What's in this session?

  • Pizza analogy (1:16)
  • Why these posts are valuable (2:36)
  • Examples (3:06)
  • Testimony (6:04)
  • How do we create these posts? (12:03)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex: If you want more likes and comments on your church’s social media posts, then this podcast is for you, because over the next few minutes, I’ll be sharing with you 15 super high engaging social posts for your church. Nothing hypothetical here, instead exact examples real churches are using to boost their engagement online in massive ways.

Alex: Well hey there and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where in ten minutes or less you’re gonna get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, Brady Shearer.

Brady: A question I see a lot online, Alex, is churches asking, “Hey, what’s a high engaging post I can use on social media?” So we’re gonna answer that question in this episode. We’ve got 15 of our best performing posts ever.

Alex: You know Brady, we’re kind of in the middle of a social post breakdown kind of week. We’ve been talking about all kinds of examples of social posts that we use in our social program, but also strategy that any church can kind of replicate and use on their own. In the last two episodes we talked about certain types of posts that provoke spiritual practice, specifically a long form Bible reading post and then a 60 second countdown for prayer or some other sort of spiritual practice.

Alex: Pizza is not related to those, but it is one of my favorite foods, and I was thinking about these posts and thinking about how these posts that promote spiritual practice are kind of like the base of any good pizza, right? It’s like the sauce, whether it’s tomato sauce or olive oil, whatever kind of pizza you like, but you can’t really have pizza without sauce. So those kind of posts act, to me, as the building block of any good pizza. The sauce, the one thing that you can’t have pizza without, but these posts that we’re gonna talk about today, these engaging posts, maybe some elimination games, you know some posts that honestly some people online describe as frivolous, which we don’t think they are, because to me they’re like the toppings on pizza. Sure you could have a pizza with no toppings, but that wouldn’t be any fun, right? So you put pepperoni on there, hot peppers, anchovies if you’re an animal, pineapple if you want to unsubscribe to this channel right now if you put pineapple on your pizza, but right? These kinds of posts are the toppings, they’re the fun and they’re interchangeable. You can mess around with them, you can play with them. If you’re a vegetarian you can only have these kinds of engaging posts. That’s what these posts kind of are to me, and that’s how we think they fit into a larger social strategy.

Brady: We’re also giving you cart blanche to steal any of these posts from us, because we try to be generous. Social, high engaging posts like these are so important for spiking likes and comments, so that the algorithms of social will distribute your other less candy-like posts, because a lot of times, Alejandro Reyes, a buddy of mine, uses this analogy, he calls it the chocolate covered carrot. Does not exist in real life, but it’s the perfect example. You want the person to eat the carrot, but we’re humans and we want the candy. Put the candy on the carrot and you got them.

Alex: These posts are the cherry on top.

Brady: Example number one, the gumball guessing game. Winning motivates people.

Alex: Of course.

Brady: People want to win things. If you do a guessing game like this, we highly recommend that you pair it with a giveaway. Guess the closest without going over or under, whatever that rule is, of the gumballs in the gumball machine, and get a $25 gift card to favorite Mexican restaurant.

Alex: Yeah, local restaurant.

Brady: Exactly. Any type of guess game, we use gumballs in this, we’ve done mustard seeds, you could use coffee beans, whatever, these posts garner huge responses.

Brady: Example number two, elimination. We’ve talked about this before and we’ll share a couple of different examples here. This example you’re seeing now is a fun one. It’s like what would you prefer, you can only choose one, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, your house cleans itself, your kids eat everything without complaining, thank you Lord, someone runs all your errands for you? You can only choose one, which one are you choosing Alex?

Alex: I don’t even have kids and I know it has to be the kids eating without complaining.

Brady: I’m gonna opt out, I’m not gonna answer. Another elimination, this framework we’ve applied in a number of different ways. We did this seasonally around Christmas. We talked about what’s the best Christmas song ever, O Holy Night, Away in a Manger, Joy to the World, Silent Night? we’ve talked about this before, O Holy Night, it’s not a discussion.

Alex: It’s not even a contest.

