Written by Darrel Girardier for Youth Specialties:
It’s one thing to create social media, it’s another thing to create a strategy for your social media. A strategy is what keeps you from wasting time by forcing you to map out a plan. It requires you to think about what you want to achieve with your church’s social media and how you can make it happen.
Now you don’t have to be overwhelmed by the process of creating a social media strategy. Instead, if you follow the step by step process below, you can be well on your way to creating a social media strategy that will accomplish your goals and provide you with clarity when creating social media for your church.
STEP 1: CREATE SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS
Strategies without goals are useless. You need to define your what you want your results to be in order to determine your strategy. However, when you’re writing goals there are three things to remember.
CREATE SMART GOALS
What are SMART goals? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable (And) Realistic and Time-driven. By writing goals that are SMART, you avoid being vague, having unclear expectations, dreaming too big and not giving yourself a deadline. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to:
Goal: Get more people to like us on Facebook.
SMART Goal: By the end of May, gain 40 likes on the church Facebook page.
See the difference between the first goal and the second one? While the first goal may be true, it lacks focus and a metric to determine whether or not you’ve met the goal.
However, the second goal has a clear indication of what success will look like. If this you use this goal, you’ll understand when the goal is accomplished and in what time frame it needs to be completed.
ALIGN YOUR GOALS WITH THE CHURCH’S GOALS
It’s easy to create goals in a vacuum. However, it’s difficult to create the goals and have them aligned with your church’s goals. Why? Well, obviously it takes planning, but it also requires you to think about how you can use social media to impact the church as a whole. Sometimes in our planning processes, we can get caught up in communicating what we deem the most important when we should be thinking about how our social media is lining up with our church’s goals.
One benefit of lining up your social media goal with your church’s is that this can also make it easier for you to get BUY-IN FROM YOUR SENIOR LEADERSHIP. If they see that social media is not some rogue operation, but rather one that is reinforcing where they want the church to go, then it may be easier to get more funding or get them involved in social media as well.
MAKE SURE YOUR GOALS SOLVE A PROBLEM
Don’t create a goal just to have one. Make sure that your goal is solving a problem that church is experiencing. If you create goals that are solution oriented, you’re ensuring that you’re goals are making the best of use of your time. You’re also forcing yourself to examine what the issues are for you and your church.
STEP 2: STUDY YOUR CURRENT SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
When you’re creating your church’s social media strategy you need to do an in-depth study of where you currently stand with your church’s social media accounts. I’ve outlined before HOW TO AN YEAR-END REVIEW and the same steps apply here. You need to the do the following:
- Determine Your Key Performance Indicators (How do we know we’re doing it right?)
- Determine Key Moments in Your Social Media (What were our successes?)
- Determine What to Let Go (What’s not working?)
- Determine What to Ram Up (What’s working and we should try to do more of?)
STEP 3: CREATE MEMBER PROFILES
Once you have a good understanding of your church’s social media accounts, take some time to build member profiles. Profiles are essentially ways to categorize people to help you better target an audience. For example, if you look at your Facebook likes and see that an overwhelming majority of your likes come from the 55 or older crowd, then build a profile of what typical 55-year-old person might look like (retired, grandkids, etc).
By building member profiles you’re moving beyond identifying where your audience is at to identify who your audience is. This will help you strategize what kind of content should go on which accounts. Here’s an abbreviated version of how I would break down my church’s member profiles:
Twitter: Mid 30-40 year old professional men. These men are mostly married and love to retweet sermon quotes on Sunday mornings.
Facebook: Mid 40-50 year old females. These women are mostly married with children or grandchildren. They love to share choir video clips and blog posts from our pastor.
Instagram: Mid 20 year old females. This audience loves quote art and inspirational photos with scripture.
STEP 4: STUDY OTHER CHURCHES
When it comes to looking at ideas on how to build your strategy, there plenty of churches of other churches out there that you can model your church after. Take the time to follow other churches on social media and see what is working for them and what isn’t.
Now here’s a word of caution when studying other churches. First, make sure that you don’t get distraught over of another church has more resources than you do. THIS ISN’T A NUMBERS GAME. Secondly, make sure the church your studying has some of same the characteristics as yours so that their tactics will easily apply to your church.
STEP 5: PLAN OUT TACTICS
One mistake I see when churches plan out there social media strategy is that they mistake tactics for strategy. Tactics are the ground level actions you’ll take meet your goals. A tactic could be posting on Instagram once a day with a quote from your pastor. Where a strategy is higher level planning, like wanting to become a part of your audiences daily digital habits.
So when you plan your tactics, think about things like how often you’ll post, where and when you’ll post. Have fun dreaming up new ideas and thinking of ways you want to experiment with your church’s social media.
When you’re ready to plan out your tactics, one of the essential tools you’ll want is A SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT CALENDAR. This is the roadmap for your content. A social media content calendar allows you to plot where and when your content is going out. You can identify gaps, think thematically and make sure that content all has the same voice and tone.
STEP 6: MEASURE, EVALUATE, REALIGN, REPEAT
Once you have your strategy outlined, set up a system by which you can collect data to track your progress. This can be something as simple an excel spreadsheet. You’ll also want to set a date in the future for when you’ll sit down and evaluate your results. I would do this every 3-4 months.
During the evaluation process, ask yourself if you’re on track to hit your goals. If not, determine whether or not your goals were too ambitious or too easy. If they’re too ambitious, then set them lower. If they’re to easy, raise them. If your goals are set correctly, but you’re not on track to hit them, you’ll want to realign your tactics and experiment some till you see the results you want.