For many churches, social media can be a great tool for outreach, but managing it is a big job. If your church, like many, cannot afford a social media manager, consider a volunteer team to work with the staff. To create a team, you will need to recruit volunteers – and be sure the members have the skills, experience and time needed.
Whether it’s through the bulletin, announcements in worship, your e-newsletter or a combination of media, let church members know you are seeking dedicated help. If your church has a volunteer page on its website or a contact for people who are interested in serving, you may already have a list of potential volunteers. If you already have social media set up, post for help from your Facebook or Twitter account. You also may seek out members who already engage with your social media pages.
The people behind the tools and social media outlets make the difference! The success of your social media marketing will depend on what is presented, how it is presented and if the audience is engaged enough to interact.
Look for the following team members:
Team leader: Because this person will be the most involved with the project, it is important to find someone who has marketing knowledge and experience. The leader will organize and coordinate the social media work with the other team members. He or she will develop a strategy, give the team direction and make sure branding and messaging are consistent. Whoever leads the team must understand that it will be a major time investment. Social media management is a lot of work, even with help, so try to find someone with who can commit at least 10 hours a week.
Writers: These team members will write content to promote, engage and encourage your audience.
Mediators: These people are active on social media and can monitor the page and answer user questions. They should be knowledgeable about your church and good listeners.
Photographers: While you can collect photographs from members, it is a good idea to have a dedicated and skilled volunteer photographer who is willing to attend many church events.
Graphic designers: Unless you create a strong first impression for your YouTube channel, Twitter background, website or e-newsletter, people may not take the content seriously. It’s important for your church both to be present and to be presented well. While it is best to be able to budget for a designer who is consistent and dependable, you may find a designer in the church who is willing to serve as a volunteer. Having someone on the team with knowledge of HTML is also a huge plus, especially if you have a blog or need design work done on your Facebook page.
Now that you have candidates, you will need to interview and discuss expectations. Once someone shows interest in volunteering with social media, you will need to discuss the job with him or her. Look for people who:
- Think strategically. Your social media plan must complement your big picture for ministry. It does not stand alone. Your social media plan should be strategically integrated into your overall church plan. Your social media team leader must understand this big picture and make sure the team shares this vision.
- Have a marketing background. Social media is only a marketing tool to engage people. A social media manager should have an in-depth knowledge of marketing, outreach, public relations, communications and search engine optimization.
- Embrace the “social” of social media. Social media is today’s preferred tool for “word-of-mouth” communication. Your social media team should understand how people socialize online, analyze behavior patterns and see how people communicate and interact with one another. Check out how they respond on social media channels. They should reach out actively and engage people in conversation.
- Understand and are active on social media platforms. Social media and online marketing are always changing, so look for people who are eager to continue learning and evolve with technology.
- Are responsive, efficient and purposeful. As church leaders, your social media manager and team should focus on customer service and building relationships. The team works in tandem with the staff to be their voice! You don’t want someone to be thoughtless or careless with responses. That could ruin your reputation!
- Are creative. Your writers, photographers and graphic designers hold the key to the success of your social media marketing as they create compelling, relevant and creative content.
- Have time: Do they have the time to be dedicated and serve consistently?
You have identified your dream team. However, can all members commit the time required to make this effort successful? The best way to find out is to start with a test project. Ensure that the team clearly understands the project goals and set realistic expectations about outcomes. Share guidelines for brand and message consistency. If your church does not present itself and its events in a consistent manner, it can cause confusion and not promote well.
Provide this background information for your project:
- Who – Audience
- What – Event, ministry, service project
- When, where?
- Why – Should your audience care?
- Call to action
- Additional information such as resources and ministry contacts
- Sample posts for Facebook and Twitter
- Project deadlines
Evaluate and thank your team
After you complete the work, give team members individual feedback. Evaluate the project and look together at what to do differently next time and what went well. This is also an opportunity to ask volunteers if the role is a good fit for them. Ask them about the amount of time they spent on the project. Was it in line with what they expected? Are they comfortable committing to that going forward? THANK your team for their efforts and encourage them.