This time of year is busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas events to arrange, and there’s little time left to spend on elaborate church advertising campaigns. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” (Mark 16:16, NKJV) This is what we should be keeping in mind when we arrange any event. Our ultimate goal as followers of Christ should be to bring glory to God and point the way to Jesus. Even though we are not of this world, we do reside in this world and the world has given us some handy technology, like social media, that we can use in our efforts to evangelize.
These eight ways to use social media can be very useful to boost attendance and awareness of your church holiday events:
#1 – Create a Facebook Event
Creating an event on Facebook is easy and effective. It can be done on any existing Facebook account, but it is much better to use an existing group or page, or you can even create a group for the event you want to promote. All you have to do is tap ‘Events’ at the bottom of the page. Then you fill in the event name, details, location, time and date. Tap ‘Continue’ and then people can respond to the invitation and you will have an indication of how many people will be attending.
#2 – Use Visual Content to Engage more People
From the beginning of the promotion, make sure there is enough visual content. Statistics show that on Twitter, tweets with videos are six times more likely to be shared than tweets with photos. Even on Facebook and Instagram, videos are becoming the order of the day. Use videos from previous year’s events or make a video from event photos. Take videos of the preparations that are being done and interview participants. Make sure that clips are short, relevant and exciting. No-one will listen to long, drawn-out speeches. A short, fun clip will most likely draw a greater audience than something long and tedious, even if it is relevant. Remember, this is the chance you have to create interest and to keep interest alive.
#3 – Post Real-Time Videos on Facebook
Because so many people subscribe to Facebook and it supports various media, it is the ideal way to reach a large audience. Unfortunately, most people don’t read long paragraphs. Photos with a short caption are popular but videos are your trump card – especially using the Facebook Live feature. People love videos, and the more action and fun, the better. Use video clips of previous year’s events to create an expectation. Make short live videos of preparations: The secretary in a tizz about missing invitations. The decorating crew blowing up balloons but ending up having a water balloon fight. The choir practicing a song that no-one expects to hear. Give people the unexpected to catch their attention. For more information about Facebook for Churches, check out the Key to Social Media Success.
#4 – Use Hashtags on Instagram and Twitter
Hashtags were invented by Twitter in 2007. They group certain keywords or phrases which allow people to follow and engage with topics they are interested in. Let’s say Life Church is hosting a Carols by Candlelight event. The hashtag #ChristmasCarols has over 153,000 public posts. You can use that hashtag, but it would be advisable to make your own unique hashtag like #LifeCarolService and promote it so that people can follow it. Once someone follows your specific hashtag, it will turn up in their newsfeed every time you post or tweet. Choose a hashtag that is relevant to your event but not too long. Try to make it catchy. Anagrams can work but that would depend on whether they are already in use and whether they make sense. For example, Life Church Christmas Carols by Candlelight Potluck Dinner (#LCCCBCPD) really isn’t something that’s going to catch on.
#5 – Assign one Person to Handle Social Media
I would suggest that one person be assigned to handle all social media. That way everything will be connected and in the same style. Choose someone who is savvy with technology, interested in learning new things and passionate about the events that are being arranged.
#6 – Plan and Coordinate Your Social Media Strategy
Be consistent with your posts. Decide on the time of day you will reach the most people. According to statistics, the best time to use Twitter is between noon and 1 pm daily. Make sure that you vary your posts in order to maintain attention. You can use free tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your social media messages in advance. Schedule up to three varied daily posts that are scheduled at the times you would reach the majority of your target audience. Use a strategy of pre-event awareness posts, and keep up the social media presence on the day of the event. Live videos are very relevant for posts on the event day. Stimulate interest for a few days after your event by posting photos, comments, and testimonies from attendees. Also, make sure your audience has a hint of what’s coming next year.
#7 – Keep Privacy in Mind
When posting photos or videos on social media, always make sure that the people who are featured are aware of your intentions. It is appropriate to obtain permission prior to posting their images online. This applies especially to children and teens. When posting pictures or videos featuring children, get permission from their parents before you put anything online. Some people highly value their privacy. If they don’t want a photo of them or their children on social media, it is their right. The danger is that there are many people who do not have pure motives and they use social media to stalk innocent children with the intention of harming them. Use social media discerningly and keep everyone happy and safe.
#8 – Watch Your Words
Remember that social media is accessible to millions of people all over the world. Be careful what you write. Please don’t fall into the trap of posting anything negative. No outbursts of anger, jealousy or rage. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6)
This verse should serve as your guide when using social media at all times. Your words never disappear, once they are out and the damage is done you cannot take them back again. You can delete the post from your wall but everyone who has read it will remember. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words, you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
Social media can be your biggest ally in planning an event if it is handled with care. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Here are some additional articles to help you optimize your Social Media Strategy:
Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash