Social media guide


Blessing or curse social media has altered how we communicate, bringing benefits and challenges to parishes and worshipping communities. We can’t ignore it and need to engage with this is a way that can be a blessing for us and a way to tell our stories and above all the Good News that is the story of Jesus. Church is also about relationship and building a relationship matches risk with reward. Social media offers many opportunities to build relationships, it also affords enquirers a safe space to explore faith and can therefore be a great entry point into discipleship.

This guide is written for office holders and PCCs to cover good practices in dealing with the digital and social media environment. It has a wide-ranging brief that covers both governance and management issues as well as practical matters to help successful engagement. It is not intended as a guide for the individual use of social media but has some information about behaviours and expectations.

Social media platforms change so while we explain some of the main ones and how they might work for a church or worshipping community we focus on some of the principles that can be applied across all the different platforms as we think about how this media works.

In this guide we cover

  • Governance and management
  • Advice on our purpose for using social media
  • Thoughts about the people we are trying to reach
  • A brief guide to the main platforms we can use
  • Details about what makes good content
  • How to manage things that go wrong

It’s a fast-changing world and a guide like this cannot cover everything. The best advice we can give is to start small and simply focus on what you think will bring you the best results. Keep evaluating and learning as you go. Churches, and the volunteers within them, have limited time so this guide aims to help you think how you can make the best use of this to benefit your church. This involves deciding what you do and where you do it.

Finally, don’t neglect your email lists and ability to directly contact people. Getting permission to contact folk directly brings great benefits. We need to do this in a way that is compliant with GDPR but it enables us to talk directly in an unfiltered way.

The Communication Team can help and advise and point you to the right help. Contact us at

For tips, advice and training go to

Governance and management

The most important point for a church is to make sure that all of the ways it communicates are understood and agreed by its governing body. In most cases, this is the PCC acting as trustees for the church. They are responsible for the reputation of the church and will need to be assured that all methods of communication are understood and approved. The governing body would need to make sure that the tone and content of posts align with their values and theology. The governing body doesn’t have to do everything – this is best delegated to a team of people – but they do have to understand what is being done and said in the church’s name. All communication work should be within the framework of building trust and everything should be open and accountable.

No one person should have sole responsibility and sole access to a corporate social media account and the PCC should have the ability to regain control of passwords or access at any time. The method for doing this would vary depending on what social media platforms are used but the principle needs to be followed.

All those designated to run social media accounts should know their boundaries and agree not to use the platform to express personal opinions or share information that runs contrary to the aims and objectives of the church. They should be aware of proper safeguarding processes and GDPR regulations regarding managing any accounts. The team also needs to be aware of copyright law for sharing images, video and music content.

Safeguarding is massively important. You should be aware that we need to make sure that the PCC has robust policies to protect children online. You must ensure that anyone who has access to a church social media account is subject to appropriate safer recruitment. PCCs also need to remember that all social media sites have an age limit on users and you must follow that.

You need to make sure that this is followed by those who might want to set up a particular group related to a particular church group activity. This particularly applies to WhatsApp groups which carry additional risk.

We expect all social media users to sign up for the Church of England’s Digital Charter and follow their values of truth, kindness, welcome, inspiration, togetherness and safeguarding. We would also want everyone to agree to the Archbishops’ Social Media Guidelines

What’s our purpose when using social media?

The key to success is to think about what we want to use our social media for. If we are clear then this will help any decisions we need to make about what platforms to use.

Our most likely purposes are to: -

  1. promote the range of different events we are hosting
  2. build an online community around our church
  3. provide teaching or comment on matters from our theological perspective
  4. stream worship

Of these, the most used – and we would advise the most useful – are the first two. The way church works best is through attendance so a large part of what we are trying to achieve is to bring people in through the doors.

For social media to be of benefit takes work so it is best to have a plan for what and why you are doing it. You need to think about how much time you can devote to building, nurturing and maintaining your presence on social media.

Who are we trying to reach on social media?

Thinking about who we are trying to reach is possibly the most crucial decision that we can make. Having a picture of the people we are looking for and the types of social media they are using will help us to work out how best to reach them via social media. You will have the local knowledge of what your current congregations and communities use and that could be a good starting point.  You can spend a great deal of time trying to reach out to folk but if you are not in the places that the people you want to reach are then you may well end up wasting time. You may also want to consider what other interests people you are trying to reach so you can connect with them there.

