What's in this session?

  • Churches' unique advantage (0:30)
  • Method #1: Cross-promotion (3:16)
  • Method #2: Contest (4:21)
  • Method #3: Paid promotion (7:30)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer. Today we’re talking about how to rapidly grow your church’s social media following.

Brady Shearer: If you want to grow your church’s social media presence faster than you are currently, this is the episode of Pro Church Daily for you. First thing that we need to say. If you are a church, if you’re watching this, you likely are-

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: You have a huge advantage, you as a ministry, over almost every other industry that is also trying to grow their social media following. Consider other industries that would benefit from a large social media presence. Restaurants, real estate agents, doctors, lawyers, dentists, whatever it might be. What do we go to those industries for? We go for their services. If I’m buying a house or if Alex is considering buying a house, which I believe he’s in the process of at least exploring, he would go to a real estate agent and say, “Okay, what might there be for me?” If you need your teeth to be fixed because they are broken, you go to the dentist. Even if you go to a restaurant, you might love to follow what they’re for and what they care about and their mantra of approaching food or drink, but at the end of the day you want to eat or drink-

Alex Mills: Food.

Brady Shearer: -what they are offering you. You as a church are very unique because you have a weekly audience of likely 100 people or more coming to your church every single weekend to listen to what you have to say, to listen to your content as a thought-influencer and leader of thinking and theology in an individual or family’s life. That is unlike almost every other industry. It is extremely conducive to the platform of social media. Essentially, what we’re doing our churches on a weekend, it translates directly to social media.

Alex Mills: Yeah, it really does.

Brady Shearer: What a real estate agent does does not translate to social media very well. What a dentist does does not translate. Even what a restaurant does does not translate to social media as well as what we do as churches. We have a huge advantage here. It’s easy as churches to disparage and say, “Well, we don’t have as much money or resources or volunteers or creativity.” But we have to look at what we do have advantages in, acknowledge them, and then lean into them.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: First of all, you’re in a great place compared to other industries.

Alex Mills: For sure. When you were just talking about that, Brad’, I was reminded of what Mark Zuckerberg had to say when he introduced the new Faithbook- Oh, sorry, Faithbook. Faithbook.com! Facebook algorithm this year and he said, “We really wanna get back to meaningful interaction on this platform.” That’s what the founder of this platform is trying to foster. That’s the exact same thing we’re doing at church, just fostering meaningful interaction, basically community at church on Sunday, and that’s what the social platforms are also trying to do. Our goal and our tactics are one and the same almost. Like you said, we’re so uniquely positioned as churches compared to other industries and companies and what have you. Yeah, this is quite the opportunity we have.

Brady Shearer: Let’s talk about three methods for growing your church’s social media presence and following faster. Method number one is cross-promotion. We just talked about it. You have a weekly audience of people coming to your meeting place, to where you meet, to listen to what you have to say. Every single one of those 100, 250, 500, 2000 people should be connected to your church on social media throughout the week. Cross-promotion doesn’t just refer to Sunday mornings. It also refers to the events that you put on, the Wednesday night ministry, the men’s ministry, women’s ministry, student ministry. It also refers to social media adjacent to other social media.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: If your church has been on Facebook since day one, as most churches have as their number one platform, or maybe you’re just beginning to explore Instagram or a YouTube, what you can do is you can cross-promote from your Facebook following, which is likely greater than your Instagram following because you’ve been on Facebook longer, siphon off some of that attention as much as you can to get them over to Instagram. Cross-promote from where your audience and attention already I to where you want it to be.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: This is the best way to take advantage of the unique positioning that we have as churches.

Alex Mills: Yeah, that’s great.

Brady Shearer: Second method, this is a great way to leverage cross-promotion if you need that extra incentive, but you can also do it as its own strategy, a contest. We have done this before. A lot of the times when you want someone to take action, they will not because our default is to not take action.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: We recently had a provincial election in our province of Ontario and we had a record turnout, Alex, of voters. 58%. The highest in more than 20 years.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: We were all very happy because we’re like, “Woohoo! Almost six out of 10 people voted! Almost two out of three in the province!” Yet when you think of something as important as an election, 60%, it’s not great.

Alex Mills: It’s not so good.

Brady Shearer: Yet that was the highest turnout in almost 20 years.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Getting someone to take action is very difficult. I’m always reminded of this advertisement, this commercial, by SportsNet, which is my preferred sports television network in Canada. They would have their commercials going, Ram Truck and Gatorade, and then they’d have this three-second commercial that was from SportsNet. It was, “Follow us on Twitter!” I always laugh because-

Alex Mills: Oh, wow, I’m gonna take out my phone immediately and do that.

