Some of you (and your respective ministries) are at the point where you want to go ahead and “dive” in; you’ve been convicted (or convinced) that your church and/or ministry needs to be doing some sort of “social media.”
Ok, so now what?
Getting to the point, you need to develop a plan, because very quickly you’ll find that you can be “in” so fast and so deep that you’ll have no time left to do other things.
So here’s a 5 Step Plan for how to start “doing” social media for your ministry:
Step #1 – Know Your Audience
To engage properly and successfully you’ll need to know exactly who’s going to be listening (or who you want to listen). There are tons of “conversations” already happening out there, so that’s where you should start.
Determine what your audience is talking about and start listening to their needs. You can do this in a number of ways, either by base-searching for keywords in your favorite search engine, or using a number of social media tools.
There’s one in particular that I’ve really enjoyed using to get a “quick fix” for what’s out there and that’s Joseph’s Yahoo Pipes Social Media Firehose. Take a look and get a feel for what it can do.
AllTop is another great aggregator of particular niche (or large) blogs that are consistently covering timely and relevant conversations in the spaces that you’re interested in.
Specificity is really key here, so be as targeted with your searches as possible.
Step #2 – Choose the Platform(s) and People(s)
The next step is deciding on what specific “platforms” you’ll use to begin to engage in the conversations. As I have outlined here, 2 to 3 (to begin with) is probably the most I’d start with, especially if you’re team is small.
Although the platform choices are crucial, finding the right people to manage and engage is even more important. You may want to read this blog post that I wrote about how to choose the right person to blog for your church. The same principle applies to all of the other social networking platforms as well.
Once you have the people and the platforms you can begin to better formulate a short-term and long-term strategy. There are a number of posts here on ChurchCrunch that can also help you with that, but the number one rule here is to be creative and to leverage your strengths, both the ministry’s and the individual’s.
Step #3 – Do It
Perhaps this is the best part of the entire plan and strategy. You simply start “doing” it.
Leave comments on blogs, upload content and media to the platforms where you’ve chosen to engage, develop relationships and answer questions. Be relational!
Step #4 – Get Off the Computer
Your goal is relationships, both online and offline. Make sure you find opportunities to not only connect more deeply with those that you meet online but also with those that you can meet offline.There is something “special” about being physically present and having that aspect available in your relationships that you are developing.
Do a Blog-Meetup, or a Tweet-up, or something digi-meetup… name it what you will, but do it!
Step #5 – Metrics
This should be a part of the conversation and strategy at the beginning but it’s time to measure the success of your initiatives and programs.
Some thoughts that you might ponder:
- Did we learn more about our congregation?
- Did we learn more about our local community?
- Did our congregation/local online community learn more about us as a ministry?
- We’re we able to meet up face-to-face with a number of our new relationships?
- Do we feel that people are growing in their relationship with Christ?
- Is the traffic increasing to our sites or to our social networks?
- Are our relationships with both internal/external “growing?”
- Are we able to save money by doing things online now that we used to do with offline media?
Remember, you’re in it for the long haul so a return on investment or the ability to “measure” may take some time.
By taking just a small bit of time to develop a plan and a strategy you’ll be able to have a much larger and more successful engagement. Do not be fooled, though, you will make mistakes but you will also make tons of discoveries, about your ministry, yourself, and your “audience.”
Remember to have fun too.