Are you ready for 2018?
Do you have a social media plan for your church and ministry?
When you create a social media plan for your ministry, it is important that you do not miss key elements of social media or the online trends that you need to consider. Here is a 15-point checklist to help you create a plan.
How to Create a 2018 Social Media Plan for your Church: A 15-point Checklist
Create a ‘Social Media Roadmap’ document
Create a social media reference document that will serve as a blueprint or map for the entire period for which you are creating the plan. I call this the social media ‘roadmap’.
It could be a spreadsheet or a document that you can go back to at any time. You could use Google Docs – it is free, cloud-based, mobile-enabled and collaborative. You could also use a mind map if you are a visual person (like me). The type of document that you use does not matter, as long as you have one that you are comfortable working with, on an ongoing basis.
Here is a list of items that could be part of your roadmap. Please feel free to add more, depending on the operations of your church or the type of ministry.
- Ministry goals & objectives
- Promotional/Marketing goals – for each event or content
- Audience / Personas
- Channels – Social media channels, advertising channel, email etc.
- Ad Budgets
- Team details with responsibilities
- Partnership/collaboration plan
- Online assets details – website, mobile apps, etc.
- UTM parameters for campaigns
- Editorial and Social Media Calendar
- Content Marketing Plan
- Research information
Define your audience
Define your online audience in detail. Knowing who you ideal ministry audience is, helps you customise the online message, content, campaigns and promotions to address their needs, resonate with them and add value to them. Get to the details, like – what do they do online, how do they behave/react, what do they think, how do they spend, demographics, psychographics etc. If you like more clarity on this topic, here is a post on the evolution of social media audience.
Define your channels
There are multiple social media channels today and there are multiple ways to optimise your content for each of them. If you are just starting digital marketing and social media efforts for your church, I highly recommend that you do not focus on multiple channels. Try focussing on one or two channels and get some traction. You need not ignore the others, just give them a lower priority for now and repost your existing content without spending time customising or optimising your content for them. As your online reach, following and engagement grows, you can consider creating, expanding and optimising more content for multiple channels.
Audit your online presence
How strong and optimised is your current online presence – your church website , your mobile app and your social media presence?
- Are they producing the results you are looking for?
- Is your website optimised for search, usability & engagement?
- Do you have a church CRM working in alignment to your website?
- Do you have landing pages for all your social media campaigns?
- What about mobile presence (your mobile optimised site, mobile experience of your users, mobile apps, etc.)?
- How about your social media presence? Are you visible and present in all the social media channels where your audience or church members spend time?
Conduct an audit and take stock of these aspects of your online presence.
Integrate your promotional efforts
Integrate your online and offline promotional efforts. Without integration, there is a possibility of your efforts/resources moving in various directions with unconnected goals, reducing overall impact.
For example, imagine a month where your events team plans to focus on the next ministry conference, while your social media team plans to focus on a product promotion. Even though both are important, there needs to be a coordinated approach between them. In my book – The Connected Church, I explain the importance of integration (as part of the framework) and how to achieve it.
Choose the right tools
Using the right tools can help you save time and maximise productivity. There are tools for every social media need – software, devices and apps. It takes a bit of time and effort to experiment and select the right tools that suit your ministry, but time spent on this effort can be very fruitful in the long run.
Allocate your social media ad budget
Allocating a social media advertising budget early in the year, gives you the ability to start planning your campaigns on various channels.
Social advertising is evolving and is producing great results. For example, the figure below shows how ad revenues from social media channels grew to a massive $41 billion in 2017. Consistent growth in ad revenues since 2014 indicates that organisations are seeing great results. Your church can also benefit from social media advertising. I highly recommend you consider running advertising campaigns the coming year.
Optimise your ‘local’ social & search visibility
Pull out your phone and Google ‘church near me’ (do the same on Facebook search bar). Are you seeing your church or ministry listed there, with all the details like address, phone and service timing? If not, you need to work on a ‘local marketing’ plan for your church.
Local marketing is an activity that helps your church details show up when people search using their phones from a specific location. Growth and innovation in wearable technology, GPS-enabled smartphones and IOT (Internet of Things) have made local (social & search) marketing important for any organisation.
