congregation, ask them to snap some photos during worship or at an event. Got parents at the church Easter egg hunt? Have them share their candids. Photo sharing is an excellent way to tell your story authentically and allows your members to be a part of the process.

The more you allow your members to be a part of the story you are sharing, the more likely they will be to share church posts themselves. Who knows, you may be training your next social media guru who will be a  volunteer or director by allowing others to be part of your digital ministry.

#4 Go where your people are. 

In this day and age, almost all of us are professional consumers of social media. From your youngest members to your oldest, we all show up in digital spaces. Ask where you can find them! You may have a personal preference for Facebook, but discover that your target audience is all on Instagram or TikTok. Ask who they follow and ask them why. Understanding the content they are consuming and why will help you know what type of videos and inspiration your church should consider producing. You may discover that live stream doesn’t work for your context, or that people are looking for more devotional content. Whatever it may be, keep your target audience in mind as you consider where and what you post.

#5 Keep social media social. 

Don’t clutter your digital spaces with advertisements and stiff content. Tell your stories by showing more behind-the-scenes action than professionally curated ones. People are looking for places of authenticity. Take a picture of yourself with your sermon prep material. Share a photo of the choir practicing. Keep it fun! By sharing the DNA of your church online Monday through Friday, neighbors that are checking you out digitally get a good sense of what they can expect if they choose to attend in person. People are not screen fatigued as much as they are content fatigued. More than ever, people want to engage and connect with a sense of purpose. They will continue to show up in spaces that offer them hope, make them laugh, and feel like they belong because you have celebrated, educated, and validated them not as potential church members but as humans.

Rev. Jessica Blackwood serves as Digital Ministry Specialist with the North Georgia Conference’s Center for Congregational Excellence. You can connect with her on social media, and by emailing her at jessica.blackwood@ngumc.net


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