Best Practices for Using Social Media During COVID-19
1. Acknowledge the problem
You can’t scroll through your newsfeed or Instagram account without seeing information about the coronavirus, or COVID-19. And while you don’t want to add to the overwhelming amount of information that is already out there, you also can’t conduct business as usual on your social media accounts. You need to acknowledge that life is different for everyone.
Even if you are one of the few areas not under some type of social distancing restriction, your church members almost certainly either have family members who are under a restriction or are at a higher risk for contracting the disease. They are looking to leaders—which means you—to acknowledge their difficulties and sit with them, so to speak, in the struggle. Find a balance between sharing some of your usual posts (like a weekly Bible verse) and sharing information that is relevant to COVID-19.
2. Check your sources
With the abundance of information available about COVID-19, many people find themselves frustrated by the revolving door of often conflicting facts or warnings. Of course, the advice of medical experts does change as more research becomes available. But well-meaning misinformation can induce panic, even if the information is later proven to be false. With this in mind, you want to share links, articles, or advice that coincides with information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other reputable sources.
You don’t have to limit yourself to sharing scholarly articles—in fact, we recommend you break up those posts with other types of announcements or images. For instance, you might ask a church member to write about anxiety and how the Bible tells us we can work through it. You can start a thread that asks your church how you can pray for them, and encourage them to pray for each other. You may not be able to meet for coffee, but you can still have specific prayer and study times with members of your church.
3. Keep up with your people
In most states, large groups of people—including churches—are not currently allowed to meet in person in an effort to practice social distancing. It makes perfect sense for your health—but how do you deal with the loss of your community? This is the question a lot of your church members will ask themselves, especially those who thrive off interaction with people. Fortunately, we are living in a time where technology plays such a prominent role in daily life, and you can put it to work for you.
Consider doing a Facebook live event, where your pastor gives the message from home so everyone can tune in to watch. You can also do a live YouTube event, and use your social platforms to invite people to join. Ask your church to leave a comment saying hello, and assign someone from your social media team to respond to everyone individually. These small steps can go a long way in relieving some of the burden caused by social distancing. You can continue this practice throughout the week—now, more than ever, is the time to reply to comments left on your posts and to share encouragement with your church members.
No one loves to practice social distancing, but your church can help ease the transition by making the most out of its social media platforms. So start Tweeting, sharing, liking, and everything in between, to let your people know that even though the building is closed, the church community is still there for them.