Practical Social Media Practices For Your Church | Karis Hortin

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Knowing where to start with social media is a big hurdle for some churches. On this weeks episode Karis Hortin, coach and social media consultant, discusses with us some practical social media practices that your church can start to implement.

Podcast Transcription

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Well. Karis, welcome to the show. So glad to have you here. How are you doing today?

I’m good. I’m so excited. Thanks for having me.

Oh, we’re excited to have you. And I’m really excited for our listeners to learn from you about this thing called social media and how the church can use it to reach more people. So first of all, give us a little of your background, your story, and what got you where you are today.

Okay. Well, so my story kind of has an interesting start to it. So I was actually born in Ethiopia, Africa, so I was adopted at the age of nine to southern Illinois. So, yeah, culture shock, but, I’m very thankful for the opportunity. But I hate to, I don’t want to admit it, but I think I’ve always had like an entrepreneurial mind. In my senior year of high school, I started a business called Jars of Hope, where I sold dry food ingredients like chocolate chip cookie mix in a jar. Actually, there’s one sitting right in front of me, I made this the other day.

Look at that. That’s awesome.

So all the things that you need for chocolate chip cookies but without the wet ingredients. So I sold stuff like that, and I donated the proceeds to the orphanage I was adopted from. It was so cool. And then I actually got to hand-deliver the money in 2018, like my high school graduation gift was going back to Ethiopia. So I got to see like the orphanage I grew up in, my grandma who raised me up until I was seven and she was just too sick to keep taking care of me. But she got to feeling better, so I actually got to see her. Yeah. So that’s kind of how my entrepreneurial stuff started, and now I have two different businesses and that’s what I do for a living.

Okay, so let’s talk about the business where you help and work with churches and social media. Tell me a little bit about what can churches learn. What have you learned about social media that churches need to hear? And what do you do when you’re working with churches in this space? What’s the goal?

One of the things I think we all have to just understand is social media is here to stay. It’s not going to go away. Whether we like it or not, it’s here. So we can either use it or we can ignore it. And when we choose to ignore it, a lot of times the negative things are what’s taking over. So when I started social media, I was kind of really kind of upset at how so many women and girls are bombarded by messages that are just so negative, and things little girls should not grow up hearing. So I thought, okay, well, if the bad and negative things can go viral, why can’t we get good things to go viral? Well, the problem is not a lot of churchgoers and members of Christ’s faith, they’re not taking the time to create content because we’re trying so hard to avoid social media. So I started my own personal YouTube channel, and that’s I think I’m at like close to 10,000 subscribers now, at TikTok, I’m close to like 130,000 followers. So through those medias, I’m just sharing advice to teenage girls and they’re able to come and find, without me ever saying, God, I’m ministering to them. So as a church, like we can do that, we can go where the people are at and make a difference in people’s lives. So as negative as social media can be, it can also be such a great tool to share the word of God.

Well, so there are a couple of things. You were self-taught in this.

Oh, yeah, yeah.

So you’re self-taught, and all you’re doing is using what God’s gifted you, your history, your background, your story, which is His story for you, and so now you’re using that for His glory to help other girls. So you found your niche that you’re that you want to fulfill, and that’s not only fulfilling you, it’s also helping girls. So and we’re talking, you shared with me all around the world.

Yes. Yeah. I coach girls because they find, I mean, I just looked at my analytics, and 30% of my views on TikTok come from South Africa, so these girls are, they’re seeing my content from everywhere. So I do one on one coaching and I have a client from Iceland, and one from Asia, I don’t know anything about geography, so I don’t even know where those countries are sometimes, I’m like, wait, what? Where are you from?

What time is it there?

Yeah. Oh, that’s the hardest part, one girl is like a 14-hour difference, so,

Math comes in handy when we’re trying to figure out what time it is around the world.

So does Google.

So how does a church…You know, so most churches right, and you know this because you get to actually help churches in this space with social media. How do they find their voice? Because, I mean, they can say, well, the Bible is our voice, or the gospels are our voice. Yeah, true, but what do you say to a church that goes, how do we grow our influence and grow our reach on TikTok or on Instagram or Facebook?

