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Community Discussion: Cultivating Community on Social Media

The Question:

Social media serves many different purposes for church communicators. One of those purposes is to cultivate an atmosphere of authentic community. How can communicators do that? Whitney Allen Headley asked our Facebook group:

“Hey guys! My husband and I are planting a church in the Phoenix, AZ area and I’m running most of the social media right now. I was hoping for some input from fellow creatives. The biggest need we’ve noticed from talking to people in the area is a community. They don’t feel like there’s an opportunity for it. I’m wanting our social media to address that need, but I’m not really sure how to keep content going that conveys community. Any creative ideas on what type of content we should do to address it? I should mention we aren’t launching until next September, so we are here on the ground for a year just learning the culture/area/community. So we only have a launch team of 12 people right now. We just moved here from Nashville and these people moved across the country to help us start!”

The Discussion:

Whitney’s question sparked a small, informative conversation within the group. Here are some helpful comments:

“I started a Facebook group and got a bunch of our church people to join! This was based on a talk from Katie Allred, and it has been a huge deal here. After about a month, we are closing in on 100 members who are sharing prayer requests, funny stories, sermon reflections, and other things. It’s the kind of community they already participate in on Facebook but in a ‘church space.'” – Jeremy Tuel

“We took the traditional online marketing approach to create personas and developing content based on those personas. The response has been great!” – Ann Papenfuss

“I will say every city is different, and by living here, you will learn what the city is like. If you have not already taken a look at the demographics of our city, you will probably find that we are a young group of busy people. Do not try to mimic other churches in the area (especially the mega-churches). Find what is unique for your church. It can be easy to try to copy from other churches, but most of the time, it does not work. We recently had a couple of small groups grow larger than our limits because they were groups based on specific activities outside of spiritual-based small groups. Find out what people do in their spare time and get them together. People enjoy getting together and having fun. Take those relationships in activity groups and convert those into spiritual relationships.” – Kenyon Ozanne

“Maybe you could be the type of community people want to be a part of and share pics of what you do together – having dinner together, hanging out at a coffee shop, playing football in a park, or whatever. It doesn’t have to be all 12 of you in an officially organized activity, just your team doing life together.” – Paul Steinbrueck

Conclusion:

The content created by your church is rooted in the identity of your church. Base your content on the vision of what your church aims to be. Think about the best ways for your church body to reach the community around you, and manage your social media accordingly. Along with that goes real, intentional community-building. Your church’s social media should be an accurate representation of the spiritual growth that is happening in your church body!

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