Julianne Alkire Church Marketing University

Julianne leads our communications team, which means she’s here to make sure you get connected with information and coaching to help your church get more visitors! You’ll probably see her the most in... read more

Church Social Media Strategy

In this article, we’ll tell you how to create a Social Media Strategy for your church!

If you’re just getting started with Social Media (or want to clean up your policies and procedures), we offer a super-helpful resource for that.  It’s our Church Social Media Policy Template!

Church Social Policy Template

If you’d like a Daily Social Media Guide, we also provide one each month for the churches enrolled in CMU.  You can apply for a Scholarship here.  

How do I create a social media strategy for my church?

Creating a Social Media Strategy for your church needs to keep your church’s outreach strategy, goals, and culture in mind.

Try to avoid making your church’s social accounts into places where you dump all of your church’s announcements. 

You want your social media to be just that- social!  It’s okay to talk about what’s coming up, but be sure you’re also starting conversations and showing (rather than telling!) what being part of your church is like.

Your church’s social media accounts are one of the first places people will check when they’re thinking about coming- so make sure it’s not full of insider announcements and graphics that tell them nothing about the people and the church service.

If you don’t have a clear understanding of what your church is trying to achieve on Social Media, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Who is my church trying to reach?

    Of course, we know you’ll welcome anyone, but it’s good to have an idea in mind- are you trying to reach young families?  People who have no previous experience with church? Young adults just starting out?

  • How does my church want to serve our community?
  • What things about our church set us apart?  (These can be fun or serious)
  • When people think about our church, what words come to mind?  Do those match what we want them to think?

You don’t have to overthink these questions as you’re getting started with a Social Media strategy- just do your best and continue to work with other leaders to continue to answer them as you go.

If your church doesn’t have a clear purpose behind your marketing and outreach efforts, we can help!

Our Visitor Growth Engine Course is the best way to get started- you can apply for a scholarship for that here.

I’d also encourage you to check out these articles as you’re figuring out how a Social Media Plan fits in with your church’s other marketing goals:

Okay, you have your church’s goals in mind?  Let’s move onto the next step! 

Have a clear PURPOSE for your church's social media (hint: don't make it about you)

Why are you wanting to post for your church on social media?

Is it so you can talk about your church?

Or so you can talk to other people about what’s going on in their lives?

There’s no problem with talking about what’s happening at your church, but make sure to NOT make it all about your church.

Whatever you do at church is for others.

So that- they can grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus.

Make sure your church’s social media reflects that! 

One example: if your church uses Instagram, follow people back!  Like, comment, and share their posts- even if it doesn’t relate to what’s happening at your church! 

Use your church’s social media as a way to help people feel seen, not to be seen by people.

What social media platforms should my church use?

After you have your goals and purpose in mind, it’s time to pick your platforms.

With Social Media management, there’s a temptation to chase after all the latest fads and platforms, but you don’t have to.

Be intentional about who you’re trying to reach, and focus on using the platforms they’re using.

For example, if you’re trying to reach young families, most parents are on Facebook or Instagram (and- these platforms work so seamlessly together that it’s easy to post to both at once, if you want!)

If you’re trying to reach college students, you may want to go all-in on TikTok!

If you have a large team and want to go all-in on all the platforms, cool!  But if you have a small team (or if it’s just you!) don’t put the pressure on yourself to do everything at once.

The key here is to not overextend yourself so that you’re so busy creating content that you can’t care for people.

Remember our last point: the purpose of social media is connecting with people!

So be in the places where the people you are trying to reach are spending their time.

How to Put Together a Social Media Plan

Okay, now that you’ve determined why your church’s social media exists- and where you’ll be posting and interacting- you can start to put together a plan!

Having these things in place before you put together your plan is important, because it will help you choose the type of posts that will connect with people on your platform of choice.

