by: Communications Coordinator Susan Becher Schultz
DON'T: Add random christian quotes, bible verses, christian jokes/graphics to your social media just to fill out content and to look like an active church.
DO: Create a strategy to include meaningful posts with a mix of the following:
- A video, link to an audio recording, or a quote or bible verse that directly relates to the previous/upcoming sermon or bible study. Think of something that will help people remember the sermon throughout the week.
- Promote upcoming events (use Canva.com or another design platform to create graphics)
- Showcase photos of church members actively participating in an event, bible study, in a community outreach event, etc. Make sure you have their permission first!
- A thoughtful tidbit directly from the pastor. Possibly a quick video to remind of main points from the sermon, questions to keep in mind, etc. Can be in blog, video, or graphic format.
- Share from another page in the LCMS community such as lcms.org or njdistrict.org
- A post to promote newsletter sign-up or a new page on the website
- Reminders of upcoming service or events times
- Be creative and think of other ways to show the personality of your church community!
DON'T: Record and post random videos just because video is a popular communication tool right now.
DO: Spend time creating a well-thought out video strategy to cover a specific topic or question that is being asked not only in your church community but in the outside community that may be looking for a new place to worship. Have a plan to record something other than just the pastor talking at the audience, make the video visually interesting, invite guest speakers, and ask questions of your audience.
DON'T: Expect a huge number of people in the community to show up to your event just because you posted it to social media.
DO: Research a need in your community that is not being met and create an event geared towards that need after speaking with members in the community. Then begin to share the event with other community social media pages, such as Facebook groups in your city, across your social media, on your website, in your newsletter, and have members share the event post with their network. Create both digital graphics to promote online as well as a paper flyer to hand out or post on bulletin boards, or even to mail out.
DON'T: Sign up for all social media platforms which may include Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Reddit, and Blogspot, etc., out of fear of falling behind in the social media world.
DO: Research where your audience is active and build specific strategies based on that particular platform, stick to 1-3 platforms that you can post to consistently, and possibly add another platform as time goes on if you have the capacity. Always start with a Facebook business page, then possibly explore Instagram and Youtube to see if it works for your church community.
DON'T: Put every single church detail, update, and announcement into your digital newsletter.
DO: Decide what works best for your church in terms of how often to send a newsletter. Maybe it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the amount of events going on at your congregation, or the capacity to create and send newsletters. Whatever you decide, include the most important upcoming events and topics and keep it short and to the point. The cleaner and easier to read the better. Use buttons to direct people away from the newsletter and to your website if there is a lot of information involved.
DON'T: Try to be trendy by using every filter, hashtag, and feature on social media.
DO: Use the social media platform, whatever one or few it may be, to authentically connect with your audience. You can add in a filter here and there as you grow acquainted with the platform, but since churches are trying to reach a wide-range of ages keep the communication simple and easy to access without going overboard. Younger generations can see straight through your attempt to look cool!
DON'T: Rely on your digital communications to reinvigorate the church and fix all your problems.
Providing an easy to use 'New Here' card on the back of the pews which the pastor can introduce at the beginning of worship is a great way to provide a no-pressure connection with your church.
DON'T: Overcrowd your website's homepage with information about the church.
DO: Simplify your website with only need-to-know information for visitors, especially on the home page; those who are long-time members or more familiar with who you are can go to the other navigation tabs (though they need to be well-organized and easy to navigate) to find what they need. Creating a 'Current Member' tab is a great way to direct members towards what they need. What we want is for those coming to the website for the first time to have the information they need on the very first page they see.
DON'T: Be afraid to sign up and offer an online giving platform to your congregation.
DO: Speak with your leadership on why online giving is important and why the additional fee to use a platform shouldn't deter you from offering it. According to Nonprofit Source, 60% of church members are willing to give to their church digitally. Oftentimes, new members and visitors will be younger and more able to give online than to write a check or give cash.
DON'T: Give up on updating your website or social media because it all just seems too difficult to keep up.
DO: Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'm the New Jersey District Communications Coordinator and will set up a time to speak more about your digital communications. I'll have a conversation with you and help you map out a digital communications strategy at no charge! Plus you can stay updated by checking this Communications blog and send me an email when you have questions.
I hope you’ve found the information in this blog helpful! Keep an eye out for more blogs from me that will dive deeper into free/affordable communication tools to use, comparing social media platforms, using analytics, website design, creating digital newsletters, and other relevant information on communications in the church. If you have a question, a suggestion for a blog topic, or would like to loop me in on a meeting with your communications team feel free to email me at email@example.com.