Post the Right Things for the Right People
What is posted on social media channels is one of the most important aspects of your social media strategy because this will help to decide whether someone will follow you (and interact with you in the future) or simply scroll on by. And the tricky part is there is no one, right answer when it comes to deciding what to post. What works well for one church may not work at all for another, because the right content is all about connecting with your audience.
How to Connect with Your Audience
This starts with knowing your audience. You need to take time to think through who your ideal audience is. Who is it that you want to attract to your church? And it is really important to be realistic here – if your church is mostly 50 and older, you will probably have a pretty hard time connecting with 18-24 year-olds. I’m not saying that you should target solely to your average attender, but you need to keep in mind your church’s current demographics, and the resources you have when thinking through the audience to target.
Ideal Audience Member Exercise:
I want you (preferably with a social media team) to take some time and think through your church and the ministries offered. In most communities, there are a lot of great churches. What makes your church unique? What does your church do best? Who is your church best equipped to serve? What type of person would be most likely to come to know Jesus through your church? If you have a grief ministry, it may be a parent who has lost a child. If you have an addiction recovery ministry, it may be someone with an alcohol problem. If you have an Awana program, it may be families with children between 5 and 12.
As you think through your ministries and who you can serve, I want you to discover as much detail as possible about the exact person your congregation could help the most. For example, if you have a thriving Moms of Pre-Schoolers ministry at your church, you may want to come up with an “ideal audience member” based on who your church has served most successfully in the past. I find it helpful to name this person and maybe even come up with a stock image of what you think he/she may look like.
Your ideal audience member may look something like this: Tiffany is a 31-year-old, stay-at-home mom of two. She has a college education, and she was a successful marketing manager before having children. She has been married to Brian for eight years. Brian is a financial planner who works long hours. They have a good marriage, but Tiffany often feels stressed and overwhelmed with her children, and she doesn’t know where to turn for help.
You’ll want to create 4-6 of these ideal audience members to represent the different audience members your church is most ideally equipped to serve.
Then, when deciding what to post, do you think it would be helpful to have Tiffany’s description in mind? Would you be able to formulate ideas she may find helpful? I find it much easier to talk to a specific person with specific needs as opposed to “people around our church that need Jesus,” or even “families with kids,” or “women with preschoolers.” The more specific, and the better defined your audience, the better you can communicate with them.
What to Post
When people ask me what they should be posting on their social media channels, the best advice I can give is: once your audience is defined, test, test, test. There is no way anyone can know exactly what is going to be the right content for your specific audience. However, here are a few options to help you narrow down what kinds of posts may work for you.
1. Stories and Reels – On both Facebook and Instagram, stories and reels are two of the top ways to reach more people. Experiment with this feature to see what works best for your audience. Have fun with it and keep an eye on engagement.
2. Church/Member Story Posts – These are my favorite kind of posts, although they are not the easiest or the most plentiful. They are simply stories of the people in your church. You can do them as short videos where the church member tells his/her story, or as an interview-styled text post. Either way, stories are a powerful tool to talk about how your church is transforming lives and making a difference in the community. I recommend as many story posts as you can come up with.
3. Events – Let people know what is happening at your church. If you can add pictures and videos of past events, even better! This works on any platform but is usually best with Facebook (where you can create an event and have people RSVP). Events also can be utilized on Instagram.
4. Questions – Ask questions your audience may wrestle with. These can be hit or miss, but the right question can elicit a lot of engagement, which achieves your goal of engagement. Make sure the question you ask is open-ended. Closed-ended questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” will not be as effective.
5. Scripture – Sharing scripture is great and easy! Find a verse that would speak directly to your ideal audience member (see above) and post that. If you have some graphic design skills, it works even better if you can create an image that has the verse printed on it.
5. Resources – Is there a book or a Bible study that you recommend? Does your pastor create videos or blogs during the week? Sharing resources helpful for your audience is a great way to engage and build your audience.
How do You Know if a Post is Successful?
If you are just getting started, the best way is to evaluate engagement based on the following concepts. How many people liked and/or commented on your post? How many people saw your post? Simple engagement is a good measuring stick for beginners; however, later you can get a lot more specific with the analytics that each platform offers. Here are a few things to look for! What kinds of posts get the most engagement? What days and times are posts reaching the most people? Try to figure out what made a post successful so it can be replicated. Keep in mind, that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Look for incremental growth. Do you have more views this month than you did last month? This quarter vs. last quarter? If you look at each post as a measure of your success, you will quickly get discouraged and quit.
Recommendation: Test the kinds of posts I’ve outlined along with others you think of. Be creative! But don’t see it as a failure if a post you thought was amazing doesn’t get the engagement you were expecting. Think of it as a learning experience. As you learn your audience and what they are most likely to engage with, you get better and better at creating posts that speak directly to them. The more helpful your posts -the more your audience feels valued and heard, the more your audience grows. As it grows, your church will be able to impact more people with the love of Jesus.
Kurt Abel is the founder of Two Cans Media, a digital marketing and web design agency that specializes in helping churches and Christian nonprofits. He has been married to his wife Ann for twenty three years and they have two children, Luke (17) and Zac (13). He serves at The Church at Green Hills in La Habra, where he is a deacon and a teacher for the first through fourth graders.
Enter your email and every Tuesday we'll send the latest news, interviews, and resources directly to your inbox.