Marketing
November 9, 2021

How to Keep Up With Social Media Trends in 2021 for Churches

How to Keep Up With Social Media Trends in 2021 for Churches

Keeping up with social media trends is one of the top marketing challenges churches mention.

When you are focused on so many things and you may not have a fully staffed marketing department, how can you possibly keep “on top of” alllll the social media trends? 

The truth is people do a lot of theorizing, and not enough action. When you take action, you’ll find what works. 

That being said, my goal in this post is to give you only what you need to know when it comes to trends, so you don’t have to google a bunch to figure it out. 

I will say churches are mostly not doing all of these trends, so we have a ton of room to practice, test and grow in this area.

In this post you’ll find the most valuable social media trends for churches to know and act upon in 2021. Here’s what we’ll cover: 

Social Media Trend #1: Traditional Social Platforms Will Continue to Perform Well

Social Media Trend #2: Increase in the Use of Social Media for Customer Service 

Social Media Trend #3: Leveraging User Generated Content 

Social Media Trend #4: Pop Up Facebook Groups

Social Media Trend #5: Connecting with People Through Going Live

Social Media Trend #6: Instagram Stories for Strategic Marketing 

Social Media Trend #7: Purpose Driven Campaigns

Social Media Trend #8: Authenticity and Transparency 

Social Media Trend #9: Video Will Continue to Dominate (Do I Even Need to Share This One?)

Let’s dive in.

Social Media Trend #1: Traditional Social Platforms Will Continue to Perform Well

By traditional I mean Facebook and Instagram of course! I know I know TikTok is all the craze. Then you got Clubhouse and Twitch. A lot of these apps come and go, but we know Facebook and Instagram aren’t going anywhere. 

Instagram is actually one of the fastest growing social platforms in 2021. Plus, Instagram has adapted very well in response to “up and coming” apps. 

Instagram added 

  • Video in 2012 to compete with Vine
  • Live in 2016 to compete with Periscope
  • Instagram copied Snapchat and stared Stories 
  • Instagram added Reels to compete with TikTok 

Basically, Instagram is taking everyone’s good ideas and putting it into one app where people can absorb content in an easy creative way. Remember when it was just photos!?

You can see where the trends are going when you look at where businesses are going to put their money. Hootsuite surveyed businesses about where they intended to increase their social budgets in 2021. Here’s where they intended to increase their budget: 

60% Instagram
46% Facebook 
45% YouTube
45% LinkedIn
14% TikTok 

The same survey asked respondents which platforms they saw as being most effective for their goals. Again the more traditional social networks stayed popular: 

78% Facebook 
70% Instagram
42% LinkedIn
33% Twitter 

What does that mean for your church? 

Stay focused. Don’t try to do it all if you don’t have that bandwidth. Focus on Instagram for sure and add in Facebook if your community or potential community is on Facebook. 

Facebook is best for Facebook Groups and Ads, a lot of times Facebook Pages aren’t as successful for businesses unless you have a particular audience that is mostly on Facebook. 

Social Media Trend #2: Increase in the Use of Social Media for Customer Service 

Social media has become a place where you get to connect with your favorite businesses, brands and nonprofits. 

You can make purchases on Instagram, be educated on your favorite topics and interests and discover new products and brands through your friends. 

Customers often try to reach out on social media to businesses because it seems like an easy, personal way to get the information you need. 

Although we don’t have “customers” this can be translated to churches. People want to use social media as a way to learn more about your church, get their questions answered before coming and build connections. 

People will feel like DMing your church is an approachable way to ask questions, even if they don’t know you.

Social Media Trend #3: Leveraging User Generated Content 

First, what is User Generated Content (UGC)? It is content created by your community showcasing your business, product or in our case your church.

It’s the social media equivalent of word of mouth recommendations. 

UGC can be someone tagging your church in Instagram Stories, Feed Posts, Reels, IGTV’s or more and then your church can repost it. 

This allows your community to feel valued that you’ve reposted their content and it provides massive social proof to others viewing your content. Social proof works by tapping into the basic human instinct to follow the actions of others, building trust and credibility, and lowering barriers to connecting with brands or businesses online.

55% of consumers trust user generated content over any other form of marketing. 

Make sense. It is because it is way more authentic than branded content. We trust referrals from our close friends way more than just stumbling across a church social media profile or seeing an Ad about it. 

Here’s some ideas to get your community creating more UGC that you can share on your church page:

  • Have someone "take over" your IG Stories and share a snapshot of Sunday, groups, etc. so people can get a look inside your church from a new perspective
  • Share reviews (on google, yelp or whatever, in text form on your feed or stories)
  • Ask a group of 10 people to post about your church and why its awesome focused on a specific aspect (events, classes, groups, ministries, servin etc.) Unless you are getting a ton of UGC organically, you may need to ask people for something specific.

Here's some ideas of what to do with the UGC once you get your community posting about your church:

  • Make a Instagram Stories Highlight with your UGC because it is great social proof and shows that people love and trust your church
  • Make a Instagram Stories Highlight w/ reviews from different platforms 
  • Repost the best UGC your feed and stories 

This is a huge trend churches have yet to fully tap into!

Social Media Trend #4: Pop Up Facebook Groups 

Social media communities on Facebook are trending even more. Although the younger generation doesn’t look at Facebook much to connect with friends, everyone is on all kinds of niche Facebook Groups so they can talk with like minded people about their shared interests.

