Three Questions to Ask about Your Church’s Social Media Use

There’s a great deal of information available to churches and businesses about how to “inventory” and assess your social media program. Many of these inventories are quite good; done properly, they’re also time-consuming and best done with the assistance of someone who specializes in this world.

Should you go to that extent? Take the time to fully account for all your social media projects, assess their effectiveness, and analyze how you manage your channels?

Before undertaking a full inventory, SLC recommends you answer three simple questions.

followQuestion 1: Looking at your existing social media channels, are you following everyone (or as many as you are able) of your congregation? 

Why It Matters: Social media is just that–social. If you are not following your parishoners, you are using social media channels as a one-way street. You can send out information that you find important, but you aren’t seeing information about your community that your members find important.

integrateQuestion 2: Thinking about your online habits, are your church’s social media channels integrated into your work (i.e., they stay on and you check them at the same rate you check e-mail)?

Why It Matters: Social media works best when you respond. Just like e-mail. If you aren’t monitoring and responding to the social media pages of those in your community, you are missing a critical opportunity to discover what people are saying about your community and learning what those in your community are learning and sharing with others.

speedometerQuestion 3: Do you regularly review and make adjustments in your social media habits based on your parishoners’ responses and posts?

Why It Matters: Think about real-time, face-to-face conversations. When you start talking with someone, you use your aural and visual senses to decide how the conversation will develop. If the person you’re speaking with is using sober tones and looking down, you aren’t likely to start talking about how wonderful everything is in your life. Instead, you listen and sympathize more. If someone is excited, you don’t burden them with a heavy question. The same is true of social media. Sending out material that no one responds to and never changing suggests to those who follow you that you’re tone deaf. Staying on top of people’s reaction is critical to your success.

So how’d you do?

If you answer positively to all three questions, you’re set for a full-blown social media inventory. Forge ahead!

Less than that, there are some more fundamental steps you need to take before investing in an inventory. Start with the questions you can’t answer affirmatively, try doing them for a couple months, and then re-evaluate your readiness for an inventory.

Happy Socializing!

Martin Davis is founder of Sacred Language Communications and specializes in helping congregations and faith-based organizations leverage social media to strengthen their communities through improved mutual understanding and discussion. Contact him at mdavis@sacredlanguagecommunications, or call him at 540-498-5994.

The Pope, Twitter, and the Man from Madrid

Gustavo Entrala is one in-demand dude. And why not? He’s the guy that put the pope on Twitter. Quite literally.

That’s right, the pope’s on Twitter, and by all measures doing quite well with it.

popeBut it’s Entrala, not the pope, who is the brains behind the account. And he told his story to those attending the conference I was at in way that held us all captivated. The next day, I had the pleasure of sitting beside him as we took a bus to the small town of Araxa.

My first question to him was, “how carefully do you measure the impact of Twitter on the papacy?” His response–“Not very.” We track relatively simple metrics, he said; mostly, we pay attention to what messages are resonating with what groups of people.

Come again?

The pope’s Twitter account recently topped 10 million followers. You read that right, 10 million. Entrala and company must have data coming out of their ears. But for all of that, they choose to focus on the relatively simple metric of how do tweets play with people, measured mainly through how often, and by whom, something gets retweeted?

There are two key take-aways here.

1. It’s not the size of your following (or the number of friends) one’s social media channels have. Instead, it’s what those who follow or befriend you are telling you about your thoughts when the react–or don’t–to what you’re transmitting. To benefit from this, you don’t require 10 million followers. You can learn the same lessons with 10, or 50, or 100 followers. Run your ideas up the flag pole, see who salutes, and react accordingly.

2. If Entrala, the brains behind the pope’s massive Twitter account, is looking mostly at what people are revealing about themselves when they retweet the pope’s messages, it re-inforces a notion we at SLC talk a lot about. The value of social media lay not in how it helps you grow. As a growth tool, it’s unreliable at best. But as a tool that provides insight into what people really want, it’s unparalleled.

Of course, I am simplifying here. Both Entrala and his work with the pope’s Twitter account are far more complicated than I’ve conveyed. He’s no hack who happened to stumble on a big customer. (Learn more about Entrala here, here, here, and [if your Spanish is good] here.) But the core of his message as conveyed here is correct.

As you think about your groups’ social media channels, think long and hard about what you’re learning. If you’re not, you’re missing out on the most powerful component social media offers you.

Just ask the pope.