Being on social media is only half of the battle. It’s time to start using it effectively.

52% of American adults who have access to the internet are registered users of two or more social media channels. If that isn’t an indicator that your church or organization should be on at least one social media site, I don’t know what is! We spend countless hours on social media every single day. But it’s not enough just to be on social media – a free marketing tool – but you should be using it properly as well. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other channels were developed for different uses. Therefore, you must use them differently. Join us while we talk through the most effective ways to use the top social media platforms.

I’ve taken the liberty of segmenting the most used social media sites into three categories – conversation-based, image-based, and networking-based. The first is conversation-based social media. I’m talking about the giant that is Facebook and it’s powerful little brother, Twitter.

Let’s Talk: Conversation-Based Social Media

There is almost no limit when it comes to Facebook posts. You have the ability to update your status – with up to 2,000 characters, I might add – post as many photos as you want, tag followers, or mention other brands. Facebook is an incredibly robust marketing tool, however, there is one major drawback. Your content is not guaranteed to show up in all of your followers newsfeeds. The Facebook news feed prioritizes content that is being interacted with by users. I’m talking likes, comments, and shares. The key is to post in such a way that the people who do see your update, engage with it. Facebook only shows you the “highlights” of the day based on user engagement so you should be aware of peak hours that your audience is online but it’s not a complete deal breaker if you miss that golden window of time. Here are a few tips to help you format your Facebook updates to promote better engagement:

  • Keep it relatively short. Just because you have the ability to use 2,000 characters doesn’t mean you actually should.
  • Use imagery. People like to look at pictures.
  • If you’re going to use a link, shorten that too. Big, long links can look intimidating to users.
  • Have a Call To Action (CTA). Your followers aren’t mind-readers, tell them what you want them to do next.

Twitter is Facebook’s quippy little brother. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters. Pretty short, right? And those 140 characters have to include images and links as well! This platform is meant for short and engaging bursts of information. The Twitter feed updates constantly as things are posted so timing is crucial. You have to think about the exact moment that your audience will be scrolling through tweets on their smartphone or computer. The challenge here is that you have one opportunity to engage your audience and you only have 140 characters to do it. Here are a few tips to help you when you’re brainstorming tweets:

  • It’s time to get clever! Be a wordsmith and minimize the characters you use.
  • If you’re using a link, shorten it! Use a URL shortener to optimize the number characters.
  • Images are great! Users are making a hasty decision to engage or not to engage so get their attention!

The next category I’ve set apart is image-based social media. While Facebook and Twitter both have the ability to post images, they are not as central to the platform’s concept as Instagram.

A Picture’s Worth a…Double Tap: Image-Based Social Media

Instagram is all about the photos. The best way to test if you should be using it is to ask yourself two simple questions. Is what your company or organization does visually appealing? Do you have the ability to take great photos? If your answer to these questions is “Yes!” then let’s get on it. We know that there are other image-based social media platforms, but none that can stand up to the number and frequency of users on Instagram. This channel is centered on a visually appealing photo that entices followers to engage with your account. While your fantastic photo is the main focus, you also need a clever yet succinct caption to go along with it. The feed includes all photos in order by the time they were posted. So be aware of what time your audience will be scrolling through. Here are some tips when using Instagram for your business or organization:

  • Filters can’t fix a bad image. Take a good photo and you won’t even need them.
  • # are functional. Use hashtags that your audience actually recognizes.
  • Your image may not stand alone but it should be able to speak for itself. If you have to explain it, don’t post it.

The last category is networking-based social media. You’re making connections like other social media, but in a more professional capacity. I’m referring to Linkedin.

Making Connections: Networking-Based Social Media

LinkedIn has similar characteristics as Facebook and Instagram, but with a few, major differences. As a company, your page includes your company’s size, industry, and what you specialize in. The language and words you use are also different. You make connections, not friends, and you endorse other people’s skills instead of retweeting their funny video. LinkedIn’s newsfeed is typically dominated by external links and articles – often, but not always from a company or organization’s blog. The goal of this platform is to create connections. You want members and visitors to follow your account so they can be updated and engaged with information that is relevant to your church and your ministries. Here are a few tips when using LinkedIn:

  • Connect with employees. Show followers your church’s worth by showing off your outstanding employees.
  • Post community and ministry relevant content. Linkedin is really for professionals, so content should be related to what you, as a church or ministry, are actually doing.
  • Encourage members and visitors to connect with you. Have you heard the expression, “it’s all about who you know”? It’s especially true on LinkedIn.

Social media is here to stay.

It’s not enough just to have accounts on these major platforms anymore. Each of these social media channels has a different purpose for different users. Some are all about pictures, some are about making professional connections, and some are about starting a conversation. It’s time to start catering your content to the platform you’re utilizing.

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