As I have been talking to churches and completing Online Wellness Evaluations, some of the most common feedback I give is this: start using engagement posts. These are your polls, your fill-in-the-blanks, your Coke-or-Pepsi questions.
But why are these important?
As a church, shouldn’t our primary focus be on the scripture and getting people in our door?
The answer is yes, and also no.
Yes, your primary focus as a church should be on scripture. Social media is one of the most effective ways to get people to actually come through your doors. Those things are both true. The issue here is in the way social media works in general.
I’m going to focus on Facebook, since that’s the primary social account for most churches. In January of last year, Mark Zuckerberg announced that in 2018, Facebook would be actively decreasing the reach of businesses, brands, and unpaid promotions, instead giving priority to friends and family. As a user, this is good news, because my friends and family are why I joined Facebook in the first place. As a business – or a church – this spells bad news. This means that our reach will be decreased, and the analytics will no longer work so overwhelmingly in our favor.
Don’t give up on social just yet though. With some fancy footwork, you can make your Facebook page work for you. And in our case, the fancy footwork comes in the form of engagement posts.
Any time you get a post that naturally gets a lot of interaction – those ever precious comments, likes, and shares – Facebook will see that as a valuable post. You, as a business, are providing value to your audience. The algorithm then picks up that value, and in turn increases your reach.
Let me show you some examples of posts I’ve used in the past that have gotten good interaction:
(feel free to steal these!)
Now you can see that these are specifically not related to church itself. Each post was also carefully crafted for the type of audience it was posted to: the hymn post was to a crowd of seasoned, long-time believers who would be familiar with each of the songs, and the food post was for a church in Louisiana. They are proud of their gumbo.
These posts each had a 2:1 ratio of reach vs. engagement (every other person that saw it interacted in some way) and that’s phenomenal. To give some context, I posted this sermon quote for a church with a typically more engaged audience, and the ratio was less than 4:1.
It’s not the fault of the Facebook page or the church or even the content; it’s that Facebook will not increase the reach of your posts unless you are proving that you provide value. Sermon quotes and scripture verses are important, but they don’t get the same level of interaction.
Now don’t get it twisted and blame your audience – they love God and they love the Bible I’m sure, but human nature is such that we love the shiny gimmick and we want to participate in the nonsensical games. If you ask someone to share their favorite Bible story, you might get a few scattered responses because it’s hard to answer, open-ended, and not necessarily fun. You ask them “what’s the worst pizza topping?” and they will go nuts over it. They might even use it as a conversation starter with other church members when they come to church on Sunday.
Connection can be tough, and social media gives us a perfect opportunity to reach into peoples lives outside the four walls of our church. Jesus went into the marketplace. He met the people where they were. And you know what the modern equivalent of a marketplace is? The internet. Facebook. Instagram. The people are on social media, and if you want your church to be reaching them there, you have to play the game and boost that engagement to maximize your effectiveness.
So even if it seems nonsensical or unnecessary, a good social media strategy will be purposeful about including some of those shiny gimmicks.
If you need more information or some tips and tricks, you can connect with me via the chat window below, or contact me here. Happy posting!