When you said “yes” to your role as a children’s ministry leader, I bet no one mentioned you might have to add “digital communication ninja” or “social media guru” to your skill set as well. You may have innocently assumed your days would be filled with planning volunteer trainings, partnering with your parents, and weekly activity prep.

While these are all certainly crucial aspects of your job, it’s important to consider the critical role social media might play in each of these scenarios as we gear up for summer. Do you have an intentional strategy for the way you will train and engage your parents and volunteers online?

In this digital age, there’s no denying space must be made for learning to effectively engage those in your sphere of influence in new ways. Nearly every school, corporation, non-profit, and restaurant has determined their strategy for meeting people where they are digitally. Your church is no exception.

Some might even argue that this is the most important time in our history to leverage social media in a way that keeps the stories and ideas that matter most in front of the eyes that need it most.

If you’re a beginner when it comes to social media, here are three simple steps you can take today to begin building a strategy for your online presence.

1. Determine your target audience and platform

Ask yourself, “Who are you trying to reach and where are they gathering online?” The social media platform you decide to start with should always be determined by your target audience.

If you’re trying to reach parents and student volunteers, you might find they are likely not congregating in the same digital spaces consistently.

If you’re not sure where to begin, a good rule of thumb might be to start with Facebook, which is still one of the most used social media platforms in the U.S., ranking in second after YouTube, according to Pew Research.

Other interesting facts to keep in mind include

  • Nearly 80% of 18 – 49 years olds use Facebook.
  • Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis.
  • 75% of 18 – 24 year-olds use Instagram

If you start with Facebook, another question to consider is whether you’ll use a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group. Facebook Pages are still a great platform for visitors to get a glimpse of who you are as a ministry.

Using the analogy of a house, you might think of your Facebook Page as your “foyer” where visitors come to learn what’s happening at your church and get a first impression. You can share events, classes and studies happening in your ministry.

Groups, however, can be thought more of as your “kitchen table”, where meaningful moments are shared between those who are now connected to your ministry.

Here it’s safe to post photos, prayer requests, wins, fails and everything in between. You also have the ability to upload files (curriculum!) and give lead volunteers or influential parents access to share administrative responsibility. Community is becoming more of a priority at Facebook, and Groups are where community is built.

2. Create a daily posting strategy

Ask yourself, “What exactly are you going to post and when?”

If you want to stay in front of your audience and increase the likelihood of engagement, you might consider posting every day. If this idea intimidates you, no worries—there are a number of handy social media schedulers that will do the heavy lifting for you.

Most scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite have free plans that allow you to connect to and schedule posts across multiple social networks. If set up well, these tools have the potential of saving you hours of work!

But posting daily won’t have nearly as much of an impact if you’re not strategic about the kind of content you’re posting. (Hey, we wouldn’t be Orange if we didn’t talk strategy!)

Not only should you post content that is fresh and engaging, but also consider posting specific content on certain days to give your audience an element of “unpredictable predictability”. Feel free to use a framework like the one below or come up with a version of your own!

Day Sample Strategy for Volunteers: Sample Strategy for Parents:
Monday Start the week off with an inspiring verse or relevant quote from an author/speaker/pastor. Start the week off with the bottom line or main idea their child learned the day before.
Tuesday Ask a question to get some feedback from your leaders about Sunday. Link to a helpful blog or resource designed with your parent in mind.
Wednesday Link to a helpful blog or resource designed with your leader in mind. Share an inspiring verse or encouraging quote from one of your favorite parenting experts.
Thursday Sunday’s coming! Offer a coaching tip or important announcement. Share one action step a parent might take to engage their child’s faith this week.
Friday Fun Friday! Consider posting a relevant, funny .gif, meme or video your volunteers will appreciate. Fun Friday! Consider posting a relevant, funny .gif, meme or video your parents will appreciate.
Saturday Share a devo from the upcoming lesson to get their mind and hearts prepared to serve. Share a preview of the upcoming lesson their children will be learning the next day.
Sunday Post a special thank you to your team or a shout-out to a specific volunteer or who went above and beyond. Post a prayer for your parents or ask for them to submit prayer requests to you.

3. Build a support team

Ask yourself, “Who can help?”

If you’re feeling the pressure at this point, our best piece of advice is to find a volunteer to schedule and manage all of your social media for you! Maybe it’s a college student at your church who stayed local, or a tech-savvy stay-at-home dad who can’t serve on Sunday mornings, or even a responsible high school student who is already a social media wizard.

Give them access to your social media accounts and scheduling tools and let them spend a couple hours a week pushing out all of your content for you.

You might also consider inviting key parents to be your social media “street team” to help you drive engagement. Ask them to comment regularly on certain posts, ask questions, post photos and lead conversations. The more traffic and engagement there is in your group or on your page, the more likely your content will be noticed by others in those same circles.

Here’s what we know.

You’re a children’s ministry leader, which means you probably wear many hats—team builder, creative storyteller, professional organizer, online shopper, and Goldfish distributor to name a few. But perhaps the most important role you play is to be a messenger of hope.

Your voice matters and the unique message your church has to share matters. Whether that message is specifically for kids, parents, or small group leaders (we hope it’s to all three!), having an intentional and effective strategy to meet them in digital spaces is no longer an option if you want your voice to rise above the noise.

Need an extra hand? Weekly is a digital communication strategy specifically designed for church leaders to use to train volunteers and engage parents. We do this primarily by providing ready-to-use social media plans and customizable email templates for all age groups! In other words, it’s your social media strategy on a silver platter.

To learn more and even try 30 days free, visit goweekly.com.