I grew up on a farm. One of the things we did for fun was to go fishing. Well, everyone else did it for fun, I never liked fishing! Except for one thing.
My cousins and I would take a bucket to the edge of the pond, dip it down and get a big scoop of water, and in that water was always a few dozen minnows. I remember thinking these little fish were so cool! We’d take the bucket filled with our new pets to the front porch and make up stories about their little lives. Inevitably, though, we’d return the next day to discover that all of our little friends had died. We were crushed! Still, later that day, we’d head back out to the pond and start the whole process over again.
Our kid brains never wanted to accept that there was a reason we weren’t being successful. See, we had grand visions of what our little community could look like, but we had no strategy to nurture it. So no matter how hard we worked, we ended up with the same, sad result.
I see churches and businesses repeat this cycle everyday online. They feel exhausted from having to “keep up” with their social media accounts. I’m convinced it’s simply because they lack a strategy. So I’m going to give you 4 of my favorite tips. If you’ll implement these ideas, I believe you can go from just managing a Facebook page to being energetic and effective online.
1. Create a weekly template.
How many times do you find yourself remembering that you need to post something online today, only to spend 20 minutes trying to figure out WHAT that something should be?
Eliminate the guesswork with a template for your week. A simple way to start is to categorize your days.
- Mondays are for motivation
- Tuesdays are for news & announcements
- Wednesdays are for behind-the-scenes action
When you make these decisions ahead of time, it puts you three steps ahead when writing your content.
2. Take advantage of autoresponse.
If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself responding to direct messages over dinner. Set boundaries to prevent social media from taking over your life!
A simple way to do this is to leverage auto responses on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Write a simple, kind message explaining the days and times (or timeframe within which) you answer messages, and provide a phone number they can call if their message is urgent.
Then turn off your phone at the dinner table!
3. Re-purpose content
Churches are content-generating-machines. Every weekend service is about giving the most valuable content on the planet to as many people as possible. So, make the most of it! Some simple examples:
- Use Sunday’s sermon throughout the week by sharing quotes and verses from the weekend.
- Use the weekend’s announcement video on social media as a plug-and-play newsletter.
- If your church reads through the One Year Bible like mine, share a verse from the day’s readings and a link for people to join.
You have ready-made content at your fingertips.
4. Prioritize with tiers
Maybe your problem isn’t too little content – it’s too much. If you have departments or staffers competing for “announcement” space on the weekends or online, you need some ground rules.
I’d suggest a simple 3 Tier System that determines which events get the most press. Here’s how we’ve structured ours:
- Tier 1: Applies to 80% of the audience or more, gets 80% of the total press
- Tier 2: Applies to 50% of the audience, gets 10% of the total press
- Tier 3: Applies to 30% of the audience, gets 10% of the total press
For our church, our ultimate goal is to connect as many unchurched people to Jesus as possible. So, we highly prioritize information that’s relevant to 80% of our church and community.
You’ll see it’s a pretty steep jump from the exposure we provide for Tier 1 events compared to Tiers 2 & 3. This is a constant tension to manage, but it’s worth it. When everyone on your team understands the larger goal, they’ll be glad to participate in the process, whatever it is.
Because communication is all-encompassing, it can be overwhelming to make sense of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Start by learning a few simple strategies and you’ll see your digital community come to life.
If you’d like to have a conversation about developing a strategy for your church, I’d love to talk!