In 2020, churches everywhere entered into an unprecedented time of global shutdowns, mandates, and closed church doors. Although the past 18 months have been far from easy, beauty was found in the midst of it all.
We’ve seen an echo of Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”
The pandemic left us afraid and hopeless, but God redeemed this time and used it to change the church forever.
Through the power of digital, churches have reached people they never thought they could reach before. As churches big and small made their shift to online, the Internet was flooded with messages of hope, peace, and love.
You may be prone to believe that it was only the megachurches that made an impact online these past 18 months, but every member of the collective church had a part to play in bringing a beacon of hope online.
More than 87% of the estimated 380,000 churches in America have congregations with less than 250 people.
The American Church is comprised of many small churches, not just a select few huge ones. To have the biggest impact online as the church, these small churches have a vital role, too. But how can smaller churches stand out on social media? How can they reach their existing audience and even those beyond it?
Set a clear goal.
Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This verse speaks to the importance of never losing sight of our mission as a church.
The churches that have failed are the ones who have gotten distracted, lost their passion, and have forgotten why they opened their doors in the first place.
As a church, our goal is the same: share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a broken world. Our vision is to give people hope. But each church also has its own unique vision and goals, too.
To set a clear goal, churches must ask themselves:
- Why do we exist?
- What do we offer to our specific community?
- What needs are we meeting?
A great first step is to create a mission statement for your church (or refine your existing one). Setting this vision at the forefront will keep you motivated when things get difficult and will propel you towards growth and success.
Know your audience.
Many smaller churches can fall into the trap of trying to reach every single person online. But trying to reach everyone and not being specific is a huge stumbling block.
Not knowing your audience makes things harder because you’re focusing on too many people at once instead of defining who you want to reach.
Your audience goes beyond demographics and numbers, which requires actually getting to know them. Define your audience by developing a description of who you’re speaking to — your ideal “Jane Doe.”
- Where do they live?
- What generation do they belong to?
- What are they searching for?
Answering these questions will make it easier to make a lasting impact on your audience.
Standing out on social media involves playing nicely with the ever-changing social media algorithms. These algorithms tend to prioritize accounts that post consistent, quality content.
Posting consistently on social media also helps to maintain relevance. The idea is simple: the most often you post, the more likely someone will see your content. It is as easy as that!
Posting consistently (and even every day) is the ultimate goal. We know that can sound daunting, but creating a social media content calendar in advance will help you stay on track and remain organized.
Use images and videos that stop the scroll.
Along with posting consistently, you want to make sure the content you share is not just the same old same old. Changing up your content will help maximize your reach and stand out online.
One of the most important things to stand out online is sharing content that stops the scroll.
We’ve all experienced the virtual double-take when something captivates our full attention while scrolling our feed.
The quality of your content can drastically influence whether you stand out on social media or not. If your content is not compelling enough to engage with, it will not yield the reach you need to stand out. But when you share content that captivates, it encourages people to like, comment, share, and save.
These engagement metrics are vital to helping you:
- Play well with the social media algorithm
- Spread your message online
Good design matters, and good video matters. Design is the very first level of digital engagement, so ensuring you’re sharing gorgeous, compelling content is key to growth and impact.
Post share-worthy content.
Shareworthy content is what takes your “scroll-stopping content” and amplifies it even further.
Shares are valuable because they take content (that once only reached your followers) and places it in front of an entirely new audience.
People just aren’t seeing your content as much as they once were. But when people share your content, it gratifies the algorithm and places your content at a higher priority.
Shares get your content out there to new audiences and increase the likelihood of other types of engagement: likes, comments, and saves. Shares ultimately help you stand out on social media by getting your message in front of more eyes.
It can be daunting to try to reach people as a small church. But when you clarify your vision, know your audience, post consistently, stop the scroll, and utilize share-worthy content, you can stand out online.
Remember, we are all in this together. Spreading the gospel is the ultimate goal for every church on Earth. So, let’s do this together and leave a lasting impact that will change generations to come.
This article is courtesy of Pro MediaFire, a creative digital agency helping churches around the world with online growth. To serve churches of all sizes, they have released the digital toolkit Creativo for social media management and websites for digital outreach, www.creativo.org.