If you don't know your SnapTweets from your FaceChats, or if you ever find yourself referencing "The Google," this article is for you. I'll help you understand how social media can benefit your small-group ministry. We'll explore Facebook, Twitter, and even some of the less familiar networks available.
But first, a few general suggestions on how to use social media effectively:
1. Use One Central Account.
It's usually best to have one central account for the church per network rather than each team, ministry, or department having its own account. There may be exceptions to this, especially if you're at a very large church, but you'll probably want to maintain just one account.
This helps keep your profiles from going stale. If everyone is posting to the same account, you'll have fresh content on a pretty regular basis. If each department has their own account, chances are that many of them will sit dormant much of the time, and social media accounts that post sporadically don't tend to be effective.
It also ensures that you have the largest possible audience. If you have a separate Facebook page for small groups, the only people who are going to follow it are the people who already like groups. And you probably don't need to tell them about the new group campaign—they already know. If you use your church's central account, you can get your content in front of more than just the diehard group lovers.
2. Don't Forget Your Personal Account.
While you only want to have one central account for your church, it's a good idea to engage on personal accounts as well. You don't want to spam your followers with every ministry announcement that's made, but if you're the small-group director, it's probably worth mentioning when fall groups are launching, and you may ask your lead pastor to do the same.
Personal accounts can also be a great way to keep up with your leaders. Working at a large church, I can't possibly keep up with every congregant, but I do try to engage with our leaders on social media. I keep track of what's going on in their lives and connect with them regularly.
3. Make Your Posts Robust.
You want to make your accounts and posts robust. Don't start an account without a profile photo. Use pictures and videos in your posts. Posts and accounts with rich media get a much greater level of interaction than those without. Consider varied posts—from Bible verses to announcements to pictures from your groups. Keep it interesting.
4. Keep It Social.
Perhaps the biggest mistake that businesses and organizations make is forgetting that social media is social. It's meant for discussion and conversation, not just making announcements.
Take the time to interact with content posted by others and respond when people message you with a comment or question.
5. Be Wise About What You Post.
This should go without saying, but social media is a powerful tool. It's not good or bad. It just is. It's like a hammer: you can use it to build a house or break a window.
You need to be careful with how you use it. Don't post things online that you wouldn't say in church. Nothing that you do online is truly private, even when it's marked as private. Someone can always re-post what you've said.
And you'd do well to steer clear of any sort of personal messaging that seems inappropriate. For instance, you might avoid SnapChatting selfies with members of the opposite gender.