Yeah, that’s a good question. My first question to them always is, who are you trying to reach? That’s just a marketing thing in general. Some churches will come at you if they haven’t done any type of marketing work, say, well, we’re reaching everyone. Well, not really. I mean, let’s talk about…

You’re reaching no one

Yeah. Who’s coming to your church? Is it the parents with two young kids, or is it the older generation, or is it mainly college students? After that, we say, okay, literally take what you’re doing, the people you’re reaching right now, but now transition it to online. So let’s create content that’s going to reach the soccer mom or the college kids.

No, no, I think that’s a wise move and one that I think churches don’t do a lot of. Because I give the same advice to say, when they answer the question, we’re just trying to reach people, because all people need Jesus. Yeah, but if you don’t really narrow it down to who you currently are reaching, that helps you understand what you’ve done to reach those people. So if it is that 30-year-old mom, is everything built around that, or is it a 30-year-old dad? Because that’s going to have two different audiences and two different reaches, right? I mean, you’re going to build things, say things, use imagery that targets those people.

Yeah. I mean, we don’t try to niche it down way too much, but it’s still a message that maybe we do content more towards a family, how to parent. You know, it doesn’t have to be like, okay, we’re only going to niche down and only do consent for moms. But in general, you know, you wouldn’t go and make videos about how to be a better grandparent to your grandkids that aren’t following Christ, you know? You would instead say, how can you be a better parent as a Christ follower? And, you know, most people struggle creating content because that’s not what they do for a living, but churches have a bank of content, like, the preacher is a content creator. I mean, you just don’t do it the way we do it or on social media, but like a preacher is somebody that’s already comfortable speaking and talking. And so what you’re doing when you’re choosing to do social media is instead of giving a 30-minute sermon that most people fall asleep through, you’re narrowing it down to a minute clip and you’re sharing a message, and people watch that and they’re impacted by it.

You influence them. Absolutely.

You do.

Okay. So I get this question all the time from churches, and it’s something like, hey, is there like a playbook we should follow when it comes to our strategy on social media? Like how many times a week should we post and what should we post? What should be my answer to that question?

Yeah. So that’s why I do what I do, because people have that kind of question and it changes, that’s a tricky part. I study this all the time, and I can do it because it’s my job. But at the end of the day, you know, there is no perfect formula that’s going to make you get a bunch of views and whatnot, like other than the simple fact of staying consistent, so post consistently, if that is two times a week, that’s better than posting five times a week and then not posting it again for another two weeks. So stay consistent. And the other is, I mean, put out content that people are going to want to watch and interact with, make sure it’s put together nicely, kind of like a restaurant, you know, at the end of the day, yes, like you’re going to go into a restaurant because you like the food, but like you would never set foot into that restaurant if it doesn’t look clean and it doesn’t look appetizing from the outside looking in. So same with your social media, people are going to look at your social media before they ever set foot into your church. You may have an amazing community in your church and people might never come because they look at your social media and they’re like, I don’t know about that.

You know, something you said there, people look at social media, because I think that trend is now securely in place. Because before it was, before websites, it was you just went because a friend invited you and you trust your friend, that’s all you got. Then when the Internet and websites sort of come around, at least now you can go check it out online a little bit, and then you could start watching those messages, so now people would watch the message before they’d even want. They want to see what that pastor is like, is he kind of crazy? Does he like snakes? Or what’s it look like for church there before I even want to step foot? Now, it’s even social media, so people find you on Google they read reviews, they check out your social media, and then they decide to go to your website, and then they decide to come in person. Is that accurate?

Absolutely. And I can say that especially, I mean, for the younger generation, like that’s the only way we’ll come to churches. I don’t know, maybe that’s not a good thing, maybe that’s not a good method, but that’s just what we do with everything. I mean, I’m right now just moving into an apartment, this is my first time. So I am reading reviews of what bed do I buy. You know, I just do that with everything. So why wouldn’t I do that with the most important part of my life, a church? So when I went to college and I was trying to find a college, the first thing I did was I went on to Google and then I found some churches, the ones that popped up on Google, most didn’t because they don’t even have a website. But then I went to their social media and I was like, I don’t know if this church is for me because all I see is like nothing, I don’t know, it just didn’t look very appealing. And maybe that’s not a good thing, but that’s just what we do. So it took me a while to find a church community because eventually, I was like, okay, I just need to go visit it because my friends told me, yes, their social media doesn’t look like much, but they have a good church.

