If you are reading this blog, you are impacted by social media. If you own a smart phone, social media cannot be avoided. Social media impacts all areas of our life.
At the close of 2014, Jeff Bullas and Adele Halsall released an article entitled “The 7 Top Social Media Trends That Will Impact Your Marketing In 2015.” But social media does not only impact marketing. How does it affect the Church?
Top 5 Church Social Media Trends in 2015
1. Mobile Websites, Blogs, Apps and Accessibility are a Necessity.
While people still use computers, the amount of mobile usage continues to incrToease exponentially. With mobile usage comes utilization of mobile apps. In 2014 alone, the number of mobile-only users on Facebook grew by 34%, according to the article.
As a church, we need to embrace this social phenomena and ensure that we reach individuals through mobile access. Does your church have a blog, website, or app that is mobile-ready? If not, you are creating a hinderance to your effectiveness within the online world.
But it doesn’t stop at just “being on social media”. Make sure your social media accounts remain current, up-to-date and relevant, in order to be effective for you people. Mobile apps are not something we should just “keep in mind” anymore, they should be a priority.
Make sure your church website is optimized for mobile users as well. IMPORTANT: If your site is not optimized for mobile devices, Google will soon begin penalizing your site in searches. This may not seem like it is that important but it can mean the difference of a few visitors a week or in some cases the loss of hundreds of visitors. If your church shows up on page 5-10 when someone searches on Google for a church in your area, good luck expecting them to have any idea your church is even there.
2. Share About Your Church or Event Through Social Media.
For a long time Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, allowed you to get a lot of free advertising. This still remains true today (to an extent); however, buying ads allows you to maximize your effectiveness by targeting who you share with.
Social media allows you to promote yourself or your business. Make sure you are using it as effectively as possible. You’ll be amazed at the impact it will have (Tip: Don’t just advertise on social media, advertise on Google and potentially Bing as well depending on your context).
3. Create Live Broadcasts, Videos, Vlogs.
Live broadcasts are really nothing new. Services like UStream have been around for a while. I’ll never forget my wife and I livestreaming from the hospital room when our first child was 2 days old over 5 years ago.
What has changed about live broadcasts is that services like Periscope and Meerkat have now integrated live video sharing (straight from your phone, tablet, or laptop) into your social networks. Download either app to your phone, then open the app, and follow instructions to start streaming an event, a meeting, a worship services or some other component of your ministry. You can share any event live with anyone in the world straight from your phone.
Ever heard of the term vlogging? Vlogging combines blogging and videos. People like Jefferson Bethke have successfully created a following via his vlogging.
How could the church use the same approach when looking at Sunday mornings and beyond?
- Promo videos for ministry events
- Recaps on sermons
- Previews of upcoming sermons
- Mission trip updates and reviews
- Interview of members, youth, and children
- Announcements for Sunday mornings
4. Target the interests of your church…not just the people.
More and more social media groups connect people according to their common interests. Connect with individuals with similar activities, hobbies, and interests.
When looking at your church, consider the audience you are trying to reach. What are their common passions, interests, hobbies? How can we speak into those things to target people?
Consider how you can create small groups based upon interests. Develop community groups where people can unite around common interests, create a strong sense of community, and deepen in their faith.
5. Offer Online Payment Options.
Online payment options such as iPay, PayPal, etc, continue to grow in popularity. Coupled with the fact that mobile usage is becoming the norm, making payments via social media payment just makes sense.
People rarely pay with checks and much of the time they do not even keep much cash on hand. Many prefer to shop online and with a credit card or debit card. How is the Church responding to this?
Many churches set up kiosks in the church lobby for individuals to give an offering to the church. Others provide the option of auto-pay or auto-drafting of giving each month. This seems to be the path churches need to take to stay up-to-date with the technological and social media trends, and likewise serve their members by making payment and the process easier. This in my opinion is the single most important social media trend for churches as its impact will be felt immediately, it isn’t that hard to setup, and it will create momentum to help you address the other areas mentioned.
The culture today is constantly changing. In order to make the most of every opportunity, we need to grow and make adjustments along with these changes. We also need to evaluate the way we “do Church” by looking through the lens of social media and technology. In doing so, we may find increased retention, a growing populace, and many more ways to expand the Kingdom for His glory.
What steps are you taking to make the most of these 5 social media trends? Let us know if you want to start seeing lots of visitors to your church or organization. We can help.