Find below guidance on topics relating to social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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Why is social media important?
We are in a digital age, and social media is no longer considered ‘niche’ or only for young people. Social media makes it easier to reach out to people and places other methods of communication cannot reach. It’s a case of ‘going where people are’.
It connects us, and when used properly can increase learning and spiritual growth within our churches. It offers opportunities to reach out in mission and evangelism.
Official Methodist Social Media guidance: www.methodist.org.uk/digital
Digital Evangelism Guidance and Resources:
A complete guide to starting out with church social media (Church Train blog)
How to handle negative comments on social media (CPO article)
Digital Tools Index If you’re looking for digital tools to assist your church then this resource is very useful. The online document is “a crowdsourced index of useful digital communication tools for church leaders, communications teams & church staff to refer to during the coronavirus outbreak.” https://covid.churcheshandbook.co.uk
Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/en-gb) – Hootsuite is a social media management platform and allows you to integrate and schedule social media for your church across different platforms. There is a free version and paid version with additional features, which can be offered at a discount for churches and charities.
Buffer (https://buffer.com) – Social media management platform with free and paid options available. Plan and publish your content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, all from one simple dashboard. Craft the perfect post for each social network, all in one place.
Later (https://later.com) – free marketing and scheduling platform for Instagram, but also you can visually plan, schedule and analyse posts for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Plan a Week of Instagram Posts in 20 Minutes. Spend less time posting to Instagram and more time growing your business.
Tweet Deck (https://tweetdeck.twitter.com) – TweetDeck is a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts. The most powerful Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement. Reach your audiences and discover the best of Twitter.
Children & Youth safeguarding policy for social media here:
General social media guidelines for creating a healthy Christian community online:
Here are some additional best practice tips for churches:
- Facebook only: Make sure your church has a Facebook Page or Group and not a personal profile
- Make sure to have 2 or more admins (or account holders / people with the password) of your church social media accounts. This is both for safeguarding, good practice, and protection against losing access if people leave.
- Ideally have a social media key holder form that people sign if you give them access to your church social media accounts.
Here are some places where you can get images or graphics for use online:
There’s also a section further down this page where there are some pre-made graphics from the district that you can use: Pre-made Graphics
The reason all social media has age restrictions is usually because in law organisations operating online services are not allowed to collect personal information of anyone under the age of 13 without parental permission. To avoid the necessity of obtaining parental permission for any user under the age of 13, most services have instead chosen to have age restrictions. Others have higher age restrictions due to issues around GDPR and safeguarding.
For clarity, for all of the below, the age restriction means that you cannot use the platform in any way if you are under the age requirement. It doesn’t only apply to creating an account on that platform, which is a common misconception (the phrasing in the terms & conditions is usually “to use our services”). For example, on YouTube you have to be 13 to watch any video on the platform (unless viewing on the YouTube Kids app).
YouTube Kids: 0+ (if enabled by a parent or legal guardian)
Zoom: 16+ (note: under 16s cannot create an account or use the platform on their own, however Zoom have clarified that parents can give permission for an under 16 to use their acccount if they are suppervised during the meeting)
Guidance: Facebook for Churches
Background: Facebook is a social media website founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Users can post comments, share photographs and post links to news or other interesting content on the web, chat live, and watch short-form video. “People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.” In Europe, over 307 million people are on Facebook – and in the UK 78% of all internet users are on Facebook.
Around 21% of Churches in our District have a Facebook Page. Whether you are looking to improve yours, have a complete overhaul or create your first church Facebook Page, the below information should hopefully help you:
Step by Step Guide to set up a Church Facebook Page
Level: Easy | 9 pages
This guide is for beginners and walks you through each step in creating a Facebook Page for your church.
How to use a Church Facebook Page
Level: Easy | 3 pages
This guide is for those who haven’t used a Facebook Page before, but have just been given admin/editor access for a Church Page which is already set up. Walking you through how to get to the page and post on it. Some more advanced tips are included at the end.
Checklist to Improve your Church Facebook Page
Level: Easy to Advanced | 2 pages
This guide is for those who manage existing Church Facebook Pages and provides practical advice on how to get the best out of them, ranging from simple to more advanced tips.
It’s easy to get confused between the three different options you have on Facebook. In simple terms, a ‘profile’ is for individuals, a ‘page’ is a public profile for businesses, charities or churches, and a ‘group’ is a community-based feature where small groups of people can communicate together.
