Enjoy this guest article from our good friend Mark Sties, Digital Creative Director at Sties Design Agency. He and his team help small to mid-sized churches overcome challenges with creative communications.
I know you're probably busy, so I want to keep this article brief.
I recently surveyed over 150 Church Social Media Managers to find out what they wish pastors understood about their job. These insights are timely as many pastors are feeling desperate to increase engagement and wouldn't consider themselves super knowledgeable about the ins and outs of social.
As a pastor, do you panic when view counts for video church services are down? Facebook posts aren't getting as many likes as before? Or the church's Instagram hasn't had any new followers in a while? It's easy to blame whoever is working on the church's social media, but that role is more challenging than you might realize. So, after asking over 150 Church Social Media Managers (CSMMs) what they wished pastors understood about their work, here are their top 5 responses:
#5 -Building an active online community doesn't happen quickly.
Your CSMM needs time to determine which social media channels are the most effective for your church mission. Facebook and Instagram are the most popular, but there are others like YouTube to consider, maybe even Pinterest and Snapchat to engage specialty groups. It will take weeks, even months, for your CSMM to determine what content connects the most on those platforms, and why.
#4 - You need a staff member or volunteer dedicated exclusively to social media work.
Social media is the digital ministry of your church. This is not something you should tack on to the full-time responsibilities of your Youth Pastor, especially if they're not gifted for it or passionate about learning it.
#3 - It takes a crazy amount of time to post and respond to comments and messages.
Creating new content is time consuming as many churches try to post at least once a day on multiple platforms. Then there are comments and direct messages. Those need to be answered prayerfully and very promptly to build community. Attending to social media happens every day, during and outside of9AM - 5PM.
#2 - Social media strategy is constantly evolving.
Social content that worked last month may not continue to engage. Facebook changes their feed algorithm frequently, which requires your CSMM to try new strategies like Facebook Groups and advertising. Moderating groups and running ad campaigns requires even more time and intentionality.
#1 - It’s very challenging to create fresh content.
A good CSMM knows that neither view counts, likes, nor follows directly correspond to spiritual growth. They need to constantly create content that syncs with your church mission and can be measured (like an event sign-up or prayer request contact). Most CSMMs publish some original content combined with carefully-curated material from paid resources. Video content captures the most attention, but is also the most time-consuming to produce.
Like many pastors, Church Social Media Managers frequently express discouragement and burnout. Maybe it's a perfect time to ask how your CSMM is doing (or start training one), pray for them and learn how you can equip them in this important ministry role.
Mark Sties is the Digital Creative Director at Sties Design Agency. He helps small to mid-sized churches overcome challenges with creative communications.
Austin is the Managing Director here at 95Network. From Normal, IL, Austin gets that ministry can sometimes feel anything but “normal.” He grew up leading in the small church his dad pastored, and has since served on the launch teams for two church plants. He holds a Communications degree from Moody Bible Institute and is passionate about seeing churches grow healthier and make a difference in their communities. Austin and his wife, Larisa, reside near Peoria, IL.