Brady: A lot of people screw this post up. So here are a couple of things to make sure you get it right. If you want responses on high engaging posts, you need to make it irresistible to answer. So a lot of times people will ask open ended questions and they’ll be like, “No one’s responding.” Yes, because you made it too difficult to answer. So with these posts, we only give four options, or two options, and then we say which of these four or two would you choose from? So it’s so easy to answer. We take it one step further. We give each a number or a letter and we say respond with the letter. So they don’t even have to type out the full answer, just like O Holy Night, letter A. The other part of this equation, makes the elimination post go, is to present a question where someone can have a strong opinion that is inconsequential in the real world. If you value O Holy Night as the best Christmas song, no one really is gonna get that upset about anything serious. They might have faux outrage, which is great for social.

Alex: It’s fun, yeah.

Brady: It’s great for spurring conversation in the lobby that a social post sparks during the week.

Alex: We see that happen all the time. These conversations spill over from Wednesday night when this post went live, to Sunday morning when I see people at church who are saying, “Are you kidding me? You think this song’s the best?” It happens all the time.

Brady: But if you say are you a Democrat or Republican, that would carry over in a bad way.

Alex: I’d be finding a new church.

Brady: We’ve done that with two examples, instead of four. We’ve said, “Okay elimination, where would you live for the rest of your life, you can only choose one, country or city?” Again I’m opting out, don’t wanna answer that. We’ve done it where would you rather vacation, beach or mountains? I will opt in, beach for me.

Alex: Mountains for me.

Brady: Wow, okay. Learning a lot about you today.

Brady: We’ve also done this and seen great results. So what’s important about these posts is that they are super high engaging. One example of this, you’re seeing a screenshot now, is a church that got 70 comments on their elimination post. They reached out to me. They’re like, “We’ve never had this many comments on any post ever.”

Brady: This is important to recognize. You’ll probably look at these posts and be like, “I thought our church loved the Lord?” Why are they responding so much to these gimmicky, frivolous posts? Then we ask them like, “Hey, here’s a Bible reading template.” And they’re like keep scrolling.

Alex: Yeah, two likes.

Brady: That’s just the way people are.

Alex: The post got reported.

Brady: Your church blocked you.

Alex: Yeah.

Brady: Your congregation blocked you.

Alex: Yeah.

Brady: That’s just how it is and that’s why we are not the type of people that say, “Hey you don’t need these types of posts.” No, no, they’re important. They’re part of an overall strategy. Maybe your pastor uses humor in his sermon, or her sermon, why do they do that? They do that because it’s a great communication tactic so that people are listening and paying attention, so they can hear the deeper part later. You wouldn’t say don’t use humor, you recognize it’s part of an overall holistic approach. That’s the same with these high engaging posts. Let’s keep it going.

Brady: Number six, we call this the emoji Bible story template, where basically the question is we’ve depicted a Bible story using only emojis, you’ve got to guess. The trouble with these is that you can’t make them so obvious or so difficult that you can’t answer. So you gotta find the sweet spot between okay obviously that is this, versus oh okay is that like Matthew begot Timothy begot? Obviously Matthew is not Timothy’s dad, okay, but still.

Brady: Okay number seven, the toilet paper over or under debate. We all know the right answer, but this one works extremely well. You’re like, “Hey, which way should the toilet paper go?” People lose their mind in the comments.

Brady: Describe your pastor using only emojis. We have found-

Alex: This one’s dangerous.

Brady: Posts that single out the pastor are insanely successful.

Alex: People love it.

Brady: People love it. It’s like hey how would you describe your pastor? And then everyone’s like, “Finally, I’m gonna show him!”, but in a fun loving way.

Alex: Then get your pastor involved. Get him to sign into the comments, see what people have to say.

Brady: Exactly. We’ve also begun using National days of the year, or World days of the year. We use these pretty sparingly and when they have some type of connection or harmless element to them. So World Sleep Day, we ask how many hours of sleep a day do you get? Then we talk about, “Hey here’s a great sleep app that we love.” Or National Cereal Day, what’s the best cereal? What’s the worst cereal?

Alex: We tried to have that conversation this week in the office, and it did not go well.

Brady: Half the team quit. They don’t work here anymore, because they would not agree that the worst cereal is Raisin Bran.

Alex: Yes.

Brady: You know!

Alex: I know. We had the same answer.

