Social networking is a strange beast. You may get 3 likes on a project you spent a whole year working on and 30 likes on a funny statement that came up at the dinner table. You just don’t always know what to expect. Likewise, you may make a huge announcement on your church’s Facebook page and feel like no one cared, but then get lots of traction on a funny meme you posted there the next day. On one hand, it’s kind of funny how this works out, but on the other it can be a bit disheartening.
But when social networking works well, it has the potential to do a lot for your church. For example, when the Southern Michigan Conference released a video highlighting Coldwater Free Methodist, we received an encouraging message from a community member.
Hello, I was scrolling through [Facebook] and I came across your new video about your Church. I have been looking for a local church to bring my family to. A church that we can come to and learn and grow and mature faithfully and spiritually. I want my kids to learn and grow just as much [because] that is extremely important to me…
Now this kind of response is at the heart of most church’s online posts. But how did this video manage to get this desired outcome?
Share Your Posts
There are a lot of different algorithms going on in the background of social networking companies that are causing people to see (or not see) your post. That being said, if you really want your post to get some traction, then you need to train your community to share important posts. This will cause Facebook to see your post as something that people are interested in and want to see more of.
It will also vastly change your audience. When you make a post on your church page, only the people who like your church’s Facebook page are going to see it. If you want to get beyond the four walls you have up on the internet, then you need your congregation to share it. When they do this, all of their friends will now have a better chance of seeing the post. Every share increases the possible amount of views and widens your audience.
Because the Coldwater community shared their video 20 times, the post was able to reach a collected 3,250 people and gain 130 likes/reactions/comments. When Coldwater shared the post, they alone made up nearly 13% of the 1,600 views the video received.
Boost Your Post
Coldwater is an example of a successful everyday post. While 1.6k views is far from viral, it is a large number in comparison to most posts local churches make. But if you really want to go the distance to reach people, you’re going to have create your own social networking algorithm by paying to boost your post.
For example, 1208GREENWOOD (the church I pastor), is launching Dinner Church on September 9th. About 3 months ago we posted this video:
We received 5.7k views after posting it with the help of many people in our church sharing it. Then, when August hit, we decided to pay $200 to boost this post since we really wanted all of our city to know about the launch. We jumped about 3k views in 2-3 days. Two weeks later the campaign had ended and our video had reached 17k views.
We had paid for the campaign to specifically reach the people of our city from ages 16 and up and now we had done so. I could tell we had done this, because one day, in a Continuum of Care meeting, a board member said she saw me in a video every time she got on Facebook. And when I went to the bank after that meeting, the banker asked me about our church because she had just seen me on Facebook talking about it.
Will this advertising have helped with our launch? Time will tell. But one thing is for sure: the news is out there. People we don’t even know shared the video, commented and liked it. Another 220 people showed special interest by checking out our webpage after seeing the video.
We Could Go On…
There is much more we could say about social networking and the church, but this is a lesson enough for now. The more our community shares important posts we make, the more we’ll be able to reach the online community. Of course, this is just a tool to help grow the Kingdom—it’s not the Kingdom itself. But if we learn to use this tool well, it may be more impactful than we once thought it could be.