Copy Matters: Writing for Social Media

Copy Matters: Writing for Social Media

March 30, 2012 by

This is part eight in our Copy Matters series.


This was my husband’s response to my sudden, less-than-revelatory pronouncement a few days ago: “I. freaking. love. Facebook.”

“Duh,” indeed. I invest a decent amount of time in the social media space, so my general affection for it is clear. This exclamation was specific, however, to what happens when social media and the church hold hands and skip around the playground together: ministry.

You see, I’ve been managing a church plant’s Facebook page, and someone posted this:

Plan on attending service Sunday. Kind of nervous actually. I have been looking for a spiritual home and God seems to be pointing me in your direction. :) can’t wait!

I responded:

Nervous? Naaaaaah. We’re just regular peeps. :) Please stop at the Welcome Center (just look for the “Start Here” banner) and say hey! Looking forward to meeting you!

I took a screen shot of the exchange and e-mailed it to the pastor and hospitality team leader so they could be on the lookout for her. She attended worship that weekend and followed-up on Facebook:

Loved it today. Thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcomed. I think I am home. God definitely spoke to my heart!

Yep. Facebook rocks.

So my first tip in regard to writing for social media? Remember that it matters. Social media isn’t just another channel through which to push announcements; leveraged well, it provides an opportunity for connection, conversation and care. What you write—the words and the voice you use—matters.

And so does this stuff:

Basic, but important: Be sure you’re actually writing on your church’s social media accounts. Perhaps the only thing worse than a stale website is a stagnant Facebook Page. If you’re having trouble thinking of content, go peruse other brands’ pages and get re-inspired. Think through your pastor’s message and jot down questions or challenges.

Be you… or, rather, your church’s brand. Do you tell people your church is “welcoming”? Write that way: Leave out the acronyms and use friendly language. Do you say you’re “relevant”? Stop saying it, and be it… by writing content that lets people know that you get them and their struggles. And don’t be afraid to be playful. Delight people will a bit of silliness, and you’ll be surprised at how many “I love my church” comments come back.

Eyebrow-raising and thought-provoking posts get shared and retweeted like crazy. That’s great news for not only our Insights and Klout scores. If our content is share-worthy, our churches are likely invite-worthy. Of course, it’s important to be appropriately provocative. I read recently that authenticity is “all me” not “all of me.” When you lay your fingers on your keyboard, continually ask yourself why you’re writing what you’re writing.

Prolific. Not.
Writing for social media requires a willingness to chop and cut and edit and re-work—whether you’re fitting a thought into Twitter’s 140-character limit or simply sharing a quick synopsis for an upcoming message series. Writing for social media will improve your writing’s clarity (or should), and that will positively affect your web copy, bulletin blurbs and platform announcements.

(Couldn’t think of another p-word. But that’s OK, I was beginning to feel a bit like a Rick Warren workbook. Props to Rick.) Michael Buckingham did a great post on the power of the question mark. You should read it. The short version: Ask questions.

What challenges have you experienced trying to write copy for social media? What content seems to resonate in your context?


Getting Started: Copy Matters - "Bad writing tries too hard to impress."

Post By:

Kelley Hartnett

Kelley Hartnett spent more than a decade working in established churches and helping to launch new ones. She recently launched Tall Tree Collective, which helps nonprofits craft messages that inspire people to get behind their cause. Kelley formerly served as the membership director for our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site and is the author of You've Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators.
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5 Responses to “Copy Matters: Writing for Social Media”

  • David Tonen
    March 30, 2012

    “Social media isn’t just another channel through which to push announcements; leveraged well, it provides an opportunity for connection, conversation and care. What you write—the words and the voice you use—matters.”
    — Well said! It seems so obvious but in practicality it is one of the hardest concepts for all fo us to keep alignment on…because it takes a conscious and consistent effort.

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  • Kristina
    March 30, 2012

    In a time where people put any old thing as their status on Facebook, I think a brand (be it a church or a company) takes the time to type out a crafted message. It doesn’t need to be cryptic, in fact as you said it should be simple, direct, and inviting, but it needs to have intention behind it….none of this I-had-no-idea-what-to-say-so-I-told-you-what-I-ate-for-lunch stuff.

    Great post, thanks!

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  • Dan Smith
    March 31, 2012

    Spot on! I think a lot of churches have Facebook, etc, and don’t use them properly. Granted, most of these churches that misuse social media are probably (as in my church’s case) community residential churches where communication is primarily through the bulletin and word of mouth. Nevertheless, I’d like to see better use. Your post will help.

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  • John Starke
    April 9, 2012

    UBER-helpful post. Am just getting into the social media scene and am eager to learn how it can be used to, as you suggest, really CONNECT with folks.

    Your 4 P’s + I provide helpful guidelines to move in this direction!

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  • Kelley
    April 23, 2012

    Happy to know this post was helpful to y’all! Thanks for your comments. :)

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