Churches are in a powerful position to influence others on social media platforms. Even a small church community with fewer than 50 dedicated members can move mountains when they come together online in support of their united mission or cause. Understanding this position of power shines a light on why it is so important for every church to be engaging in social listening.
Social listening is the tracking of conversations online around specific topics, and then using what you learn to build opportunities to connect with your audience.
If you put serious effort into social listening, it can benefit your church in the following ways:
- Understanding the influence you have on your members
- Spreading your message beyond your church walls by becoming part of members’ everyday lives
- Influencing others outside of your church
- Gaining a broader range of support for your church’s mission through community influencers
- Learning from other church communities about what motivates their members to donate and support their mission
Before you can start social listening, it’s important to understand your audience. A church’s social media sphere of influence is how many people your social media posts can potentially reach. Your local sphere of influence is the people that directly follow your accounts on social media or go to your church. So, if your church’s Facebook post were to receive 50 likes from 50 members, it would make a statement that would gain recognition for the church beyond its local sphere of influence.
Your extended sphere of influence (the friends of your friends) is your reach when those that follow your social media accounts further your message. You can connect to this broader audience when your members start posting about your church, commenting on your posts, liking your posts and reposting.
Those people who repeatedly relate to and engage with your posts positively are your church’s social media “micro-influencers."
A micro-influencer offers your church free PR, much like a newscaster on TV does that is sharing news about your church to the local community and city. Every time one of your social media micro-influencers shares your information or post, they spread their approval of your church to their friends and family. Then, their friends and family may also share the post and information, thus spreading their approval of your church to those they know. This process significantly increases your church’s influential power beyond those that are just attending your church – and can bring in more people who want to attend and support your church financially.
By far, the most efficient and economical way to gain the most out of your social media is by engaging your micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers typically do not expect to be paid, but they do expect some kind of recognition. You can reward your micro-influencers by publicly acknowledging their promotion of your church both online – using your social media accounts – or in front of your congregation.
Getting and keeping the attention of your micro-influencers is also very important to your online promotion. You want to make sure that you passionately, consistently, and repetitively represent your mission and brand to your influencers on your social platforms, and that it matches with the message and brand you are creating at your church.
Finally, to continue to engage with micro-influencers, it’s important to maintain your church’s brand and voice on social media. Your niche is your brand – be proud of it! On social media, you should be clear about your church’s mission.
Remember, using social listening to increase support of your church is relatively simple: Post, listen to what posts resonate with your micro-influencers, recognize them and repeat.
The key is listening.