The one thing I love so much about Twitter and Instagram is the organic reach possibilities. A lot of that reach comes through the use of hashtags. We’ve all used them before. Had a bad day? Then, we tend to hashtag #tomorrowplease #ihatetoday #ijustwanttogotobed or something more creative than these. If you had something great happen you may write up #score #winnerwinnerchickendinner or, again, something much more creative than these.
You get the point, hashtags are fun to use. But they can also be very strategic. For instance, companies use hashtags all the time to get their subject trending and draw awareness to it. For instance, anytime a big event or show happens you’ll see a hashtag associated with it. Why? Because companies want people talking about their show or event. The more people talking about their show, event or product the more likely you’ll stay tuned, buy something or watch an ad.
So, not only are hashtags fun to use, but they are extremely powerful and strategic. Now here is the question: If hashtags are so fun, powerful and strategic, why not utilize hashtags and social media for outreach purposes for your church?
As I mentioned above, when someone has a good day, a bad day or a whatever kind of day, someone is sharing about it on social media—and more than likely using hashtags to express those feelings. What an amazing opportunity for you to connect with someone online and help them discover God.
What am I talking about? Let’s make this practical. Right now, go on twitter and look up these hashtags:
Did you see anyone asking for help? You bet you did. Hence, here is a tremendous opportunity for you to reach out to them with the love of Christ. People are calling out for help and you can provide that to them by engaging with them on social media.
How do I know? Because I have done it before and I know many other Social Media Managers and Online Pastors who are doing it every day. We are searching hashtags as a way to reach out to those looking for answers.
But there are other ways that you can be using social media for outreach. Here are a few ways in particular:
- When you have a big outreach event coming up, encourage members of your Church to post about it on their personal social media accounts. Sure, your church can post about it, too but each person who attends your church can have additional reach that the church’s social media accounts can’t reach. The more people talking about an event the more likely someone new will hear about it and possibly come.
- Utilize hashtags to invite others to church. How? If you know what topic you are talking about, look up a hashtag related to the topic (for instance, if you are talking about friendship, look up #friends #friendships) the week of and begin a conversation with those people and ultimately invite them to church. This is very effective if you stream your church service on the Web. They can attend at a moment’s notice and without being afraid of walking into a service alone.
- Search keywords (and hashtags) regarding tough topics like suicide and depression. Maybe you can find people who are really struggling with life in some way. As you search those keywords hopefully you can find someone and engage in a conversation with them. Then you can direct them to an organization or call center that can help them even further. (Use the advanced search option on Twitter to select hashtag, location nearest you, and sentiment.)
You can do a lot of this through your church’s social media profiles. But, I would encourage you to form a team of people helping you with these. Not only will it give others a great new opportunity to serve your church and ministry by enlisting them to help with this, but there are people who may not be interested in talking to a someone via a church account for personal reasons at first. By having an average “Joe” help you with this, it gives people an opportunity to talk to a real person and not an organization.
What you are doing primarily is listening to those who are crying out on social media. And this is so important—especially now over the holiday months. This is when people are lonely and needy to a large degree. So, be active and engaged over the next few months listening and looking for those who need Jesus but may not know it just yet.
And this is why I LOVE hashtags and their organic reach possibilities. Not only can you reach out to the community and share about all the great things your church or ministry is doing. But you will also be able to find people who are too afraid to talk to someone and who needs to hear about Christ. It is so amazing all we can do through social media.
How are you using social media to reach out to the community and others in need? Share below so we can all learn from each other.