Our very own Tim Cox recently shared some tips and general strategy on how to thoughtfully approach social media and content creation as a church plant. As a digital native, he consults and speaks on the power of social media, writing blog posts, and how to reach your community, both small and broad.
Tim narrows it down for us in five simple points:
Don't Spam - Most businesses and orgs use social media to get people to do things, like buy their product or attend their events. Don't do it. Just use it to tell stories and include as many of them as possible. People will love reading your stories.
Deep - It's easy for me to post cynical things on Facebook, and most people post what's easy. Because of this I'm seen as a jerk. Another person I follow only shares photos of the stuff she buys so I immediately label her as materialistic. Maybe this is true, but really we're deeper than that. Being deep means taking the time to post happy, sad, needy, generous things. Post prayer requests along with praises. Post failures with successes. Be as real and as deep as possible.
Delegate - By including more people you're getting a diversity of voice, and you’re relieving pressure on the one person who all of this stuff usually falls on. Create a sandbox for your posting people to play in. Determine what is a good post and what isn’t. Always make sure to spell check, check for grammatical errors, and never use too many exclamation marks (!!!!!!!!).
Diversity - Post a lot of different types of things. See what's working and what's not. Then post more of what's working. This also applies to platforms. Start an Instagram, Vine, and Twitter profile if you don't have it. Post on it and see what's working and what isn't. If a platform isn't worth the effort, ditch it.
Data - Track and refer to your stats weekly or monthly. Every Monday or every first Monday of the month look at what's working and what's not. Make sure your website traffic is being tracked by Google Analytics and check out the referral sources. Where on social is most of your traffic coming from?
These tips provide great direction and a singular focus when thinking about where to start with social media. But what is Tim’s best advice? Focus on creating content. Content drives people to your social feeds, and more content drives more people.
Find out where all of your good content is — all of the stuff that's valuable — and partition it into buckets. You'll fill the buckets with a bunch of raw content, part the raw posts into usable content, and then schedule them out for regular posts on blogs, social, video, etc. Record what you can on audio, video, and photos and post it. Make your whole sermon or worship song available and then create clips on Soundcloud or YouTube. This way, there's a steady stream of content being posted during the week with minimal effort, which frees you up to be as creative as possible during the week.
Here are some ideas when we’re thinking about content:
Conversations - What are quotes from conversations you’ve recently had with people? Pictures. Video. Whatever. You can pillage your personal posts for this stuff and reuse it. When you repost or reshare, put a new spin on it. Don't just copy and paste.
City Stuff - What are the things that you LOVE about your city? That bike that's locked up in the most paranoid way possible. Your favorite tree. Places where you stop walking and just look.
Key People - My key people are Vincent at the newsstand, Tobin and Lance at Culture Espresso, Jeff and Matt on my pinball team, and Alison, my favorite server at Bogota. They have stories. Tell them. Feature them.
Needs- Inevitably you'll come up against needs in your community. What was needed and how was it fulfilled? Let people know how they can help and how to get involved. This is a great way to think about sharing praises and prayer requests from your community.
Events - Jimmy’s show is tomorrow night, let's all surprise him by actually going this time. Post video, audio, and photos.
The key is making this as natural as possible. One of the things you'll probably need to do is spend some time collecting things from people in your core group. Spend some time researching. It's like scrapbooking online.
To conclude, you need a church website with a blog that addresses your current thoughts, stories, and questions. Tumblr is a great platform for blogging, so that's a good place to start. Your main website provides a place to put the key info (including audio and video) and then readers can easily jump over to the blog where you can share more casually. The blog should be updated regularly by as many people as possible. Email is ok for announcements and newsletters, but social is going to be where the community will be featured and grow.
It might feel burdensome at first, but if you can delegate this to people who love to do it and care about your church, the result can be really beautiful.