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How Can A Church Use Social Media Effectively: Steve Fogg, The Interview

Steve Fogg is the Communications and Church Online Pastor at Crossway Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia and is an avid blogger and podcaster and an expert on how a church can use social media.

He is passionate about how to grow a healthy church.

John Finkelde: Steve, why should churches be involved with social media?

Steve Fogg: Social media is the biggest revolution since the printing press, in terms of communications. It should no longer be about why, it should be about how, for most churches, and in fact, for all churches.

Do you want to reach people? Yes.

Do you want to reach people in your community? Yes.

Do you want your church to reach people, the congregation to reach people with your message? Yes.

Social media is the number one way to spread your message and the gospel.

We put out a video of the baptism of someone that came to faith at Crossway, who had done the Alpha course.

One camera set-up, you could do this with your iPhone.

The audio wasn’t brilliant.

The camera angle wasn’t brilliant.

We put it on our Facebook page, and we just took a couple of poignant quotes out of the baptism, and fifteen thousand people have watched it.

I know people who don’t come to church will have watched that.

There’ll be people at all different points on their spiritual journey, and for some, that will really speak to.

Whether it’s a recap of a sermon, a baptism, something God has done in your church, or something about how you serve your community, just know that that post is going to go beyond your congregation. 

 

social media

 

Steve Fogg: pastor, blogger, podcaster.

 

John Finkelde: So you’re looking at evangelism and discipleship through social media.

Steve Fogg: Absolutely. It’s a brilliant form of witness, and it’s not hitting someone over the head. It’s just saying, “This is what we do as a church. This is who we are as a church.” 

John Finkelde: I’ve heard you describe a church website as the front porch to your church.

Steve Fogg: When you go to someone’s home, you step into the front porch, and for churches, most people will check you out online, so it is the front door of your church virtually.

Often they’ll come to your social media channel. At that moment, at the door, they can decide whether they want to step in or step out.

That first impression on the website is really important for someone that’s never been to your church.

John Finkelde: What should a church of 100 people have on their website?

Steve Fogg: They should have service times and their address details.

They should have a message that is designed for someone that’s never stepped in their church before.

They can also have the audio or video of their weekend’s sermon.

John Finkelde: So your website is designed with the visitor to the website in mind, rather than having your programs in mind. It’s more about, “Hey, who are you? Here’s something for you.” I love that angle.

Steve Fogg: Our primary audience for our website is those that have never attended our church. If we go with that mindset it changes how we write and our pictures.

The structure of the website changes, because no one knows the name of your youth ministry that you mentioned. It might be a nice youth name but you actually don’t have the word “youth” on it, and no one knows what that is.

We’re trying to think about the primary audience being those that have never stepped foot in the church.

It enables the website to be open to everybody, and not just those that are regular attenders at your church.

 

social media

 

John Finkelde: How do you use Facebook Live?

Steve Fogg: We’re at the early stage of testing it out to see what works and what doesn’t work.

At the moment, there’s a unique opportunity, though, for churches of any size.

If you’ve got the Facebook app on your iPhone, and you can go to your Facebook page and live stream your service.

Everyone has that capability and capacity.

The really cool factor about this is that Facebook at the moment are prioritizing live video.

They are putting their Facebook Live videos at the top of everybody’s feeds.

What that means is that your Facebook page visibility count, which is normally ten percent, goes up to nearly a hundred percent.

So more people engage with and read your posts, and therefore more of their friends seeing who you are as a church. 

There’s a real tactical advantage to using Live at the minute for your church.

One little caveat: if you don’t have great Wi-Fi, just think really carefully about using your phone data, because it sucks up your phone data.

If you’re a pastor, you can put this on your own Facebook feed where you could do a devotion or recap a sermon. 

You can take people behind the scenes and show how real you are and authentic you are beyond Sunday.

If you think, “Wow, if I’ve got my most evangelistic sermon, and I can speak to the camera for ten minutes, what would I say?” 

Your congregation will be fired up about you sharing the gospel. They will engage in liking that video, and of course, their friends will see it.

There are so many different ways that you can use Facebook Live.

John Finkelde: Pastors and leaders can use it during the week to bring people into their life. Even to promote events, but you wouldn’t want to go too promotional, I would imagine.

Steve Fogg: No, no. Really, if you’re going to promote a event, I’d use what’s called “pull” rather than “push.”

John Finkelde: Okay. Explain that for our audience.

Steve Fogg: Well “push” is, “Hey! We’ve got this event up. 

All mothers of preschoolers, come along to our event! It’s going to be great! We’ve got a great speaker and she’s going to speak on mothering.” That’s pushing.

“Pull” is, “Lou came along to our mothers of preschoolers, and she was so touched by what she heard, and she was really blessed, because she got tools for her parenting, and she really enjoyed it. 

It may be that you know someone that could also benefit from that, so why don’t you bring them along with you to our next mom’s event?”

It’s very much drawing people in story that’s, “Hey, look at us.”

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John Finkelde: What pointers would you give churches in regards to having a strategic approach to social media?

Steve Fogg: Every church at some level has a strategy. They just don’t know that they have one.

Having a strategy says, yes, we’re intentional about direction, and for me, our direction is purely about mission, primarily about

Our social-media strategy is: we want to create engaging content that our congregation will share.

 If we create content that our congregation will share, then, for us, that’s a win. 

John Finkelde: That’s a great one-liner: creating social media that your congregation will share, which means that they enjoy it, like it, and feel proud of it enough to share it.

