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Basic Social Media Strategy for Ministries

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BY ANDREW DAVID COX |

Author’s note: A while back my friend Adriana asked for some advice on coming up with ideas for social media. The BCM needed a blog post to fill the deadline this week, so I asked her if we could use her inquiry for a post. You can see her question and my response below. The original content has been edited minimally where necessary for clarity and further elaboration of certain topics. We hope you find this helpful for your social media endeavors! As always, you can email me Andrew@MoravianBCM.org, message me on social media, or drop in the office Mondays and Wednesdays between 1:30pm and 5:30pm, if you need help with social and digital media. 

“Hey Andrew! I am working on the Unity Women’s Desk’s Facebook page, and I am running out of ideas and thoughts about what to for something new. I also would love to expand the number of likes and followers. Could you give many any information that could help me out from your experience with the BCM Facebook? I appreciate any help! Thanks!” -Adriana Craver, Konnoak Hills Moravian Church

Hi Adriana! So I looked over you page briefly… some tips below. They’re not necessarily reflective of what you are or aren’t doing, but is some of what I’ve learned. Pardon me for it jumping around a bit. There’s so much that could be covered!

Sam Gray checks his iPhone for the BCM Facebook page

1) Pictures, pictures, pictures, and good graphics!

Take or curate new and interesting pictures, whenever possible, of your staff or volunteers at work. If the desk can invest in a nice camera (mid-range pro is around $700), it’s worth it, if you’re willing to learn how to use it. If not, a nice smartphone will suffice. In the photos, explain what the people are doing. Bonus: give a line about why it’s important–but don’t hit people over the head. It shouldn’t be written blatant and dull, “this work is important because…” You can say something is important by sharing who it impacts, or by telling a bit about who is in the photo. Think about why people should be paying attention. People have content bombarding them 24/7, think really hard about if you were in their shoes, why would you give your time to this page over another?

Use services like Canva, Adobe Spark, or GIMP to do decent quality designs. If you can invest in it, get an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (about $60 a month without a nonprofit discount… you can get it cheaper for nonprofits through TechSoup). Use professional quality images from free stock photo sites like Pexels or Unsplash.

Author’s note:
Do not just grab images from Google without checking or verifying the usage rights. If you do, you could get into legal trouble. The image search engine is a helpful tool, but not a invitation to use any photo however you please.

Develop a voice for your brand identity. It needs to feel authentic and consistent, but not robotic or self-serving.

2) Real people. Not stock photos all the time.

I hit a bit on this above. Stock photos are fine for scripture graphics and such. But when it comes to ministry, make a concentrated effort to share the story of the real people and places involved in your ministry. Moravians have a tiny, but global, community–everyone knows everyone. Take advantage of that.

3) Authenticity

Authenticity is important! Audience members can sense pretty easily if a brand is trying too hard. Especially younger folks. Develop a voice for your brand identity. It needs to feel authentic and consistent, but not robotic or self-serving. With a few exceptions, when I post for the BCM, I am not speaking as Andrew for the BCM, but I am speaking in the BCM’s voice. It’s sort of like acting. You become the character of a brand. I like to think the BCM’s voice follows that of the writing in the resource Simply Moravian. Our audience, unless we intend otherwise, should not be able to tell the difference between me posting for the BCM and the rarer instance of Ruth posting for the BCM. Find a voice, and develop and practice it. Think, “does this sound like the Women’s Desk, or does it sound like me?” Find accounts you like with big audiences and look to their written and visual voice for inspiration.

4) Hashtags

Use them. Make sure you’re using them right. And if you need to, help your followers learn how to use them. Develop hashtags unique for your organization, but capitalize on big generic ones everyone follows… #Moravian, #ThrowbackThursday #MotivationMonday, #WSNC (Winston-Salem NC), #FridayIntroductions, #TransformationTuesday, etc. Also, capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag… it’s easier to read. Try to keep Facebook post hashtags seven or less (or five to ten is fine), especially if you put them all at the bottom like I do. Some people intersperse them throughout the post only, or do that and put them at the bottom. Develop a method and stick with it. But use hashtags!

You should ‘listen’ as much or more than you ‘speak.’

5) Listen

What are the people in your organization’s circle (geographically, topically, shared interests, etc.) saying or doing? Look at hashtags that are being used. Look at what people are posting in your geographic area. This can help you plan your content or even events. When people comment on your posts, comment back as the organization. Where possible, interact with other people’s content (you can do this more on Instagram than you can Facebook). You should “listen” as much or more than you “speak” (the whole two ears and one mouth saying).

Share other people’s content when relevant. The BCM recently shared a Colorado author’s post that mentioned the Daily Texts (see here). Even if you can share content without asking permission, it is always best to try and get the original creator’s blessing, particularly if their page is private. They’ll usually be happy to oblige! Exception: if the content was posted by a public page on Facebook or Twitter, you can share by clicking the “share” or “retweet” buttons and you don’t need to ask for permission. Asking permission applies mostly to Instagram and sharing content from private Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

James Jarvis checks the BCM Facebook Page on a laptop

6) Lead with questions and encourage comments

This is part of “listening.” Where possible with posts… lead it (or conclude it) with a relevant question to your audience, followed by a statement encouraging them to comment with their thoughts. I’m a proponent of leading with the question, as people are more apt to see it. And again, when people comment, react and reply to their comments as the organization.

Post more content like that which is getting good engagement, and less of what isn’t getting good engagement.

7) Develop social campaigns or consistent weekly content/look at analytics

Post one quality post once a day if possible. No more than 2 or 3 a day. Use Hootsuite (or a similar service) to help schedule posts. Their autoschedule feature is pretty good at detecting optimal posting times (typically 9am, 3pm, and 6pm for BCM). But make sure it doesn’t autoschedule your announcement before or after you want it announced. Sometimes it’s better to manually schedule time-sensitive content. Do the occasional paid boosted post or paid ad campaign if you can. Look at your analytics (Facebook Insights). Post more content like that which is getting good engagement, and less of what isn’t getting good engagement.

Some specific ideas for the Unity Women’s Desk: Do a weekly #FridayIntroductions post with a female Moravian… take their photo, ask for a photo, and ask them a few questions about their involvement or their community of women, what the church means to them, etc. If you can’t do that each week forever, do it as a month or two long campaign each year. Start or end each week with a Bible verse graphic relevant to women. Find old photos of Moravian women to share each week for #ThrowbackThursday and tell the story behind them. Get to know your audience… look at them on your analytics, how old are they, where are they? When people react to your posts, look at the list. If they have “invite” next to their name, click it! This is you inviting them to commit to following your page, and not just liking its content every now and then.

There’s really a lot I could share with you. The above is a mini-novel, but it barely scratches the surface. And the problem is social media is always always changing. You don’t have to do all of what I’ve suggested, but I hope some of the above helps you out, and if you have questions, just ask! You are also more than welcome to drop in the office anytime I’m in for my regular hours (Monday and Wednesdays, 1:30pm to 5:30pm).

Resources:

Some people/groups who have influenced my thinking on social media for ministries:


Questions? Comments? Or need assistance with your church’s
communications and social media efforts? Contact Andrew David Cox at acox@mcsp.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 404

Andrew portrait

Andrew David Cox is the Communications Project Manager for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Andrew is a driven creative person with established experience and skill in a variety of fields. Experience includes communications, social media management, event coordination, marketing, graphic design, photography, customer service, hospitality, security, writing, cartooning, illustration, fine art, and more! His main passion though is creating visually and emotionally interesting creative content for the Internet.

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