So you’re thinking about taking the leap and jumping into the social media fracas with your church (or small business or nonprofit). With nearly two-thirds of Americans using social networking sites 1, it probably seems like the next obvious step for your church. But where should you start? With so many sites to choose from – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and more – the choices can seem overwhelming.

Instead of joining all the social sites you can think of, consider joining one at a time. As you become more comfortable with it and grow your fan base, branch out to the next social site. But where should you start?

Instead of joining all the social sites you can think of, consider joining one at a time.

Here are three things that you should definitely consider before choosing which social networking platform you’ll join first:

  • What social site are you most comfortable with? If this is your first foray into the professional side of social networks, you’ll feel less overwhelmed if you start with something you know. Love to share recipes and check on friends and family via Facebook? Start there. More of a quick snap-and-post picture sharer? Instagram may be the place for you. If you have shunned the social networking world (which is fine, by the way!), I suggest choosing one of the “Big Three:” Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
  • What social site are your church members (or clientele) using? Start where your members are. It will be easier to become part of your members’ daily social routine if it’s a social site that they already use. You may already know what social sites are being used by your members, or you may need to ask around. If you have no idea where to start and don’t feel comfortable asking, keep these stats in mind:
    1. Facebook: 77% online American women are Facebook users, compared to 66% of online American men. 87% of adults age 18-29, as well as 73% of adults age 30-49, are on Facebook. That doesn’t mean your senior adults aren’t associated with the site – a whopping 56% of adults, age 65+, are on Facebook users!
    2. Twitter: Twitter has a much smaller member base, although it is still growing. 24% of online American men are on Twitter, compared to 21% of online American men. Your largest age group will be 18-29 (37% are on Twitter). You probably won’t grab the attention of your seniors, though – only 10% of seniors, age 65+, are on Twitter.
    3. Instagram – Instagram is now owned by Facebook and is growing by leaps and bounds. 22% of men are on Instagram and 29% of women are on it. 53% of adults, 18-29, use this site.2 Note – the actual demographics of your social page/profile fans will vary. The above stats are just to help you consider where to start as you move forward.
  • What can you do well and consistently? Your social page/profile will do no good if it’s not kept up-to-date. Take a look at the social sites and decide what you think you can update, with useful information or promotions, on a regular basis. As fans realize your page/profile is updated on a regular basis, they will be more likely to go out of their way to check it on monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

After everything is said and done, my biggest piece of advice is this: don’t overthink it! Do your research, listen to what your gut says, and try it. The scariest part is the jump!

Do your research, listen to what your gut says, and try it.

1 http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/08/social-networking-usage-2005-2015/

2 http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/