- Social media is part of the fabric of modern life – 7 in 10 US adults use social media and the numbers of users continue to rise.1
- Age groups show different preferences for choice of social media platform, however, Facebook and Youtube are the leaders.1
- Social media is a unique form of communication in terms of reach, interactivity, usability, immediacy and permanence.2
- Here at the Run to Me Foundation, we sought to understand how best our own ministry should use social media so we consulted statistics, watched vlogs, and turned to the Word of God for help.
- We have summarised our key findings and made them into a guide to help you develop and strengthen your ministry’s use of social media.
- An intentional social media presence is essential – therefore work out a plan for how your ministry should use social media.
- The character and purpose of your ministry should be evident in the content your posts.
- The content of your posts should be useful and of value to your target audience.
- Priority should be given to visual content in the form of high-quality videos and photos.
- Never post anything on social media without reviewing it first.
- Above all, remember that we are ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ and we should speak accordingly (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The following is our detailed list of recommendations for developing a content strategy for social media.
Seek the Lord
- We are serving the Lord Jesus in our ministry work and speaking for him (2 Corinthians 5:20, 2 Corinthians 6:1), therefore we should seek his will in order to direct our choice of content on social media (Psalm 127:1, Proverbs 3:6).
Know who you are
- Your ministry’s identity must inform your social media content. This is helped by having a vision statement, mission statement and a set of core values for your ministry.
- Develop a brand for your ministry that reflects the heart of your ministry. Your branding should include a logo, color scheme and choice of font.
- Your branding should be visible throughout your content on social media to ensure a consistent and readily identifiable online presence.
Know your audience
- Clarify who your main audience is. Is it your ministry’s donors, your church’s members, new people in the community?
- Develop a profile of your audience to help you understand their characteristics, limitations and information needs – e.g. are they believers? What age group(s) are they? What’s their socio-economic status?
- Check out user statistics from the Pew Research Center to help you chose which social media platforms to focus on.1 Know that Facebook and now Youtube are the leaders in social media.
- Cultivate a servant mindset towards your audience – your posts must serve them/have value to them otherwise you will lose their enthusiasm and interest.
- A strategic approach to social media content is vital – plan what you will post and when you will post it.
- Develop a content schedule i.e. intentionally choose days and times of the week to post content when you know your audience will most likely be using social media (Facebook allows you to create posts and schedule their publication up to 6 months out).
- Post regularly, but not so often that your audience will tire of you (Proverbs 25:17). We advise no more than 2 posts daily.
- Designate one person in your ministry to oversee all social media activity. This will create consistency across your postings.
Categories and topics
- Plan out what categories of content you will include on social media e.g. ministry events, scripture, ministry updates.
- Aim for a balance between factual posts and stories. People need the facts, but they also love stories and “behind the scenes” glimpses of ministry life.
- Content that acknowledges the seasons, holidays or current news is refreshing and engaging.
- If you share content from other ministries/sources – make sure you screen for quality and know that you are inadvertently creating an affiliation with that organization. Is that a connection your ministry is happy to make?
- Consider the topics of your posts – most of your posts should relate directly to your identity and mission as a ministry. It’s ok to include some posts that are less specific to your mission, in order to facilitate a dynamic presence.
- People use social media to socialize and for entertainment – so for the most part, they want to see light-hearted content. However, two-thirds of US adults reportedly use social media as a news source – so the use of social media is diversifying.3. (Here at the Run to Me Foundation we want to avoid the entertainment “genre”, instead focusing on social media as a tool to educate and inform our followers).
- People love photos and expect to see them on social media. Make sure you include lots of high-quality photos in your posts that reinforce your message.
- Photos grab people’s attention as they scroll through their newsfeeds. Photos will get you noticed!
- Post photos of ministry life and events to help connect and engage with your audience. Create a culture in your ministry of taking photos of ministry life – perhaps designate one person, or recruit a volunteer to oversee this work.
- Consider including stock photos in your social media posts to give your ministry a professional edge. You can download photos for free from Unsplash.com, or there are fee-paying services such as iStock and Adobe Stock. Even if your budget is tight, your ministry should give serious consideration to paying for high-quality images. We believe it’s worth every cent because consumer expectations are high.
- Review your choice of photos – if pictures speak a thousand words – make sure yours are not sending out a message you didn’t intend.
- The consumer appetite for videos is exploding. This year in 2018, Facebook’s daily video view is 10 billion!4
- It’s time to seriously consider swapping out some of your textual content on social media for video content.
- Train up someone in your ministry to create short videos. Youtube contains lots of vlogs detailing how to make short videos of respectable quality. All you need is a smartphone to do the recordings.
- Consider adding closed-captioning (i.e. subtitles) to your videos. Many people prefer to watch videos on social media with the sound off.
- Speak with truth, grace, love, discretion, and a cool spirit (Proverbs 16:24, 1 Corinthians 13:1, Proverbs 17:27, Psalm 141:3). We advise listening to The Briefing, presented by Dr Albert Mohler to sample good Christian broadcasting.5
- Keep your text-based content short in length. People want to consume information quickly on social media while they are on that coffee break.
- Introduce your post with a meaningful heading that will entice your followers to continue reading.
- Go to our Guide for writing on the internet to see more tips.
- Hashtags are keywords or key phrases that are used for a variety of purposes – they allow people to find your content when they do searches, they are a means of reinforcing/adding to the key message in your post, and they can be used to promote campaigns.
- Use a maximum of two hashtags in each post.
- If your post is a part of a series, make sure to use the same hashtag to identify posts as belonging to a collection.
- Don’t include spaces, punctuation or special characters in your hashtags, and keep them short. Example hashtags: #WhatAreHashtags, #HashtagRules, #HashtagTips
- Just type “rules for hashtags” into Google for more tips on formatting them.
- If people leave comments on your posts – make sure you reply. People want to see that you are listening and are interested in their thoughts.
- Sometimes, people’s comments might be Biblically incorrect, unGodly, or heated. Prayerfully consider how best to respond – being mindful that the best response may be silence (Proverbs 26:4).
- Do not post a reply unless you re-read your response first. Consider asking a colleague to review what you intend to say.
Review your content
- We cannot stress it enough – review the content you intend to post. We are human and make errors. The errors can be small – such as typos – or they can be sinful – such as proudful or hurtful words.
- Develop your own checklist of items that matter to your ministry, and scrutinize your draft content to ensure it passes your standards.
- Remember as Christian ministries we are representing our Lord Jesus Christ. Our ultimate question before we click the “post” button should be: Is this content a good testimony for Him?
1. Pew Research Center. Social media use 2018. Full text
2. Wikipedia. Social Media. Full text
3. Pew Research Center. News across social media platforms 2017. Full text
4. Storyhunter. The state of video in 2018. Full text
5. Mohler, A. The Briefing. Podcasts