Many churches have turned to social media and social walls to create a space for their community in an online setting. Suppose you happen to find yourself in that same situation, wondering what you can do to keep providing your congregation with that sense of community that they usually get from being in the same space together. It might seem insurmountable at first, but this guide will show you the advantages of social media for churches, how to get started with a social wall, and real examples of churches’ social media activities.
While the pandemic has prompted many religious groups to temporarily move offline activities to an online setting, social media for churches should really be implemented as a long-term strategy to strengthen the bonds within your community.
The most obvious advantage of social media for churches is that it allows you to broaden your reach and get in touch with people you might not normally reach, diversifying your community. Meanwhile, it’s really easy to communicate with everyone and you can maintain on-going communication with your followers, even in times of uncertainty.
Grow your community with a multi-generational audience
Every social media platform targets specific audiences. Baby Boomers (50–75), spend the most time on Facebook, while Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z (13 to 49) use Instagram the most. This data isn’t set in stone, but it gives you an idea of who you can target on each platform.
The point is, you can attract people of all ages on social media, diversifying your congregation and creating a network of people who bring different things to the table to support each other. Make sure to be present on the social media platforms that matter to you and start growing your community.
Offer support in times of uncertainty
Being on social media also means you can connect with people in times of physical confinement. While large gatherings should be avoided because of the pandemic, your church can still spread its message and offer support to members and non-members through social media.
No matter the format — live stream, a pre-recorded video, or written posts —, getting your message to the public will always be possible through social media. Your congregation can be kept up to date through social media. The drawback is that a sense of togetherness might be missing, but this is where a social wall comes in.
A social wall collects and displays social media content. You can gather posts from the church’s social media profiles, as well as pictures or videos that members of your community post on social media tagged with your hashtag (more on this later), all in one unified feed.
Enabling a social wall for your community will convey a strong sense of belonging. Embedding your social wall on the church’s website or displaying it during a service will make everyone feel included.
What better to transmit a sense of belonging than a feed full of photos with emotive captions from your community and posts from your profile? Take The Church Without Walls, for example.
This church in Houston uses their social wall to promote virtual bible study groups, highlight church members’ achievements, post inspirational bible verses, share footage of services, and so much more. The wall collects content from both the church’s social media profiles and community members.
The wall instantly creates a feeling of community and tells the story of a congregation that sticks together, no matter the adversities.
Aside from the emotional component, a social wall can also be a great organisational tool for your church, as its real-time updates keep your congregation informed at all times. Any announcements you make on social media will immediately show up on the social wall. Any news your community wants to share also shows up.
This feature allows you and the church members to maintain on-going communication. Has the time of your next service changed? Let everyone know via the wall. Did someone graduate? Post it on the wall and let everyone celebrate with them.
Now that you know more about the benefits of social walls, let’s talk about how to set one up.
Walls.io offers user-friendly tools to set up your social wall. Read this guide to learn how to create your wall, or watch this video.
Once you set up your wall, all you have to do is fill it with content. You can either choose to pull content from your social media profiles or a hashtag that everyone can use to post to the wall, allowing your congregation to share their photos.
Create a hashtag
Your congregation needs to have a hashtag that they can use when they post on social media. This hashtag will be added to your wall as one of the sources, and it will collect the content generated by anyone using the hashtag in their posts and photos.
If you don’t have a hashtag yet, check out this guide to learn how to find the perfect hashtag for your church. Essentially, you should choose a unique word related to your church that’s easy enough for everyone to remember.
For instance, The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) created the hashtag #MeinHoffnungsweg (#MyPathOfHope), which encourages people to post a photo of their personal path of hope on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The special aspect about this hashtag is that it can be interpreted in many different ways, and it’s very emotive.
After creating your hashtag, share it with your community and encourage them to post photos on social media while they watch your service, to share their lives with the congregation, or about any church-related topic. The social wall will automatically collect this content.
The Johanneskirche Stadtkirche Düsseldorf (The Church of Johannes in the city of Düsseldorf) did a fantastic job using a social wall. They broadcast their services live on YouTube while displaying a social wall on a big screen, which shows social media posts from viewers.
Display recordings of your service with a YouTube wall
Big Woods Bible Church live streams their services on YouTube for people who can’t make it in person. Then, they collect these YouTube videos on a social wall embedded on their website. Every sermon is readily available for the congregation, as they created a specific page for the wall titled Sermons.
With a social wall for your church, you can make your congregation feel included during services, even when they can’t be physically present, as well as create a sense of community outside of services. But there are many other ways churches can use a social wall. Besides bringing people together, a social wall can work as a promotional tool for bible study groups, for volunteering activities, to celebrate major achievements of members of the community, or to share words of faith with the congregation.
Try a social wall for your church and watch how your community will appreciate it.