I continue to be amazed at the exponential growth of social media as a key form of communication in our culture. Church leaders need to understand the importance of this medium as they attempt to contextualize and reach the culture in which their churches reside.
In fact, I am going to encourage churches take another big step in social media. I recommend that most churches need a social media director. For the majority of churches, this person will be an unpaid volunteer. I am familiar with a number of small churches that have found such a person in their congregation just by asking. I even see this position as a key ministry position in the church for years to come. Allow me to offer seven key reasons churches need one individual coordinating and leading social media for the congregation.
- Social media is fast becoming a preferred method of communication. It cannot and should not be ignored by church leaders. We miss opportunities to minister and share the gospel when we neglect social media. Just like any major ministry in the church, this ministry needs one person to lead and drive such efforts.
- Having one individual lead social media will avoid the pitfalls of mixed messages. Though this church may be an exception, I know one congregation that was sending out contradictory information from Twitter and Facebook. There were different persons handling each form of social media, and they were not communicating with each other. There are many different venues for social media. Congregations need one person to keep the messages consistent.
- A congregation’s social media expressions need a consistent voice. I am differentiating here between “message” and “voice.” A consistent voice has a consistent tone. The writing style is consistent. The level of responsiveness is consistent. The length of message is consistent (Yes, there are some verbose persons even on Twitter). Church members and potential members need to hear a consistent voice regardless of the social media platform they are engaging.
- A good social media director understands the language of the people. He or she can engage others on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Instagram, and others. And the more he or she is involved, the more adept at the language that person becomes. The director can also coordinate with the pastor and other leaders if they happen to have blogs or podcasts. The social media director helps provide “translation” to get the message out to others engaged in social media.
- One person acting as social media director can help give priority to the different messages the church needs to send. Ideally, that person is in regular contact with the pastor and other church leaders about the ministry priorities in the congregation. Those priorities should then be communicated via social media. Undoubtedly, every church has members with different ideas about what is more important. A social media director, working with the leadership of the church, can make wise decisions about communication issues.
- A social media director can help find the church’s “sweet spot” in social media. No one person, and not many organizations, can be active in every conceivable social media expression. So people and organizations begin to gravitate toward those areas where communication is most efficient and effective. In my world, for example, my blog and Twitter are the two media platforms in my sweet spot, though I am involved in other social media.
- Effective social media needs ongoing attention. When a church has one person leading, directing, and coordinating social media, that person has an important and busy ministry in the church. Constant attention is necessary to make the communication relevant and effective. The social media director is just the person to provide that attention.
As I have advocated in a previous blog post, churches must and should be involved in social media. It is now the language of the people much like a missionary discovers when he or she is in a new culture and new land. The social media director, whether paid or volunteer, is critical for the missional health of congregations. I see this ministry position becoming more and more common in churches around the world.
What do you think about having a social media director as a key ministry position in churches? What is your church doing in this area right now?