Do you have a social media plan for your online ministry?
Think back to your childhood or even just a year or two ago. How has your life changed because of social media? What have you learned about people and places? What have you been able to share through social media that you never could have shared just a few short years ago?
The digital age changed our world. And with these changes, Christians are now able to share the truth of God’s Word and the hope of Jesus Christ in ways that were once impossible. As His messengers, we have a responsibility to use these new social media resources as valuable tools of influence, just as we extend our physical resources within our local church body, within the workplace, and in our daily activities where we live.
A Social Media Plan
Though the ever-changing terms and new networks can be confusing, there are several ideas within social media that can help guide the process and serve the needs of your online ministry.
Within social media, there are 7 terms to keep in mind. I call them the “7 Wonders of the Social Media World.” These 7 terms can help you grasp the idea of social network so that you can develop the best social media plan for your ministry that best suits your content and the audience you are trying to reach.
7 Wonders of the Social Media World
Community is the powerhouse behind your social media plan. That’s because it’s the premise of social media itself. Social media is based on the idea of finding others who share the same interests, goals, and ideas, and making connections around common ground.
Regardless of the method, every social media plan should be based on connecting a community around a laser-focused idea. That way, you are sending your content to the people who want it, need it, and are passionate enough to share it on their own.
The key to any social media plan is the art of brevity. There are limits and boundaries locked in to each social media network. And for good reason. Use these limits to your advantage to increase your chances of reaching the audience you’re trying to reach.
Accustom yourself to writing short to-the-point phrases of encouragement, catchy headlines, and just a few short sentences when networking across them. Use brevity within your networks to drive the reader back to your own site where you can then take more time to share your message in a more detailed post or on your own landing page.
Though viral was once a term we all tried to avoid by washing our hands constantly and covering our mouths when we sneezed, viral has now become the most wanted and most sought after tag to attach to our own piece of work.
When a particular piece of content is shared over and over rapidly and organically (no prodding or bargaining by others to share), it becomes known as viral content.
To go viral means you’ve created something others can relate to. It’s based on a common problem or situation that pulls at our heartstrings or makes us laugh so hard we must share it with our family, coworkers, and friends.
Is your content relatable? Does it connect emotionally? Is it funny? Does it connect in such a way that your readers feel they must share it within their own communities?
Used as a way to group topics in programming since the 70s, the #hashtag has now become a common word in our everyday lives. Just like community, we attach the hashtag to terms and topics we’re talking about for the sole purpose of finding others talking about the same things.
Again, the hashtag itself means nothing apart from the community. A hashtag should be used to tag only the topics that are relevant and timely within the circle of friends it’s being used.
Are you using the #hashtag effectively? How can you tie in your content to the season, an upcoming holiday, or the latest newsworthy event?
With the world onboard, we now experience information overload. Every social media platform has its own personality. It pays to know the tools within each platform and how to use them to your advantage.
Sharing news as the story develops? Use Twitter to send a quick soundbite about it.
Job searching or trying to connect with others within your area of expertise? Spend some time on LinkedIn searching for others who are also working to become more productive and successful within their fields.
One of the most common mistakes we make in the social media world is posting messages to the wrong network at the wrong time to an audience that doesn’t ever have the chance to read it, or worse, never would read it even if they could.
As previously mentioned, each social media platform is based on its own set of limits and boundaries to keep the networks consistent for its users.
Think about your audience? When are they most active on a particular social media platform and why?
Does the platform lend itself well to tools like Hootsuite or Buffer that can schedule your posts and spread them out throughout your work week? Or does the platform frown upon such schedules and reward a more actively involved approach?
#7 Social Storytelling
What makes your content worth talking about? What makes the reader care enough to read it?
The good news is, all of us love the power of story and create our own stories within the context of all the others we hear and read. When trying to reach your audience, develop a social media plan around your own story. Share your passion, your experiences, and your struggles. This way, your readers have the opportunity to find their own story within the context of your ministry.
Your story will determine how far and wide you’ll be able to extend your reach.
What about you?
What tools are you using to develop a social media plan for your online ministry? Share your thoughts with us.
Mitzi, this is really good! Thanks for sharing!
Mitzi Smith says
thanks, Lisa! Thanks for being such a wonderful encouragement as our leader at moretobe.com
Sherry Carter says
This is full of information, Mitzi! Info that I need. I’m still a little intimidated by the whole social-media thing. Your post is full of practical steps to help me be more comfortable with my own journey into cyberspace :).
Mitzi Smith says
It’s true-social media can be intimidating. But I think if we’ll see it more as an awesome opportunity for real connections, we’d be less troubled by it. Happy this helps, Sherry!