Periodically, I return to this theme of the importance to churches of social media. The reason I keep returning to the subject is that many churches, especially smaller churches, still do not take advantage of the opportunities social media provides.
In the mid-1990s our church began to send out a quarterly newspaper. We continued that until I resigned from the church in 2001. The paper was well done with timely articles about the Christian faith, family life, and other items of interest to most people. The church got the top half of the front page and one page on the inside of the paper to promote our church. The company printed all the articles and mailed the paper to everyone in our zip code for a reasonable fee.
It is largely recognized today that such direct mail isn't very effective, and it's not inexpensive either. Fewer and fewer people take their local newspaper any more so buying ads there often isn't productive either. Door-to-door visitation has long since ceased being an effective outreach strategy. So how can a church promote its ministry and reach out to the community?
Social media is very inexpensive (usually free) so it's affordable for any size church. It can be used to inform both your congregation and the community about activities occurring in your church. It's not difficult to learn, and you don't have to worry about deadlines. You can publish your material any time you want. It is a great way to promote a new sermon series, a special event, or anything you need to market to the community.
I have people following me on this blog. In addition, people can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. I also have another blog at dennisbickers.com where I write business and leadership articles. Almost every week, Monday through Friday, I publish links to about 20 articles that I believe my readers will find interesting or helpful. These articles come from blogs that I scan each day. They are scheduled on Hootsuite to be published throughout the day on my Twitter account (@DennisBickers). Of course, anything that I put on Twitter automatically shows up on my Facebook account. Every day there are dozens of opportunities to connect with people all around the world. All of that is possible just by spending a few hours each week at my desk writing articles and scheduling the posts.
Social media is becoming a principle way I market my auctions as well. With newspaper ads I have to remember to get my ads in by a certain date. That's not a problem with social media. I'm on Buy-Sell-Trade sites for my Facebook account in several surrounding communities. I can post a brief ad on these sites in a matter of minutes. These also show up on my main FB site so in a few minutes there are potentially 20,000+ local people seeing my ad at zero cost. It would cost me hundreds of dollars to advertise in all the local papers to reach these same people. I have people come to every auction as a result of seeing the ads on Facebook. Social media works.
For a busy pastor, a bivocational pastor, or anyone in ministry using social media to connect with people is a tremendous time saver and gives you the opportunity to connect with far more people than you could in a face-to-face setting. If you don't feel comfortable using these tools, ask any Junior High school student in your church to teach you how. It won't take them more than a few minutes to show you the basics. As you remain consistent in posting information you will begin to build a following, and you will see results.