Engage your ministry’s social media audience in lasting ways
It’s not about how many social media accounts you have. It’s not even about how many followers you have.
Are your visitors/followers/viewers finding what they want to find?
Are they involved?
And how can you tell?
Well, are you giving them what they want?
If they already follow you, or even if they’re a first-time visitor, you know there’s likely a shared interest. You know they want information on the subject your ministry addresses.
And your ministry has noble goals that have been carefully formulated and prayed over. No doubt you feel it’s important to state these goals, what is special about this ministry, and perhaps the story behind its existence…
…but is your social media about your ministry, or about your audience?
You know the answer, and that’s why you’re reading this. You want to be a valuable resource to the people you hope to reach.
That’s why, in order to establish any kind of relationship between brand/business/ministry and follower, you have to give a little something first. It’s like a deposit.
And what do we all have readily available that we can give over social media?
HELPFUL information. APPLICABLE information.
The goal is to help you audience feel empowered, which makes them much more likely to trust your ministry and build a relationship with it.
Adapted from communication guru Anne Wylie’s recent post, here are proven-effective ways to provide helpful information through your ministry’s social media channels that deepen audience engagement.
1) Share information they can EASILY understand and put to use.
Let’s not give our readers more to do. They’re busy enough and distracted enough as it is, and who knows what they’re going through when they by the time they find you.
For example, if you share a statistic meant to motivate, create meaning for it beyond just quantities or percentages. When talking about a number of people, find out how many classrooms that amount would fill, or how many stadiums, or how many homeless shelters, etc. Paint mental pictures for your readers, and describe the implications and needed solutions for these stats.
If you share exclusive news, like a new product on the market, a new law that makes a difference for your audience, or a piece of information that negates a common assumption (i.e., “We’ve All Been Doing This Wrong”…), make sure the relevance is clear and stated early, without too much frill or fluff. The readers need to be clear on what they are to do with this news and how it is likely to affect them.
2) Teach them something!
No matter what your ministry does, you’re out to meet a specific need while ultimately leading someone to Jesus. What are some things your ministry audience might be eager to learn?
“How-to” content out-performs every other type of content on the internet except for breaking news stories. It also shows that you care enough about your audience to help them out even before any interaction takes place.
For example, this post by Investopedia teaches its readers how to tell if they’re overpaying on their taxes each year. This is smart, as it shows that they know about common issues regular people have when figuring out taxes and withholdings. It also shows that they care enough about people to help them make sure they’re not overpaying. Now that tax time is here, those that read this post are more likely to think about Investopedia as a good source for many of their money-related questions. And they’ll keep coming back.
3) Show them what you can solve for them.
Instead of describing what you do and why you do it (yes this information is important, but people know to look at the “about” information to find this), point out first and foremost which problems you solve for your audience. Use examples, scenarios, analogies, etc., and highlight the thoughts or emotions that often go along with these problems/needs.
And while talking about which needs you meet, which pains you alleviate, which gaps you fill, etc., provide a few handy tips or info-bites as well. This can demonstrate that you understand them, you can help them, and you want to make things better for them.
This is an excellent example Wylie uses to show a company providing helpful tidbits on social media at just the right time.
“IRS urges you to perform a Paycheck Checkup today to make sure your tax withholding is right for you. [Link]”
“Have a question or problem while doing your taxes online? We have tax pros standing by to call or chat. If you’re really stuck, they can even share your screen to help you through it. Expert help, if and when you need it with H&R Block online. [Link]”
“More people file free with H&R Block Online. Find out if you’re one of them: [Link]”
These Tweets meet the audience where they’re at, providing them with helpful information and also demonstrating how H&R Block can help.
5) Turn news or updates into something useful
No one wants to listen to someone else talk about themselves. The same applies to organizations.
Instead of announcing the event you’re at, share something valuable you just learned or something powerful you observed that will resonate with your audience.
Instead of promoting a new service, describe the need/problem your ministry recognizes and what is needed to solve it (later on they’ll find out how your product/service is what makes that solution possible).
“I watched the kids’ faces light up when saw their new backpacks. Clearly those bookbags meant more to them than just something to carry around their homework in.”
(quoted from a Facebook post by a ministry that provides new backpacks for foster children)
“Wish I’d known this when interviewing for jobs in my 20s & 30s. Do you know why they ask where you see yourself in 5 years? According to a panel of top HR reps, it’s not for your hopes & dreams. They’re looking for stability, loyalty and vision. How do you see yourself in the role you’re pursuing?”
(a Tweet from an HR conference by a nonprofit that helps unemployed locals develop job skills)
All in all, it’s best to make each social media post all about the needs, interests and perspectives of your audience.
We’ve summed up the most relevant tips from Wylie’s post, but there’s always more to learn! Read the full post here.