Social media is an incredible tool that should be leveraged by pastors. Leaders should leverage social media to build relationships, connect with their community, and learn from others. I am going to guess that most of you have a Facebook account, but if you don’t have a Twitter account, get one. I suggest signing up for an Instagram and Snapchat account as well. You don’t need to post all the time, but you can use them when you need to. Most people under 25 already use Instagram and Snapchat so Pastors should be familiar with it as well.
Here are a few suggestions that I have for pastors who want to leverage social media in order to build relationships and connect with the broader community.
1. Post early in the morning 5-7am and between 8-9pm. This is when the most people check fb. You probably check it when you get up and before bed like everyone else.
2. Posts should fall into one of three categories: Inspirational, informational, or interactional. An inspirational post can be a bible verse or quote. It can challenge or encourage. You need to vary inspirational posts to keep it fresh. Informational quotes are posts that inform. “New Relationship series starts Sunday” or “Drop of boxes at Community Church by 5” are two examples. If you post too many informational posts people will start ignoring them. Interactional posts require a response. They should always start with “What do you think about…..” or “What type of cheese should go on a grilled cheese?” When people get a chance to interact with you, they feel connected. Be sure to “like” the comments you get. It lets people know you read them.
3. If you post or re-post a video, make sure you have watched it yourself.
Nothing is more embarrassing than re-posting a video that you didn’t watch until the end. Some pastors have mistakenly re-posted some vial videos simply because they never really watched the whole thing.
4. Post two or three times a day max! Two or three posts a day is more than enough.
5. Don’t over-post. If you over-post, people will eventually wonder what you do at work. Everyone knows someone who likes everything all day on social media. Don't be that person.
6. Don't post negative emotions. If you had a bad weekend, don’t tell the whole world! If you are upset with a congregation member, don’t blast them online “Dealt with a dork today……….” These types of posts will always come back to get you. What you write lasts forever.
7. Be real not real fake. Many people airbrush their lives to make them look better. It's OK to be real, but you should not bleed your emotional life on social media. Laugh at yourself and be real, but don’t post pics that are derogatory toward your spouse, family, or church.
8. Don't be a "like" counter or collector. Sure, we all want people to "like" our posts, but don't use the number of "likes' to dictate your self-esteem or value as a leader.
9. Use a posting program. I use a program called Buffer to post for me at certain times. Every Monday I stack my week and it posts for me at the times I set. I pull scripture and phrases out of my message which also helps people to reflect on what we talked about. This is far more efficient than trying to come up with something new twice a day. I can throw in random pics and other stuff whenever I feel like it.
10. Use wisdom in all things. Social media is here to stay and you can make it work for you ultimately maximizing your ministry.
Dr. John Braland serves as the Lead Pastor at Freshwater Community Church, a multisite church with campuses in St. Bonifacius and Waconia MN. He is married to Kathi and they have three school age children. John volunteers as a police chaplain, enjoys coaching other pastors, developing leaders, riding his Harley, and repairing classic cars. His weekly blog can be accessed at www.johnbraland.com.