So, you have your platforms set up and you’re ready to post. How do you set yourself up for success? Here are a few posting best practices for Facebook and Instagram specifically (although most of them would apply to other platforms as well):
- Always use a photo with your post. A post with just text is missing an opportunity. People are MANY times more likely to see your post and to read it if there’s a compelling photo with it.
- Keep it short. There are so many things competing for our attention. No one is going to read your multi-paragraph Facebook post. I’d recommend no more than five lines. When you go beyond five lines of text, only the first five appear in people’s news feeds and they have to click “See more” to read the rest. Assume people aren’t going to take the time to see more.
- Post frequently! Not everyone is going to see every post. The more frequently you post, the greater the chance that some of your followers will see it. Plus, posting frequently provides a really good opportunity to help people stay connected to your church throughout the whole week and not just once or twice a week when they’re in the building.
- Use multiple types of posts. Facebook’s algorithm that chooses which posts appear at the top of people’s news feeds favors variety when it comes to posts. Post some photos, some articles, and some videos. And yes, it’s FINE to post a photo or video taken from your cell phone. Give people a taste of worship by posting a video of a prayer being recited or the choir singing a beautiful song. Show them what’s happening during Lent by posting photos of small groups or forums.
- Schedule posts ahead of time! Doing so will make posting frequently a LOT less overwhelming. The churches I know of that do Facebook best schedule their posts in advance. Try to find one or two people in your congregation (other than the pastor or church staff) who are comfortable using social media and use it personally—AND who are fairly articulate and good with words. See if that person would be willing to sit down on the same day each week to schedule some posts for the coming week. Take a look in the church bulletin or announcements to promote some great opportunities (if you have a lot, only pick the very best ones) and find some inspirational photos or scripture to supplement it. Then church staff and the designated person can still be on the lookout during the week for great opportunities to capture photos or video in real-time—like during worship or on Wednesday night or at a youth event. Those can be posted right as they are taken.
So what types of posts should you do? What should you focus on? Here are four goals that are good ones to strive for in your posts:
- Inform: Inform people about important ministries at your church, news in your church’s community, and ways in which the congregation is making a difference. Did your church do a meaningful service project? Did you raise money for an organization? Give people some things to celebrate!
- Inspire: Inspire people by posting Bible verses or thought-provoking quotes or things that make them proud of your church or proud to be United Methodist.
- Invite: Invite people to church for worship and also to other events that would be of interest to them. Make sure your Facebook page isn’t ONLY a string of upcoming activities. But do use Facebook to promote upcoming events that would have widespread interest.
- Engage: Try to engage people by asking questions and encouraging them to comment and be part of the conversation (as opposed to just pushing info out to them all the time).This is definitely the hardest tone. One thing that helps is if you can ask one or two people you know from your congregation to comment on a particular post to get the conversation going. If people see that others are posting, they may be more likely to jump in too. Also, if you record sermons, I recommend including links to them on your social media channels too. Snowbirds and anyone who might have missed worship will especially appreciate this.
Other ideas for posts:
Other ideas for posts:
• Behind-the-scenes look at something your church is doing
• Sneak peek of something coming up
• 60-second (written or video) devotion
• Invite people to submit prayer requests
• Fill-in-the-blank series! You start by saying the first part of the sentence…. and then have people fill in the rest with comments.