Brady: If you get in the comments on this video, tell me some other cereal is not, I’m not gonna hear it, I’m not gonna take it. This is a perfect example of why these posts are great, faux outrage.

Alex: Exactly.

Brady: Number eleven, if you could have coffee with one person from the Bible, not Jesus, who would it be?

Alex: Oh that’s a great one.

Brady: That is an upcoming post from the March social program. These last few are all coming in March, so we don’t have designs for them yet, but the ideas still exist. We also have done, how could we pray for you this week? That’s an obvious one that people still love and I also like adding there like, “DM if you need privacy.” You can add it in the comments if you want, but feel free to direct message us.

Alex: Just open that channel, yeah.

Brady: That’s also a great way to also stoke the fire of helping people understand you can send us direct messages. That’s an okay way to communicate with us.

Alex: Yeah there’s somebody on the other side of this.

Brady: Why did you start attending our church and why did you come back?

Alex: Free food, free coffee.

Brady: Number fourteen, we’ve begun experimenting with memes.

Alex: Oh no.

Brady: This one is called the meme hungry for righteousness, where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness,” and then Me: Pacman endlessly eating. The great thing about a gif is that it loops endlessly and that’s where the humorous element comes in here. I feel like explaining memes kind of defeats the purpose, but if you’re listening and can’t see this, it is necessary.

Brady: One more tip for all of these high engaging posts, this is just a pro tip that you can use. You want people to comment, right?

Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brady: What you should do in the caption is say, “Find our answer in the comments.” So if you have the cereal post, for example, “What’s the best cereal and what’s the worst cereal? Hear Pastor Earl’s response in the comments.” Now, everyone needs to know what Pastor Earl thinks about Raisin Bran. Pastor Earl is a smart man and he knows that Raisin Bran is not the food for a smart man.

Alex: Now I know that it’s safe to continue going to Pastor Earl’s church.

Brady: Exactly. All because of his cereal preferences, but seriously, that’s a great, great call to action. It makes more people open the comments, which makes them more likely to leave a comment. Again, that’s great for stopping the scroll, it’s great for encouraging spiritual, it’s not great for encouraging spiritual practices, nothing spiritual about this. It’s great for starting meaningful conversations. You may think these aren’t meaningful, but fun conversations are meaningful.

Alex: Absolutely.

Brady: They build rapport. We’ve seen this happen where somebody had nothing in common with someone else in a church and they know them, they recognize them, they see them, but it’s like they don’t really know them, they both comment on a social post, and now I can go up to Teresa, maybe we’re a generation different, I don’t really know what we have in common, but she also said Raisin Bran was trash. I go up to Teresa and I say, “Isn’t Raisin Bran the worst?”

Alex: Am I right?

Brady: Because I know, I recognize her face, I see her profile picture, and now we’re talking. That might seem so silly, but that’s how all relationships begin. You find common ground. Guys get together and they’re like, “Sports, right?” And suddenly they could be friends. You gotta find some common ground and posts like these are also great for that.

Alex: Like you said, that is meaningful, right?

Brady: It is.

Alex: And that’s where sometimes these posts get a little bit of pushback online from certain groups of people saying, “Well we can’t be posting these things on our church’s page, this is too trivial or frivolous.”

Brady: Is that how they talk?

Alex: Yeah that’s how they talk.

Brady: That’s how I talk too.

Alex: It’s not. It’s all part of life. It’s a holistic image of what our lives look like, and it can be meaningful, and can lead to meaningful interactions, and who knows where that will lead from there.

Brady: If you’re wondering how we create these, we’ve got a team that does that. That’s what the social program is for. It’s closed right now, but if you’re interested, we will be reopening it in the future. You can join the email list, prochurchtools.com to make sure you don’t miss it when it goes live again. In the meantime, this is just part of our strategy that we take when we approach social. We mentioned provoking spiritual practice, we mentioned starting meaningful conversations, that’s all part of it. We’ve got a free resource called the New Social Media Checklist for churches, it’s really the starting point for how we do social the way we do. A lot of people say this is how you should do it. We say, no, no, no, no, do it this way.

Alex: Right.

Brady: We think we have the results to back it up. You can download that free resource, it’s linked in the show notes. You can also go directly to the URL, checklist.church. That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools, we’ll see you next time.

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