Once you’ve established what the aim of the new social media is and who you’re trying to connect with, the third question for developing a social media plan is:
How interactive does this new social media need to be?
Do you need to juggle calendar dates with multiple people, get feedback from a specific event, spark new ideas, or just make sure everyone gets the same info? Will the church provide the content or do you hope the people you’re trying to connect with will?
If you’re looking for a way to make sure everyone knows what’s on the church calendar, there needs to be little interactivity. A static calendar or even a list of events on your website or Facebook account or emailed out once a week (or once a month) will suffice.
However, if you’re aiming for something else, you’ll probably need a more interactive type of social media. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major types of social media.
Website/Blog: great for information passing, can involve one or more of the other types of social media to make it more interactive
Social Networking: Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp, good for information passing and connection to people you already know or people who share common interests or similar jobs
Microblogs: Twitter, Tumblr, great for conversation and connecting with people outside of the specific church world
Wikis: Massive online gatherings of information, the most famous being Wikipedia but many other wikis exist to cover more specific information
Video Sharing: YouTube, great way to engage people of various learning styles by making and upload videos whether it’s simply the sermon from last Sunday or updates from a mission trip
Photo Sharing: Flickr, great way to have photos as a resource
Everything Sharing: Pinterest, Reddit, great for involvement from multiple people since you can make a board where multiple people can post anything from images to videos to blog posts
Podcasts: great way to take your church beyond the local community, can be audio or video as well as have PDF downloads, many churches are using podcasts so people can stream their services as well as devotional material
Forums: phpBB, discussion site where people have conversations in the form of posts and replies, great for feedback and discussion
Our example First Church of Cityville already has the first two steps in their social media plan. They are trying to encourage individual spiritual practices and connecting to members and regular attenders of the church. Now the question of how interactive this new social media needs to be. One of the pastors points out that people have different learning styles and different kinds of spiritual practices. Some prefer silent prayer, some scripture reading, some creation of art, some music, some historical practices, etc. They also want the members interacting not just with whatever spiritual practices are being encouraged but also with each other.
They decide a weekly blog or Podcast would be sufficient for guiding the new spiritual practices and a forum will be used so members can talk about their experiences and frustrations. There is also an agreement that a more traditional small group could be formed for those who do not want to use a forum but who do want to engage in conversation about their practices.
First Church of Cityville’s Social Media Plan
Step 1 (Aim): encouraging individual spiritual practices
Step 2 (Connection): members and regular attenders of the church
Step 3 (Interactivity): Blog or Podcast and a Forum for discussion