What is Social Media?
Social media are web-based communication tools. It allows your organization to share content with the online audience through a variety of platforms. Today, the most notable social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Although, new platforms are continually emerging. There are a handful of reading rooms and Christian Science churches utilizing social media today. You will also find organizations such as TMC Youth and the Christian Science Monitor.
Engaging on social media platforms is a great way to “join the conversation” and be a lighthouse of Truth in the marketplace of ideas. It’s a method of communication for helping others and spreading healing messages. As a representative of a Christian Science organization, you can easily share information including, but not limited to, lectures, events, articles, quotes, pictures, and news to a wider audience and/or a targeted audience, depending on the social media platform. Another benefit of joining the social media space is connecting with other Christian Science organizations. Your church will be able to engage with other churches and reading rooms, and they will likely engage with you!
Popular Social Media Platforms Appropriate for Your Organization
- Facebook — the most popular social network site among middle-aged users
- Twitter — primarily a news distribution network in 280 characters or less
- Instagram — photo and video sharing network popular with the younger crowd
- YouTube — video and multimedia sharing search library
Think about what value you want your organization to bring to a social network. What are you looking to achieve and what platform best meets those objectives? It’s important to think about the resources available. Determine which social media platforms will bring the most value, who your audience is, and what is manageable with the resources available within your organization. The majority of social media platforms are free unless you want to boost your content with paid advertising. Below are quick tips in creating a social media profile for any platform.
- Your username or page name should be a transparent representation of your church.
- Make sure you include the correct location.
- Provide contact details of the church and not personal contact details.
- Fill in the About section so that visitors know what your organization is.
- Upload a profile picture that represents your organization and not you personally.
- Include your organization’s website if you have one.
- List the days and time’s your organization provides services.
- Remember to add your social media icons to your website (if you have one), so visitors know where else they can find you.
Creating a Facebook Page
In order to create a page for your organization, you are required to have a personal Facebook account. Facebook can be accessed from a desktop computer or the smartphone app. Facebook’s Help Center can guide you through the setup process for creating a page, managing page roles, and page settings. It is possible your organization has a Facebook page already. Simply reach out to the current administrator and request that they add you as an admin.
Creating an Instagram Account
Instagram is primarily used to post pictures and videos. Unlike Facebook, posting content with Instagram requires the use of the smartphone app. If you’d like to share content with a website link, keep in mind that Instagram only allows links in the biography of your profile. Currently, you are not allowed to include a link within each individual post. Instagram’s Help Center will assist you with creating an account and navigating the phone app.
Creating a Twitter Account
Twitter is unique in that you are limited to 280 characters for each post restricting the length of your content. Twitter is also the origin of the hashtag (#), see “what is a hashtag?” below. Visit the Twitter Help Center for a detailed explanation on how to set up a Twitter account.
Creating a YouTube Account
A Youtube account will only be useful if your organization creates consistent video content. You do not need to have a YouTube account to share YouTube videos on other social media platforms. If you’re interested in learning how to create a YouTube account, visit the YouTube Help Center.
If you open a social media account for your organization, it’s important that you use it. Don’t allow it to sit vacant. The important elements of keeping your social media platforms fresh and alive are offering relevant and useful content, frequency of posted content, and the time in which content is posted.
- Consider a social media committee to brainstorm ideas.
- Ask attendees what content would be beneficial to them on social media.
- Plan a social media content calendar.
Monitor Comments, Posts, and Newsfeed
The standard interface for social media platforms include the profile page and newsfeed. The profile page consists of your organization’s information and posts.The newsfeed serves as a constantly updated collection of popular or newest posts from pages you follow. Once you post a piece of content, that content shows up in your audience’s newsfeed. There are several ways to interact with others on social media with your organization’s persona.
What does it mean to “follow”?
To follow a page means you become a fan of a page. Select and timely content from that page shows up in your newsfeed.
What is a like/favorite?
A like or favorite of a post is an interaction done by a user indicating that the content of the post was helpful, interesting, or inspiring. Liking or favoriting posts helps trigger content to show up in newsfeeds based on algorithms as the content grows in popularity.
What does a share/retweet do?
A share or retweet (Twitter) puts the post on your organization’s page telling your friends/audience that you care about the topic and want them to read about it, too. When people share your posts, this is a notification to you as the poster that this content was worth spreading. (Things often get shared because they are new/surprising information, especially inspirational, emotional, etc.) Re-posting or having your content reposted gives the content an extra boost in popularity, making it show up in more news feeds.
What does a tag do?
Facebook and Twitter give you the option to tag other people and pages. A tag references or recognizes a page with more information, for example, JSH Online for more resources. You can tag another organization’s page to say thanks or give credit. Additionally, a tag can start a conversation with other organizations, which will notify them that they’ve been mentioned in another post.
What is a #Hashtag?
Hashtags have become popular across most major social media platforms. Hashtags, also known as the pound sign, are placed in front of keywords to create similar streams of discussion and allow you to become part of the conversation that is trending. This article “How to Use Hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram” from Hubspot (14 minute read), will walk you through more in depth the purpose of hashtags and how to use them effectively.
How do you know what posts received the most activity? What age group is consistently interacting with your posts? Are people seeing your content on their mobile devices or desktop computer? All social media platforms give you access to analytics behind your page and content. In other words, you can see how the content you post is performing among your audience, get to know your followers and their demographics. Analytics represent an interpretation of your data and are important for tracking and improving your content.
Resources for Understanding Analytics
- Hootsuite’s Beginner’s Guide on Facebook Analytics
- How to Use Twitter Analytics
- Instagram’s Insights
Social Media Best Practices
- If possible, include a visual asset with content.
- Keep content relevant and valuable.
- Do not sign or attach your name to messages.
- Use the appropriate voice and personality of your organization.
- Respond quickly to your audiences
- Be personable and conversational, but not unprofessional.
Responding to Negative Messages
First, respond in a timely manner.
See How Other Christian Science Organizations are Using Social Media
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