It was Friday morning and I had just finished getting ready to go to work when I sat down to compose my tweets for the day. I had some really great content to share as well as a few links that I thought people would enjoy. What I was most proud of was a joke I made about Photoshop.
I don’t remember the joke exactly, but I know that it ended with me wanting to fire Photoshop for crashing on me. I knew it would be funny to my designer friends so I scheduled it to go out on my Twitter account later that day.
However, what I didn’t know was that my company was preparing to have major layoffs that day. Friends and acquaintances would be leaving the building that day and not returning. It was going to be a long day.
Of course, I completely forgot about the tweet about firing Photoshop. At this point, I was too busy trying to figure out which of my friends were let go and who survived the layoffs. Then, of course, I started receiving direct messages on Twitter.
“Did you mean to tweet this? Today?”
“Really funny, but way too soon.”
It took me a second to realize what I had done before I could quickly delete the tweet. Of course, it was too late and people had already seen it.
To this day, I’m grateful that most of my friends figured out what happened and had good laugh with me but, it also was a good reminder that automating your social media can really kill your church’s online reputation.
Of course, automation is now very easy for churches today. Almost every social media service (Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.) offers some sort of scheduling and automation service and, while I sympathize with churches trying to be more efficient with their time, I think it’s time we address some of the pitfalls of social media automation.
There are three ways that I think automation can kill your church’s online reputation. This isn’t a definitive list, but these are three ways that I see churches fail most often. Take a moment and read through this list to determine if automation is killing your church’s online reputation.
Ignoring National or International Tragedies
Here’s a quick pro tip: During times of national or international tragedy, turn off your automated messages. For example, during the Ferguson unrest my Twitter feed was filled with news reports and images from the news scene. Some of the tweets were informative; others were expressing outrage from both sides of the aisle. When I see a church in the middle of my Twitter feed announce their Wednesday choir rehearsal, it seems out of place or, even worse, it seems tone deaf.
I’m not saying that your church has to respond in moments like these, but I am saying that you have to be respectful of what the national conversation is online and carefully pick your spots. People are watching what you’re saying and, if they see you come out of left field with a tweet that seems odd, they’ll recognize that you’re not being intentional with your social media.
If you church is anything like mine, you’re constantly making changes to events and programs on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s a location or a time change, other times it might be a cancelation. Of course, you’ll go through the communication channels of updating the website, making the phone calls and changing the print info, but what about social media?
If you’ve automated your social media, you might forget to update the information there as well. This is especially true if you set your social media months in advance using a service like Buffer or Hootsuite. Don’t get caught giving out bad information. Instead, create a checklist of communication channels that need to be updated when they are changes to your church’s schedule of events.
You Can Become Lazy
Do you remember those rotisserie cooking infomercials? The ones where the pitch guy tells the crowd that all, they have to do, put the chicken in the special rotisserie machine and then in 10 minutes they would have delicious juicy chicken? What did he have the crowd chant every few minutes? “You can set it and forget it!”
While I’m sure that the rotisserie chicken was quite delicious, it’s nothing like social media. Social media isn’t something that you can set and forget. It’s an active communication channel that needs constant attention. If you think you can just automate your social media then you’re missing out on the “social” part of social media.
Let me be clear, there are times when automation can work, but I find those times are becoming rarer as people are looking to move past a sea of automated marketing messages and instead interact with real people.
What does your social media look like? Is it a sea of quotes and announcements or is there real human interaction going on? Are you keeping the “social” in the social media?
Do you automate your church’s social media? If so what works for you? Click here to share below.