When I put together our Daily Social Media Guides for our CMU Churches, here are some types of posts I try to include in every month:

  • Posts that show a new person where to go or what to do when they arrive.  This can be still shot, a virtual walkthrough of the lobby, or an interview with someone volunteering at your “New Here” spot.  Get creative!
  • Posts that highlight families and kids.  Kids bring joy and LIFE wherever they go, which is why I love posting photos of families and what’s happening in the kids ministry!  This can be a little tricky sometimes, so make sure you have the correct Photography Policies in place before you start taking tons of photos of kids.  My recommendation?  Start with the kids whose parents you KNOW will be okay with their picture being taken.
  • Posts that highlight your community- this can be people sharing their stories of how God is working in their lives, photos of small groups studying together, or images of an all-church event.  Let people know that there are deeper friendships waiting for them if they have the courage to embrace them!
  • Posts that lead people deeper.  Our culture can be very surface-level and image-driven, and that’s highlighted on social media.  But, people are still hungry for the deeper meaning and purpose that only God can bring to our lives!  You can have your people write short devotionals, share stories, film your pastor giving some extra background or context from the sermon, share Bible verses, or post a countdown timer encouraging people to pray! 
  • Posts that start conversations.  You CAN do fun posts around things like social media holidays, but I would recommend trying to keep the engagement on your page focused around either 1) what you’re doing together as a church or 2) the things that your people are talking about a lot on social.  (For example, if EVERYONE seems to be posting the same meme format, consider making one for your church!)  You can also ask questions, then incorporate those answers into the service or later posts!   
  • Posts celebrating people doing something good.  What gets celebrated gets repeated, so if you want more volunteers on Sunday, on missions trips, or during community outreaches, make sure you’re featuring the people who are already doing those things!

As important as what you DO include in your plan, here are some things I suggest leaving out:

  • Inside jokes, unless you’re willing to fully explain it for the people who weren’t there.  Your church’s social media pages aren’t primarily for your people- those kind of jokes are much better in groups or group chats!
  • Announcements that apply to a small percentage of people.  You don’t want to lost focus- make sure that the announcements you’re posting apply to over half of the people who would be reading your post.  If they don’t, it might be more appropriate for a segmented email list or a group.
  • Wall-to-wall graphics.  Don’t hate me, graphic designers, but the posts people resonate with MOST tend to have smiling, happy human faces.  Plus, if you focus mostly on photography and video, the times that you DO use a straight-up graphic design will be much more impactful.  It’s also easy to delegate getting images to anyone with an iPhone- and then you can use your creative abilities to organize, add text, and do whatever you need with them!  

Get images and video

Once you have your plan, it’s time to go out there and GET pictures and video!  Even if you do plan on using graphic design elements (it’s pretty unusual to have zero graphic design!) you’re going to want to have plenty of photos to choose from.

Ideally, you’ll have a photography team that works to get you the images you need every week.  But, life isn’t always ideal!  If you’re the only one on your team (or if your church is resistant to photography), try to batch photos that you can use throughout the month or quarter. 

You don’t have to have a fancy camera to get these images and video- you should be able to just use your phone.  Or, better yet, have some teens from your student ministry take the photos for you!  (Giving them a list of the shots you need will help!)

Here are some additional tips to make getting photos and videos from your church easier:

  • Talk to your people and work with other church leaders to develop a church photography privacy policy.  (We have a guide that can help you with that here!)
  •  Make use of practice times and mic checks to get shots of your worship team and your pastor without disrupting the service (it can feel a little awkward to be taking photos while the church service is happening!)
  • Don’t feel bad about posing photos- you need images of YOUR people in YOUR building in order to give new people an accurate preview of what to expect, but if you want to make sure everyone is smiling and happy to be included in a photo that you’ll use on your church’s social media, posing them may be the quickest way to do that.
  • When all else fails, focus on getting the 10 types of photos we outline in this article.  

If you want some easy (and timeless!) post ideas, we’ve put together this resource with example photos that you can hand off to a volunteer and show them the kinds of images you’re looking for:

Church Social Media Policy Template

This guide is a scaled-down, timeless version of the Daily Social Media Guide that we create every month for our churches, so if you need more caption ideas for every day, I highly recommend applying for a scholarship so that you can get access to that guide! 

