Create an Audience Strategy for Social Media – Church of Christ

by William Jackson, M.Ed
Information Technology Ministry and Social Media Visionary
Westside Church of Christ – Jacksonville, Florida

Just having as Social Media platform for ministry is not enough,
there must be a “strategy” to accompany the integration of
technology in the ministry and a strategy to implement the
disbursement of information to whatever audience you are
attempting to reach within the Church of Christ.The leadership
must remember there are diverse generational levels and diverse
ways each person learns. Just as educators understand no two
or three students learn the same. The integration of technology
must be implemented to address the learning modalities of the
congregation in today’s digital connectivity.

Social Media can amplify the voice of the ministry and target
it to a specific audience, gender, age group, or geographic
location through geo-tagging, hashtags (#) and even streaming
services.

Since this blog makes reference to the #ChurchofChrist or the
#ChurchesofChrist, hashtags can help focus or pinpoint that ministry
and associated congregations and even individual members of the
Body.Hashtags help to build SEO – Search Engine Optimization for
Internet recognition and placement in content.
It is important to have hashtags for the diverse ministries and
have the congregation use them.

Producing content either text or video the audience must be in
mind, they have a common knowledge base and fundamental understanding
of the Church of Christ. An “Audience Strategy” brings to mind as
mentioned earlier who your audience is and catering content/information
to them. To expand on this, research should go into who your audience
could be, should be and is. Having the shepherds go after the lost sheep
on digital platforms where they are. Once gathered, feeding them with
good content that is based on scripture, not opinion.

The Social Media strategy amplifies the voice and outreach of the church,
the effort should inspire consistent and share-worthy content from the
direct sources. This helps in developing a strong marketing strategy;
understanding the differences in Content Strategy, Marketing Strategy
and Audience Strategy.

Kristina Halvorsen’s def. of content strategy is, “planning for the
creation, delivery and governance of useful, usable content.” The
dynamics of audience strategy in ministry is that you don’t have
customers, you have people that are your targets to bring the
Word of God to. Focusing on the direction of what they believe in,
what they value in their beliefs, how they think and feel about
Christ and his message of salvation and preparing a Bible Study to
share and exchange knowledge.

To help strengthen the Church of Christ and connectivity with
its members, “mobility” (Mobile Technology) must be used.
Mobile technology must be incorporated in the “Audience Strategy”
because our mobile devices are always with us. Smartphones, tablets,
watches and even Wifi connectivity in cars/SUV’s provide access to
information. The Church of Christ must diversify its message delivery,
not the message. The Church of Christ must understand the diversity
of the Members of the Body, there is no longer just connections to
desktops. The mobile strategy is connected with the “Audience Strategy”
because the “Audience Strategy” goes right to the people.

There is a Social Media App on every mobile device, that is the
first thing people see and it is the first and best opportunity
to make an impression that can be transformative in the lives
of millions of people that want information on being a Christian.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Snapchat, all are
interactive and support pictures and video. These interactive
platforms and tools must be used by the Churches of Christ to
share their messages and be able to cast digital nets to “catch”
those that are lost, to bring them in to teach them about salvation,
the importance of how to read and interpret scripture and apply it
to real life situations.

To keep Social Media strategies from failing, the Brand (Church
of Christ) must be strong, its message must be inviting and faithful
to the teachings of Jesus. The message stays the same, but the delivery
is adaptable and diverse to the audience and incorporating
an “Audience Strategy.” There needs to be the ability to develop a
relationship even through technology.

Jesus always gained the trust of those that followed him, and his
relationship was consistent. The content is there in the Bible,
the focus is there on the mission to: “Save Souls and Keep Souls Saved.”

Using Social Media is still in some cases controversial in the
Church of Christ, that is why planning, strategy, consistency and
having a mission is powerful. Collaboration and cooperation with
leaders is vital for its success. Integrating a “Audience Strategy”
can solidify a message of inclusion for all people no matter their
background, educational level, socio-economic level, spiritual level.
We are all still learning how to be the best Christian we can be
and to learn and share our faith.