Well, I think it’s hard-wired in with the younger generation like yourself. But for my generation, we’ve had to learn this. And it’s what we do though, because we find convenience in it. Even my mom, before she buys anything, I mean anything, she buys everything online, she’s reading the reviews. And so we know that is just all generations, that’s what people do these days. And so in that in those posts, like give me an example on a weekly basis what a church should be posting. Because you said they’re like rich with content, all kinds of content, they are producing content out their ears. But how do you turn that into, and what’s that look like on a weekly basis for a church, what should they do?

So when I create a content schedule for the churches, I do like the 80/20 rule where 20% of the time we are advertising our church. So most churches think, okay, social media is for me to have like a billboard out there saying, come to our church. So they use social media as a billboard, not as a ministry. So with the 80/20% rule, 20% of the time we are, we are taking the time to tell them who we are, you should come to this event coming up. But then 80% of the time we’re providing content that’s actually just useful, that you would want to consume. So I do a lot of posts that the preacher preaches, and then I go through his sermons on YouTube and I just clip out like a minute part, like part of his sermons that I just found interesting, and intriguing, and we share it on to their social media. Or I take sermon notes, and I put them into a nice-looking graphic, and people can scroll through those graphics and just get a message out of it. And these content pieces truly are transforming people’s lives, because I’ve had so many churches come to me and said, hey, look, we just had, we just had a whole family show up to our events because they saw on social media that we were doing this. But they mentioned to me they’ve been following us for a couple of months, actually. So these people have been watching and they decided to come because they were on social media. I’ve had a church tell me that somebody from Florida, a relative of a church member, saw a post and their daughter had just died of cancer, and it was like an encouraging type of post and like they just needed that. And so that random person decided to DM us to tell us, hey, like that post meant a lot. So it’s a ministry, like you are changing lives when you choose to use this platform as a ministry rather than just a billboard to say, come to our church. Why make them wait to come into your building? Why not go ahead and do ministry out there right now? And then if they want to, they can come and visit you in person.

Yeah. Wow. So that really, because that geographically doesn’t really limit your reach, you can reach people all over the place. And for those people who want to drive in, they can drive in. Yeah, that’s right.

And the people that you already have now, like your actual church members, they appreciate their church being active on social media, too, because they want to be ministered to throughout the week, they don’t want to just have to wait until Sunday to feel like their church is a part of their life. So I do a lot of interaction posts on our stories where I’ll like, silly posts like, do you prefer pineapple on your pizza? Yes or no? You would think, why would you post on a church social media account? Well, we do that because it drives engagement and people engage with one another. And then the preacher tells me the next day, I just saw my congregation members asking each other, did you vote yes on the pineapple pizza or whatever, you know, so it brings your congregation together too. And it feeds them the Gospel as well.

Absolutely. I mean, it’s social media, we’re called to be social here. And I think that’s so good. I really love the sermon snippet that you’re talking about, using those because…And by the way, I think, it’s just my $0.02, there are so many more uses for that, right? If you’ve taken the time to create a snippet, put it on social, and also send out an email, right, on your newsletter, because maybe people didn’t show up to church, they went to the lake or whatever, and they see that snippet, it might encourage them to go watch the rest of that message. You could also put it on YouTube if you wanted to. You could even play it the next week before service. Kind of is a countdown, right? There are so many uses for that snippet, more than just social, but boy, it becomes fun if it goes viral.

Churches are so scared to get into social media because it’s a big beast. Like, it’s intimidating. But what they don’t realize is there are systems and processes to make this so simple, like that preacher did that one sermon. As a content creator myself, I can take that sermon and piece together like a week’s worth of content. So it’s about you having the right people in place, because not everybody’s talent is putting together content. You know, some people’s talent is literally preaching. I can’t imagine doing that, I literally cannot imagine standing in front of people and, you know, preaching a sermon. But I can take your sermon and put it on social media and reach more people, and that itself is a ministry.

Yeah, you know, that’s your gift and your talent for sure. So I do like the best practices, I like that 80/20 rule, that’s a really good one that I think, church, we can apply that where 20% is more invitation type of thing, but 80% is more celebration, inspiration, that kind of stuff. Is that more like what we’re looking at? And not only promoting just sermon snippets, but also things that are going on in ministries, or changed life stories that you capture to show in church, is that something else you would add to it?

