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Social media
Look to identify and assign volunteers or helpers, to help take video or photos on their smartphones, the most readily available and cost-allowable device.

Social Media School 101 for Churches: Teaching Best Practices

With the help of social media, it allows users to engage audiences relevant to their message, to gain new participants and keep interested parties aware of what is new and exciting.

Churches that use social media platforms have a huge advantage, in attracting new members by spreading their church brand awareness to broader audiences.

By creating basic training guidelines for staff and ministries, your church will be able to increase quantity and quality of its media assets.

Correctly targeted social media focuses one’s effort, where it will be the most effective.

Social media allows users to engage audiences relevant to their message, to gain new participants and keep interested parties aware of what is new and exciting.

By understanding why certain content gets shared the most and how to improve the vitality of content, your social media can improve tremendously. It is also an important catalyst to education, with the potential to send different messages around the world.

Since very few churches find it possible to have on staff a team of social media strategists, most churches are left with uncovering a less costly and more practical way to create successful media interactions online. This is the basis behind the theory and practice of creating your own “Social Media School 101.”

Social Media School 101 can serve as a guideline for the basics that should be taught to staff and members of a church, to improve current practices and create growth for your church.

Think of social media for your church as part social/informational, part invitational/community building, and part missionary work.

By creating basic training guidelines for staff and ministries, your church will be able to increase quantity and quality of its media assets, while experiencing an improvement its in social media results.

Trackable interactions through statistics gathering can be as simple as using Google Analytics for websites and other platforms for social analytics (i.e., Instagram, Twitter and Facebook). It’s easy to do, with tools such as YouTube helpful in learning how. Since participants can see the value they provide with analytic results based off of videos and photos viewed, or reposted, more people will likely volunteer, as long as they are shown why and how.

Social Media School 101

The first and most important piece is changing church culture, by turning your church teams into social media advocates. Without the buy-in of everyone on staff and volunteers willing to learn to look for original material and help capture it, there is little chance of success.

Start by enthusiastically introducing the concepts of capturing the best social media content possible. Use posts that are in the moment (versus highly-produced content), authentic and connectional, and show how this content creates growth through engagement.

Help people understand and visualize what the outcome will look and feel like.

This can be done by showing examples of the difference between what your posts look like now, and how changes can improve your outlook.

Creating Great Content

To have superb content, a bit of strategy must be employed.

First a little time is necessary in thinking about the story you want to tell. Think about what you are looking to have happen and why.

Where do you need the story to go, and what message will it deliver?

Once you have the answers, you can decide what types of shots or photos provide great content.

The good news is that great content doesn’t have to change the world. It doesn’t have to have a moral message. It can be a fun and fast-paced clip, compelling enough to peak people’s interest.

What you really want is to create a connection and to leave viewers wanting more.

One benefit of good content is that it allows Google to rank your content based on website keywords as descriptors, along with social sites that utilize hashtags to index content.

An example of this would be a great photo of Christmas at (your church), that you have posted on Instagram:

#Christmas@(yourchurchname)

#Christmastree@(yourchurchname)

These types of posts could add up to having the potential of your church reaching 74 million people, according to one source. Try https://hashtagify.me/ for the best potential hashtags to use on your social media post.

The real goal is to create trust with your viewers and to show that what you portray through your media is what they can expect to be part of, and to show the experience is real. Using unique fonts, as well as creative compelling photos and video, are a few other ways that can help elicit empathy and trust in this way.

Targeting

Again, a little strategic thinking is required.

What is your demographic?

Who are we trying to send our message to? Current or potential new members, ministry members or everyone?

If you are looking to bridge a gap with people, you will need to create an experience that makes them want to know and feel more. Again, what you should be targeting is an emotional connection, based on a life event. You will need to understand what impact your story will have. Will the story move you and the persons that you are trying to create a connection with?

The feeling they come away with is what will determine whether they will participate or share your story with others or not. What is the emotion you want them leaving with? Is there a connection between what you are creating and people joining your ministry, church, and/or program?

The Process

Ask questions such as:

What can we realistically spend time and energy pursuing, to get the shareable content needed?

How do we capture what we need?

One of the best ways is to identify and assign volunteers or helpers, to help take video or photos on their smartphones, the most readily available and cost-allowable device.

Show the assigned persons capturing content examples of what you are looking for, and how to capture clips, to tell a story or evoke an emotion. Think of each team member as an opportunity to grow into a new corner of a market that you might be having a hard time reaching.

Make sure you qualify any content submitted for posting, by stating if it doesn’t meet basic quality standards, it may not be used. When events are scheduled, request support from others beforehand, so you are prepared. Students can be especially helpful in this way.

Another process to consider, is deciding where and how you will organize content that is captured.

Will you upload all content to a cloud-based service, like Flicker, or opt to keep it stored on a drive or computer file in-house? Tagging or labeling each clip or photo for storage is one of the most helpful things to do and makes retrieval quick and easy, when searching for a particular file in the future.

Filming Fundamental Tips

Since iPhones and similar type phones are ubiquitous, it is probably the easiest way to capture close to professional material you are looking to use.

Make sure to start by teaching those who will help you to check the battery, test mic levels and test lighting every time before they start shooting.

Teaching basic shots and showing examples and explaining why each shot is needed, can help. Shots such as an establishing shot, a face shot, a neutral shot are musts to have, when telling a story. Other shots to capture that are helpful and add to the quality of the clips include hands, shoulder and a creative shot. More importantly, photos and video need to have a high-quality resolution. Make sure there is a focus on the subject and a purpose to the clip. Give people in your class examples of good photos, and what you are looking to receive as material.

How to Take a Good Photo

Take time to think about the photo you are taking, and to focus your camera on the subject. This will produce a much better outcome.

In these cases, try using portrait mode and turning your screen lengthwise for more professional capturing.

Other tips include: Focus on one person or small groups of people rather than large groups.

Try to get close-ups, rather than take photos from a far distance.

As explained, creating and teaching a course on Social Media School 101 to your church is one of the best and most effective ways to revamp and highlight who you are as a church. It will bring to light creative opportunities previously not thought of before and will help grow your church.

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