Have you ever noticed that the status updates used by a lot churches in Facebook or on Twitter feel less like an engaging conversation and more like a greasy used car salesman. “New series coming up this weekend!” “Join a Life Group this Spring!” “The Most Amazing Thing is Happening This Sunday At Our Church And You Are Missing Out If You Aren’t Here 10 Minutes Early!” Clearly there is a more elegant or nuanced way to leverage this medium. We need to find a way to engage our people in a conversation that helps push our mission forward not just scream at them about what’s coming up next.

Typically after Easter our attendance starts to slip. I didn’t want to just “accept” that as a forgone conclusion this year. As a part of a broader communications plan we decided to challenge ourselves to develop social media content that was targeted at engaging our people while it also advertised the series. The goal here was engaging content that begged conversation. Rather than just a “trailer” for the upcoming series or an ad that that gives service times we wanted to develop some social sharing tools that people would engage with. Below is what we ended up coming up with … the series we were promoting started 3 weeks after Easter and was called “Love Doctor“.

  • Survey About Topic // We developed a simple survey and asked people to fill it out to gauge their thoughts and opinions about relationships. This helped up generate a bunch of social interest in the series. [Click here to check out the survey.]
  • Pre-Series // In the lead up the series we asked people to give us their thoughts … everyone loves sharing their own opinion … we ended up with nearly 500 people filling out the survey. This gave us a “call to action” before the series that related to the content rather than just another ad.
  • During Series // As the series was rolling along we released various stats from the survey as “discussion points” for our people through social channels. [Some of these discussions got a bit heated!] From my seat, I don’t want to “edit” people’s conversations on our Facebook wall … I think it defeats the purpose of a social channel. I’d rather monitor the conversation and let it roll. When talking about controversial topics … there is bound to be some controversy!
  • Wrapping Up // As we are coming into the end of the series we released an infographic for our community to share about this survey. [Check out the infographic.] We’re still learning how to best leverage infographics as a communications piece but I think there is a great potential with these.
  • Testimony Videos // We released a few “testimony” videos through Facebook from couples talking about how past relationships series had a positive impact on them. The goal for these videos was to demonstrate that our Sunday content is helpful. We want people to be confident when inviting a friend to attend that the messages will have impact and relevance. [Jon & Esther Video] [Dan & Maggie Video]
  • Expert Videos // We also released a few videos from counselors talking about relationships. The hope here was to show Tim (our teaching pastor) interacting with “experts” in the field that we were talking about. We wanted to “show” that Tim does extensive research and prep for a series like this. We were hoped that this content would provide some helpful tips for couples as they wrestle with their relationship … almost like a micro-message for them. Our theory was if it was helpful … people would share it. In the end these videos proved very “shareable” as they were viewed some 40k times! Examples: [Steve Armstrong Video] [Amy Flavin Video]
  • “Tension Points” for Discussion // As we led up to the series we developed a series of “Facebook square” graphics the presented a point of tension or disagreement and invited our community to talk about it. Some of them were fun and some of them were more serious. We found that “fun” ones stirred the most conversation … like this one about toilet paper! The goal here was to stir conversation about the topic of the series and do that in an “series branded” manner that ends up also promoting.

How have you leveraged your social channels to stir conversation about the topics you are talking about? It’s been fun to watch this content help us actually grow after Easter this year!

Rich Birch

Author: Rich Birch

I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serve as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I speak at conferences like Orange, WFX and various regional multisite church events. I’m a featured writer on Auxano’s Vision Room, and MinistryBriefing. Currently, I'm the Pastor of Operations at Liquid Church in New Jersey.