Write captions

Before you can hit “post!” there’s one last step to take!  Writing the captions.

You can do this during the planning stage, or wait until you get your images to make sure it meshes with the rest of your post.  If you’re a one-person team, you may be good to go from here: just check for typos!

If you work as part of team, make sure you have the captions written and run them through the necessary approval process.  But otherwise, there’s not much to sweat about!

There are about as many tips on writing social media captions as there are social media coaches.  One thing is certain- captions DO matter.  My recommendation is to focus on writing words that 1) are friendly and welcoming to the people reading your posts, and 2) convey what it’s like to be at your church (fun, encouraging, or whatever else you can think of!

If you’re wondering about hashtags- the short answer is that, while it doesn’t hurt to include them, they don’t seem to be as effective as they once were.  (That’s algorithm changes for ya!) If you have some favorite hashtags, include them!  But don’t worry about doing a bunch of research if you’re drawing a blank.  🙂  

Oh… And that posting ideas guide?  We also included example captions!  

Assess what's working- and what's not

After you post, your job isn’t quite over…

Now it’s time to collect data and see what’s working- and what’s not! 

I don’t suggest you try to collect this in real time- in fact, after you post something, just make sure you’re responding to comments and interacting with others as much as you can on social media.

But you should periodically be looking at your engagement numbers and what they mean:

-Number of likes or reactions can tell you how popular a post was in relation to you other posts

-The number of COMMENTS is gold- that’s where the community is happening and something that you should try to nurture!

-The number of shares can also be a good indicator of how relevant or helpful people are finding your posts!

Most social media platforms make it easy to find and track this kind of information, and will help you view the best-perfoming posts so you can analyze them by what they have in common.  When you find something that’s working, keep using it to create new posts until you see a change in the metrics! 

What kind of photos do I need for my church's social media?

We answered this somewhat in the sections above, but if you need a quick answer:

You need photos of your people, in your facility, smiling and having fun.

If you want to get a little more granular, we recommend ten types of photos in this article.

How do I stay up-to-date with trends on social media?

You can take two approaches to this:

  1. Do everything you can to stay on top of trends.  Download every new app that comes out and learn how to use it. Follow people who are thought leaders in this space (like Jenifer Benton, Kenny Jahng, and our own Chris Abbott) and do what they recommend.  Rely on metrics to see what is and isn’t working, and stay in contact with other church social media peeps to swap ideas and stories.
  2. Decide that your mission is to serve people, and make sure you’re doing that without worrying as much about trends that come and go.

The size and culture of your church may dictate which approach you’re going to have to use. 

My encouragement to you is this: if social media is your jam, feel free to play to your strengths and go all in! 

But if it’s just one of many things on your plate, then know that your effort is going to be most effective when you’re using social media to care for people- and that’s a timeless strategy that will work no matter what platforms are popular.

Can I hire someone to plan my church's social media?

You can!  There are plenty of programs that will give you pre-designed graphics, or indie social media managers that will do it for you remotely.

However, usually these solutions end up failing dismally on the relationship front.  You’ll probably have a pretty profile, but you don’t necessarily have someone who is plugged into your church and posting real content around what’s happening.  If you want to hire someone, my suggestion would be to hire someone from your church- and, if they need some guidance, use something like our Daily Social Media Guide to help them out! 

How often should I post on social media?

I get this question a LOT!

And the answer is…  As often as you can, but still nurture the relationship.

If you’re posting 3x per day but never respond to comments, that’s not a winning situation.  However, if you post 2 times a week but you’re cultivating conversations every time, you’re going to see much more fruit from that! 

If you’re part-time or bivocational, aim to be present on social media (and posting!) 2-3 times per week.  If you’re full-time, aim for 5-7.  

If you need ideas to post, you can use these 10 post ideas at your church!  It’s a sample of what you get when you enroll in CMU and get the Daily Social Media Guide! 

Free Church Social Media Policy Template

A Social Media Policy Template for when you're ready to create one for your church's social media team!