Are you sick of being told you’re not doing enough on social media? Didn’t Jesus do ok without Facebook? And how about the early church? And do we really think that young people will stop leaving the church if churches could just figure out Facebook?

Do the following headlines look familiar?

  • 25 Tips to Grow your Followers Overnight
  • 10,007 Pre-Written Social Media Posts
  • 17 Ways To Quadruple Your Engagement
  • “Ultimate” this, “Definitive” that…

Gross.

And here’s the dirty secret lurking behind those headlines: all those likes and all that buzz rarely translates into changed behavior. I’ve helped build global brands with million dollar budgets, and even they struggle to justify all the noise – excuse me, “content.” And if you’ve ever been part of growing a massive social following, you know from personal experience that you’re eventually left wondering, “Well…what was that for?”

Hopefully, this has already begun freeing your mind from the pressure that you have to grow your social media presence. If you don’t have time, just don’t do it. I guarantee if you love people well in your neighborhood, it’ll make a greater impact than how potent your tweets are. But, please, read on…

Buzz-as-Currency Is Killing Us

The aforementioned headlines fully embrace the culture of what I call, “Buzz-as-Currency” (I talk more about how to indwell a different paradigm using “Redemptive Marketing” in my class). Buzz-as-Currency tells us that likes and followers (“Buzz”) are the ultimate goals. This paradigm is undermining mental health (I’ll post more on this later) – not to mention quality journalism – and further propagating the damaging belief that the church is another marketplace for consumer consumption.

What about “Fish where the fishies are and all that jazz?”


Yes, a lot of people are on social media. Yes, it can – and often should – be used by churches. But, why is social media growth a requirement for churches?

The closest the proliferators of Buzz-as-Currency will come to answering that question is by providing statistics that look and smell like answers but aren’t actual answers. These statistics focus on the sheer volume of social media usage, things like “90% of Millennials use Facebook,” or astronomical data about the terabytes of content created every day.

In other words, because it’s big and everyone is doing it, your church should do it too. Well, a lot of people do heroin but we shouldn’t all start “engaging” heroin.

I’m not saying using social media is wrong, I’m just saying that “growth” isn’t the ultimate. And, I am saying producing content just to produce content is a time-waster… and it’s kind of ruining the Internet.

So Why Use Social Media?

If you can answer the following three questions in the affirmative, you should use social media – and you will be doing so redemptively, I might add:
  1. Can we deepen our relationship with the people our church serves?
  2. Can we make their lives richer?
  3. Can we make their lives easier?

Those are very different questions than what is usually asked:

  1. How do we grow our followers?
  2. How do we boost engagement?

The latter set of questions are selfish. They’re all about you and your church, not about who you’re serving. When those types of questions guide you, one will do just about anything to get “more.” We see this destructive paradigm in pop culture all the time, don’t we? The more inflammatory the content the more “engagement” is incited, and on and on we go until one day our president is swearing at people on Twitter.

When the first set of questions guide you, you’ll be less prone to manipulative “click-bait” headlines, and more likely to create content that is genuine, helpful, and meaningful.

Here’s the key: to answer that former set of questions, you must first know who your target is (“Target” is a marketing word for who you’re trying to connect with via your communications). If you don’t know what would deepen the relationship with those your church serves, what would make their lives richer, and what would make their lives easier, then you don’t know your target.

If you don’t’ know who your target is, take my church marketing class or fill out the form below to get a free chapter from the class on defining your audience. If you do know your target, go forth and begin filtering all your church’s social content through the aforementioned questions:

How can we deepen our relationship with people our church serves?
How can we make their lives richer?
How can we make their lives easier?

Photo credits: Marvin Ronsdorf, Lance Anderson, Priscilla Du Preez 

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Josh Chambers

Author Josh Chambers

I created the Church Marketing Workshop to help you tell great stories that transform your neighborhood. I am an award-winning advertising executive who’s worked with the likes of Google, Reebok, Advil, International Justice Mission, and churches ranging in size from Redeemer Presbyterian Church of NYC to church plants in rural America.

More posts by Josh Chambers