CER Communications and Social Media
If your congregation wants to attract potential members under the age of 50, you will need to have a strong social media presence and use compelling visual elements in your communications. Congregations who don’t utilize social media are missing an opportunity to interact with those who are looking for our life-saving message and our work towards the beloved community.
Communications is a fast changing and complex area because there is no one communication tool to reach all your members and friends anymore. A good plan requires many tools and approaches.
It may be helpful to use a circle of commitment framing to determine the audience for certain communications (e.g. event notices for seekers, ongoing events for friends, upcoming decisions for members, resources for leaders).
Some key points about social media and communications in our congregations:
- Social media is the main method of communication for those 30 and under and that demographic is 50% of the world’s population. This makes social media an important piece of your outreach plan. This video explains current social media trends.
- Having an active, vital social media presence requires educating your congregation on how they can help keep your congregation’s name and activities out there. A lifeless social media account does not inspire faith in your visitors. These tips from the UUA will help.
- Websites need to be up-to-date and they need to answer the questions your visitors are asking before they show up. The UUA has a great wordpress template that is easy to upload and populate with your congregation’s information and allows multiple users to update your content allowing the webmaster to share the load. Peter Bowden has written a blog about how to gather visitors questions.
- Need help with graphics? Have you looked at the images section of Worship Web? The UUA’s Outreach Revolution can help - new graphics every month on a theme you can use on social media. The UU Media Works Facebook Page has many images you can use. There are programs online where you can easily create your own - Canva is one I recommend. You can also find images shared by other UUs on Flickr.
- 90% of all visitors have already visited you online - either through your social media accounts or website. Many will virtually engage with your congregation for a significant amount of time before actually showing up on Sunday morning. And they will feel they already know you, especially if you post podcasts or videos of sermons. Peter Bowden has written a blog about this phenomena.
- There is no one communications tool that will reach all your congregants. Polling your congregants to find out what platforms they use will help you develop an effective communications plan.
- Every congregation should have a communications policy that addresses the various ways to communicate information internally and who has control and moderation power on your social media accounts. At least 2 staff should be administrators of your website and social media accounts. Additional volunteers are welcome. Find sample policies at the UUA website.
- Photo permissions are important and necessary. This blog post from Church Marketing Sucks explains the laws around photo permissions. Why Your Church Needs Photo Permissions.
Learn More About Social Media and Communications
- UUA Communications Page: this is the main page for the UUA's resources on congregational communications. Under it you can find pages on Public Relations, Graphics, Social Media, Websites, Videos, Blogs, Podcasting and Policies.
- Peter Bowden’s blog: Peter Bowden is a former district staff member who is now working independently as a consultant with congregations in the areas of social media and communications. His blog has several posts that address topics important to congregations.
- UUA Outreach page: if your congregation is looking to increase your outreach, this page has some tips and resources to help, including recordings from some past GA workshops on social media, website and outreach.
- Email programs: many congregations use Constant Contact, MailChimp and Emma. We do not currently have any type of discount arrangements with any of these companies.
- The Growing UU Blog has information about outreach and communications about once a month.
- Church Marketing Sucks Blog: this is a Christian based blog so there is some translation required but is a very good resource for ideas and latest trends.
- Social Media Webinar from March 2017 presented by Beth Casebolt (see the video in the sidebar).