Christian marketeer, Bernard Riley, writes that social media provides great opportunities for churches to reach the world with the Gospel, and shares some tips on how to do so
A couple of years ago, I watched an interview with world famous German evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, speaking about the state of the Church in the UK. He commented that “We continually cast our nets inside the boat and need to get out.” Any good fisherman will tell you that if you want to catch some fish, you have to go where the fish are!
You may be wondering how this introduction to a feature on using social media is relevant. Well, the facts are that there are lots of fish to be found online, and the Church needs to go and get them. In my role as a marketeer, a gospel DJ and evangelist, I use social media marketing to reach people, because it’s such a great medium.
Facebook is the world’s most visited website, with 1 billion members, and is continuing to grow. YouTube is considered the world’s second biggest search engine, with over 4 billion hours of video watched in every month, whilst Twitter currently has 500 million users, with 340 million tweets posted on the site every day.
Given these amazing numbers, more churches need to prayerfully develop clear strategies for the use of social media as part of the Great Commission to spread the Gospel and also, of course, to inform and invite people about their activities.
“Churches need to prayerfully develop clear strategies for the use of social media as part of the Great Commission to spread the Gospel and also, of course, to inform and invite people about their activities.”
Here are some savvy techniques that I use in my own ministry, and also get paid to show to my corporate clients. The two sites I am going to cover are Facebook and YouTube, but you can develop my ideas and use them on other social media sites such as Twitter as well.
My top tips for using Facebook
I can reach over 50,000 people a week using my Facebook fan page, usingFREEposts who, in turn, visit my website and, as a result, I’ve been able to build an email subscriber list of over 1,000 people. The following tips will help you reach people on Facebook:
Set up a fan page – If you get your page professionally designed, then more people will take an interest and engage with your page.
Build your fans – Start with your congregation, and invite them to ‘LIKE’ your page so that your posts will appear in their newsfeeds. They can then comment, like and share them, which means that your posts will be seen by their friends.
Include a link to your website with every post – This will encourage people to visit your website and learn more about your church.
Post a range of content on your page – Don’t just post adverts about your events, conferences and meetings. Post different things on your page to keep people interested, like daily inspirational messages; discussions about this week’s message; encouragements from the Word in response to media stories, and evangelistic postings.
My top tips for using YouTube
YouTube is a great source of traffic to my ministry website. Every day I get dozens of visitors who sign up for my email updates, listen to my show, and buy my products.
Set up a YouTube account, and then set up a YouTube channel – Try to get it branded professionally. If you do not know how to do so, simply search for a tutorial on YouTube.
Create videos for posting – These can cover many topics, including sermon snippets; adverts for forthcoming events; outreach messages, and more. The best YouTube videos are the ones that go ‘viral’, ie. there’s something about the video that makes people share it with others. Prayerfully test different ideas and monitor the response. After a while, you’ll begin to know which video formats and ideas work best for your ministry.
Give your video a great title – Video titles and descriptions are VERY important. If you do these well, it is possible to get your video ranked highly for search results on both YouTube and Google. You need to create titles that contain keywords, which match what people are looking for on both YouTube and Google. The best way to find this out is by using the Keyword Tool – a free service offered (sentence incomplete???)
Two great ways to optimise your videos are as follows:
Pay attention to your video thumbnail – This is the image people see when your video is not playing. As people tend to scan pages, the video thumbnail heavily influences their decision to click and watch your video. Therefore, you need to test and try different thumbnail images.
In your video description, you are allowed to post 5,000 text characters. It takes a bit more work and creativity but it is well worth doing this, as you will show up in more search results and therefore get more views.
Finally, you must include a link at the top of your video description. For example, I normally put something like ‘for a free mix, visit http://www.soulcureradio.com’. It is always a good idea to include some sort of free offer, as this creates more incentive for people to visit your page.
Social media is a great tool to reach people with the Gospel. Try and put some of the tips into action, and watch your congregation grow!
Bernard Reilly is an Evangelist gospel DJ, and MD of Proclaim Marketing. For more information about social media and internet marketing or Proclaim Marketing, visit www.proclaimmarketing.com