orange2014_mattgina-socialDoes your church lack a social media strategy? Does your ministry lack a social media strategy? Are you wanting to communicate better to your parents and volunteer leaders? If you said yes to any of the above, Matt McKee and Gina McClain have some things to help. They led a pre-conference workshop at Orange 2014 called, “Developing a Weekly Social Media Plan for Parents and Volunteers.”

Matt started by stating, “We’re passionate about social media, because we are passionate about people, and people use it.” They started with this video from Erik Qualman containing a ton of social media stats.

Before they started into some big strategies, the first they they stressed was to know your audience! You need to understand who your audience is and what is their preferred communication method(s). This is a huge point! Gina explained how she use to work at LifeChurch.tv, but now works at a church in East Tenessee. Tech went from the primary way of communcating to not being the primary way of communicating. Honestly, if they stopped right there, that would have been enough to take many churches and ministries to the next level, but they went on.

They suggested that leaders need to focus on two groups when communicating:

  1. Parents – Extend the Conversation: Recap what was discussed & give pointers to discuss at home.
  2. Small Group Leaders – Prepare the Conversation: Feed stuff to leaders that will help prepare, train, and equip them.

Gina came right out and said, “”Should I be on social media? Yes, you should.” Though, Matt said, “One of the biggest problems our churches have today is communicating how they communicate.” We need to do a better job on this. Additionally, they suggested that if you’re not solving a problem with your interaction on social media, people will turn it off.

In order to provide fresh content that makes our communication better, they gave 10 suggestions:

1. Ask your community directly.
Your community is your best source of intelligence. Valuing their opinions will help you better connect with them and bring you closer to what they are thinking. Ask them what problems they’re having trouble solving. Ask them to point you to their favorite online resources. Thiis doesn’t have to be a formal survey. Pick 10 to 20 people that you have a good relationship with to call, email, or even tweet.

2. Ask your fellow staff.
Your fellow staff spends their time talking to the community. They are building relationships around issues that your church can solve. This can easily translate into content. Ask them what kind of ebook can help build a relationship with their ministry.

3. Ask your volunteers.
Volunteers know what the weak points are to your church and ministry. They get asked questions from new people all the time about things that don’t work and things they don’t understand. Which questions always resurface? Write a blog post with the top tips. Shoot videos with volunteers answering actual questions.

*Be sure to follow-up after announcing things like a new series,” says Matt.

4. Follow your community on social networks.
While asking your community direct questions is one way to get information from them, following them on Twitter and other social media platforms is a way to find out what’s on their mind. They could share concerns online that they wouldn’t share with you directly. And make sure you follow individuals and businesses to benefit from different perspectives.

Matt said, “We have a way to get outside of our four walls than we ever have in history.”

5. Join ministry groups.
Ministry Groups can be a great source of content ideas. Join groups in your targetted area to see what the conversation is about. What kinds of blog posts are shared? What gets the most discussion? These can guide your own content creation. You can ask questions and use the answers given as the basis for a blog post or part of an ebook.

6. Follow ministry blogs.
Even though many of us now get our news through social media channels, there are still great blogs out there. Use these ideas as jumping off points for your own content.

7. Discover key words in analytics.
Search still drives traffic to websites, and your church is not likely the exception. Get access to your web analytics and see what search terms are driving them to your site.

8. Listen to your community.
What kinds of questions are people asking online in your community? Are they looking for recommendations? Can you create content that responds to their needs?

9. Monitor community conversations.
Using a social media monitors or website monitors can help you understand what conversations your community has online.

10. Connect with other Local Churches.
We learn a lot by connecting. This doesn’t mean you should copy everything other churches do, or let their inactivity postpone your progress. Showing the community that the church can come together will help the community come together.

After they spent time explaining each of these 10 suggestions, Matt said, “We need to understand our community, as a whole — not just the ones coming through your doors.” He goes on to say, “If all you do in social media is content, you lose. 70% of your time should be more about interaction than automation.” These points are extremely important, as we look at communication to our parents and volunteers.

But many of you are probably saying, “I don’t have time to do all of that.” There’s hope! There are two new Orange subscription services: Parent Cue Weekly and Lead Small Weekly. These are pre-packaged messages to send to your parents and small group leaders. They are launching it this week. If you want to know more about these two resources, be sure to check out future blog posts, as I have a subscription and plan to use it, so I will definitely be sharing my thoughts.

Matt and Gina ended with listing 8 tools you can use to to manage your social media:

  1. Hootsuite
  2. Social Oomph
  3. Tweepi
  4. Spredfast
  5. Buffer
  6. Spout Social
  7. Everypost
  8. Bitly

Matt is also giving away a free resource on his website. You can download “Be Social” from http://mattmckee.me.

Connect with Matt and Gina:

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