We get questions on a regular basis about social media. Many leaders have dabbled with Twitter or launched a Facebook page only to feel they didn’t really accomplish anything. Often these people feel these endeavors are a waste of time. I happen to disagree as I have seen social networks provide tremendous opportunity for connections, relationship-building, and even promotion.
The main reason churches stumble when it comes to building their online community is they don’t have a plan in place! This outline (PLAN) can help you and your team head in the right direction in the area of social media…
P: Define your PURPOSE
Before you jump into Social Media, define what it is you want to accomplish. It’s often tempting to want to jump on the latest trend or platform before you really determine the purpose behind the effort. Is your primary goal to be part of the online community? Is it to communicate with church members and volunteers? Is it to provide training and information, or just to encourage people? Defining your social media objective in a sentence or two will help you (and others) stay focused.
Here are some questions to ask yourself (or your team):
- Do we have a defined outcome or are we just jumping in to jump in? (This is not a bad strategy, but you may be frustrated with the results or lack of results.
- Do we have the capacity to physically manage the accounts?
- Are we willing to put resources (this means time AND money) into social media?
- How are we going to measure the results?
L: LEARN what you need to
There are myriads of helpful sites out there that can get you started with the basics of Facebook and Twitter. Look for a high school or college age volunteer to show you the ropes. Along with the main sites, it’s helpful to adopt a social networking management program, like HootSuite or Social Oomph, that allows you to schedule updates and post to more than one platform at a time. This is crucial for busy leaders and will help keep your team organized.
A: Take ACTION
Once you have defined your purpose and have the knowledge and people to get started, it’s time to start. It can be helpful set a launch date if you want to promote the new sites within your congregation or volunteer team. Consider what events are happening and how you could tie in the advent of your social presence with those events.
N: NETWORK with other leaders
Don’t’ be shy about asking for help. Every church that utilizes social networks started somewhere. Get their suggestions, ask what worked and what didn’t, what tips they have for you. This connectivity is the most important element of building an online community. Decide what you need from others, and more importantly, what you can bring to the table.
Be sure to discuss your results as you move forward. It’s important to treat this like other ministry outreaches! Monitor your results. Make changes if need be. And give the PLAN time to work.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, concerns, and questions about using social media. Comment below and let’s get the conversation started!