Apple is good a lot of things. I personally think they make the best phones and computers. However, I don’t think they got to a place of dominance by saying yes to every feature or idea that came across their path. Instead, as Steve Jobs said “Innovation is saying no to a thousand things..”.
Too many churches fall into the trap of saying yes to a lot of things. They say yes to new social media networks, adding more copy to their website and promoting everything they can at once.
Great churches don’t fall into this trap. Great churches understand what’s important and what deserves a yes. So what do great churches say yes to?
I can’t tell you everything they say yes to, but I can tell you three things they say yes to on social media. There are three things that great churches focus on that they know will increase their reach, make good use of their time and avoid costly mistakes. Here they are…
Great Churches Make Social Media about Their Audience
Here’s a dirty little secret about social media and about creating content for your audience. At the end of the day, your audience only cares about themselves. People care about what’s going on in their own lives, family or their circle of friends. Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot else.
For most people, if what you’re communicating on social media doesn’t have any relevance to them, then they’re just going to skip your content. So how do you avoid this?
One answer comes from author Jeff Jarvis, who wrote the book “What Would Google Do”. He says that in order for organizations to survive in the future, they’re going to need to make their audience feel like the organization knows them.
For example, if you use Gmail, Google calendar or Google search and you open up the Google Now app on your phone, Google can tell you when to leave for work due to traffic, when your packages are arriving to your house or when you’re beloved Chicago Bulls are firing their head coach.
In other words, Google knows you and therefore has created an emotional connection with you. Great churches know how to do this on social media.
One of the easiest ways to do this is photos. Just by simply tagging people in photos on Facebook and you’re connect people back to your organization. For example, the awesome Katie Allred will take photos of our volunteers and then post them on Instagram and Facebook and tag them. We call them SAV (“Super Awesome Volunteers”).
Now this may seem like a small gesture, but it’s not. First, it makes the volunteer feel great. Second, everyone from our church can comment about how much they love the volunteer and third we’ve just communicated to our entire church that we love our volunteers.
Another way do to this is through geolocation search. You can use an app like Hootsuite to search for the tweets around you that mention a certain word. For example, you can create a search for a 5km radius around your church for anyone who says the word “prayer” in at tweet.
So when someone tweets out something with the word prayer in it, it will pop up on your Hootsuite stream. The cool thing about this is you can respond back to people and surprise them. So if someone tweeted: “Need prayer, about to head to the hospital because my kid broke her arm”. You could then tweet back at them: “Wow, sorry about that. We’ll prayer for you all, let us know if there’s anything else we can do”. (Here’s a detailed post on how to do this.)
Great Churches Focus on Image and Video
Great churches know that if you want your audience to engage with your content you need to focus using images and video. Why? Because we are an imaged based society. People are no longer reading text. Instead, we have growing platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope and Meerkat. Each of these have there own unique spin on images or video.
In fact even established platforms like Facebook and Twitter are favoring images and video. A study by eMarketer said the in month of March in 2014, 87% of the content that was shared on Facebook were photos. Think about it. That data is over a year old and doesn’t account for the growth in video. In fact when it comes to video, it’s reported that by 2017 video will make up over 70% consumer internet traffic.
Think about that. If your church does not have a plan to increase their video content, they’ll be behind in just a few short years.
Now that inundated you with facts about images and video, you may be thinking “Great, but I don’t have professional designer or video producer on my staff”. Well that’s fine. There are actually a couple of tools you can use to create graphics for social media.
The first one is Canva. Think of Canva like a really light version of Photoshop in your web browser. You can upload images and add text or graphics. They already have pre-done templates designed for Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. It’s an easy one stop shop for creating graphics. Also it’s free! (Here’s a tutorial on using Canva.)
On your phone there are two really great apps that you can use. One is called Over and the other is called Word Swag. These are both great for creating graphics on the fly during an event. They’re very easy to use and only cost a couple of dollars.
Now when it comes to video, a lot of us feel like we have to these large productions to make videos look fantastic. However, if you’re willing to do a little bit googling, you’ll find great websites like Pro Church Tools that will give you the guidance you need.
Remember with video on the web, there’s something called the forgiveness factor, which basically means that people will forgive you for the quality of video that they watching based on the device their using. So if they’re watching your content a giant HD TV, they would expect HD content.
However if they’re watching a video on YouTube on their phone, they’ll accept lower quality. This is especially true if the content is authentic. Think about it. There’s a reason why a cat spinning on a fan is popular on YouTube.
Great Churches Pick the Right Social Media Networks
Great churches understand when signing up for social media network, there are three things you need to look for. First, you only sign up for social media network that you understand. They understand that it’s easy to sign up for the latest social network, only to realize that you don’t know how it works or why people use it.
Secondly, they pick social networks that are established. They avoid the tendency to pick social networks based around the buzz or hype. They understand that if your patient to see the social network can stick around, you can then decide if it’s worth your time.
Third, they sign up for a social media network once they’ve thought through the work it will take to keep it going. Signing up for a network is easy, however maintaining a network takes effort. Great church’s assess if their staff handle this additional workload.
Don’t let this list above overwhelm you or your church. You’ll be surprised what separates your church from other churches on social media is not the budget or amount of staff. Instead, it’s more than likely the decisions that you make about social media that separates you. Focus on the three things above and you’ll be headed in the right direction.