The plan is that this Social Media Style Guide will help us communicate more clearly and at a more consistently high standard. It will help to clarify who should communicate what, when and how often. It will promote quality over quantity. That it will be a resource that can be turned to for help in the moment where we find ourselves asking aloud, ‘What’s the right way to say…?’
This style guide will be detailed and will include boundaries, so it might not be everyone’s best friend. It is a tool designed to help those who have been entrusted to steward the platform of influence that has been built over time.
So embrace this Style Guide, social-media loving friends. Let it become the true north of your social media work and as the platforms evolve, we'll keep updating this so you can keep referring to it!
Our social media accounts are organised in a particular way for two specific reasons:
1. To communicate who we are as a church and what Jesus is doing amongst us effectively;
2. To express this in a way that connects with various demographic groups, providing a path of connection to the church.
Our Social Media Accounts maintain the same organisational structure of our church – i.e. Global, Local, and other Communities within the Local.
There are 3 kinds of Social Media Accounts that are relevant here. They are:
OFFICIAL GLOBAL ACCOUNTS
Our Official Global Accounts are Pastor Ashley & Jane's platform for communicating who we are as a church, along with what Jesus is doing in our midst, to a global audience. They are managed by staff, as part of a larger web strategy.
OFFICIAL LOCAL ACCOUNTS
e.g. @influencersparadise or @influencersgwinnett
Official Influencers Church Local Accounts are Campus Accounts. They are managed under the direction of Campus Pastors and Social Media Managers (local to that campus).
UNOFFICIAL COMMUNITY & GROUP ACCOUNTS
e.g. @influencersdance or @ythatlanta
Official Influencers Campus Accounts can be complimented by many unofficial ‘Community Accounts,’ which are able to provide social media users with a more detailed and personal connection to specific Communities within our Campuses and Extension Services.
Whilst Community Accounts are not considered Official Influencers Accounts, they provide a significant pathway of connection to the church for social media users and therefore do have some guidelines.
Across all Official Social Media Accounts* we maintain a consistent use of logos, titles and subtext.
OFFICIAL LOCAL CAMPUS ACCOUNTS
Each Campus should only have ONE Official Influencers Campus Account per social media channel (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). For example, there should only be one Influencers Paradise Instagram account.
The focus of a Campus Account is communicating what is happening at that particular Campus. Rather than re-posting exactly what has been posted by another Account, a Campus Account should communicate campus-related specifics.
Campus account content:
1. An Official Influencers Logo – that has been custom-built by the Communications Department for their Campus, to be used as the Profile Picture.
2. Handle (Username) - include the word Influencers and the Campus Name/Location (e.g. @influencerscumming)
3. Title (Profile Name) - include the word Influencers and the Campus Name/Location. (i.e. Influencers Gwinnett Campus).
4. Bio/Subtext – This section should give the most important information for a Campus, including Location, Service Times, a contact phone number and a link (where possible) to our website formatted (i.e. www.influencers.church).
QUANTITY - HOW MUCH TO POST?
THE THREE KEYS FOR QUANTITY ARE:
Post often enough to build audience. A rule of thumb would be to post a minimum of couple of times per week, and generally not more than three times per day.
Post at the best times to effectively engage the users who are your target audience and strategically promote what is needed.
For those who are interested, there are many online social media tools that can assist in assessing which posts are most effective and scheduling schedule posts for key times. I.e. Buffer, Iconosquare and HootSuite. Latergram (Now called Later) has a great free scheduling tool that sends reminder notifications with the scheduled content to a users phone.
Leave a buffer of at least an hour between posts from a single account to ensure that your posts do not dominate a social media user’s feed (which can be annoying and is likely to lead to a loss of ‘followers’). Although this problem has been partially fixed by Instagram's new algorithm where the feed is not primarily time based, it will still group user's photos together, meaning people may scroll past and not pay attention to the detail when there's 4 in a row from your account since they last checked.
3. ENGAGE FREQUENTLY
Rather than posting too often, engage with users around each post by being social on social media. This is easily done by responding to comments and questions liking other users’ posts.
QUALITY - WHAT TO POST?
The old saying ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ has never been truer than now, in our current context of social media where images are easily showcased and language barriers overcome. Of course, the power of an image has the potential to go both ways.
3 QUESTIONS THAT CAN BE USEFUL TO ASK WHEN POSTING IMAGES ARE:
1. What do you want this image to say?
2. What does this image say?
3. If this image was the only message that was being received, would it be communicating everything you want it to say?
Sometimes the direct message conveyed by an image might be in conflict with its indirect message.
A photo of a happy young couple advertising our marriage course might have a direct message that says: ‘This course will help you build a happy marriage.’ However, if the image’s quality is poor or obviously dated, the indirect message may conflict with the direct message and say: ‘This marriage course’s content is of poor quality/out-dated.’
For this reason, it is useful to ask ourselves these 3 questions:
1. What is the direct message of this image?
2. Does this conflict with the indirect message of this image?
3. Is this message an effective one for reaching the intended social media
Some notes to keep in mind when choosing photos to post:
1. RESOLUTION & CLARITY
Keep photo quality high by ensuring that they are of a high resolution, not blurry or pixelated (usually caused by screenshots of another image).
2. FILTERS & TEXT
Good quality photos, as it is appropriate to use for our Influencers Accounts, generally do not require a filter before posting.
However, if you must use a filter, we recommend that you use VSCOcam filters to edit your photos as all VSCOcam filters are consistent with the visual identity we have set as a church.
