I’m pretty sure the average person couldn’t tell you why they love Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and they may be reluctant to admit it – but they do, in fact, love it – so much that they can’t seem to stay away from it. Social media is not addictive on a case-by-case basis; almost everyone experiences its magnetic pull. But why? Why is it so difficult to tear our eyes away from the endless stream of photos of sandy beach feet, Starbucks cups, motivational quotes, Throw Back Thursdays, song lyrics, and yesterday’s dinner?
There is a lot of interesting research out there about the scientific reasons for “social media addiction” (i.e. how each post provides a surge of dopamine to our brains), but it all boils down to this: People love social media because it’s “social.” We are living in what Seth Godin calls a “Connection Economy,” where it seems the world is finally waking up to the inherent desire and need for relationship that God placed in us from the very beginning, and people are starting to turn their minds off to anything that does not have a potentially “social” aspect. Thus, impersonal advertising and marketing techniques like billboards and TV ads are losing ground in engagement and, consequently, lucrativeness. The world has abandoned the monologue advertisement of faceless, corporate organizations and turned to social media to find connection and be heard.
While there may be a negative grumble resounding around the fact that the world is fixated on social media, it presents an unprecedented opportunity for companies (and churches!) to interact with their customers (or attendees/members) 24/7, which not only provides an endless stream of helpful feedback, but also creates an opportunity to build relationships, meet needs, and, ultimately, care for people. And that’s what we, as The Church, are all about. We care for people. Social media gives us an ability to hear every voice – and reach a lot of people with the love of Jesus! – if we go about it the right way.
So all of that being said, here is the big way that you can apply this thought process to your Facebook & Instagram feeds:
Post photos, not graphics.
Graphics (e.g. your event logo with service times overlaid on top or even a photo with overlaid event info) are the Ghost of Marketing Past; they are old school, and they are hurting you more than they’re helping you. People are not only disengaged from social media graphics due to their lack of cultural relevance, but they are frustrated that anyone would be so rude as to interrupt their delightful, photographically-issued dopamine experience with a bombardment of unsolicited words, text and information.
Instead of defaulting to an informational graphic, post a crisp, engaging photo of the event or cause you’re promoting (preferably picturing people enjoying said event!) with a punchy caption that will get across the same exact information you would have communicated through a graphic. (Examples: NewSpring, Elevation, Highlands). This allows people to keep their brains happy media-wise while also connecting with you, your event, and your church’s personality. As you gain their trust over time by allowing them to get to know you as a church through photographical windows, they may eventually give one of your events a shot.
Nobody really wants to be sold anything, and this is the beauty of The Church becoming properly active on social media: We’re not selling anything. We’re trying to connect people with others (which is what they want) and with Jesus (which is what they need). Our goals with social media need to be centered on building relationships, meeting needs, caring for people, and connecting them with the personality of our churches. The more authentically we can do this, the more effective we will be in communicating the love of God to this connection-driven world.
Let's make our posts count.