A session I attended at Best Practices for Ministry in Phoenix this past February was called “Ministry in the Digital Space—It’s Where the People Are.” Presenter Bruce Becker described how churches can use different digital platforms to reach certain people in your congregation.
For instance, statistics show that women use Facebook more often than men because of its relational nature. Men are more active on YouTube, and teens and young adults are more highly engaged on Instagram than other groups.
What can the church learn from this? Customization is key. If you wan to get the word out about a women’s Bible study or retreat, post the information on your church’s Facebook page. If you want to start a men’s group, put up a video inviting men of your church to join on your YouTube channel. And if you want to highlight a youth event coming up, place a picture with a message about the event on Instagram with a hashtag to spread the word.
In addition, Becker noted, social media is called SOCIAL media for a reason. That means interaction between the church and parishioners on whatever platform you are using. Using social media simply as a billboard is not effective, and just putting the same content on all platforms is not beneficial.
That is why more and more churches are employing social media ministers, if you will, to develop and differentiate the content a church launches onto its various platforms and then to respond in good time (hours, not days) to questions, comments and other feedback from parishioners. It is good practice for the last comment in a thread to be from the church so no parishioner comment is “left hanging.”
It is important for churches to prioritize which platform is getting the most traction, Becker said, and then developing strategies that put more effort from staff in those areas and putting fewer resources toward those platforms that are not performing as well.
In the end, each church is unique and no one social media plan fits all. Each church needs to decide what is right for them. But one thing is clear: social media ministry is here to stay and needs to be a part of church’s overall ministry plan.