The buzzword for social media strategies the past few years has revolved around the idea of maximizing engagement. Last year, Facebook revised their algorithm for expanding the reach of posts based on the conversational engagement by your friends and family. Engagement happens when people that see your post react by liking it, commenting on it, and/or sharing it.
It is really gratifying when our posts are well received and generate significant engagement. But is that our goal with social media, to generate a high number of likes, comments, and shares? Social media is a digital medium that can facilitate conversations which leads to relationship building. So, if our goal as the church is to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then our goal should be to connect with people on social media.
Now, it may sound like I am splitting hairs between engaging and connecting, but they are two distinctly different terms that together can help us reach more people using social media. I would assert that our goal with social media, and any communication medium for that matter, is to give the other person the opportunity to connect; with the church, but most importantly with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In recent years, churches of all sizes have embraced the use of social media as a way to reach more people. Many churches have exerted great effort to create elegant and relevant posts, including the use of video, to generate responses. But then what happens when we achieve a desirable engagement rate with our posts? In most cases, we review what made the post successful and then try to duplicate those qualities on future posts. And then on to the next post.
I would argue that we stop the engagement process too early if we aren’t looking for ways to connect with the people that were attracted to the content in the first place. Our goal with social media is not to generate a great engagement, but to convert those responses into connection opportunities where relationships can be built.There are several questions we should ask to identify connection opportunities:
- Who engaged with our post? Are they members, regular visitors, or brand new people?
- How can we respond to their engagement? (PRO TIP: like their comment, respond to their comment, follow their account)
- What about the content made it compelling? Is it addressing a common felt-need?
- Can the content be followed up with “more of the same” to the respondents or an invitation to an event or worship series?
- Can we get the respondents to a connecting point on our website as a next step?
PRO TIP: Utilize a social media that provides in-depth monitoring tools in addition to post scheduling. I use and recommend Social Report (click for a free trial).
As you can surmise, I am of the opinion that creating connections is more critical than generating engagement on our social media. But if we don’t have people engaging with our posts then there aren’t any opportunities to connect. My argument for connecting as being the most critical is because it is our next step as the church to build relationships with people that are looking for answers in their lives.
And that goes for all communication and marketing media, from traditional advertising to bulletin announcements: are we giving people an opportunity to connect with the church and with the Gospel in this content? What connecting points are you creating?
Stay tuned to future blog posts for the nuts and bolts of creating connecting points and using them to build relationships.
For more information about attracting and connecting strategies, check out our website: