Small Changes. Big Results.

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I recently began working with a personal trainer. The first week he told me that we would be going slow and working on small muscles. What this meant was I would probably not be seeing much change for a while. In all honesty that was not exactly what I wanted to hear. I wanted to see a significant change by the end of the week one. I wanted that magazine worthy physique, yesterday. My trainer’s reason for starting slow and with the small muscles is to build the muscle the right way, avoiding injury and other damages. After two months I do not necessarily look any different, but I feel different. I can tell that the small incremental changes are happening with a significant impact on my overall health.

So what does all of this have to do with church communications?

Well, sometimes when it comes to our social media pages we want to see immediate changes that make huge impacts, tomorrow.

We want that huge influx of followers overnight. We want that post or video to go viral and be seen by the masses. We want to see everyone that follows us engaged and commenting all the time. Then when these things don’t happen, we are often left frustrated, discouraged, and wondering if we are even doing things right. Trust me; I’ve been there plenty of times.

Much like my training, some of the best growth happens with small changes over time. Often those small changes make a bigger difference than anything else.

Here are three small changes that I have applied to my social media strategy that have made a huge difference, and helped me from feeling frustrated and discouraged.

1. Be Consistent

Consistency on social media is huge. This consistency comes in multiple forms. The first of which is regularly posting content. Not every single post you make will be a home run, but the more consistent you are with posting content, the more it will be seen and engaged with. Being consistent also helps to figure out what is and isn’t working. When you find something works, post similar content.

Let me pause for a moment though, the tendency is to just post something, anything to fill the void. Avoid this tendency. Do your best to be intentional about what is communicated at all times. Don’t just post to post. Know why you are communicating what you are. Creating a strategy on what gets communicated when and where is also helpful for consistency. There are many good communication strategy outlines and content calendars available. Find one that works for you and your church – or look over a few and adapt them to your context.

A second piece of being consistent is using a unified message when communicating. Each church has its voice, images, icons, mission, quirks and messaging. Be consistent with who you are as a church when you communicate online. The more consistent you are in your communication, the more reliable you appear to others. They see a cohesive organization rather than one that is pieced together and unorganized.

For instance, if you are on multiple social media channels and they all have different display names and profile pictures/cover photos do your best to unify those accounts to all have the same display name and profile pictures/cover photos. This provides a clearer and cleaner look. Finally, when your information is consistent across the board, it is easier for others to remember and communicate.

2. Be Authentic

I want to be the girl on the fitness magazine. I want to be the woman I read about the other day that completed a marathon in record time. However, I have to remain authentic to who I am. I may get there physically, but I will still be Meghan, and if I accomplish those things, it will be my way.

We cannot all be North Point Community Church, Life.Church, or NewSpring. That is ok. Be authentic to who you are as a community. Your church is unique, and people are part of your church for a reason. Be that reason.

When thinking about your church’s authenticity ask these questions:

  • What makes your community who they are?
  • What is your story?
  • What your reputation?
  • What makes your church different than others around?
  • What is your mission as a church?

Once you ask these questions, you can then begin to communicate in a voice that is authentic to who you are, not imitating the church down the street.

Take for instance my community. Fairborn is a smaller community of around 35,000 people located in Ohio. Our community is a blue-collar town with incredibly hard working people. Our church represents a similar demographic. Therefore, it would be foolish of us to communicate a message online of a high-class, big city style church. That is not who we are. To keep the trust we have with people, we must remain authentic to Fairborn UMC and not someone else.

Be you and not the church down the street.

3. Be Patient

This is the hardest one of all. Be patient. I don’t like patient. I want to be ready to run my marathon today. I want to be in better shape today. I don’t want to wait for it. So let’s just admit for a moment that patience is hard. However, patience is crucial not only in life, but also in social media communication.

In social media communication, we aren’t simply dealing with numbers; we are dealing with people. Therefore, we have to build trust with those who follow us, first. We have to focus on the relationships we have with people, first. Often these things take time.

When I first started managing my church’s social media pages, it was easy to get frustrated, but over time, through consistency and authenticity, I slowly began to see the fruit of my labor. I began to see people engage when I asked a question. I saw content getting shared. I saw people trust what was being posted as reliable and valuable. These things didn’t happen overnight, rather they happend through patiently doing the work each and every day.

Be Patient. Be ok with that post that didn’t work today. It may tomorrow. Be willing to try new things. Be willing to learn from what others are doing. Whatever you do, don’t throw in the towel, keep moving forward and remain faithful to the mission you have been given.

I would love to hear some of the things you have done that may have seemed like small changes, but over time have produced impactful results.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MEGHAN HOWARD

MEGHAN HOWARD

REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR

Meghan is one of our regular contributors and is the Associate Pastor of Fairborn UMC in Fairborn, Ohio where she oversees all digital and social media communications. She also works as a digital communications consultant for churches, local businesses, and non-profits.

Read more articles from Meghan.