A Facebook Profile is created when you set up an account on Facebook as an individual. If you’re on Facebook yourself and have set up an account, then you have a Facebook Profile. In the words of Facebook: “A profile is a place on Facebook where you can share information about yourself, such as your interests, photos, videos, current city and hometown. To see your profile, click or tap your name or profile picture at the top of Facebook.”
It is designed for individuals in mind – it’s for one person, where you can add other people as friends, and can choose to share personal information such as gender, age, relationship status and more. Facebook accounts shouldn’t be accessed by more than one person, and a personal profile shouldn’t be passed from one person to another. As such they shouldn’t be set up for a Church.
Note: under Facebook’s Terms of Service you should only have one Facebook account as an individual and shouldn’t create a second account for yourself for work purposes. Instead, for those who work with young / vulnerable people, you should adjust your personal privacy settings so only a small amount can be viewed publicly. You have complete control over what information is visible to others on Facebook and can restrict it as much you need (including not allowing others to add you as a friend).
In the words of Facebook: “You must have a profile to create a Page or help manage one. Pages are places on Facebook where artists, public figures, businesses, brands, organizations and non-profits can connect with their fans or customers. When someone likes or follows a Page on Facebook, they can start seeing updates from that Page in their News Feed.”
Facebook Pages are great for Churches as we are an organisation that wants to connect with our ‘customers’ and communities – this is exactly what Facebook Pages are designed to facilitate. Facebook Pages give you many additional features you don’t get with a personal profile. Multiple people can be given access to the Page and can be assigned ‘roles’ depending what they need to do. Think of your Facebook Page as the front porch of your church, it is the public face of your church and can be a useful addition (or alternative) to your website.
A common confusion for Facebook Pages, is that you need someone to monitor posts to the page. Whilst this is true for Facebook Groups (see below), it is not the case for Facebook Pages. Visitors can send private messages to your page (if enabled), and they can send comments to your Page (if enabled), but only you control what is posted on your actual page for others to see.
In the words of Facebook: “You must have a profile to create a group or help manage one. Groups are a place to communicate about shared interests with certain people. You can create a group for anything — your family reunion, your after-work sports team, your book club — and customize the group’s privacy settings depending on who you want to be able to join and see the group. When you join a group on Facebook, you start seeing content from that group in your News Feed.”
A Facebook Group might be suitable for your church but remember that it is best used for internal communication. They are great for your congregation to communicate with each other during the week and promoting discipleship (e.g. you could have a group for your church house group, messy church, toddler group, youth group etc.) but they are not great for inviting visitors to join – as the process of having to ask to ‘join’ your church group is off putting and can give the impression that your church is an exclusive ‘club’. How many of your existing congregation are already on Facebook? If lots are, then a church Facebook Group provides a space for building relationships and connecting through the week. If a Facebook Page is your front porch, then your Facebook Group is the living room.
You can also join and post in a Facebook Group as your church page (rather than your personal profile), and link your group to your page, to make it easier for people to find. Do be aware, if you create a group for your church or church group, you will need a few admins of the group who can monitor posts and approve requests to join.
Contact our Digital Communications Enabler:
How to get started with Facebook (Methodist pdf)
A super-simple step-by-step guide on how to get started on Facebook. Please share this with anyone you think might benefit from being digitally connected but who have yet to ‘take the plunge’.
Faith on Facebook Toolkit
Official tips and advice from Facebook for churches. Covers all basis and is good for beginners and experts alike.
Ultimate Church Facebook Page Guide (Pro Church Tools)
A guide by Pro Church Tools giving tips on using Facebook Pages for Churches.
10 Effective Facebook Tips for Churches (article)
An article with some really useful tips on using Facebook as a Church
Understanding Facebook Insights (CofE article)
An article from the Church of England on understanding insights on Facebook.
Reaching more people from your Facebook Page
An article from a digital evangelism blog on how to reach people using your Facebook Page and 5 strategies to overcome ‘Facebook zero’.
Free Facebook Banner downloads (from CPO)
Some graphics produced by Christian Publishing & Outreach that you can download for free to use as your Facebook Page cover photo
Social Media post ideas with examples (CofE article)
As the person looking after social media for your church, there’s nothing worse than being stuck for ideas, and it’s easy to fall into a routine of only posting about upcoming services and events. Church of England article with seven social media post ideas, with examples.
