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7 tips to draw visitors with social media

By Jeremy Steele

You cannot log onto any site without seeing “recommendations.” Sometimes, they are generated by a computer, sometimes by your social connections, but it is clear that we are looking more and more to “recommendations” to guide our decisions.

Though we often ask people to invite their friends and coworkers to church, churches tend to miss asking them to recommend their church via social media platforms. Here are seven ways to give congregants what they need to easily make those social recommendations.

1. Ask congregants to check-in or post to social media

Take a moment to get to know Google Business so all your information shows up correctly when people search for it. Make sure your address on your Facebook page is listed correctly so people can check-in to church.

Ask people directly to check in during announcements. Give congregants permission use their cellphones during worship. During specified times, they can post shareable moments on social media, take polls about the sermon topic and even use certain apps designed to enhance worship.

2. Create tweetable links to share

At clicktotweet or Share Link Generator, you can easily create a message that you want readers to tweet. Click “generate link” and embed that URL in a link that says, “Tweet This.” Share this link in all appropriate landing pages and emails. Whoever clicks on the link will then see the properly formatted tweet added to his or her Twitter status box! Simplifying the tweet process for users can significantly increase readership and shares.

3. Create tweetable quotes

Learn the strategies for creating tweetable quotes (140 or fewer characters) summarizing your content’s main point. Find a good quote from a prominent United Methodist figure and add it to your piece. Prepost a prayer that helps people begin processing some of the bigger issues with which you will wrestle on Sunday or in small groups.

Enlarge, bold or highlight these special callouts, using colored content boxes. Next, place the “Tweet This” link, covered in Point 2, next to the quote. Now sit back and watch the analytics, as your content soars through the Twittersphere.

Create tweetable quotes on your church website or blog and watch as your content soars through the Twittersphere. TWEET THIS TWEET THIS

If you don’t want to be held down by the 140-character limit, use a free service like Pullquote to turn a 140+ character quotes into a Twitter image that is easily retweetable.

4. Make sharing easy

One of the best ways to allow your members to reach out is to make your entire website quickly and easily sharable. Though many site providers include some version of this in their templates, it is not always front and center. If you need to improve your site’s sharability, you can use the free service Share This to auto-generate the code that will add a sharing bar to the side of every page.

You may also incorporate some of these social media sharing techniques during worship service to help your sermon or small group lesson teach all week long.

5. Make Instagrammable slides

If you lay out your main point slides so that they are beautiful and will look right when cropped to a square, people will be able to snap a quick picture of them while you are talking and post them to Instagram. You might pull out your phone and say, “I need to take a picture of this to Instagram later.” Since many people will be too far away to take a good picture, just suggest they share the image you just took. At some point during service, after you’ve posted the image on Instagram, tell everyone how they can share the image. Learn other creative ways to use Instagram to promote church events.

6. Post a teaser video

Do you have a particularly interesting topic coming up? Take a moment to record a brief, attention-grabbing video that highlights the subject on which you will focus and share it on Facebook and Twitter. You will  be surprised at how many people share and comment on these before and after your sermon.

7. Advertise hashtags and account names

What the heck's a hashtag? Well, after you find out, put them along with account names (like @unpretending on Twitter) on all bulletins. If you have screens in your service, use them to tell people how to tag the church in their posts.