Social media can be a great tool to expand your reach.
Social media can be a great tool to expand your reach. (Pexels)

For most of the past 14 months, I've encouraged churches to engage members and prospective guests online. Whether through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, your church can reach, inform and inspire more people when you use social media wisely and effectively.

But that's not where the social media influence should stop. Truly effective social media campaigns don't end with the originator of the message. They motivate those who see the posts to share with their friends and beyond.

So how can your church encourage your members to share your content with their friends? Here are five practices we've seen work for churches who get their members to share and engage more often.

1. Encourage it from the platform. Whether in a specific announcement or as a blanket statement, churches that talk from the platform about sharing on social media have members who share more than those who don't.

2. Include social media icons and usernames on printed items. Bulletins, invite cards, letterhead and any other major printed items distributed by the church should at least have social media icons on them. It is even better if you can include the church's specific username or handle with the icon.

3. Create shareable content. When you start a new sermon series, create a shareable graphic and encourage members to share it on their profiles. When you have a major event coming up, provide members with promotional graphics to post online. If you provide the content to members directly via email or your social channels, they're more likely to share.

4. Feature shareable content in your email newsletter. I've previously written about the advantages of email newsletters for churches. One component you can include in the email is a shareable post. Make it as easy as possible to share by linking to content that's already online. In as little as two clicks, members can share about your church.

5. Make the ask. Don't hesitate to ask people to share your posts online within the content of the post. I wouldn't use this much, but if the post or content rises to a certain level of importance, then just make the ask for those who see it to share.

Have you found other effective ways for members to share your church's content on social media? Have you tried any of these?

Jonathan Howe serves as director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at thomrainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

This article originally appeared at thomrainer.com.

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