Guidance: Twitter for Churches
Background: Twitter is an online news and social networking service founded in 2006, on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”, which are restricted to 280 characters. It is a form of “micro-blogging” where users write about whatever they want: politics, sports, film&TV, fashion etc. People make connections by following other people’s twitter feeds. Once you click follow, anything that person or organisation says will appear on your timeline. 500 million Tweets are sent everyday worldwide, and the UK has around 16 million active users.
Around 8% of Churches in our District have Twitter. Whether you are looking to improve your tweets or create a church twitter account, the below information should hopefully help you:
Checklist to Improve your Church Twitter
Level: Medium | 1 page
This guide is for those who manage existing Church Twitter Accounts and provides practical advice on how to get the best out of them.
How to use Twitter (URC pdf):
How your Church can use Twitter more effectively:
Your Twitter questions answered:
Getting to grips with Twitter lists:
Safeguarding for Social Media:
Guide to: using Instagram and Twitter for evangelism (Methodist pdf)
Guidance: Instagram for Churches
Background: Instagram is a photo and video sharing social networking service owned by Facebook and founded in 2010. It used to only be available as an App on a mobile device, but can now be accessed online as well. It’s like a simplified version of Facebook, with an emphasis on mobile use and visual sharing. At the beginning of 2019 there are an estimated 24 million Instagram users in the UK (42% of the population). It’s also incredible popular with the younger generation.
The easiest way to get help and tips with Instagram is to follow the following Instagram Account run by our district communications enabler, which offers regular advice and guidance for churches on how to best use Instagram:
Instagram Tips for Churches UK
Complete guide to using Instagram for your Church
Level: Easy to Advanced | 4 pages
If you are using Instagram at your church, or if you are looking to start on the platform, use this document to help you make the most of Instagram and reach more people.
Official Methodist website guidance: www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/guidance-for-churches/technology-and-church/digital-communication-guidance-for-churches/using-social-media/instagram-for-churches/
Guide to: using Instagram and Twitter for evangelism (Methodist pdf)
An Introduction to Instagram (CofE article)
An article by the Church of England digital team on Instagram.
Setting up an Instagram account (URC online pdf)
A helpful guide for churches on how to set up an Instagram account by the United Reformed Church
How to create an Instagram profile for your church (CofE article)
An article by the Church of England digital team on how to create a free profile and business profile on Instagram.
How to use Instagram Hashtags (Pro Church Tools)
A video and guide by Pro Church Tools on using Instagram Hashtags to gain followers for your church
Guidance: YouTube for Churches
Background: a video sharing service used by many young people. It can be a great place to upload your church videos to use/embed elsewhere (or even for live streaming). However, it takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce regular high-quality videos for success on YouTube. Active monthly users: 2.0+ billion (source). Target Audience: young people.
Follow our District YouTube channel here, where you can also view all the circuit and church YouTube accounts in the district.
Guide to uploading your church video to YouTube
Level: Easy | 4 pages
This guide is for beginners to provide a basic step-by-step for how to upload a video to your YouTube channel.
Here are some general tips to improve your church YouTube channel:
- Use custom thumbnail images for your videos (bonus: use Canva to design and create an image in the exact size for the thumbnail)
- Add a header image (you can also use Canva to design and create this image, and Canva have lots of templates and give you the exact size you need)
- Add contact information, a description and other details to your channel
- Customise your channel page by added sections: you can highlight playlists, lists videos by popularity, suggest other channels to subscribe to, or a host of other options
How To Create A YouTube Channel Beginner’s Guide (YouTube video)
Learn how to create a YouTube Channel in 2020! A step-by-step beginner’s guide, from creating a YouTube account to optimizing the key ranking settings most people miss!
How To Customise Your YouTube Channel (YouTube video)
Learn how to Customize Your YouTube Channel in 2021 from channel trailer, to channel banner, to channel about section. Learn how to add, edit and remove featured sections.
YouTube Strategy for Churches (Pro Church Tools)
YouTube is the second most popular website in the world – even more popular than Facebook. But there’s so much more to YouTube than just uploading your church’s sermons. Here you’ll find resources to help you truly understand the powers of YouTube and what it takes to get noticed.
Using video and storytelling to share the gospel (Joseph The Dreamer)
Joseph the Dreamer is a Christian YouTuber and this is a link to his presentation at the Create conference by Living Roch Church. It includes tips on writing titles, designing thumbnails and more.