Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a
- Consider your audience
This could be another blog post in itself, but take time to think about the types of people that make up the target audience for your communications, both online/digitally and offline/print. Consider the variety of people types, and the different places they are at in terms of their faith, and then target your communications towards these.
- Consider your medium
Perhaps your website and Twitter presence are more public facing, aimed at those who are not part of the church, and who may know very little about the Bible. Maybe your Facebook or Google+ accounts are aimed at church members and attendees. Consider even smaller increments such as the differences between the intended audiences of your Facebook groups, pages and profiles.
- Consider your tone
There’s a tricky balance to strike here – you want to sound personable without seeming juvenile, but concise without sounding dry. There’s not one answer, just some pitfalls to avoid. A very clinical stream of announcements/ dates & times without interruption is not going to build community, but trying to sound too much like a kooky supply teacher will make people avoid your channels unless they need an update. Perhaps just get a second opinion here and there.
- Invest in engagement
Posting the right content and updates is only half of the job – engage with your audience even though it takes effort (unlike posts which can be scheduled, engagement has to happen in real-time due to its discursive nature). This type of direct communication meets users where they are at, and can have long-lasting effects, but also enables other users to see your church from a different perspective, not just a brand trying to self-promote, but as a voice willing to engage in two-way discussion.
- Don’t be shy to direct people to your online channels
This might sound a little too obvious but if your office staff are fielding lots of phone calls asking for event times, useful phone numbers or other information that can be found elsewhere, they probably need telling where that ‘elsewhere’ is. There are a lot of churches with great looking websites and well curated social media channels that are ghost towns, simply because their audiences haven’t been taught to go there for their updates. It’s a cultural shift, but encourage your audience to use all the channels that are available to them.
The key point to draw here, and it’s one that I probably bang on about too much, is this: consider. Effective, efficient and engaging online communities don’t just ‘happen’, nor will they happen overnight. Investing the time up front in planning your communications plan, and how you are going to set these processes up for the long term, will mean you have a roadmap to consult every time you lack clarity on the direction of the ministry.