Copy matters: writing for social media

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Social Media 101 Blog

By Kelley Hartnett


This was my husband’s response to my sudden, less-than-revelatory pronouncement a few days ago: “I. freaking. love. Facebook.”

“Duh,” indeed. I invest a decent amount of time in the social media space, so my general affection for it is clear. This exclamation was specific, however, to what happens when social media and the church hold hands and skip around the playground together: ministry.

You see, I’ve been managing a church plant’s Facebook page, and someone posted this:

Plan on attending service Sunday. Kind of nervous actually. I have been looking for a spiritual home and God seems to be pointing me in your direction. :) can’t wait!

I responded:

Nervous? Naaaaaah. We’re just regular peeps. :) Please stop at the Welcome Center (just look for the “Start Here” banner) and say hey! Looking forward to meeting you!

I took a screen shot of the exchange and e-mailed it to the pastor and hospitality team leader so they could be on the lookout for her. She attended worship that weekend and followed-up on Facebook:

Loved it today. Thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcomed. I think I am home. God definitely spoke to my heart!

Yep. Facebook rocks.

So my first tip in regard to writing for social media? Remember that it matters. Social media isn’t just another channel through which to push announcements; leveraged well, it provides an opportunity for connection, conversation and care. What you write—the words and the voice you use—matters.

And so does this stuff:

Basic, but important: Be sure you’re actually writing on your church’s social media accounts. Perhaps the only thing worse than a stale website is a stagnant Facebook Page. If you’re having trouble thinking of content, go peruse other brands’ pages and get re-inspired. Think through your pastor’s message and jot down questions or challenges.

Be you… or, rather, your church’s brand. Do you tell people your church is “welcoming”? Write that way: Leave out the acronyms and use friendly language. Do you say you’re “relevant”? Stop saying it, and be it… by writing content that lets people know that you get them and their struggles. And don’t be afraid to be playful. Delight people will a bit of silliness, and you’ll be surprised at how many “I love my church” comments come back.

Eyebrow-raising and thought-provoking posts get shared and retweeted like crazy. That’s great news for not only our Insights and Klout scores. If our content is share-worthy, our churches are likely invite-worthy. Of course, it’s important to be appropriately provocative. I read recently that authenticity is “all me” not “all of me.” When you lay your fingers on your keyboard, continually ask yourself why you’re writing what you’re writing.

Prolific. Not.
Writing for social media requires a willingness to chop and cut and edit and re-work—whether you’re fitting a thought into Twitter’s 140-character limit or simply sharing a quick synopsis for an upcoming message series. Writing for social media will improve your writing’s clarity (or should), and that will positively affect your web copy, bulletin blurbs and platform announcements.

(Couldn’t think of another p-word. But that’s OK, I was beginning to feel a bit like a Rick Warren workbook. Props to Rick.) Michael Buckingham did a great post on the power of the question mark. You should read it. The short version: Ask questions

Courtesy of The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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