Health and Growth

Discipling Your Church with Social Media: 4 Lynchpin Digital Habits

Use these 4 critical design principles to boost social media engagement for your church.

Discipling Your Church with Social Media: 4 Lynchpin Digital Habits

Churches often struggle to know how to use their social media accounts. Oftentimes, the person running the social media is tasked with a million other jobs, from running the graphic design department to updating the church website.

Your church might occasionally post an event, or throw some Scripture passages on a feed, but inevitably your social media presence becomes just another task to check, rather than an intentional tool, wielded strategically to reach as many people as possible. 

Here’s the deal:

People are using social media as a way to become aware of your church, as well as to decide whether or not your church is worth engaging and committing to. In the marketing world, they describe the “buyer's journey,” four easy ways that a company can take to identify and reach new buyers for their product. 

While no one would describe the church as a “product” we want people to buy, we believe these insights can help power what we want to call the “member journey,” transforming someone who is disconnected and uninformed about your church, into a fully committed and excited participant. So what are these four easy ways to use Social Media to serve your church? 

1. Know Your Target Audience 

First, your church needs to understand who your target audience is. Every church has a specific strength based on their demographic. One church might have an incredible family environment, and so young families are their primary target audience.

Another church might be particularly impactful with tradesmen, while another tends to connect most with a higher level of education. Whatever your strongest demographic is, it will be important for your social media to begin by identifying your target audience and sharing posts with the goal of connecting to that audience. 

2. Build awareness by sharing content that interests your target audience  

The marketing world will tell you that the next step on the journey towards engaging a product is to build awareness. At this stage, your content can sometimes seem more generic and open, but is shared intentionally with your target audience in mind. Maybe for a church geared towards families, you could share “three bible verses that will strengthen your family.” 

Such a post would not only be interesting for those at your church, but it would generate awareness on social media that your church is one that strongly values families. Another simple way such a church could build awareness is to ask a question on social media. 

For a more educated community, it could be “What kinds of books have helped strengthen your faith?” 

For an artistically driven target audience, “What songs have you listened to recently that have deepened your love of God?” 

By generating engagement, you begin to build awareness, not only that church exists, but that church has a certain persona that your target audience might be interested to consider. 

3. Invite consideration by sharing your church persona through visuals 

The next stage in the buyer’s journey is “consideration,” when a person has become aware of your product and now is asked to consider whether it might be right for them. For many churches, the problem with their use of social media is that their content is too generic to provoke consideration of their specific church. 

In this stage, your church persona and an understanding of your target audience becomes vital. So for families, you might share photos of your church that include children. You could also use visuals to portray a love for your local town or the place you gather. Your posts become an effective way to deepen the connection with your target audience by showing them visually how your church might be a good fit for the things they value. 

4. Convert them with specific invitations 

The final stage of the buyer’s journey is “conversion” when a person decides it's time to try a product. So too in our churches, we can use social media to make specific invitations for a person to “try out” our church.

Social media becomes particularly effective to create invitations to events or aspects of your church that your target audience would find interesting. Maybe you share about a “family weekend,” or maybe you have a “college football night” where every person is invited to come dressed as their favorite college team. 

This final stage of using social media will require that you plan events that are aimed towards your target audience, which can take work. However social media really comes alive at this stage in serving your church, by extending your invitation to include those far outside those who might happen to wander in on a Sunday. 

A Closing Example: Microsoft and Ministry for Special Needs 

One closing example of how social media can be used to reach your target audience would be Microsoft. Recently during the Super Bowl, Microsoft ran an ad of a new product they have for children with special needs. While only a small number of Microsoft users have children with special needs, Microsoft understood that this service was a powerful story to share that their company believed people matter and that it would expand awareness, invite consideration and even possibly convert non-Microsoft users to their product. 

Why couldn’t our churches do on a micro-level what Microsoft did on a macro level? My church has recently been doing a campaign that’s all about children and adults with special needs. Our campaign isn’t big or generic, but instead focused and specific. We’re trying to attract the specific people to our church who need help, and who through social media can discover content that says, “We’re the kind of church that cares about you.” 

If Jesus were here now, this kind of focused engagement with a specific target audience is exactly what he would have done. He would speak to those who needed him most, and he would be specific. Why couldn’t we use social media to engage single moms by highlighting a single moms ministry, or let young adults know if they’re lonely, that they can be known at our church? Therefore don’t give up on social media, but instead, find your target audience and get creative in how you engage them. 

Show Notes

Read the full blog of this episode here:

Today on Modern Church Leader, Dustin Stout explains critical design principles that boost social media engagement for your church.

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Discipling Your Church with Social Media: 4 Lynchpin Digital Habits