The power and presence of social media continues to increase daily amongst the lives of Americans. A 2019 study by Pew Research found that 72% of U.S adults used at least one social media site. The study found that 90% of Americans ages 19-29 use at least one form of social media.
Americans use social media to engage with family, friends, or colleagues, share photos, videos and posts about their lives, read the news, communicate, shop, and even as a way to stay connected with their faith.
Social media gives pastors the ability to connect and engage with their community as well as reach those who may not be able to attend in person. Older people typically use Facebook more while younger generations are using Twitter and Instagram more frequently.
Benefits of having a social media presence as a pastor
Social media presents multiple benefits for pastors including:
- Building deep relationships with their community
- Invoking spiritual practice and meaningful conversations
- Ability to discuss topics not talked about in a service
- Reach the community during the other 167 hours of the week not spent in person at a religious institution
- Gives community 24/7 access to their faith
By invoking meaningful conversations, pastors have the ability to encourage spiritual practice amongst their community.
On social media, pastors can share a topic that will make the followers think deeper about their life and how to interpret certain events. Pastors should listen to the conversations that are happening through social media and participate in the discussion.
A pastor should be involved with their social media page, posting consistently, engaging and responding to comments, and creating an atmosphere where the community feels welcome and safe to share their feelings.
Social media gives people 24/7 access to their faith, an easier way to hear the messages, connections with those in their church and an outlet to share their feelings.
Using live streams to reach community
Pastors should design their social media pages to make their religious institute standout and attract followers. Some ways pastors can do this is to have unique ways to encourage worship and engagement amongst the followers, post behind-the-scenes content of church events and also promote in-person events for people to attend.
Another way pastors can use social media to reach their community is through live streams. Live streams can be done through Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or other various streaming apps.
Some ways pastors can utilize live streams include:
- Streaming services for those who can not attend in person
- Sharing devotions or testimonies
- Introducing staff to community
- Open space to discuss topics related to current world events
- Involve viewers through trivia games or questions
What to do to be successful on social media
- Be engaged and responsive to the community
- Don’t use page solely for announcements or information
- Post content interesting to community and promotes discussion
- Post content relatable to audience
- Content should be posted regularly
Don’t post the same content on each site
Pastors should not post the same content on each social media site because some content might be suitable for one site, but another. Paying attention to what type of audience you are trying to reach will help you decide what content is suitable. Younger audiences tend more to use Instagram and Twitter where older audiences are most commonly using Facebook. This is important to remember in what content should be posted on each page. The content might not be the same across all of the sites based on the targeted audience.
On Facebook, longer videos are more appropriate than they would be on Instagram. Pastors should focus on posting high-quality pictures on Instagram, while also utilizing the stories feature for engagement with their audience.
The content posted does not have to be elaborate or require a graphic designer, the pictures can be simple yet appealing. It is important to remember that the social media page should be used to create meaningful conversation throughout the community and invoke spiritual practice. This can all be done without posting content that was created by a graphic designer. It is more about the word choice that is used and the topics that are introduced on the page.
Pastors can use the features that are built into each social media site to help with the “look” of their content. For example, on Facebook, users have the option to post text with a colorful background, this helps the post to stand out and catch people’s attention. Through Instagram stories, users have the ability to create polls, question and answer options, and easy access for followers to respond and interact with each other.
A pastor can post a question on their Instagram story and the followers can respond to it which will help to create the dialogue through social media. The questions should be meaningful and require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer.
Have a strategy and set goals for using social media
Pastors need to know how they are going to use social media by building a strategy that best fits their church. Every church is different, smaller churches may take a different approach to social media since they are reaching a smaller audience than a larger church would.
Having clear, attainable goals for each social media page will help in the success of the page. When beginning to use social media, a pastor should decide what he or she wants to achieve through the pages. Whether this is how many people he reaches, bringing new people to church, or just simply creating conversation throughout the church community, knowing what you want to achieve from the page will help you be successful.
It all starts with one simple post and reaching out to those in your community to help share and promote the page. Building a presence on social media can seem daunting, but if done with thought and preparation, it can be simple.
Each post should be intentional and designed to reach the church community in the best way for your church. Knowing who your audience is and what message you are trying to send them will help the page be successful.
Want to learn more about social media strategies and how your church can connect with your congregation all week instead of just Sunday? Attend the upcoming Virtual – Social Media Faith and Worship Strategies Summit scheduled on October 20th-21st. Be part of the digital reformation!