Social Media Best Practices: 5 Do’s and Don’ts

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Social Media is an increasingly important part of church communications practices. Today, the Church Leader Collective offers 5 Do’s and Don’ts that will help you manage your congregation’s social media presence effectively.

Do!

  1. Keep a Schedule.
  • Plan your posts at least a week in advance. I like doing it a month at a time. Sprout Social gives a very helpful overview of the types of content to post. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • “What do I post today?” You already know because you prepared, your design is created, you know what words you’re going to say or what link to send your audience to.
  • Planning ahead develops posting patterns, allowing you to measure the success of your campaigns with more accurate data.
  1. Fail Forward.
  • If you try something and that doesn’t work, move on to something else until you find something that connects with your audience.
  • When trying new things, such as Periscope or Facebook Live, or even a different type of post, make sure you give your new idea a fair shot (at least two weeks).
  • For example, I recently tried Periscope, but did not receive a favorable response. So I moved on to Facebook Live, and our audience loved it.
  1. Chat ‘em Up.
  • Reply to people, especially when they tag or mention you. Retweet value-adding insight from your followers (even when they don’t tag you). This lets your followers know that you not only want to talk to them, but you want to listen to what they have to say, too.
  • No one likes a person who talks all the time. The same is true in social media. Add value with your posts, tweets and grams, but be a good listener and engage your audience.
  • As you comment, you’ll likely notice an increase in mentions and followers!
  1. Know your platform.
  • Stay up-to-date on trends in social media, and learn how to incorporate a few of those trends into your posts, whether it’s gifs, memes or videos.
  • Look professional by abiding by the image standards for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Sprout Social offers helpful tips, guidelines and dimensions.
  • You should know that Facebook is for longevity. Twitter is in the moment, and Instagram is image driven.
  1. Mix it up!
  • Mix up what you post across your platforms. For example, you could post a quote from Sunday’s message on Facebook and point people to a sermon download link, give a synopsis of the message on Instagram with a composite image of the event, and encourage people to listen live on Twitter.
  • Posts can be similar, but each provides a different degree of information.
  • Or you can share completely unconnected posts on your platforms. For example, a short devotional on Instagram for #thursdaythoughts, a Facebook Live video with your youth pastor, and an inspirational quote on Twitter. It’s totally up to you and what works best for your context.

Don’t!

  1. Don’t post in haste (and repent at leisure).
  • Check typos and facts prior to posting.
  • Consider whether your post incites unnecessary animosity toward your brand from poor word choices or images.
  • Your posts represent your brand. Think before you speak. You can’t take back your words, so make sure they accurately reflect your brand’s character of integrity.
  1. Don’t Sell: Make sure you are giving more than you’re taking.
  • It’s not all about you, at least not all the time. Don’t use your social platforms to constantly promote your brand.
  • Remember the 80-20 rule. Add value to people’s lives 80 percent of the time, and promote a for-sale conference or event 20 percent of the time.
  • For example, if you want to encourage people to improve their fitness and buy a gym membership, post articles about the benefits of health through fitness, how to fit a workout into busy live, ways to eat healthy, etc. Only after you’ve primed the pump, invite your audience to purchase a gym membership.
  1. Don’t rabbit trail.
  • According to a recent study published in Time, a gold fish has a memory of about nine seconds. Thanks to smartphones, humans now have an attention span of about eight.
  • Keep your message short, uncomplicated and easy to grasp as your audience scrolls. Videos should be less than 2 minutes.
  • Use hashtags to your advantage to start a conversation, track event-related tweets or promote your campaign.
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of K.I.S.S. (Keeping it simple)
  • Your posts should always reflect and promote your brand’s mission, vision and goals.
  • Your posts don’t have to be complicated to be effective. In fact, the simpler the better. Your message should be understood in just a few seconds.
  • Create a personality that suits your brand and maintain that personality in your posts and replies. It could be funny, yet professional. Serious or contemplative. Whatever it is, develop it, and stick with it. People will associate that personality with your brand.
  1. Don’t bait. Don’t troll. Don’t engage the crazy.
  • When managing social media for a brand, you’ll encounter the unkind. Remember that their words are no reflection on you, and don’t fight back. Hide inflammatory comments on your page instead. However, if someone is reporting a problem or customer service issue in public, deal with it in public.
  • Guard your words on social media carefully. Opportunities to argue abound, but remember the best rule of engagement is not to engage.
  • New York Times author Nick Bilton likens arguing on social media to arguing with your partner with the whole neighborhood watching. Read his complete article Don’t Fight Flames With Flames for more insight.

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