Good news — social media strategy for parishes does not need to be confusing! We’ve put together a simple step by step guide that you can follow to get you started, or restarted, on the right foot when it comes to your parish’s social media presence! Already a pro? Let everyone know what strategies are working for your community in the comments of this blog! If, though, you aren’t sure about how the social media world works, or, if you are curious about whether you’ve set up your parish’s strategy for maximum benefit, read on!
1. First thing’s first — Learn about the tools you are choosing to use.
Many people dive right in when it comes to creating social media accounts for their parish without even realizing what features each platform provides! We suggest always taking a few free online tutorials before setting everything up and learning some specifics about each platform. Remember, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are companies that each have their own specific goals and business strategies. When using one of these platforms, your church is essentially partnering with that company to use the tools that they have created to engage socially with your community. In order to use the tool properly it’s smart to know a bit about the company and the platform first before diving in. Plus, free knowledge is great, right?
A simple YouTube search for “Instagram tutorial” or “setting up a Facebook business account ” can yield a plethora of free resources for you to choose from. One YouTube channel we recommend that has great step by step social media tutorials is: https://www.youtube.com/c/StewartGauld
For example, here’s a tutorial on how to set up a business Instagram account for your parish — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H99YUL-VRk&t=32s
And here is one on how to set up a professional Facebook profile —https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trBA7xGgzjk
2. Decide how you want to use these tools.
Now that you know a little about the social media platforms you want to implement, it’s time to brainstorm how you want to use these tools with the leadership of your parish. For example, are you hoping to share images of your community? Are you using the platform to livestream Mass or other events? Remember that you don’t have to do everything at once! You might start with simply posting about upcoming events or sharing weekly facts about your parish. Below is a quick non-exhaustive list of ways parishes often use their social media platforms that you can use to brainstorm. We suggest doing this on a platform-by-platform basis. For example, you might start with brainstorming how you want to use Instagram first and then move on to Facebook, etc.
- Share event information
- Create event sign ups
- Livestream Mass or other events
- Share pictures of your community
- Share your bulletin
- Support parishioner’s local businesses
- Find new companies to advertise in your bulletin
- Share facts about your church
- Introduce staff members or important volunteer leaders
- Celebrate accomplishments
- Educate about your faith
- Share important news about things like weather closures
- Invite people to register for faith formation
- Find new volunteers
- Solicit donations
A quick note on cross-posting — you might notice that some of your posting goals overlap onto several platforms. For example, both Instagram and Facebook use stories in a similar way, so you can post the same story to both platforms at once. By linking apps that use similar features, you can save yourself time while also covering more ground! Interested in how to do this but don’t know how? Remember that YouTube tutorial channel we mentioned in the first step? Here’s a video from it on how to connect your Instagram to your Facebook profile — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10UKnFsBvXA
3. Make sure your branding looks professional.
Now that you have some goals, let’s make sure you accomplish them in style! Don’t let your church’s branding be an afterthought. For many of your Millennial, Gen Z, and even your Gen X parishioners, social media will be the primary way that they interact with your parish! When people native to social media encounter an organization without a nice-looking logo or professional branding, they often discount it and quickly move on.
Not sure where to start? LPi can help! We have an entire branding and design team that specializes in rebranding and can even redesign your parish website, your bulletin, or both!
Your church’s professional branding should include these things:
- Your church logo —This will be on your Facebook page, Instagram, website, letterhead, business cards, Christmas cards, the sign in front of your church, your t-shirts, flyers, welcome pamphlets, bulletins, program registrations, and more!
- A plan for consistent font and color use — and the knowledge of how to employ these designs across platforms.
- A professional looking website.
- Professional looking layout for your publications like your bulletin or newsletter that reflect your design decisions.
- Social media banners and headers that reflect your design decisions.
4. Find your following.
To grow your following all you’ve got to do is advertise, advertise, advertise!
Some ways to do this successfully are to —
- Put a link or a QR code with how to connect to your social media pages on everything you distribute: flyers, invitations, registrations forms, bulletins, newsletters, welcome packets, gifts, cards, and official mailers.
- Make sure that links to all of your social media profiles are visible on your parish’s homepage and easily accessible to visitors there.
- Remind your parishioners during Mass announcements that they should stay connected to your parish via your social media accounts in order to find out more about events and church news.
- If your church uses screens to display Mass or event announcements, always have a “Connect with Us” slide with a QR code that links people to your various profiles.
- When creating your faith formation registration forms, include a section where parents can share their own social media . Explain on the form that you will be connecting with them via socials occasionally so to look for a follow from your church’s social media profiles.
- Follow your community members on their own social profiles! Often, when someone sees that your church just started following them on their social profile, they will follow right back!
5. Don’t forget to Interact!
Remember, social media is meant to be SOCIAL. It is not good practice to just make a post and then walk away. Someone at your parish should be monitoring your social media presence and interacting with your followers when they engage with your content. It’s important to make sure that every comment and message gets a reply as promptly as possible. Every engagement increases your chance of the network’s algorithm displaying your content to a wider audience.
Engagement is, at the most basic level, how these social media algorithms choose what to show users and what to skip. If your post is getting lots of engagement via likes, comments, and shares, the algorithm will take note and consider it to be an important post and, thus, display it to more people. It’s key to remember that the goal of many of these platforms is to get users to stay on their platform, looking at content, for as long as possible. For this reason, the more interactions your post gets, the more the platform will connect other users to your content. You can hack this system a little by encouraging your staff members and volunteers to follow each of your parish’s social profiles and frequently remind them to engage with your posts! This way you can get the process going by having key people already in place expecting to interact with your content.
Congratulations on putting in all of the groundwork to get your church’s social media profiles up and running! To make posting on social media much less daunting, remember that LPi has a massive collection of customizable graphics, ready-made Instagram & Facebook stories, illustrations, stock photos, and more, in our WeCreate library just waiting to be used by you for all of your social media needs!