Only use VSCOcam as filters for images on the App Store or Google Play. Avoid built-in Instagram/phone filters and filters that aren’t VSCOcam. Also avoid borders, vignettes and other textures that overlay.
No text should be added to photos that appear on Official Accounts.
In the case where such additions are required for campaigns, the artwork will be created by the Communications team and made available to you.
3. SOURCE & SELECTION
A range of high quality photos is available via Flickr for Official Accounts to choose from. We would encourage you to select a photo that captures a story or moment you want to communicate to your target audience.
Be aware that many of your followers will follow other Influencers accounts, so keep your content unique and relevant, as opposed to the same as everyone else.
GOLDEN RULE: Post natively to your platform.
If content is king then context has to be the queen. You can have great content but if it ignores the context of the platform it won’t thrive.
Creating native content is powerful for storytelling but it means more work. It means taking the time to post to each platform (sorry automation lovers!). It means designing square/portrait images for Instagram and landscape for Facebook.
INSTAGRAM vs facebook vs insta stories/snapchat
Great marketing is all about skilful storytelling.
Each platform contains minor differences in content, timing etc but church branding, identity should be the same. Use the platforms as the users use it - don't blindly try to make them all the same content using scheduling tools.
Facebook's currency is friendship - that's what it was made for - posts need to be friendly and kind in all ways. Facebook's algorithms favour videos (autoplay etc) and that will lend itself to higher engagement.
Instagram's currency is creativity - very photo/visually heavy. Post the best photos here with creative captions.
Snapchat/Instagram stories currency is fun. Casual, unprofessional/amateur and authentic fun. Embrace the raw/cheeky side. Add value to your story by showing behind the scenes (appropriately) and make the audience want to be there! The right moment doesn't have to look perfect! Get ideas from youth to see how they use it and don't be afraid to try new things on the story.
Identifying your intended response from users engaging with your social media post is the best place to start when crafting a caption or written post. A clear purpose will help you to navigate word choice, length, tone and the balance between information and inspiration.
COPY - Written content (copy) for social media is unique and specific to each platform (i.e. copy that works well on character-limited Twitter is different to what will work well on a Facebook status update). The best writing for social media combines the clarity of a print journalism and the precision of poetry. A good rule of thumb is to ‘make every word earn its place.’
Select words carefully with an awareness of their connotations, avoiding Christian jargon and clichés. Keep in mind that your target audience may have never attended our church, so may have limited knowledge of what you are writing about.
Tag profiles or people when appropriate - make it as easy as possible for the audience to engage with / comment on / click on whatever you're talking about. Reference a link in bio if relevant.
TONE - Imagine what tone of voice you want your copy to be read in and use syntax, punctuation and word choice to communicate it. Our tone should always be: friendly; inclusive; welcoming; informative; clear; and positive, whilst avoiding over-writing that reads as ‘salesy’ or disingenuous.
GRAMMAR - Grammatical mistakes communicate either a lack of excellence or intelligence. Neither is good! Take the time to quickly Google anything you are unsure of, rather than guessing. There are ample resources on this newfangled World Wide Web… use them! Where it is possible to use italics for emphasis, they are the best way to communicate tone, followed by capital letters and then mixed punctuation.
LENGTH - A blog is different to Instagram is different to Twitter is different to Facebook. Take a moment to think about which platform you are using and vary the length according to what is effective for that particular platform. In general, less is more when it comes to words on social media, so precision is king.
SPELLING - There’s nothing like a spelling mistake to ruin all your hard work! A quick spelling and grammar check is your best friend - catching any annoying auto-correct mistakes, misspelt words or incorrect word forms (like ‘there’ when you need ‘their’). Take the time for the sake of excellence. Ask someone else to proofread if you need!
Dates given on our social media accounts are to be formatted in order of day (shortened), month, date, (year if necessary), as consistent with our website content. E.g. Sunday 13th August 2013 or Sun 13 Aug.
Times should be written immediately before a date, in the shortest form possible, with AM or PM given for clarity. E.g. 3PM Sunday 13th August 2013 or 3PM Sun 13 Aug.
In general, sentence case is the most appropriate style for copy on a Hillsong social media account. Where italics are not available, limited use of caps for emphasis can be used, but this should be kept to a minimum. Extensive use of caps is the equivalent to shouting on social media, so if you aren’t wanting to communicate shouting, keep your case low.
WHEN USING THE WORD ‘PASTOR’
When the word ‘pastor’ is being used as a religious title that is given before a name, it should be capitalised. The word should not be capitalised when it stands alone or is used to describe a job.
i.e. Pastor Ashley Evans.
He is a pastor.
In order to pastor people who are facing hardship, we have set up an email…
The only appropriate abbreviation for Pastor (as a title) is Ps. e.g. Ps. Ashley Evans
WHEN USING OUR PASTOR’S TITLES
When talking about our pastors, it is always great to give them context.
i.e. Our Senior Pastors, Ashley & Jane Evans.
Our Worship Pastor, Josh Long.
Our City Campus Pastors, Tony & Aste Corbridge.
The Flickr photostream is the one-stop-shop for all images in Church life. Here you can search and find images from any location, service, people and key team.
Download the app for easy searching and saving of church photos whenever you need. For more details on flickr, navigate to our photography guidelines page here.
*Tip: Use the search engine with keywords to find what you are looking for
i.e. “Ashley” “Cafe” “crowd” “worship” “Janine” “Christmas” “womens” “kids” etc.
Instagram Media accounts we can learn from
Here's a moodboard we've put together with some great images from accounts all over the world.
Below is a categorised list of accounts that we recognise are curating a brilliant feed for their church and we think have some inspiration for our accounts:
Creative church collectives: