3 Questions to Determine Which Social Media Platform Is Most Important for Your Church
When I begin consulting a new client on social media strategy, I am almost always asked this question (or some version of it):
Which social media platforms should I care about and use for my content?
This is a really good question and one that anyone who is using social media for professional purposes should be asking. The answer is often Facebook simply because it is the most widely used social media platform, but some careful consideration is in order.
The common temptation, of course, is to create an account on every major social media platform and attempt to create as much content as possible on all of them.
The common temptation, of course, is to create an account on every major social media platform and attempt to create as much content as possible on all of them. This isn’t a good idea. Why? Two reasons: 1) you will burn out and 2) not every social media platform is the same and equally worthy of your attention.
So then, how do we answer the question above? How can we know which social media platforms are worth the investment of our time and maybe even our money? We answer that question with the answers to these three questions, ranked from most to least important:
1. Who is my audience?
This is, without a doubt, the most important question to ask when deciding which social media platform is best for your content. Is your church mostly made up of people who grew up without the internet? Facebook probably deserves most of your attention. Is your church full of digital natives and their babies? Instagram is probably worthy of your best content. Church demographics matter when deciding how much time and effort to devote to which platforms.
Church demographics matter when deciding how much time and effort to devote to which platforms.
More and more, because there are just so many social media platforms out there, different kinds of people have flocked to different platforms. This article from Sprout Social provides some info about the demographics of each major social media platform. But you can really learn a lot by spending time on the platform, too, trying out different content strategies and getting a feel for what does and does not work.
2. What is my goal?
This is an important question to ask as you approach social media strategy generally, even before you approach the “which platform” decision. Too many times I have joined conversations about social media strategy and the focus is entirely on the particulars of the work without any regard for the goals in mind.
I like to play board games and video games, and I like watching sports. When you’re learning how to play a new game or watch a new sport, one of the first questions should be “How do I win?” or “What’s the objective?” Pretend social media strategy is a new board game. You should have an idea of how you win, or what success looks like for you. Then, when you have nailed down what success looks like for you on social media, you can ask the necessary follow up question, “Which social media platform is best for me to achieve my goal?”
As you’re trying to decide which social media platforms are best suited to help you accomplish your goals, make sure you’ve actually set goals for your social media strategy and see if there is a platform that best aligns with them.
3. What content will I create?
This is a third and important question to ask when deciding which social media platform to use for your church. It is a simple one, and doesn’t require a lot of explanation, but it is an important consideration.
Certain kinds of churches lend themselves to certain media. If you consider there are three different kinds of media you can post to social media: text/links, video, and images, you can see how one church may want to post blog posts from their pastors, another may want to post cool spoken word videos, and yet another may want to post beautiful graphics. The gifts you have in your church may shape how you create content on social media and where you create it.
If your church doesn't have someone who is skilled in photography or if you simply can’t afford graphic design help, you probably shouldn’t go all-in on Instagram.
If you find your church has a really hard time creating video content because you can’t afford the equipment or you simply can’t find good video help, you probably shouldn’t try to make a bunch of videos for Facebook or start a YouTube channel. If your church doesn't have someone who is skilled in photography or if you simply can’t afford graphic design help, you probably shouldn’t go all-in on Instagram.
Theoretically, any church could create content in any lane of media, to be sure. But some are just better equipped to create content for one platform over another, and it isn’t always a good idea to shoe-horn your content into a type of medium you’re not well-suited to create.
Just Think Before You Post
Probably one of the most common mistakes I see in regard to social media strategy is a lack of any real strategy at all. So many churches or other organizations just start posting on social media in hopes of accomplishing…something. Goals are often not set. Platform differences are not usually considered. It’s almost as if many people think you post content to social media and it…just works.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy most of the time.
A lot of folks could be more effective on social media and avoid some headaches if more thought was given to goals and strategy before a single piece of content is posted. Take some time, plan, and spend your time and talents with wisdom.