How to Talk to “The Powers That Be” about Social Media

Maybe you’re already a firm believer in the capabilities of social media to transform the way that you do ministry or involve people in your non-profit or business. You actively use Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media regularly, and know what it can do. But when you think about talking to your church’s governing board, whether the session, the vestry, or even the pastoral staff, about why your church should use social media, you’re not so sure you can convince them. You certainly want to avoid hitting on people’s innate resistance to change, and especially want to avoid the kinds of generational disputes that might revolve around introducing “contemporary” worship music, for a related example, if your church is more traditional.

Here are some helpful talking points when bringing up this issue with “the powers that be”:

  1. It’s about connecting with people, not technology. There may be those who are just completely turned off by technology in general, and social media in particular. Explain to them that the technology is just another means of connecting and reaching out to people. They wouldn’t argue with sending out the church newsletter digitally; how is social media any different?
  2. Ease the fear of the unknown through visual demonstrations. It’s one thing to talk about social media’s benefits, but another entirely to see it in action. Ask for a brief amount of time during a session, vestry or other church meeting to visually demonstrate Facebook and Twitter, and show your church’s ratings and reviews on Yelp and Google. Point them to my website for explanatory videos and helpful tips. Take the scariness out of it by making it a known quantity.
  3. Show examples of other churches in your community using social media. No one wants to get left behind in an important trend in ministry. Other churches in your community may already be successfully utilizing social media and have concrete benefits you can highlight.
  4. It’s free (or low cost). It costs nothing to start a Facebook page or Twitter account and to start monitoring online review sites to see what people are saying about your church. You could also look into having your social media presence professionally managed by a service like mine or others out there.
  5. It’s easy to measure the success of social media. Unlike your church newsletter, which you never really know if people read or not, social media is all about the numbers. You can see the raw data in terms of followers on Twitter, how many people visit and “like” your Facebook page or a particular post on that page, and many more sources of data. Don’t leave yourself wondering at the end of the day whether your church communications are effective or not. Social media provides measurable success.

While there are many more benefits to bring up with “the powers that be” at your organization, these are the highlights. Leave more ideas in the comment section below, and tell us how you would talk to your church about incorporating social media into it’s overall communications strategy.