You’ve got mom’s groups, entrepreneur groups, traveling groups, groups for specific majors at Universities, engineering groups, design groups, goldendoodle groups and more!

Facebook Groups are where people can discuss, share experiences and seek solutions to questions they have. 

There are Facebook Groups that go on long term and there is a Facebook Group businesses are using more and more known as Pop Up Facebook Groups. These are short term Facebook Groups created around a specific educational topic, product launch, or upcoming event. There is a set start and end date of the group. This helps people to stay engaged and accomplish a specific goal. 

Some examples are a week-long pop up group with daily training leading into an event or a 30 bootcamp to train your community on a specific topic they are needing to learn. 

Facebook Groups can be a powerful tool for your church to connect with your community around a specific goal or for your church members to get involved in Facebook Groups locally to serve and meet new people.

Social Media Trend #5: Connecting with People Through Going Live

Suddenly in 2020, every business had to figure out how to carry out their every day work online. Some people had to learn what Zoom and QRs codes were. But now, they are the norm. 

Along with that, Instagram Live and Facebook Live were sort of just “extras”. If you were outgoing, you hop on there and connect with people. But instead of being an extra, Live is a standard of practice for businesses to connect with their communities. 

People can get an inside look at your church, your leaders' lives, and a personal connection with you right in their home. Pretty amazing. 

According to Sprout Social Index, 25% of marketers said live video was one of the most valuable types of content for achieving their social goals.\

Churches could use this feature a lot more than only the live streaming Sunday’s. The beauty of live streaming is a personal connection with someone teaching you about something valuable! 

Imagine your Pastor or one of your leaders going Live to teach on an intriguing topic and getting to know people more intimately. Powerful.

Social Media Trend #6: Instagram Stories for Strategic Marketing 

More than 500 million users interact with Instagram Stories every day. 50% of Instagram users learn about a brand’s products through the story feature

Stories enable you to get in front of your current community more easily than a feed post. 

Feed posts get lost in the scroll, but people flip through stories much quicker. Pro tip: post all your feed posts, IGTV’s, Reels and Guide’s to your Instagram Stories for more exposure to your current community. 

Videos in Instagram Stories appear to outperform photos. So make sure to have a majority of videos or short clips with movement in your Instagram Stories to catch people’s attention.

As a church, you’ll see more engagement when you invest in 10+ Instagram Stories per day. Think of Instagram Stories like your Vlog. Post behind the scenes, day to day things, that don’t always have to be on topic with your church brand. Stay away from tons of branded stuff. This is the place to be authentic and unscripted.

For 30 Instagram Stories ideas to get you started head over here.

Social Media Trend #7: Purpose Driven Campaigns

Due to the pandemic and political climate, people have started to expect and want brands to spotlight local or global causes. 

In fact, 74% of respondents in a Twitter survey want brands to showcase acts of kindness. And 77% feel more positively about brands that try to support society during this crisis.

Although some causes aren’t really causes and just angry people, churches can capitalize on this trend by speaking up more about the causes we support. Whether your church is involved in different outreach in missions work or partnered with organizations to help your local community, make sure those are loud and clear on your social media. 

Not only that, use those opportunities to share about your church’s heart for the causes you support. If it’s controversial, stand for what you believe. 

People on social media are looking for brands who stand for something, not ones that stand for nothing. Use wisdom and be shrewd but don’t hold back your awesome beliefs and values.

It’s time the church influences the social media world bringing truth, especially when the other voices of the world are so loud.

Show your leadership and take meaningful action. Don’t just post things because you “should” but think about what your church values and stand for it courageously. 

Social Media Trend #8: Authenticity and Transparency 

You know this one. But churches still aren’t doing it as much as they could.

People want brands to get real. Talk about real stuff. Not look so branded and perfect. 

People want to know about the inside of your operations and be brought into all that you do as a church. 

For people to trust, you need to be transparent to an extent and authentic. 

Social Media Trend #9: Video Will Continue to Dominate (Do I Even Need to Share This One?)

I had to add it to the list, even though you are probably sick of hearing this one because it’s been beaten over your head. 

But let me try to shed some new light on it for you.

Video is a clear winner over all content types because it causes people to stay on their apps longer. It takes longer to watch a video than to glance at an image. 

To put things into perspective, according to a Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content. 

Video is more work. But you can beautifully tell stories of Jesus, your church, testimonies and more through video.

Video connects with people. 

On Instagram learning to make Reels a part of your week social media strategy is huge. If you need help getting started head over to this post, Instagram Reels: The What, How and Why.

Conclusion 

Now that we’ve gone through these trends, pick 1-2 trends that you think your church should work on this year and focus on those.

If you jumped down to the bottom here’s the quick list of what we went over:

Social Media Trend #1: Traditional Social Platforms Will Continue to Perform Well

Social Media Trend #2: Increase in the Use of Social Media for Customer Service 

Social Media Trend #3: Leveraging User Generated Content 

Social Media Trend #4: Pop Up Facebook Groups

Social Media Trend #5: Connecting with People Through Going Live

Social Media Trend #6: Instagram Stories for Strategic Marketing 

Social Media Trend #7: Purpose Driven Campaigns

Social Media Trend #8: Authenticity and Transparency 

Social Media Trend #9: Video Will Continue to Dominate (Do I Even Need to Share This One?)

Don’t try to do it all, but build upon what you have each week, month and year. 

You got this!  

If you have questions head on over to my Instagram and DM me!

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