Yeah, absolutely. I have a list of questions that are the most frequently asked questions. I did like keyword research on YouTube to see what people are asking when it comes to the faith. So how to read your Bible? Why should I go to church? You know, just those types of questions. And so if as a church, if we don’t create content to answer these big questions, we’re letting nonbelievers answer the questions. But as a church, you can like step up and you be the one that answers these big questions. So a lot of my churches will create content like how to handle X, Y, and Z situations with your teenage kids, like, it’s endless. As a church you can, I don’t know, you can do so much.

Oh, yeah, those, we call them the felt need issues. Right?

Okay.

Marriage and parenting and addictions and grief and everything, it just goes on and on.

Forever, yeah.

And you’re helping with teenage girls that you are coaching and ministering to, it’s around that, right, it’s around stress and depression and all those things, anxiety, that my generation, we maybe didn’t even deal with it. We probably dealt with it, but we just pushed it down. But nowadays, because they’re bombarded with social media, even your high school ministries and your junior high and ministries, church, you can still use these kinds of same principles to reach and help so many kids in your community.

Yeah, absolutely.

So where does, you know, I see numbers and I think Facebook is still extremely relevant. At least the numbers say that there are a lot of people who use Facebook or have a Facebook page. Do they engage with Facebook? I don’t know, that is a question mark. But what are some of the platforms, like you mentioned, you really grew your TikTok reach and your YouTube reach, I think it was. But what should churches do, is there a pecking order that they should be focusing on, like Facebook, or Instagram? What would you say to that?

I recommend Facebook and Instagram. Like I would not even mess with TikTok or Pinterest. Youtube is a whole different thing, I mean, I would stream on YouTube. But if you were wanting to actually grow a YouTube channel, which I actually do consulting where I help churches figure out how to use YouTube, not just as a streaming platform, but as a place where people can come to get their questions asked and answered. But the easiest and simplest is to start with Instagram and Facebook, mainly because you can do scheduling, where if you schedule a post on Facebook, you can also connect it right to your Instagram, which is nice. But because you’re hitting both generations, with Facebook it’s the older generation, they’re on Facebook, so you hit them there. But then if they’re not on there, they’re on Instagram. So, I mean…

Is Instagram sort of that gap too, between like, it seems like teenagers are maybe on TikTok. Is that accurate?

Yes. But they’re still going to, I mean, they’re still going to keep Instagram around. It’s not like TikTok, because TikTok is very different from any other social media, to where you’re you’re seeing a lot of people that you’ll never meet on TikTok. But with Instagram, you’re following people that most of them, you know them. But that’s why it’s easy to go viral on TikTok because it is such a different type of algorithm, it’s more for entertainment. But with social media like Instagram and Facebook, you are choosing what pops up onto your feed, what you want to see. And so if you want to be friends with your school friends, like, that’s how you connect with them. So does that make sense?

It does. So. TikTok, the recommendation to TikTok is, okay, if your pastor wants to be famous, I guess.

Yeah. Or if you can handle it, if you can handle it. I mean, it’d be awesome, like I would love to work with the church and teach them how to…I mean, I’m working with an author right now, his name is Bruce Bugbee, he wrote the Spiritual Gifts book. Anyways, he rewrote it for the younger generation, and I have him on TikTok. Like, I’m having him create TikTok content and stuff, but it’s easier because it’s just a self thing. With church, it’s a lot of work, you would need a whole team of social media, and that’s just not doable for most churches. But what is super doable is Instagram and Facebook

Yeah, I think, as you said, it’s just a different strategy because you tend to follow and engage more on Instagram and Facebook. There’s a former podcast we had, We had a young man named Dayne, and he’s on Tik Tok and he prays, all he does is pray. He posts a prayer day, he has, like, 400,000 followers.

Wow.

And all he’s doing is praying. And he stumbled into it, he’s on an earlier podcast so you guys can check it out. But yeah, I think it’s interesting how this is all shaping up because I think, this is my theory, TikTok is still figuring out who they are and they’re still growing up. And so once they do and we get a good feel for that, I think the church can kind of go, oh, okay, that’s how we can use it.

Yes.

If you don’t want to just be creating videos all day long and hoping they stick and get viral.

