Social media can be overwhelming for church leaders.
The median work week for pastors is 50 hours per week. For half of the pastors in the U.S., they work less than 50 hours per week, whereas the other half works more than 50 hours per week.
Now, if we were to survey the work these pastors do during this time, we wouldn’t see social media at the top of their list. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t believe social media is not necessary.
Every day, most of the pastors are probably checking their social media accounts.
They see the request from Facebook to “write something…”, Twitter asks them, “What’s happening?”, and LinkedIn wants them to “Share an article, photo, or update.”
Not only do they feel the burden of sharing something for their personal account, but they know they should engage with people on the church’s social media accounts, too. Why? Because social media is where most of the people in their community are spending time.
For many church leaders, they find it difficult to post something on their church’s social media. They don’t know where to start, what to say, or who to connect with online. So, instead of saying anything, they tend to say nothing at all.
If you struggle with figuring out what to say, then you need a social media strategy . We know this can sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need an advanced degree, secret digital marketing knowledge, or a high-level of proficiency in social media marketing.
Why should our church use social media?
When Jesus issued the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20), he said to go into all the world. In other words, He wants us to go where people are, no matter where they are. Right now, at this moment in history, more people are on social media than ever before. If we want to reach them, we need to show up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the rest.
Social media has a reputation for bringing out the worst in people, but it can also be used to spread the truth of the gospel and to encourage fellow Christians in their walk of faith. Just be sure to keep things positive and uplifting. And remember, your posts should be more than a way to advertise.
What is the best social media strategy for churches?
The best social media strategy is the one that brings the most engagement. Post video content that leads to discussion. Write posts that invite a response. Be sure to engage in conversations when they happen. Think of your social media presence as an extension of your ministry, so be dedicated to it, and remember every click, like, and follow represents a real person with a real need to draw closer to the Lord.
Using social media primarily as a broadcast channel
At the end of the day, much discipleship comes down to teaching, and teaching can happen in many forms. It doesn't always have to be in person. so consider your social media platform an avenue to deliver content—blog posts, devotionals, short teaching videos, your Sunday livestream. People are hungry to learn more about the Lord and His Word, so feed your flock and anyone else who might tune in!
Below, we’re going to walk you through five steps to help you create a social media strategy that will help you to connect with people in your community, share the gospel, and lead people to your worship services or weekly activities.
1. Know what you’re going to say
Knowing what you want to say is the first step you need to take in creating a social media strategy. In this step, you don’t need to worry about the nitty-gritty details of what you’re going to say. You need to focus on the big topics you’re going to cover throughout the week.
Clarifying what you’re going to share on social media will help you to focus and keep you from chasing multiple rabbit trails or sharing the same thing every single day.
For your church, there are many ideas to consider sharing on social media:
- Quotes from pastors or theologians
- Clips from your sermon
- Volunteer stories
- Book recommendations
- Prayer requests
- Upcoming church events
- Good News
- And more…
Action Step: Identify 3–5 specific topics that people will want to see that you can share on social media.
2. Know who you’re talking to
There’s one thing people do on social media: Be social. People from your church and within your community are spending time on social media socializing with each other. They’re sharing photos, letting people know what they’re getting into during the day, and on and on and on.
As a church, you are talking to your members and people in your community. Unless you turn your settings to private, whatever you post on social media can be seen by anyone in your community and around the world.
When you create your social media strategy , you need to create content that will connect with the members of your church and people in your community. At times, what you post will connect with both of these groups of people. However, on other occasions, it’s important to share something specifically for people within these groups.
Action Step: Keep in mind the people in your church and community when you post on social media.
3. Figure out how much you can (realistically) share
As a pastor, your life is busy.
Before creating a social media strategy , you need to take a step back and assess how much time you can realistically devote to social media and developing your social media strategy.
Whether you can squeeze in a few minutes during the day or you only have time for 15–30 minutes per week, then that’s okay. Scheduling a portion of time will help you to take control of your church’s social media strategy.
There are also free church media resources you can use like Tithe.ly Media. A service like this will significantly reduce how much time you spend creating content and give you access to high-qualitiy resources.
Action Step: Look at your week and month. Now, schedule a few minutes each day, 15–30 minutes per week, or 1 or more hours to curate and create content for social media.
4. Choose a social media sharing service
The great thing about managing your church’s social media accounts is that you don’t have to share updates throughout the day. You can set it and forget it with a social media sharing service.
There are multiple options you can choose from. If you don’t like these choices, no hard feelings. Research some different options and find one that works best for you.
Action Step: Pick social media platforms
5. Create a schedule
Alright, now it’s time to create your social media calendar. A calendar will help you stay on top of your social media strategy.
By now, you know what you’re going to say, who you’re talking to, how much time you can spend, and the social media channels you’re going to use. Armed with this information, you need to determine how often you’re going to post during the week.
Before we provide suggestions, hear us loud and clear: You don’t have to post frequently, just consistently.
If you are just getting started, then here are two social media platforms we suggest focusing on at first and how often you should post:
- Facebook: Post 2–4 times per week on your Facebook page
- Instagram: Post 1 time per week on Instagram
For now, don’t worry about LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, or TikTok. Facebook and Instagram have the largest audiences, and many of the people in your community use them, so make sure to begin your social media presence on these two social media channels. Using social media for church growth is very important. Make sure to share good news and information about church events as a part of your social media strategy.
Action Step: Spend 15–30 minutes and schedule your posts for the week.
6. Ask Yourself These Questions and Take Note of These Answers
What do want to accomplish through social media? In other words, what would we consider a "win"?
What kinds of resources are we willing to place toward our social media efforts?
Who are we primarily trying to reach? Members? Our community? The lost around the world?
Which social media platforms will help us best achieve our goals?
Ask Members What They Share Most
What to do: Listen. People have widely differing views on the use of social media, so listen before you decide how you'll use it for your church.
What not to do: Don't get too personal, but try to find out what they engage with most often.
How can churches use social media effectively?
The most effective churches on social media use it as an extension of their ministry. The point is not to create another church that exists purely online. Rather, it's to use the social media vehicles available to you to extend your reach, reinforce your values, and engage your community. If you discover that some part of your social media strategy is leading you away from your mission as a church, abandon it! Jesus called us to reach people, not win at social media.
How do I market my church on social media?
Paid ads are helpful, because they can reach a targeted demographic. But things go viral when meet a heartfelt need, so make your content engaging, and remember that the hero of the story you're telling is Jesus, not your church. Lift Him up, and people will recognize your church as a place that honors God. That's attractive to spiritual seekers and those who have been walking with the Lord for a long time.
What should I post on social media for my church?
Content comes in many forms, but videos and images catch the eye as someone is scrolling past. The benefit of video teaching content is that people get to see your face and body language. There's something warmer and more personal about hearing from someone's heart in their own voice, rather than reading a message. At the same time, don't underestimate the value of well-written devotional or encouraging word from Scripture.
The best strategy is to do what comes naturally for your church and get as many people involved as possible. That will lift the burden off of your staff while also creating community online.
How does social media affect the church?
Social media can have negative consequences for individuals, so your social media strategy shouldn't be construed as an endorsement of social media engagement. Rather, it's one way we can engage culture and use something that could be neutral or harmful for good.
Many churches have reported that their reach into the community and around the world has increased dramatically since making a concerted effort to interact more on social media. The internet is a powerful thing, and God can use any means of communication to draw people to Himself. Just be sure that any plans you have for social media are all in the interest of serving Him.
Editor's note: This article was updated on April 21, 2021 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.