The people who you can reach the easiest, who you have the most influence with, and who have the best chance of visiting your church are the people of your local community. The Internet gives us the opportunity to reach more people for Christ in your community than ever before. Over the years, churches have developed offline strategies of connecting with their community like joining the chamber of commerce, putting on community events, etc., but what can you online?
1. Find any forums, groups, Facebook pages and blogs related to your community.
Whether they are about your community in general or certain important aspects of your community, seek them out and then get involved. You don’t have to spend a lot of time in a forum or group to have a big impact and start creating relationships. Just 15 minutes a day and you can start to form a lot of relationships.
2. Create a community Facebook page.
If your town (or section of town) doesn’t already have a Facebook page, create one. Then post information about the community, interesting stories from the community, announce events, etc. If your community already has a Facebook page and that page is actively used, see if you can contribute to the page. If that turns out to not be a good opportunity, look for a niche within the community that is not being served and create a page about that. For example, perhaps there is a page about the town, but there isn’t a page specifically about arts-related things (music, concerts, plays, etc.). You can create that page. Make sure you clearly identify yourself as the administrator of the page so people find out who you are and be open to interaction with your community.
3. Create a community news Twitter account.
Create a Twitter account, @YourtownNews, and start tweeting news from your community. You can do this manually, semi-manually, or completely automated. There are plenty of applications, like TwitterFeed and RSS2Twitter, that allow you to automatically tweet from an RSS feed. So, you can find some local news feeds that you like and setup the software to automatically tweet about any articles they post. As with the community Facebook page, you may prefer to limit your news to a certain niche of the community or even create several niche twitter accounts. You can establish the Twitter account as a ministry of the church in the about info and, of course, you can tweet about your church events when appropriate.
4. Identify the leaders in your community and connect with them.
This is something a lot of Pastors do anyway, but in this case you want to not only look for the offline leaders, but the online leaders. The online leaders may not be as obvious. You need to look for people and organizations with a large social network following in the community. The idea is to create a relationship with these leaders through ongoing interaction and then when you want to get the word out about an event, you can ask them and they may announce the event to their network of people. Each person you connect with can open up a way to reach thousands of additional people.
5. Be willing to promote other group’s events…even the events of non-Christians.
People like it when you help them out. By helping to promote other people’s events, you make it more likely that they will help to promote your organization and events. By promoting more than just the Christian events in your community, you are reaching out to non-Christians. The more you can get in front of non-believers, the better. Of course, you can set standards for what you are willing to promote.
Photo by Eschipul
Does your church have a strategy for reaching out to your community online?
What are the most effective strategies your church has used?