Tools of the Times: Developing an Outstanding Social Media Presence

9/22/2016

As the Texas Annual Conference revs up its ‘social media machine,’ local congregations are positioned to benefit from the content, exposure and the new online toolkit created to promote transformational communication. Meet the newest members of the Communication Team.
 
As social media trends continue to take the communication world by storm, the Texas Annual Conference has taken steps to establish a more impactful online presence. “Some congregations and organizations still shy away from social media,” notes TAC Communications Director Paula Arnold, “but we believe it is a powerful tool that provides exponential reach outside of church walls with the good news we have to share.”
 
In April, the TAC hired social media experts from PinkCilantro to boost “shareable content” to new audiences, drive more traffic to the conference website and identify and train a part-time social media staff. This short-term contract outlined a plan to identify potential audiences, develop a voice and story, build out new platforms, boost interaction, and prepare the conference to take it from there.
 
Why is the conference taking this step and why now? PinkCilantro President Basya Benshushan says that today’s digital age population expects transparency, quick responses and seeks interactivity and inspiration – all qualities of social media. “Social media is cost efficient and provides easier access and targeted interaction,” she explains.
 
Initial Results
TAC’s exposure has grown tremendously since April, 2016. Over the past several months our content has reached 2,254,417 people. We have been contributing content and buying ads to build our presence. Another significant highlight is our total audience growth (number of people who are “following” us) has expanded from 4,433 to 39,151. Our goal is to continue to increase these numbers on all of our outlets including website traffic, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 
 
On Behalf of the Methodist Church
Paula admits, “It has been exciting to see behind-the-scenes as the detailed analytics show strong growth each month, indicating our messages are getting out and people are engaging with us more often and more deeply.” To sustain TAC’s increased commitment to content creation and brand/denominational clarification campaigns, PinkCilantro experts are training the Conference Communication department’s two new part-time employees in best practices of digital communication.
 
Paula says, “After reviewing the applicants’ experience and Wesleyan background, we created a type of job-share team for this part-time position. Sydnie Mares is a senior at University of Houston pursuing a Bachelor degree in communication/media production.  Luke Brawner will use his superior writing/messaging skills to help the conference reach new audiences through the ever-increasing number of social media outlets.” Luke is currently the worship pastor at Grace Bible church and for 6 years, was the Director of Contemporary Arts at Lakewood UMC. He’s excited to help facilitate a culture of authentic community throughout the conference and beyond.
 
Check out the New Online “How To” Toolbox Coming October 1
Basya adds, "Along with becoming more involved through traditional social media, we are also adding a resource to the conference website. This will be a helpful ”How To” toolbox for churches to share content, download templates, get information, and learn how to make the most of the social media.” Unique and sharable content gives users something to pass on, and that shareable content is the backbone to any social media effort. “The social media toolbox will be available October 1st in the resources section or at http://www.txcumc.org/socialmediatoolbox.  
 
“We hope people throughout the conference will “like” our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter:@txac, Instagram: @txumc and view our Snapchat "story" by adding txumc as a friend.” urges Paula.
 
Also coming on October 1st , our conference website will include a “Share Your  Faith Story” opportunity. “We encourage individuals and our local congregations to add the personal touch to our conference-wide social media forum by sharing stories of lives impacted through and within our denomination,” adds Paula.