Yeah, yeah. I try to simplify it as much as I can for my clients because it is, it’s so much work. There’s a new platform every other day. Like I get overwhelmed, so I can’t imagine for people who didn’t grow up with all of this. So I try to tell them like, don’t get distracted and try to be like, oh, I’ve got to try the newest, greatest, you know. Like, it’s okay, stick to these two things and be consistent, and it’s so much better than trying to like dabble in all of them.

Yeah. Yeah.

And even for myself, I did YouTube for an entire year and figured out how to work the algorithm for a year before I ever even started doing Instagram, and then I did Instagram for a year and then I did TikTok. And then after TikTok, I just now started doing Pinterest. But like, I took it like very step by step because I really wanted to get good at one thing before I try to figure out another thing.

Gotcha. Well, I think this is also good logic, don’t sprint out of the gates because you can’t sustain that. And to your point, this is a marathon, so if you post once a week, do it once a week, but do it every week, don’t take like three weeks off.

Yes.

Right? And then you’ll find that pattern and that rhythm that you can actually live with as you’re working in your church, because it’s not the only thing you’re doing, probably, you have a lot of other hats to wear, right?

Yeah. And that’s another thing I actually want to say, most churches, what they do is they have volunteers who have never even done anything with social media. And it’s kind of funny to me because, you know, you would never hire a preacher that didn’t go to school to become a preacher, you know. But then we expect volunteers who have never studied social media to take care of it. And that’s a lot of work, like, you’re not going to get a good result. You need somebody that has actually studied it so that they know what they’re doing.

So we shouldn’t find the mom or dad who has the most friends on Facebook, it’s probably not the best strategy.

No, no, or they are young, they can do these things. They are like you’re a young person, figure it out. It’s like I did not even know how to use Instagram as a business until three years ago, but I’ve had Instagram for seven years, but it’s just a different thing. So, yeah, I’d definitely be mindful of who’s running your Instagram accounts. And another thing they run into, is a lot of the churches that I work with. Is like we had Sally do it, and we had Susan, and then she left, and we just kind of lost track. I’m like, if you could have just had one professional do it the whole time.

Oh, so we’ll end on this because we’re running out of time. I think it’s also pretty important that you figure out what that look and feel is that you’re wanting to establish and stick with it. And what I mean by that is. from maybe even how you capture the video, to the filters you might put on a picture. Isn’t that important? You want to maintain that same look and feel, or that same voice, or that same filter, right, and as you’re posting, be consistent there, right?

Yeah, absolutely. It’s like whatever you’re doing already when you’re at church, I mean, what does your building look like? What are your decorations at church like? Okay, now transition that into doing that on social media so that people understand.

Yeah, I just had a church that opened up a new campus and they went to get pictures and they recognized that the lighting and the temperature and all that kind of stuff on stage was messing with the pictures they take that they put on social media. It wasn’t matching the other campuses. I’m going, wow, like you guys have thought through this, you’ve got to make sure, because they maintain that brand identity, so to speak, with what they put out there.

Yeah. You want people to be like, oh, this is Mosaic Christian Church, like this is them showing up in my feed to help me throughout my week. Like, yeah, I mean, there’s just so many tools out there. the church, unfortunately, is so behind on some of these. But my biggest thing is, like, God has given us so many opportunities, and so we can either be so stubborn and be like, I can do this on my own. Or we can use the things that a lot of non-Christian businesses use, like marketing tools and whatnot, and figure out how can we reach more people. Like if we can use these tools to do it, let’s do it, let’s not just stick to our own ways. But I don’t want to be that young kid that acts like I know everything either, so I don’t want to come off like that.

Well, you’re not, Karis, you’re actually doing it, and that’s really refreshing that you are helping to advance the Kingdom of God and make Jesus famous. And so, I’m so thankful and grateful for you. Thanks for being on the show.

Thanks for having me.

How do people get a hold of you? We’ll add this to the show notes, but just tell us if somebody wants to reach out to you.

So my website is Socials Made Simple, so if you go on there, you will see, like, the kind of work that I do. Yeah, you can get all the details. But my personal account is just my name, Karis Hortin. And then my teen accounts are teentips.co

So okay, very good to know. So if anybody else has teenage girls that are somewhat struggling, here is somebody who can speak their language. You can speak wisdom into their lives, right, and truth.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Well, thank you, Karis. We appreciate you, and thanks for being on the show.

Thanks for having me.

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