Social media has become a vital communication tool for a number of reasons:
1. It’s where people are. Many people check their Facebook and Twitter feeds constantly, especially now that they can do so on mobiles. They are therefore more likely to see your communication if it is also conveyed via social media.
2. It’s two-way communication. Many of the other communication methods involve one-way broadcasting (ie. my information is sent to you). Social media is one way of ensuring you can have a dialogue, both with church members and those outside church.
3. It’s instant. You don’t have to wait two weeks for the parish magazine to come out, or until Sunday to say something to the congregation. You can say something now and get a response within seconds.
4. It depends on networks. Because of the way social media works, it depends on information being shared within a network (say, a church congregation), each of whom has their own circle of friends. If someone who is genuinely my friend is inviting me to an event or telling me a piece of information, I’m much more likely to trust them and perhaps to respond. It’s different from a website, where an invitation might come from an anonymous webmaster or a minister I don’t know.
You can find out how to develop a church ‘page’ or ‘group’ on Facebook, or how to start your own Twitter feed in the book. But a few important points to remember:
– work out whether you should have a private or ‘closed’ Facebook group (eg. for conversation between church members) or a public Facebook page (eg. for invitations to evangelistic church events);
– decide it you would like multiple people updating your social media outlets. If so, perhaps you should agree what kind of things you are happy for the group to ‘share’ when acting in the name of your church (eg. not everyone in your congregation might share the same view on certain issues). If necessary, give your minister the final say;
– make sure that you upload photos from church events quickly. But decide on a protocol for getting permission to feature people, especially when children are photographed;
– having a presence on social media means people have an extra way of contacting your church with questions and queries. But the nature of social media means you need to respond quickly. If you are drawn into a discussion that you would rather not have in public, ask to email/message the person directly or meet in person instead.
There are loads more ideas about using social media in the book ‘100 Ways To Get Your Church Noticed’. Details here.