What's Your Platform? Finding the Right Social Media
Congratulations—you’ve just been put in charge of setting up your church’s social media accounts! There’s just one small problem: you don’t know where to start. How do you decide which platform you need? Do you need more than one? If these questions are giving you social media anxiety, don’t worry—the answers are here.
What’s the difference?
Let’s take a look at what makes each of the most popular platforms unique:
On Facebook, you can create a Page and interact on behalf of your church to share relevant posts with your followers. In a Facebook group, there are multiple levels of privacy that allow you to disclose as much information as you’d like. Both Pages and groups provide a great opportunity to engage with people interested in your church.
If you don’t have a lot to say, Twitter might be right for you. This social platform allows you to post your thoughts and photos, but make sure you keep it short and sweet—there is a 280-character limit for each of your posts. Twitter also makes liberal use of hashtags. Key words or phrases that are popular in culture or the news will be marked with a “#” in front of them. You can use these tags to find new information on relevant topics. You can also follow other users to keep up with local information, like school closings in inclement weather.
Last up is Instagram, which is a platform that relies heavily on photos and graphics. Like Twitter, it uses hashtags to categorize different trends and key words. You can’t post any links in your text, but you can add a link to your church website in your profile. Many churches use Instagram to highlight events and post new announcements. Just remember that it’s all about the photo: using the right image can go a long way with your followers.
Which one do I need?
Now that you know what these platforms offer, you need to decide which one(s) work best for you. For that, you should determine your audience.
Where to Find Your Audience
Facebook is one of the oldest social media platforms, and the age range runs the gamut from teens to senior citizens. The most recent demographics show that a majority of people ages 18-64 use Facebook regularly, and even those above 64 are starting to engage with this platform more often. This means you can reach a wider range of people, but it can be difficult to tailor your message to one specific audience.
The majority of Twitter users are between 18 and 29, which means you have a clearer idea about which types of messages would be most relevant to those followers. You might not use your Twitter account to post details on the next senior adult Bible study, but you can always share an update from a local event or favorite band.
Instagram is also popular for the younger crowd—nearly 60% of Instagram users are between 18 and 29. This is a great way to reach your youth group and college kids—they are probably already on this platform, so finding them and following them allows you to better engage with your church and community.
It all starts with knowing your own message. Who do you want to reach? Why do you want to reach them? Answer those questions, and you will be able to determine which social media is the right fit for you.