ROAR Blog

Welcome

Social Media in Church: Tips from Meredith Gould, Founder of the Weekly Twitter-Based Church Social Media Chat #ChSocM

14 January

Meredith Gould

“Most churches dive into social media without any clearly reasoned strategy for doing so” -Meredith Gould

Don’t fall into the trap of moving forward without a plan!

I’m thrilled today to share some words of wisdom about social media in your church from Meredith Gould. Meredith is the founder and lead moderator of the weekly Twitter-based church social media chat #ChSocM. If you want to tune in and learn more about doing social media in your church, just get on Twitter chat #ChSocM Tuesdays, 9PM ET (#ChSocM is simply the hashtag used on Twitter to identify content and conversations about church social media). In the meantime, you can check out the #ChSocM blog, which includes a transcript of each weeks chat.

#chsocm

In this post, we’ve asked Meredith to answer a few questions:

1) What makes you excited about churches embracing social media?

2) For churches that DO NOT already use social media, but want to get started, what do you have to say to them? What is the best way to get started?

3) For churches that DO already use social media, but want to better utilize it, what do you have to say to them? What is a key element in building a genuine and thriving community, online?

4) Should churches cross-post, aka connect their accounts so that when they tweet, it also shows up on Facebook?

So, without further ado, if you’ve found yourself asking any of these same questions, read on!

1) What makes you excited about churches embracing social media?

I’m most excited by how social media tools expand what’s possible when it comes to being and doing church.  Social media disappears – or at least reconfigures – traditional notions of time, space, and place. These are extraordinary tools for expressing and living out the Gospel beyond buildings, councils, and committees. And although social media is anchored in digital technology, I believe it has the power to restore what was so radical about the early church: relationships and community.

Um.. definitely going to need to quote her on that again in the future. Well said, Meredith.

2) For churches that DO NOT already use social media, but want to get started, what do you have to say to them? What is the best way to get started?

This might come as a shock but I beg churches to resist the peer-pressured temptation of diving in and setting up social media accounts to key platforms without taking some preliminary steps. 

First things first- what are you already doing with social media?

I recommend getting started by first completing a Communications Audit to review the materials already being used for coherence and continuity of message, content, and design.  This audit includes assessing whether these materials are being generated with the best tools, given the audience(s) and goal(s).

All existing communication materials also need to be checked against strategy. What strategy? Exactly! Most churches haven’t taken the time to articulate who they want to reach, why they want to reach those folks, and what they want to happen as a result of communicating with audience(s).

Your website is kind of a big deal.

Of all the disconnects that show up during an audit, the website is usually the biggest one. I generally urge churches to fix the website (i.e., navigation, functionality, content, design) before getting into social media.

Note the word “generally.”  Sometimes it makes sense to provide news and build community using social media because the website is such a mess that it will take months to fix!

Learn social media for yourself.

I recommend church communicators set up personal accounts and learn how to use social media before setting up institutional accounts. Even if everything is great – website, communication materials, strategy –  Get to know how these things work and learn how to become part of an existing online community before attempting to create one.

3) For churches that DO already use social media, but want to better utilize it, what do you have to say to them? What is a key element in building a genuine and thriving community, online?

Social media is called social media for a reason: it works when interaction (aka, engagement) leads to relationships. Relationships are at the core of a genuine, thriving community. Indeed, a community will not emerge without such relationships.

There are, of course, other sociological factors that lead to community but group formation rooted in conversation is key to community building. This cannot happen unless the church already has or is willing to develop a culture of conversation where discussions, inquires, and disagreements are supported rather than shut down.

4) Should churches cross-post aka connect their accounts so that when they tweet, it also shows up on Facebook? 

 Absolutely not! They should take the time to create a strategy and find out more about how each social media tool can be used best.  Automatic cross-posting may, in fact, end up undermining community development, especially if what’s being posted is content. 

A few more interesting facts about Meredith… 

  • She was recently named one of the top 11 people to follow in healthcare social media.
  • She is the editor of Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Healthcare (Mayo).
  • She is actively engaged on Twitter as @meredithgould and @chsocm.
  • She’s been engaged with online communities since 1993 and social media since 2007.

To find out more about Meredith, visit her website at meredithgould.com

 

3 Responses to “Social Media in Church: Tips from Meredith Gould, Founder of the Weekly Twitter-Based Church Social Media Chat #ChSocM”

  1. Meredith Gould, PhD January 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Thank you for this great opportunity to preach the gospel of social media! I (want to) believe church is at a tipping point with digital ministry. Your support for using these tools will help that happen. Blessings!

    • Summer Pridemore January 15, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks Meredith! We believe so too. We look forward to chatting with you tonight at #ChSocM. Thanks for everything you’re doing to build up the church social media community! Honored to come aboard!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Meredith Gould of #ChSocM : Episode 30 » Social Media Church podcast - March 26, 2013

    [...] Social Media in Church: Tips from Meredith Gould – ROAR.pro blog interview [...]

Leave a Reply