What's in this session?

  • #1: Stop the scroll (2:07)
  • #2: Start meaningful conversation (4:57)
  • #3: Provoke spiritual practice (7:25)
  • Lesson: What would your church post online if your Sunday service didn't exist? (8:54)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Today, you’re going to learn a three step social media strategy that is specifically tailored for smaller churches and proven to get results. For example, a church reached out to me just yesterday and told me that after implementing this strategy, they saw a 220% increase in likes and clicks on their most recent post. By the end of this podcast, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to accomplish the same thing. 

Speaker 2: Amen. 

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome Pro Church Tools, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’re going to get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus where 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 Shearer: Alex, so many of us that are thrust into social media roles within our church really have no idea of what we’re doing. That’s not an indictment upon churches, I know what it’s like to be the worship pastor or the student pastor or an administrative assistant in a church and then be handed the keys, the logins to the social media accounts and say run with it. This is can be especially difficult for smaller churches where you already have so many different tasks you need to be taking care of and now you also have the added burden of social. We want to walk through a simple three part, three step social media strategy in this episode that smaller churches can take advantage of and know that no matter what if they stick to this strategy, they’ll be going in the right direction. 

Alex Mills: Well, you said it, Brady. You’ve been there and for me and for listeners who’ve been listening for a while, you know that I’m still there. The associate pastor of a church of about 100 people and it’s my responsibility to come up with our social strategy and be posting every week, every day, and so I know what it’s like. I know how easy it is for this specific thing to get pushed to the side in the midst of all the other responsibilities we have as pastors and teachers and worship leaders and custodians and administrative people. I know what it’s like and this three step strategy has helped me and I know it’s going to help you, especially as you look forward and start to come up with a plan of how you’re going to post, when you’re going to post, and what you’re going to post. 

Alex Mills: This is a great place to start. 

Brady Shearer: Well, let’s start with step one. Step on is stop the scroll. Every smart social strategy begins with these three simple words, stop the scroll. Now, why is this part so important? Why is this the starting point? The beginning of a smart social strategy for a church simply put, attention is the most valuable commodity your church can possess and it’s most important no socia media just like it is everywhere else. If we reverse engineer and understand how users behave on social, we open up our phones and we flick, flick, flick. We scroll, scroll, scroll. If you want to share your message with people on social media, you first need them to stop scrolling. It’s imperative for you to focus on the types of things that are proven to stop people from scrolling because, Alex, it doesn’t matter how amazing your message is if you’re shopping a discounted oil change or a slap chop or eternity with Jesus if you can’t people’s attention. 

Brady Shearer: Again, the message doesn’t matter because no one can hear it. 

Alex Mills: Yeah. It doesn’t matter how amazing your message is and it doesn’t matter how amazing your post quality is, whether it’s photo quality or use of your brand creatively on your post. If it’s not something that’s going to interrupt the pattern on your social feed that’s going to get your user to stop scrolling, it doesn’t matter. We’ve learned this as a company in our personal brands and so we’ve been talking a lot about this lately that when we’re posting and what we’re deciding what to post, we have to be posting something that’s going to interrupt that pattern, like I said, and stop the scroll. Something out to the ordinary, something that doesn’t look like everything else, something that is kind of the wall that’s going to stop the scroll, get somebody’s attention, and that’s when you can share your message.

Alex Mills: Which we know, it’s the greatest story every told. It is the greatest message that we have, but if we don’t have anybody’s attention, it’s not going to matter. 

Brady Shearer: Stopping the scroll has everything to do with being unpredictable, being unusual with your visuals. The content that you share can always be the same. You’re always going to be sharing the word of Jesus. You’re always going to be sharing the existential mattes of our faith, hope, community, and purpose. It’s all about finding different ways of visually delivering. This is why consistent visual branding is usually unhelpful on social because it becomes too predictable and when things are too predictable, the lesson here is repeat equals defeat. If you do the same thing over and over again visually, if it’s always looking the same, what’s going to happen is you’ll condition your audience to ignore, not stop the scroll. 

Brady Shearer: They’re going to keep scrolling because subconsciously it won’t look different. It won’t look unusual. It won’t be unpredictable and so they’ll just be like I’m accustomed to this. I’m familiar. I know what’s going to happen. I don’t need to stop scrolling. 

Alex Mills: Exactly. 