If you are a church that has multiple locations, then optimising your local presence for each location can help you in a big way.
- One of the simplest ways to get started is by registering your church in Google My Business. It is free.
- You can register your church details in relevant local online directories.
- Also make sure that you optimise you social media profiles and description with all details like address, phone, etc.
- Talk to your social media agency or your social media manager about Local Marketing optimisation options for your church.
Have a content marketing plan
What type of content are you planning to produce in 2018 for social media? Are you comfortable with written message or are you more comfortable with creating ministry videos? Depending on your comfort level (and that of your team) choose the type of content. Initially, experimenting with the various content types (a video series, a blog, an infographic, etc) might help you discover what works best for your ministry.
Have a mobile social plan (optimised for voice-search, AI and VR)
Mobile usage dominated 2017 and is expected to dominate 2018 too. Trends and studies show that people will use mobile and voice driven search as one of the primary means of consuming content in the future. New social media apps powered by AI, AR and VR technologies are being launched each day.
Depending on the type of ministry, every time you create a message/sermon series and publish it online consider whether it is optimised for mobile social. Creating a mobile-optimised experience in every part of your online ministry (website, social media and campaigns) can make a big difference.
Have a video marketing plan
Video is important. It is one of the most prefered type of content among social media users. Video makes people stay longer on your website and video will continue to dominate as the preferred form of content in 2018. So plan to include video (live and recorded) in your social media plans.
Have a measurement plan
Measuring what worked last year can help you identify where you need to focus on in the coming year. Almost all social media channels have their own dedicated analytics tool and they give an in-depth analysis of what works and what does not.
Use an aggregation tool like Google Analytics, which collects most of the required information from social media and your website in one place. This not only saves time, but also helps you compare channels and have a integrated view. For example, Facebook might give you details of how each post performed on their channel, but in Google analytics, you can see how these social media posts helped people come back to your website and take the actions that you would like them to take – like volunteering, donations, etc. Here is a blog that I wrote earlier on how churches can use Google Analytics.
Have a content-driven SEO plan
People ‘Google’ all the time. Search continues to be an important way in which people find information. Optimising your church and ministry content for search engines can help you get found by people when they search online. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation has evolved. It is not as complicated as it used to be. If you continue to create useful content for your audience, take a bit of effort to showcase it right (technically) on your website/blog and promote it on social media, then search engines are ready to help you get discovered.
Have a collaboration/partnership plan
What is your plan for collaboration and partnership in 2018? You can partner with other ministries, parachurch organisations, christian media houses, influencers, authors, and thought leaders. Collaboration and partnerships will help you gain visibility among their audience, introduce them to your audience and also helps your produce good content for your ministry. Some of the collaborative activities that you could plan for are:
- Facebook LIVE Sessions
- Podcast interviews
- Co-branded shared campaigns
- Cross promotions in social media channels
- Guest posts in blogs
- Offline events
Have a social media team
To accomplish great things, you need the right team (Jesus had His 12). Your 2018 social media plan or strategy’s impact will directly depend on the ability of your team. Social media is a function that warrants a synchronised, coordinated effort between multiple teams with various skills. For example, a social media campaign for a church conference might require the following teams to work together:
- The events team
- The ministry team (speakers)
- Advertising team
- Social media content creation team
- Content editing team
- Social media management team
- Research team
- Design team
- Video team
- IT (website) team
- SEO team …and the list goes on.
There are couple of ways in which you can get access to a team with varied skill sets.
- Recruit and create your own in-house church social media team with expertise in various functions.
- Hire a social media agency that has a proven track record. This will give you access to all the skill sets from a single partner. If you are considering this option, do let us know. We have a sister-concern, Open Minds Agency that specialised in working with churches, ministries and faith-based organisation for the last 5 years. We can ask them to get in touch with you and explore ways of helping your ministry.
All the very best for the coming new year 2018.
May God’s rich blessing be upon everything you put your hand to, this coming year.
May you be a blessing to many in 2018 – online and offline.
Your could share your thoughts, questions and feedback using the comments section.