The other day I heard someone say, ”social media is not a fad, it is here to stay.” It seems pretty obvious but for some reason I don’t think we treat it that way in the church market. If we do believe that statement I’m not sure we are responding the way we should. It’s like the invention of the electric guitar. The church sees it and think just because it exists doesn’t mean that it should adopt this new instrument. But just like the electric guitar, social media is saturating the world around us whether we like it or not, time to adopt this trend.
I am no expert with social media, in fact I’m a little bit dumb when it comes to knowing the in’s and outs of our socialized world. Sure I have a facebook and twitter account, but I have yet to get an instagram account, I just can’t justify a third platform.
One of the things that I enjoy about my job as a freelance trainer for Ross video is the ability to get exposure to new products. Some of these products I end up learning pretty well and training while others I just learn in theories. One of these products that I have recently learned is Ross’s social media management software called Inception. Inception allows users to do two things. One it allows multiple users to post to mulitiple platforms such as facebook, youtube, instagram, twitter, brightcove and more instantly or via a scheduled service. These posts can also be done in an approval basted process or go direct to web through a centralized account on each of these platforms. But more importantly you can also manage incoming feeds from all these platforms for use on live on-air broadcasts again across all major social media platforms.
What baffles me is the fact that social media is one of the most powerful ways to get information out there, but many churches are behind in using it. Sure they have an account for the church, and many key pastors post things now and then with an occasional hashtag introduced every now and again. But it isn’t a centerpiece inside the church community.
I believe that social media is one of the best outreach tools at our disposal now days. And many churches will do a big social media push around Christmas or Easter but they don’t have their community interacting on a weekly basis. If the attendees were encouraged to interact with your church on a weekly basis do you realize the number of people that will see those posts? Person A has 300 friends, person B has 600 friends, and Person C has 210 friends, and so on and so forth.
Let’s say Bill goes to First Church of Springford and they use social media every week. Once Bill get’s to church he checks his kids in, grabs a cup of coffee and grabs a seat. While he is waiting for the service to begin he sees posts on the side screens of people from previous services like… “Great worship set @firstspring, don’t miss out,” “That message really spoke to me this week #firstspring,” “My kids love going to church (insertpic) #firstspringgram.” Do you think that Bill might be inclined to post something like “Excited for church @firstspring?” I do!
Now Bill is just one of many members that do the “monkey see, monkey do” scenario and posts something to social media. Now You have Alan, Alan doesn’t go to church but he notices posts from a few of his friends about how they enjoy church at First Church of Springford, not once, not twice but consistently throughout the year. One day Bill is hanging out with Alan and they get talking. Alan knows Bill goes to First church of Springford because he sees it on social media with many of his other friends and it opens the door for an invitation to church.
Maybe this is a bit cliché, but churches have free advertising at their disposal in social media with the ability to expand their audience by encouraging others to build interaction with them. I don’t think it is enough for a once in a while interaction, a re-tweet of an inspiring quote from their pastor or a share of an upcoming series promotion. Both are good things but weekly interactions need to be central in the church. If the church is really about reaching people then they need to adopt this tool into their workflow.
Now since this Blog is about IMAG, how do you incorporate social media well into your facility? I believe to do it well you need to incorporate all social media platforms in a bi-directional manor. That means posting pictures, videos and other posts leading up to services every week as well as bring social media into your services every week in a quality non-cheesy way. This could be before services, after services, during services, or during the week leading up to or post service. There are so many opportunities to get people interacting. And then you bring social media back into your services for the sake of keeping people interacting, again the monkey see monkey do principal.
The posting isn’t necessarily the hard part. But there are many different pieces of software out there that allow people to schedule tweets so you can pre-meditate these posts to encourage people to show up and be active on all different platforms. This is one thing I noticed Ross’s inception does quite well. You can schedule posts to go out and even have a point person that approves them on different accounts if needed so there is unity and quality control of what goes out.
One the other side there needs to be a way to manage what goes on screen for quality control as well without alienating different social media platforms, cuz let’s face it, not everyone has twitter, or facebook or instagram. All platforms need to be considered and managed at the same time. Then you have to graphically display these on screen during, or between services while posting back to social media, talk about a full time job! Again you will have to invest in software to make this happen to manage the outgoing tweets and feed some type of graphically bases software program. Not to drop by bias perspective but Ross Video’s inception + xpression does this quite well…. (Sales pitch over).
So this is a different kind of post for me, this is a challenge to churches out there to get onboard with social media and not make it a side thing, but to make it a center part of their services. I am just scratching the surface of what you can do. I haven’t mention polls and surveys, which could also be a powerful tool. If TV shows like American Idol and the Voice can make social media a center part of their show, why can’t churches? I think it is time for churches to invest in social media and bring it to the center of our church services in order to encourage interaction and outreach.