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4 signs your church needs social media training

By Sophia Agtarap

You have a website. You tweet. You're on Facebook. You blog. You may think this article doesn't apply to you. Not so fast. Even if your church is using today's social media tools, there is always room for improvement. Having a presence in these social spaces isn't a substitute for continued learning about what some still consider emerging communication tools.

In other words, just knowing how to use social media tools doesn't necessarily mean you know how to use them well.

The best practices for social media continue to evolve as tools and usage change. Last year's best practice may be outdated, so be open to opportunities to continually learn and improve.

Here are a few of the more obvious signs that your church communications may need some help.

1. Your avatar is too small, not sized correctly or blurry. Worse yet, you don't have one.
What's an avatar, you ask? It's a graphic representing you or your church. A photo. An image. Don't have one? Please remedy this soon! Your church's avatar is your online identity. If you're using a logo [the United Methodist cross and flame, for example], be sure to size it so the entire image fits in the square. Does your image have text? Make sure it's big enough to read.

2. Your tweets are rarely retweeted.
People follow you on Twitter to learn more about you, because they care about the work you do or because you have interesting things to say. If you give your followers retweetable content, they'll be your best advocates. Whether you're tweeting inspirational quotes, calls to action around a particular cause or strong statements about who you are and what you believe, give your followers something to share and engage.

3. Your Facebook page only has one administrator – a youth or your pastor.
Facebook is not the new communications tool it was five years ago. That means managing it should be a part of a broader communications plan for your church. Young people can be great advocates for your social spaces such as Twitter and Facebook. However, don't assume that they are aware of how you as a church would like to communicate and engage in those spaces. Your pastoral staff may be among your administrators, but managing and maintaining your social media spaces shouldn't be their priority. In other words, have a communications plan and make sure that all those involved in carrying it out are on the same page. Having a backup system ensures that your communities are accessible in times of emergency. Here are a few more tips on how to listen to and engage your community.

4. You have a website or blog, but it doesn't have social media icons or a "Donate Now" button.
This assumes you are on some combination of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube or other social space. If you aren't, that's a different conversation that you can read about here in our social media article archive. If you are in these spaces, invite website visitors to interact with you there, too. Social media plug-ins on your website could easily link to all your social platforms, or you can download free social media icons. Here are three more free social media icon resources from Creationswap.com:

Having a "donate" button on the site also encourages visitors, in a very simple way, to support your ministry efforts financially. We are a connectional church, so make sure visitors to your site stay connected in various ways.

So there you have it. Even if you only demonstrate half of the telltale signs listed here, we all could agree that a little refresher of our social media knowhow would help our churches.