Strategies for Your Church's Social Media Content

Strategies for Your Church's Social Media Content

Each network has unique characteristics. One is post lifespans. The lifespan of a post, or how long it is visible to your followers, is somewhat dependent on the size of a person's network.

Growing social networks is about engaging people with good questions and ideas. It's all about the content. Here's how to get good content:

People are always trying to name the best time of day to publish a post. It varies, and opinions vary.

1) Create unique content.

Time to think like a newspaper chief. You need editorial - that's content, people writing things and making photos and videos - and you need production - that's the people and tools publishing the material. It may be the same person for you, but it's different steps.

First, editorial. You need to know your own brand. Knowing your brand is an entirely different conversation.

For a quick brief, I'll tell you my church's brand distinctives: relationships and high-quality worship. Our overall church strategy, to expand on this, is Worship - Connect - Serve - Give. Our early social media messages once were all over the place. Now we're tighter.

To help with your own work here, think of three or four primary keywords to describe your church's distinctives. Church itself is a niche; what is you niche within the niche?

Don't forget to ask your people about this. Remember, it's social.

2) Draft up an editorial calendar.

Most online producers struggle with filling 52 weeks a year of content.  I recommend changing the focus to fewer themes, repeated, built around your values, say 8-10 max. This is why values are critical to marketing.

Content marketers talk about "cornerstone content." What is your lowest hanging fruit? What do people ask you about and talk about?

Set your calendar, with themes by month, and then write to the themes.

3) Look for a consistent voice.

The more original and consistent your voice, the more people will engage with you. Be yourself - be online like you are in person.

I like ideas, and some of my best social interactions are sharing ideas with others. I take that on to my blog and feeds, such as twitter.com/Len_Wilson. People often say to me, "you always post such interesting stuff." Good! That means my online voice and my real life voice match. That's the goal.

Tactics to Start Today

Best practices for posting change rapidly, because the networks are constantly tweaking their algorithms and what definitions of success. As of today, here's what I recommend:

1) Types of posts

Here are types of content to consider posting:

Original blog and website posts - your own material, housed on your church site or blog
Other sources, with commentary - links to other pastors and Christian thought leaders
Original text-based thought and ideas - quick hit scriptures, comments and ideas
Original photos and videos - images of your ministries

2) Types of content

Scripture
Sermon snippets, in text or video
How-to tactics, such as "3 tools for improving your spiritual life this coming year”
Broader strategic ideas, such as "Why your theology of money may be all wrong"
Ads and ministry-related posts
"Live" streams, such as Facebook Live
A small percentage of anecdotes and personal items that keep you human

3) Post times and frequency

Each network has unique characteristics. One is post lifespans. The lifespan of a post, or how long it is visible to your followers, is somewhat dependent on the size of a person's network, but is also dependent on the algorithms and rules that govern how long posts remain visible.

People are always trying to name the best time of day to publish a post. It varies, and opinions vary.

Twitter

Because of the short nature of tweets, they don't last long at all. The average lifespan of a tweet is about 30 minutes. (Some say 15 minutes, some say an hour; again, it depends on the typical size of the following of the people with whom you engage.)

Facebook

The average lifespan of a Facebook post is 6-8 hours. This means on average, you can post 1-3 times a day and not worry about over-posting or harassing your networks. If you have a post that is "viral," or gets shared a lot, you may want to give it 24-36 hours before posting again. I typically post two times a day.

Instagram

The average lifespan of an Instagram post is 24 hours. If you post more than one a day you may harass your followership.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn posts last the longest of any of the networks, at 2-3 days.

These differences dictate the kind of content to post to each. Twitter works best for quick hit, draft and unfiltered ideas; Instagram for ideas that can be expressed with a precise image; Facebook for medium form ideas, and LinkedIn for more polished and complete ideas.

4) Good titles/headlines

Since social media is a form of publishing, all the rules about writing for mass consumption still apply. The first and most important of these is a good title/headline. I work harder on the title than on any other part of the post. My early posts had such compelling titles as "Craft" and "Baptism." Over time, I have seen my blog site data affirm the assuredly fictitious, but presented as being true,  statistic that 80 people of people will read a headline and only 20 percent the rest of your content.

Sometime in 2013, I began studying what makes a good title. And what do you know the principles are the same ones that have been used by editors and mad men for a century. Good titles start with understanding your message and your audience.

For more information, visit my website at lenwilson.us or contact me at [email protected]

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