A 5 Day Experiment on the Power of Social Media

A few weeks ago at West Ridge Church, we conducted a social media experiment. I’m a big believer in the power of social media, but to be honest, the results shocked me.

On Tuesday, January 7th during our Lead Team meeting, we were talking about Terence Lester, one of our church planters who created an innovative ministry called Love Beyond Walls. His focus is giving a voice to the homeless of Atlanta and building relationships with them to help change their lives. Terence put together a campaign called 6,000+, where they were looking for donations of socks, gloves and hats to give to the 6,000+ homeless in Atlanta that go to sleep without a home. The deadline to submit donations was in 5 days, and they were 2,000 short of their donation goals at that point. We wanted to be a part of taking care of this need and mobilize our church to play a part.

Typically for communicating a need like this, the first thing we think of is doing a stage announcement and featuring it in the bulletin. But here’s the problem: it’s Tuesday. Waiting 5 days to share the need during the services on deadline day would be too late.This circumstance was the perfect opportunity for an experiment:

THE EXPERIMENT:

How can we mobilize our church to donate 2,000 socks/shoes/hats, in 5 days, using only social media?

On that same day, our team got to work putting together some resources to share with our church on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our goal was to create visually engaging posts with an emotional connection that people would share. Here’s a few examples:

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So, did the experiment work?

YES! Five days later, on January 12th, we saw our bins around the church fill up with 2,711 donations of socks, gloves and hats, exceeding our goal of 2,000!

5dayexperiment_bins2Tips to get your social media platform off the ground:

Some of you may be saying – that’s great for you, but we don’t have a big social media following. What if our staff and pastors don’t value it? What if we don’t have a big team to manage it? Let me encourage you with this: it has taken months and months of consistent strategy and development for our communications team to start to tap into the power of social media. We’re learning new things each week and have a long way to go. But here are a few tips that helped us get our social media platform off the ground:

  • Create a Social Media Strategy. Don’t do it just because everyone else is doing it, or to copy off of how the church down the street is doing it. Be intentional about your strategy to engage your audience on social media. Here’s a look at our social media strategy at West Ridge Church. 
  • Be Consistent. Give yourself permission to start small. The thing that will cripple your influence and reach on social media is inconsistency. Some teams may have dedicated staff members owning social media. For others, it may be volunteer driven. The key is, whether it’s 3 or 30 posts a week, stay consistent. If you’re overwhelmed with the time it takes to lead social media efforts, I’ve put together some ideas for creating a social media dream team.
  • Be Visual. No matter what platform you are using, help bring the post to life through visuals. Statistically, posts that include a video, photo or graphic are far more effective than posts that only have text. One of the results of being more visual with your posts is that people are more likely to share the post with their friends, which helps expand your audience.
  • Make it Part of the Conversation. In our generation, social media can’t be an afterthought. When you’re thinking about communicating to your church, think beyond what you’re doing while people are in the building and utilize this resource we’ve been given to connect with your audience. To do this, communication leaders need to consistently advocate for the role of social media as it relates to the vision and ministries of the church.
  • Measure Results. Consistently be evaluating what’s working, not working, missing and confusing with your social media platform. Measure your growth on your different social media accounts, and see what type of weekly reach you’re getting. Then, communicate this to the staff and leadership so they’re able to see the traction it’s getting in your church. For example, it’s been a game-changer for our team in realizing that on Facebook alone, we have an average weekly reach of about 24,000 people. Let me put that in perspective: We typically have around 4-5,000 in attendance on Sunday morning. From Monday-Sunday, there 24,000 people that are being reached through our Facebook posts.

QUESTION: How are you seeing social media connect and mobilize your church? Share a comment below!