Brady Shearer: Now that you’ve said that without any reason for me to do it, I am utterly compelled to follow! You’ve gotta give people a reason to follow. A big platform that I really love online, they did this cross-promotion thing just today. I was at the gym, I’m on Twitter in between sets, as you do, and I see their tweet and I follow them on Twitter. They’re like, “Did you know we’re on Instagram? Follow us for updates!” I love this platform, this company, so much that their incentive of getting updates was good enough for me to follow them on Instagram. I’m a super fan. But for most people, an incentive as “follow us for updates”-

Alex Mills: It’s not gonna be enough.

Brady Shearer: Most people, unless you’re a super fan of something, aren’t going through their day going, “I’d love to get updates.” We all get enough updates.

Alex Mills: You know what somebody would love to get? Maybe a gift card to a local restaurant.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. That’s what we love with contests is you can have a $100 gift card to everyone’s favorite Mexican restaurant in your city and you can say, “Hey, we’re gonna give this away to one of our followers on Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube. All you have to do is subscribe or follow on that platform and you’ll be eligible to win. We’re gonna be announcing it next week, next Sunday, or at the end of the month. That’s a great incentive for someone to take action. Remember, it’s not that people don’t wanna follow you on social, our default is just to be lazy and not do things. We’ve got so many things to do, okay? You want me to do something else, you gotta incentivize people to take the action.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and there’s so much noise online. I’m constantly purging my list of the people I follow on Instagram because I just find it gets cluttered and it becomes so much less meaningful for me. The bar to get a follow nowadays I think is probably higher than it’s ever been.

Brady Shearer: Totally.

Alex Mills: Sometimes without incentive, your church just isn’t going to make the cut. There’s no shame in doing this. Run a contest, get people in the door, and then all of a sudden you have a bigger audience to do more cross-promotion with back to that first step and you’re increasing your reach there. It’s a great opportunity to get people in the door and it can be fun, too.

Brady Shearer: Final method to grow your social media for your church faster is paid promotion. The first strategy, cross-promotion, is fee. The second strategy, the contest, maybe costs you $100. Paid promotion is going to be the most expensive method, but is also going to be the best way of accomplishing this. When we started running Pro Church Tools, we had for our social media email was our most important platform. We had been doing it, and when I say “we” it was mostly me only at this point, for a couple of years and we had about 3000 people on our email list. We were at the point where we were ready to jump into paid promotion. I couldn’t afford it at the beginning. It was all just organic search engine, hard work, hustling, but we got to the point where we were ready to pay. Within the year, that 3000 had jumped to more than 30,000 because paid promotion is like throwing gas on a fire.

The first two strategies that we talked about, it’s like setting up the perfect fire. You’re waiting for a dry day and you’re making sure that your fuel is the perfect type of fuel for a fire and you arrange it in that nice triangle-

Alex Mills: Tepee, yeah.

Brady Shearer: -whatever. I could not build a fire. Tepee, and then you light it. “Man, everything’s great.” Then someone else can do everything wrong and then they can throw lighter fluid on it or gas on it and it’s like boom! That fire doesn’t last long unless you keep pouring more gas on it. Eventually it’s gonna come back to normal, but paid promotion on Facebook, on Instagram, is one of the best ways and quickest ways. Why does it work? ‘Cause it costs money.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and this can be a little bit foreign to churches, especially if you’ve never paid for a promotion on Facebook before. I know firsthand what it’s like to try and explain what it’s like to an older leadership group about Facebook and ads and how we should be paying for this. But we’re just actually going through this right now. Our local newspaper just shut down and we had a paid ad in the local newspaper like you do in a small, rural community.

Brady Shearer: Classic.

Alex Mills: The newspaper’s not around, so we were saving that ad money and then we also pulled our newspaper ad from another newspaper. Now we have no more print ads and now there’s an opportunity to use some of that money that was previously allocated for Facebook ads. I told the elders at our church, “I don’t need all of that money. The money that we were paying for print, I need half of that maybe.” When you actually open the door and put together a Facebook ad and actually start crunching the numbers, it’s like, “Oh, this is not as scary as I ever thought it was. It’s actually way more affordable than anything we were doing before.” Also, the return on investment is way better, too. I understand that this can feel a little bit foreign at first, but you gotta trust us. You gotta jump into this and you will see a return on investment.

Brady Shearer: Three methods for growing your church’s social media faster. Number one, cross-promotion. Number two, a contest. Number three, paid promotion. That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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