Research shows that the use of different platforms can be different depending on age. In the next section, we briefly explain the main channels and the age of people using them.

A brief guide to the main platforms we can use

There are a number of platforms on social media and most should be familiar. You may be tempted to try to use them all however this usually means that you end up stretched and efforts can be wasted. Your best idea is to use the platform the audience you are trying to reach uses. This guide doesn’t cover every single platform that exists but does cover the main ones.

We can only give a basic overview here however you would find it beneficial to research how any platform you choose works. The important factor is the algorithms, and programming rules, that they apply to their platforms. That determines how well any content you put onto that platform will work. These rules often change so we advise doing the research when you set something up and keep checking this back. Unfortunately, there are no catch-all rules so there is no substitute for doing this research on an ongoing basis. Part of that includes monitoring how well your activity is doing. Keeping track of the level of reach and amount (and type) of engagement can teach you a great amount about what is effective and can save you from feeling like you are shouting into a void.


This platform is probably the most widely used and popular platform of all. Over 70% of the population uses Facebook and it can be popular for families to have groups so that different generations can stay in contact with each other. Many communities (towns, estates, villages, etc) have Facebook groups to discuss matters of local concern. You can also find a range of special interest groups there. Facebook is a great platform for reaching an older generation. It is not so useful for a younger audience.

However, if you are only going to use one platform then Facebook will be your best option.

X (formerly Twitter)

This used to be a great platform to use and was fantastic for breaking news and quick messaging. While it still has its advocates, it is regarded as quite a toxic platform and a place where online bullies and trolls reside. X is a place for debate and as a result, can be a difficult place for an organisation to be in as it is hard to debate matters and get theological and policy positions that everyone in an organisation or church can fully agree with.

We would recommend caution and suggest that X is more for individuals to be on than a church community.


Owned by Meta and therefore linked to Facebook, Instagram is a highly visual platform relying on images and videos. It tends to be popular with a younger audience and acts as a good place to reach the under 30s. The usual content is a one-minute video and it can be highly effective in getting a message across. However, you need to be clear and clever about how you use it.

We would consider using this if you are reaching a younger audience and have people able to produce content that would work for that audience.


Like Instagram, this is a video-based application aimed at a younger audience. It has an ethos of fun and can be seen as frivolous. It also has a degree of controversy due to its Chinese ownership. It can bring a great deal of attention however you need to be skilled in providing content and clear about what you use this for.

We would recommend people use Instagram over TikTok as Instagram has clear links to Facebook and is therefore more manageable.


This is a widely used and massively useful platform and is particularly used for family, peer group and interest group communication. It is a powerful messaging app using encryption and started as a closed private form of communication. However, through developing channels, What’s App is becoming broader in its use.

Whats App can be a really important tool in building a church community and in particular engaging with keen supporters.


YouTube is a video hosting platform that churches tend to use to hold videos which they then share through their website or in other forms. You could use it for the development of teaching modules.


Nextdoor is a smaller network that works on a neighbourhood, city or village basis with people tending to talk about very local concerns. If it is used well in your area it may have great benefits but it is not strong enough to make it a major focus.


LinkedIn works much like Facebook but is aimed at the professional community. It can be a useful tool if trying to recruit into roles and if your church is looking to reach out to a professional audience but it has limited use otherwise.

Main platforms use by age 

In 2022, communications consultant Dan Slee produced this helpful analysis showing which age group you are likely to reach depending on the platform you choose.