Steve Fogg: Yeah, and because they do that, all of their friends get to see it.

If there’s three thousand people following you on your Facebook page, that’s a three million potential if everybody sees it.

We know not everyone’s going to see it, but that’s the potential that you go to. We create content, and we think about our social media, and we plan ahead.

We see something like a baptism on Sunday, and we know that the baptism was an amazing testimony, and that people cheered this young man on when he got baptized.

We know that if they watch it, they will share it.

 

social media

 

Check Out Steve Fogg’s Podcast.

John Finkelde: In terms of creating that content what tools or tips can you give to pastors and leaders?

Steve Fogg: Firstly, in terms of which social media channel should you be on, in Australia, it’s definitely Facebook. That’s where most people live.

If you want pastor-to-pastor networks, that’s Twitter for me, and I think that’s still the same for a lot of people.

Instagram is really second in line to Twitter, with younger audiences, and then there’s Snapchat as well.

Really, Facebook is where everybody lives.

It’s the second- country in the world, literally, in terms of population size.

For us, Facebook is our primary terminal, and Instagram and Twitter are there. 

We haven’t even got on Snapchat yet, and so for us, it’s really, “Okay, we’ve got to focus.”

Just start and test things out.

In terms of the styles of post, just think, what’s going to engage my audience?

You can do all of this from your phone. You don’t need to have a super set-up.

You might have a photographer in your church, who may be able to take some better-quality photos, and that’s great, but you can do most of the things from your phone, or you can get someone that you already know uses social media to do it for you.

What I would say to most pastors is have a look in your feeds.

Those people in your congregations who are very active, because they’ll probably be better at it than you are.

You can leverage them, and they’ll have an opportunity to serve in something that they’re already fairly passionate about, because they’re on it every five minutes, anyway!

John Finkelde: I’ve found Canva to be a brilliant, easy-to-use app that makes me look like a graphic designer.

Steve Fogg: Canva is great. It does, it basically has design templates there than you can modify, so it helps even the most unaesthetic person make things look good.

What I’d say also is just probably if you can focus on photos.

If you can focus on video, then, certainly on Facebook, people want to connect with people, and graphics are great, but, really, if you can tell the story of your church, your spiritual journey through photos, at the least, and through video as well, everyone has that capacity. 

 

social media

 

John Finkelde: Steve one of your favorite lines, “It’s not just social; think digital.”

Steve Fogg: Yes, absolutely.

John Finkelde: What do you mean by “think digital”?

Steve Fogg: What I find a lot of organizations do, including churches, is that they tend to compartmentalize their thinking.

Really, it’s one journey when you’re online.

You might see something on social media, but it may lead you to a website, so you’ve got to think across that whole digital journey.

That’s why I get a little bit frustrated that some churches will go, “Yeah, we’ve got to have a social-media strategy,” but they forget about the website.

When someone clicks through to your website they’ll go, “No. I’m not interested.”

You’ve got to think about, in commercial terms, the buyer’s journey. In church terms

This is someone that’s a little bit interested in what your church has to say, and at each touch-point, whether it’s Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram, that’s only the start.

That’s like the first step of their journey. You’ve got to think about all those steps across the whole journey. It’s not just one step.

John Finkelde: It’s a holistic approach to, not just social media, but thinking about the whole world there, digitally connecting with people.

Steve Fogg: In reality, for a lot of people, it’s only just the first step of their journey towards church.

Think about how you welcome them at the door. How your toilets smell. What type of songs you sing. How relevant your message is. How bad or good the coffee is.

Everything says something about your church, so it’s that whole journey. You can pretty much map out that journey of visitors to your church.

One of the things I do every time I meet someone that’s new to our church to say is, “How did you find out about us?” 

For our online congregation here at Crossway, that’s another question that I ask, and primarily, they say, through Facebook. 

Whereas people who are here, who come to our physical campus here at Burwood East in Victoria, a lot of people say, “Oh, well, I saw the sign as we drove by.” 

They’re out looking for those touch-points, but I also understand that each one is really only one stepping stone in their journey.

John Finkelde: Ultimately, we want people to connect with Christ, and be in the kingdom of God, and being fruitful in that walk in the kingdom.

Steve Fogg: Absolutely. While I’m using some marketing terminology and all that sort of stuff, really the heart’s desire is, we want to remove the barriers for people to encounter Christ.

Bad design is a distraction. Poorly signposts to your church are a distraction.

We live in a very noisy world, and we’ve got to remove all those distractions so that people can encounter Christ.

 

 

John Finkelde: You have a free resource for church leaders and pastors and communication leaders to help them think more digital.

Steve Fogg: I thought, how could I resource the local church and help them create a digital strategy? I wanted something that they could use. I created a free eBook which you can download.

The heart of it was just to take them from a silo thinking to a whole digital strategy. 

John Finkelde: Where can people find you and that free eBook, Steve?

Steve Fogg: You can find me at my website, Steve Fogg. When you subscribe to my blog you can download your free eBook.

John Finkelde: Fantastic. Thanks, Steve, for being on the blog with us today. It’s been tremendous.

Steve Fogg: Thanks, John. Appreciate you.

Here’s the original audio containing the entire interview. NB Audio quality is not superb!

John is a wellspring of information, experience and advice in all things church. His responses were often out of the box of what's been said before.
Ps Christie Blaikie
Oasis Church

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