Attracting new congregants in the modern day can be a difficult endeavor. This reality has resulted in many houses of worship seeking out effective church social media strategies. While many social marketing tactics can prove beneficial to congregations, there are a few approaches that seem to be particularly useful when appealing to potential new members.
While your outreach should be multipronged for the best chance at success, these social media tips will get you on the right path in the digital world.
1. Recognize Platform Differences
Maybe the most important church social media strategy is recognizing that multiple strategies are needed. This is because there are countless differences between platforms, and what works well on one may not be as effective on another. Consider the following tips when choosing what to post on each social site:
- Facebook: Works great for images, links, events and photo galleries.
- YouTube: The second largest search engine should hold all your videos.
- Twitter: Links and photos work well, but galleries and events fall flat. Quotes are great!
- Snapchat: This platform lost 2.8 percent of its users in 2019. Teens still love it, but it shouldn’t dominate your time.
- Instagram: Links in photo captions aren’t clickable, but hashtags are very effective.
There are many smaller platforms out there, but these are the big five when it comes to effective church social media. Don’t overwhelm yourself by attempting to utilize all these sites when first starting out. Begin with Facebook and Twitter while making sure to upload your videos to YouTube. If you only use three platforms, these should be your choices.
2. Interact with Followers
Once you’ve created a digital presence on the main social media platforms, it becomes necessary to interact with followers. The average congregation size in America is 75 parishioners, so this shouldn’t be particularly difficult. Even if you have a larger following, though, giving each member even a moment of time can prove effective in growing your flock.
This is because social platforms often show us when our friends are interacting with pages. Every comment has the potential to pop up at the top of our newsfeed. This means that friends of members you interact with will see the exchanges, and this might just encourage them to give your church a try.
By responding to comments left by your followers, you’ll also show them and others that they matter. Building a strong congregation doesn’t just involve attracting new members – you need to ensure current parishioners know you care.
3. Provide Value in Posts
One of the most imperative social media strategies for churches is to provide value in posts. Followers don’t want to be constantly bombarded by donation requests, event pages and declarations of your house of worship’s greatness. You need to share things that people actually care about.
Posts with value can include relatable local news, viral church videos, inspirational images and more. As a leader within your congregation, you’ll also have useful insight on what your membership values. Use this knowledge when deciding what to share.
The 80-20 rule is a good place to start with church social media plans. Directly promotional shares should make up 20 percent of your posts, and the other 80 percent should provide real value to congregants.
4. Provide a New Way of Giving
Experts forecast that 2019 would be the year Millennials outpace Baby Boomers as the largest age demographic in America. This is one reason why a church social media presence became so essential. This younger generation makes up a bulk of the population, so focusing on what attracts this group is vital.
One way to do this is by updating how congregants can contribute. Church online giving statistics show that 60 percent of people want to give digitally. Additionally, Millennials want to know that their chosen house of worship is technologically savvy and up to date in the digital world. In essence, they want to be members somewhere they don’t view as antiquated.
Making critical functions such as tithing a part of the digital world while integrating them into your social media strategy is vital. When young potential congregants witness you actively engaging in these tactics, they’ll know that your church appeals to more than just older generations.
5. Share Stories to Promote
We discussed earlier how only 20 percent of your church social media posts should be geared towards direct promotion. What if there was a way, though, to promote your congregation without being obvious about it? This is where sharing stories can prove effective. Instead of simply saying “our church does great things,” share a promising, hopeful, relatable or emotional story to prove it.
Did the community show up to help with your church revitalization? How about a young woman from the teen mission helping to save a small village’s water supply? Did God miraculously save a congregant from a devastating accident? These are the stories that people love, and that means they're motivated to share them.
Facebook is chock full of inspirational stories – typically including a related image – that have garnered thousands of ‘likes,’ comments and shares. This type of engagement increases the number of potential new members who will see your posts. Even better, it will let them know that the Spirit of God really does move within your flock.
What could possibly be better for attracting new church parishioners?
6. Consider Paid Ads
There are many church leaders who balk at the idea of paid social media advertising. While it’s certainly more rewarding to build up a following organically, there are still many instances when a few dollars and a targeted social ad can do wonders. The great thing is that this form of promotion doesn’t need to break the bank.
That's because Facebook and other platforms allow you to choose who sees your ads. You can select the geographic area, age range, religious affiliation and even special interests of individuals who are most likely to be inspired by your congregation. Even better is the fact that you can choose to target those who don’t already follow you on social media.
When engaging in this type of marketing, it’s important to know your audience. If you’re deciding the appropriate age range for an ad, for instance, don’t immediately discount certain demographics. Did you know that social media’s fastest growing userbase consists of those over the age of 65? This means you should know the makeup of your community prior to submitting an ad.
Quick tip: Always include a high-quality and attention-grabbing image with your ads – along with an invite to your page and church.
7. Collect Data and Adjust
When marketing executives were asked for the most important aspects of success, 64 percent said that data-driven marketing is vital. The idea here is that using data to influence your marketing decisions results in an improved outcome. This is just as true with church social media as it is anywhere else.
We could give you 1,000 social strategies to use, but not all of them would prove effective for you. All congregations and communities are unique in their own way, so the best method of attracting new congregants can differ greatly depending on situational variations.
Fortunately, most platforms show you the level of engagement on every post you share. Take time to review this data. You'll see what’s working in your church’s social media plan, what’s not so effective, and how you can adjust your strategy to target and attract new congregants from your community.
Church Social Media is Essential
There is no question of whether church social media strategies are necessary. They absolutely are. The real question comes down to how effectively you can attract new members on these platforms. Even if you don’t have much experience in this arena, 1 Corinthians 1:26 tells us that God can use the lowliest of his servants for great things. Focus on these strategies, and you will bring in new members.
If you’re looking to offer your new congregants a better way to contribute to the Lord’s work, get started with NewFire Giving today.