(Source Dan Slee)

What makes good content

Whatever platform you use you need to think about the content you are posting. This is the most important thing to consider. What you say and how you say it matters. Some basics:

  • Look at the way the platform you use manages its content. Read its current rules and guidance so you can see the style of content it favours. Many platforms will push content with pictures, often they do not like links to external sites as they want you to stay with them
  • Post regularly
  • Think how you can engage in conversation and discussion (and how you will manage this) – most platforms thrive on engagement
  • Having structure - defining content themes, posting schedules, and planning for seasonal/ religious campaigns in advance helps with consistency and staying on track with regular posting.
  • Visual Branding and Design: Maintain a consistent visual identity across social media platforms. Use brand guidelines when creating graphics, selecting pictures and videos, and using branded templates.
  • Engagement Techniques: Expand on methods to gain engagement and build a sense of community on social media. This could include responding to comments, initiating conversations with questions in captions, and encouraging user-generated content.
  • Analytics and Performance Measurement: Monitor social media performance, including reach, engagement, and audience demographics - to inform future content decisions and track progress toward goals.
  • Accessibility and Inclusivity: Add alt text on images so content is accessible to individuals with disabilities and post a different range of people so that it reflects diversity
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: Be aware of copyright issues, privacy concerns, and compliance with relevant regulations

Managing behaviour

The best way of managing behaviour is to set some rules around how you will manage behaviour and expect others to behave. This is a vital tool for managing a Facebook group or page for example. By having, and crucially publishing rules and standards, then you have a method to be able to block or delete offensive content and remove users.

An example set of rules

Welcome to our social media page which talks about the work and activities of our church. We would love you to be part of this community however If you want to take part here then please observe these rules which are designed to promote respect and online safety.

What you can expect from us

We’ll look to monitor this account and will try and respond as time allows.

If you wish to contact us privately then email or directly message us here

What other users can expect of you

We welcome debate and disagreement but please be courteous and respectful of others.

Be respectful and polite. Racism, threats, intolerance, abuse or intimidation are not acceptable.

Don’t post misinformation or disinformation.

Don’t post personal details publicly here or make public allegations. Please make formal complaints in the appropriate place.

Page admins reserve the right to block or report people who break these rules to the police.

Some guidelines for tone and content

One of the big challenges of managing a church's social media account is getting the tone right. This is particularly true when managing difficult situations

General posting

You need to try and post regularly to build and maintain interest. Commenting on posts made and engaging in matters is also helpful. But all of this needs to be driven by an understanding of what your aims and objectives are and who your audience is. Most likely what you are looking to do is promote

  1. promote the range of different events we are hosting
  2. build an online community around our church
  3. provide teaching or comment on matters from our theological perspective
  4. stream worship

On most platforms image is important and posting links can see your page deprioritised by the platform meaning fewer people will see future posts from your account

You can find plenty of tips and hints online about what makes a good post. We suggest googling to get the best up-to-date advice.

Scheduling posts

Many people like to schedule posts so they don’t have to be monitoring their accounts all the time. There are specific tools (such as Hootsuite) that you can use for this and many of the platforms have their own tools to schedule posts. But you do need to keep an eye on your account to monitor comments and engagement. Timing when you post is important – people are likely to buy tickets/sign up for events in the early evening for example.

Making sure you post the right thing

We’re all human and we can get emotional, particularly when responding to criticism so here are some general hints about not posting the wrong thing. So before posting anything ask yourself these four questions

  • Am I calm?​
  • Is it after 9pm on a Friday? (Research shows this is when you are most likely to get strange or hostile responses)
  • Have I permission?​
  • Would I show it to my bishop?

Managing things that go wrong

While social media is an essential way to get our messages out sometimes things go wrong or we get a whole range of abuse that is difficult both practically and psychologically to deal with. We all know that people will go straight to social media to air grievances. So what to do about it? Here’s some basic advice.

If you get something wrong

Don’t take it to heart. We all do it as we are all human. But social media can be a pretty unforgiving place so you sometimes have to deal with sarcasm or complaint. If you have made a mistake the best thing to do is

  • Delete or fix​
  • Apologise​
  • Seek advice​ from the communications team

If you are being abused

If the abuse is being directed to your account then this is where your rules come in. You can take action to block or mute someone who has breached the rules and fallen below standards.

You might also want to screenshot​ any posts for future evidence and report to the platform owner or the police (although unless this is serious you are unlikely to get much of a response)

Very often the abuse or negative comments will happen on a Facebook community group. If you suffer from misrepresentation or abuse then contact the group administrators to ask them to block the user and remove the posts.

Here to help

Social media is a great tool for the church and used well it can be powerful for our mission. This guide cannot cover everything that will help you navigate through this so we are here to help. Contact us at or 07534218122 in an emergency.

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