Brady Shearer: You need to provoke something within them to go what is that? I need to stop scrolling. Because once you’ve done that, you’ve got their attention and now you can move to step two. 

Alex Mills: There you go. 

Brady Shearer: The second step in this three part social media strategy is to start meaningful conversation. At the beginning of this year, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, came out big public post and said we’re changing the algorithm of Facebook. Brands and organizations the organic reach they’re going to get, we have to diminish. Friends and families are going to be getting more focus in the feed. What he said was the goal of social should be to stimulate meaningful interactions. The type of things that truly matter. Now, that doesn’t mean they need to be serious, but we want to have meaningful conversation, meaningful interaction. Knowing that that’s what the social giants have said publicly this is what we want to happen on social, it would be wise of us to try to do what they are saying we should be doing because they’re the ones that are the geniuses behind the algorithms that are determining whether your post to get organic reach or not.

Brady Shearer: You should be aiming to start meaningful conversations. You stop the scroll and then you start a meaningful conversation, a meaningful interaction. This can be something as simple as asking how can we be praying for you? It can be something as fun as what’s the best movie that you’ve seen recently? The point is to get interaction, dialog, back and forth. If the algorithms are seeing that when you post nobody responds, nobody shares, nobody engages, those algorithms will learn that the content you’re sharing is not stimulating meaningful interactions and you will be penalized for it. 

Alex Mills: As churches, this is how we should be using social and this is why we should be using social. Not just to broadcast our message for the sake of just putting it out there and posting again tomorrow, but sharing something meaningful and inviting people into a conversation to have a two way conversation, whether it’s like you said asking for prayer so that you can answer or question and we can then engage and start praying for you or whatever kind of interaction it is. That’s why we should be posting is to stimulate this kind of interaction. Furthermore, like you said, as we do that, that should be our end goal, but as we do that the algorithms are going to notice that and say this is good and end up showing it to more people. 

Alex Mills: It’s kind of win-win situation. You post something that’s worthy of engagement. You get that engagement and that’s good for your community but at the same time, the algorithms are going to see that, put that in front of more people, and now your message is going to have a broader scope, a broader impact on the greater community. Step number one, stop the scroll. Step number two, start meaningful conversation, and step number three, provoke spiritual practice. The question you, your church, and staff need to ask yourselves is what would we post online if our Sunday service did not exist. Because the problem with so many of our churches is that we use social media as a promotional tool for our in-person events and services. 

Alex Mills: Someone will have a question. How do I read The Bible? How can I get prayer? How can I learn more about Jesus? What we’re saying with our social post is come to see us on Sunday and we’ll answer that. 

Brady Shearer: Right. It’s Tuesday, but you can wait until Sunday for that. The problem is that that’s not how Millennials and Gen Z and those that are native to social media experience and ecosystem use those platforms. We need to make the shift of provoking spiritual practice within the social platforms natively not pushing people to visit us in person so that then they fan experience and engage with spiritual practice. We’re talking prayer. We’re talking about worship. We’re talking about reading The Bible. We’re talking about engaging with community. All of those things can be provoked natively on social media and this is what we need to be doing if we’re going to use social the way it’s meant to be used. 

Brady Shearer: We’re doing this right now. If you’re listening to this on a podcast, if you’re watching it on YouTube, you are searching for answers about social, you have found them and we are giving them to you. We didn’t say come to our office and we’ll tell you because that would be ridiculous. 

Alex Mills: Right. We know where you are. You’re listening to a podcast, you’re watching YouTube videos, and so we want to be there answering your questions. That’s exactly it. 

Brady Shearer: What would your church post online if your Sunday service did not exist to summarize the three step social media strategy that works especially well for small churches? One, stop the scroll, step two, start meaningful conversation, and step three, provoke spiritual practice. These are the building blocks of a successful social strategy that will also stand the test of time. This is not going to change. Attention is not going to change. Provoking spiritual practice and community, these things are the lifelong things that we do within our churches, so they are future proof as well. Finally, the featured resource you wanted to highlight on this episode of Pro Church Tools is the new social media checklist for church. 

Brady Shearer: It’s a brand new free resource that we just put together. You can find it linked in the show notes below or you can also go directly to checklist.church and download it for free there. Thanks for watching and engaging with this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time. 

Speaker 2: Amen.



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