Social Media Hacks (Chris Hargrove)

I have always been a big fan of social media for my own personal life, but I never imagined how impactful it would be in my ministry to students and their parents. Social media is an ever-changing, ever growing, and at times, frustrating part of our lives. Chances are, you have probably spent some time on social media whether for your own interest or to try and connect with students about your ministry. Don’t miss out on a HUGE way to connect with your students and reach new ones!

Here are a few thoughts and hacks on social media:

Interact

This keeps it fresh and exciting. You want to help provide a place for students to dialogue with you and each other. Create posts that help foster conversation and keep it FUN! Instagram has great features like the poll or questions to create conversation. I love what Brady Shearer (Pro Church Tools) says that one primary goal in social media is to, ‘stop the scroll.’ As you post, you want students to stop scrolling and read, comment, or engage. Really great social media posts don’t just look good but they help call people to action.

Here are some ideas – the day after your worship service, post a picture of the songs you sang and ask students what their favorite song was. If there is a big sports game (Superbowl, championships, etc) post a picture of the two teams playing and ask who they think will win. One recent post that got good interaction for us was, “If I could meet one person in the world, I would meet ______.” Around Christmas time, we asked what is your favorite Christmas movie. These types of questions can be utilized in the feed or in the story feature. The point is to keep these kinds of posts fun, engaging, and to think creatively!

Celebrate

“Celebrate good times, come on!” This is my favorite type of post. I love to celebrate things in our ministry. This is something you’ll have to work on because it can be so easy to always post information and have your social media feed look like a bulletin board…but that’s not the big win for social media. You want your social media to be an outreach opportunity, to celebrate what God is doing, and to encourage people to come be part of that! Henry Blackaby said, “We should join God in what He is already doing.” I think that is the message you want to communicate to those online about your ministry. It is also very helpful to create this new way of thinking so that you are constantly looking for ways God is working because the reality is that He is working whether you know it or not. Your ministry is about people so your social media should be celebrating what God is doing through people!

Don’t limit celebrations to just attendance or a record number of students in worship. That is great to do from time to time but not every week 🙂

Here are some ideas of what to celebrate – post a picture or video of a student who got baptized and have them share why being baptized was so special to them. If students get saved at a church service…CELEBRATE that!!! Share with others how a student joining a small group has helped provide community, friends, and accountability. Pick a small group leader or volunteer and celebrate them by bragging on them to everyone. The point is to paint the picture of how God is working in your ministry and you want others to come be part!

Inform

This is a challenging one. What you don’t want is to post announcement after announcement. Trust me, I get it…your events, calendar, and sign-ups are very important, but you’ve got to find a balance in how much information you are posting. There is no way to avoid posting information but not everything is worthy of a social media post. Determine what needs to be marked as most important to post whether in feed or a story.

One thing that can help when promoting information such as an event is to pull a picture from the event in the previous year or and add text over it. There are many different ways you are letting students and parents know about different events through texting, e-mail, postcards, word of mouth, and even announcing from the stage. As you share your information and announcements, look for creative ways rather than just posting the facts.

Here are some ideas – rather than post the same graphics every time about your camp, consider taking a picture of a student going to camp and have them write up a short paragraph about what camp means to them and why others should go. Another idea is to create a post that is promoting your event that you want other people to screenshot and share. Use a group picture from the previous year to promote the event.

A few other hacks

  • Find a social media scheduler to help in planning your posts. Buffer.com has a great FREE version. This will help you realize what types of posts you need more of and ones you can scale back on. Plus it will save you time!
  • Post every day. During the week, we post once a day. On the weekends, we post twice a day.
  • Turn your student ministry Instagram into a business profile and check out the analytics. This will show you who you are reaching and the best time to post.
  • Start where you are. It’s okay if you only have 10 followers or 1,000 followers. Don’t wait until you have X amount.
  • Post with excellence! Avoid grammatical errors. There’s nothing worse than a student leaving a comment of the correct spelling of something you misspelled in the caption.
  • Use a hashtag that is unique to your ministry. The two we use are #MSFusion and #HSFusion.
  • Some apps to consider to help you look GOOD:
    • Unfold – low cost and helps create great graphics for stories
    • Over – this is a must-have! Free version and paid version. Allows you to add text, layered images, and has great templates for stories.
    • Canva – this is a must-have. Free version with LOADS of templates for you to just plug and play. They also provide a premium version with great upgrades for free for churches and nonprofits.
    • Wordswag – low cost and does a great job at creating cool ways for text over a photo.
    • In-Shot, VSCO, PS Express, and Adobe Spark are also good ones.
  • Don’t feel the pressure to do them ALL! Pick one or two platforms and do them WELL!
  • Let others help! Give your phone to a trustworthy student or leader and have them take pictures of the game, message, worship, etc.
  • Find someone who does photography in your church to come to shoot at an event or worship service to get some incredible high-quality photos ( I do these 3-4 times a year)

Don’t forget, your social media is a great way for students and parents to see what is going on in your ministry. Social media can pull the curtain back for someone outside of your church and ministry to learn more and hopefully get connected. Posting just to post won’t get you the results you may be looking for. Be intentional and develop a strategy. Social media can help show students how to love God and live for Him.

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Chris Hargrove has been in youth ministry for over 10 years and has a huge passion at seeing students grow in their relationship with Christ and networking with other youth workers. Currently, he is the Middle School Pastor at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, GA and thinks middle schoolers are some of the coolest people in the world! He is married to his awesome wife and they have two beautiful daughters. He works hard at quoting The Office every day. You can connect with Chris on Instagram and Twitter at @HargroveChris

 

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