When I first took over my church’s social media I knew I wanted to get everything up running pretty fast. I quickly put together a content calendar, updated social media logos and signed up for additional accounts to round out our portfolio. In theory, this should have been enough to get everything off and running. However, it wasn’t till a year later when I realized that I made a crucial mistake.
The mistake I made was a rather simple one. A mistake that I think many churches make, not intentionally of course, but more out of convenience. You see, when I began the job I asked around about what social media channels our people were invested in. I then took that information and began to plot out where we would spend majority of our time. So with what I thought was the right data in my hand, I plotted out our strategy. Of course, this is this was a mistake.
Maybe a better way of saying it is that I didn’t really do the right research. I realized that while the people I was asking had good intentions, they weren’t necessarily our core social media users. On top of that, they were confirming a bias I already had towards social media platforms. So what was the result of this mistake? I spent a good portion of my time focusing on social media channels that had some return on investment, but not the channels that could really help our church.
Let me be more specific about my biases. I’m not a big Facebook user. I don’t care for their interface, user policies and the conversations that usually take place there. On the other hand, I love Twitter. There are multiple clients to choose from and I don’t feel nearly as hassled by the ads when I’m using the service. So naturally when I’m working on social media, my instincts are to go to Twitter and not Facebook. However, the hard data says that majority of my church is on Facebook and only a small fraction use Twitter. In fact, we have more users on Instagram then we do Twitter. However, I was focusing our social media strategy in this order:
When the really our focus should have been:
So how do you prevent this from happening to you? First, get a good handle on any data that you can. Find data that will give you some bearing as to where your people are. Second, spend some time investing in other churches around you and find out where they’re investing their time. While you’re not trying to copy their strategy, they might give insight into what could work for you. Finally, start to branch out and become more comfortable with other social media channels that you might not normally use.
Learn from my mistake. Take the time to test your strategy and use the best data on hand whenever you can. Don’t be afraid to admit you have biases and try to figure out ways to move beyond them. More importantly, shift your strategy when you need to and save yourself the time and effort like I wish I did.