Have you ever asked yourself why a church should use social media platforms such as Twitter? With the overwhelming popularity of these social networks, its purpose can easily get lost. Platforms like Twitter were created for the world to connect with others in a meaningful way and to share the things that are most important to them. It’s about creating community, making friends and sharing moments. If we are not intentional, we can easily reduce our social accounts to nothing more than just noise that loses the interest of followers fast. To keep social media social, there should be just as much time put into engaging your followers as there is posting great content.
To help you better captivate your church’s online audience and create meaningful online relationships with them, I have listed five simple ways to take your engagement on Twitter to a whole new level:
1. Shipping Gifts
Make your online relationship a tangible one by sending gifts to users who interact with your church’s account. More times than not, you will see people talking about the gift on their social media once they have received them. Send people something you know they would enjoy or benefit from, like Sprout Social (which is my favorite social media management tool) did here:
Churches can easily apply this kind of engagement by sending a Bible, a sermon series or a free registration to a church event. Just keep an eye on who is communicating with you on Twitter. Sometimes you discover perfect opportunities to be a generous church. Just ask for their address in a direct message, and you are gold.
2. Comment on Their Website
Churches can make a huge impression on people through commenting. A large portion of users on Twitter have a website or blog. Next time they share a link to a recent article they authored, read it! Then leave a meaningful comment on their website and reinforce it by replying to their tweet directly on Twitter.
Because your goal is to engage on behalf of the church, it is important to help make the connection between your personal account and the church’s as you engage. When you leave a comment on their website, make mention of the church in your comment or list the church if there’s an option in the comment fields for a company name. Also, when you reply to their tweet, it is helpful to mention your personal Twitter handle so they can easily make the connection you have with the church.
3. Compliment Their Work
I have seen authentic admiration win over users that would have never interacted otherwise. Being a consumer of content and sincerely responding to what other people produce is a quick way to move your church’s followers from faceless follow to a meaningful relationship. Like I did here with this well-known artist who later followed me back.
Churches can utilize their social media accounts as a way to be a constant source of encouragement and inspiration by simply searching for local artists and community leaders and telling them how much you love what they do.
4. Interact With Them on Multiple Social Platforms
Similar to the second point, meeting people in other networks, as well as Twitter, strengthens the bond you can create with your audience. If they are posting a photo on Twitter from Instagram, engage with them on Instagram as well. People tend to prefer certain networks over others. So if you put all your chips on just one social network, you end up missing a large portion of your potential audience.
It is helpful for churches to use the same profile image and username whenever possible so the church is easily identifiable, no matter where your audience sees you.
Pro tip: It’s a good practice to secure all social media accounts, even if you don’t plan to use them. This eliminates any risk of someone acquiring your username on a social platform and using it against the church.
5. Share “Deep Content” Responses to Their Tweets
Although responding to someone’s tweet with “great post” or “thank you” is nice, why not take it a step further by responding with deep content? Respond to a link someone shared with a similar article, an added thought or a photo.
Some Practical Matters
Personal vs. Professional
Churches can often struggle with the idea of engaging people on Twitter, or any social network for that matter, because of the pressure to remain professional. My advice is to make it personal over professional. Yes, you are the voice and “brand” of the church, so it’s important to give thought to how you communicate in public spaces. Try not to take it too seriously, though. It’s about being social, so get social!
A Team Effort
My team at James River Church helps in the creation of content and engagement for church social media accounts. We manage this together and periodically review how we can improve our efforts and harmonize how we communicate in order to make multiple team members match the kind of voice and personality we want the church to have. Sprout Social and Follower Wonk have been helpful tools to manage and optimize our accounts in this process. Additionally, social media is time sensitive in nature. Empowering your team to post content, respond to mentions and engage users is critical for success. I generally take a month to train a team member on content creation and engagement. After that I get them out of the nest and let them have at it.
What are your favorite ways to engage users?Photo by John Ragai.