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Office Hours: Pastors and Social Media & Wasting Money

Office Hours: Pastors and Social Media & Wasting Money

May 1, 2012 by

Every week I hold online office hours and answer questions from folks like you. This week we’ve got a question about how pastors should approach social media and why you need to stop spending money on YellowPage ads! Take a look and be sure to join me every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. CDT for online office hours!

Social media is about relationships but on Facebook organizations aren’t able to connect with fans in meaningful ways, our page is just a bulletin board. So how can a church build relationships on Facebook? Examples? Do pastors need to friend our fans?

My answer:

“Facebook organizations aren’t able to connect with fans in meaningful ways”

I would say this is false. One of the best examples I can point you to is the Social Media Examinder. They do a fantastic job at engaging their community and making it a real place of give-and-take. And their fan page is bigger than almost every church out there:

Social Media Examiner Facebook Fan Page

The second part of your question is the real problem, “our page is just a bulletin board.” This is like going to a party and getting stuck in conversation with someone who only talks about themselves.

No one really likes that. Right? Social media is no different.

If you approach Facebook like a living room, inviting people into a conversation instead of telling them all about you, my guess is your momentum will shift.

Here’s a good list of churches to study.

Have fun. Remember this: social media is designed for sharing and interacting. Share and interact. Share and interact.

What are your thoughts on YellowPages web ads for churches? Also, is there still value in newspaper print ads (eg. weekly local papers, with worship hours, etc), outside special seasonal services (Christmas, Easter)?

My answer: 

I’ve stated this before, but Yellow Pages ads are a waste of money. Plan and simple. If you can get the space for free, why, go ahead and take it. But I’d never pay for ad space there. Why? A few reasons:

  • Do you know what I do with the Yellow Pages they put on my doorstep? I throw it away. Actually, to be more precise, I recycle it. My guess is that most of you do, too. How’s that ad working now?
  • I’m not saying that printed advertising isn’t worthwhile. Certain forms, used in cross-connection with a digital platform can be very effective.
  • You can’t track the success as easily as with digital. Yes, circulation numbers are one thing. But seeing a direct correlation between the money you spend and the effect of that ad is much easier online.
Those are my thoughts. I hope I wasn’t unclear ;-)

Thanks for the great questions everybody! Hopefully this information will help you get from where you are to where you want to go. See you next time in the office!

Post By:

Justin Wise


Justin Wise lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife and son. He likes coffee, reading, running and blogging.
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9 Responses to “Office Hours: Pastors and Social Media & Wasting Money”

  • Djchuang
    May 2, 2012

    Good thoughts Justin, and thanks foe link to that Facebook pages list on my website. I posted a list of churches on Pinterest today, and it’s a very short list, at the moment… Yes, having a page doesn’t automatically make a church socil, and I think the question people still have is how to be socialble? Could it be that some people are anti-social, or only are comfortable being social face-to-face and dislike online socializing because it’s asynchronous?


  • John Rhind
    May 2, 2012

    Agree with your comments. Social media (along with phone, cell, text) offers churches tons of opportunities to connect and communicate with their audience congregation. Here’s a list of a few possibilities.

    •Service reminders
    •Service cancellations
    •Prayer requests
    •Volunteer requests
    •Reminder calls for important events
    •Phone surveys
    •Picnic & special event reminders
    •Donation requests
    •Canned food drives
    •Charity events
    •Community service events
    •Fundraiser events

    Religious Groups
    •Staff notifications
    •Volunteer requests
    •Youth group notices
    •Choir notices & updates
    •Weather events
    •Connect with shut-ins


  • David
    May 2, 2012

    Great article and I totally agree.

    One thing our church website gives us the option to do is create a forum for people to converse in. I really like FB best though.


  • Tary
    May 2, 2012

    I think that social media is definitely the direction our society is heading, but the transition is not yet complete. There are plenty of people in their 50′s, 60′s and 70′s who will go to the yellow pages and the newspaper for their information. They do not automatically think “internet” as the younger generations do. If you stop using this older form of communication prematurely, you are going to find that your churches are filled with 20 and 30 somethings, with very little gray hair. I believe that isn’t a good thing. As a church secretary, I can tell you: many of the older folks are still using the yellow pages.


  • Eleanor
    May 2, 2012

    I can’t let this post go by without pointing out that there are other options for churches that aren’t happy with Facebook but still want to encourage online engagement within their communities. The City (which is a product of the company I work for) is only one of those options.

    Totally agree though on the larger point: If you want conversation on Facebook, you can’t make it all about you.


  • cksyme
    May 3, 2012

    Remember that social media is just another way to connect, not the only way to connect. There are plenty of people in the 50-70 year-old demographic online, so don’t cont them out of social media. But, for the same reason we still print a few e-newsletters and have them available at our welcome center, not everyone is there. Media isn’t about finding one perfect channel–it’s about knowing where your people are and then developing connection points there. Some venues are broadcast only, and that’s fine. The Yellow Pages, for example is just all about reach. You don’t have to “track” numbers with reach. You just look at circulation numbers and research. Just because you disregard the yellow pages doesn’t mean everyone does. Let’s not get short-sighted. Do your research. The Yellow Pages are still a cheap way to reach people that are looking for a church (think hotel rooms, etc.) It’s just one way, not the only way. Think of communications as a big picture, not a niche.


  • Jungi
    May 5, 2012

    I’m over 50 and actually find I am annoyed when a church or business doesn’t have a website or facebook page where I can research more about them before I take a step through their door. A note to churches who use digital media. Please keep it up to date with current info and respond to inquiries in timely fashion.


  • Paul in Canada
    May 7, 2012

    This is a bit of a moot point where I live, because the phone companies themselves have stopped printing books; and one thing in favor of blogs and Facebook is, the price is right.

    Still, I think a church needs to make its presence felt periodically with the offline world; there is still room for balance between adding more bells and whistles to an already-great website, or running an advertisement in the community newspaper, even if it’s only 2-3 times per year.

    Just as the current saying is, “If you’re not online you don’t exist;” so also do you run the risk of hearing the newspaper/phone-book readers saying, “Oh, we never hear about you anymore, we weren’t sure if you were still around.”

    Admittedly much of this depends on who you want to reach, but some churches do indeed want to reach everybody.


  • Minister Yorba Linda
    May 29, 2012

    Great party example you have mentioned. The same happens with a lot of Facebook strategies as they keep talking about themselves. What is more important is building a community with constant sharing and participating in communication.



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