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Building communities on social media

Church of England


Since a new digital communications team was put in place, led by Adrian Harris, the Church of England has sought to encourage its 16,500 churches to share the work that they do in their communities via social media though photos and videos. Every Sunday, content shared by vicars, church leaders and congregation members is amplified using the Church of England’s social media platforms: Twitter @c_of_e, which has more than 72,000 followers, Facebook, with 69,000 followers, and Instagram.

Within six months of the strategy’s launch, its social media platforms had received more than 684,000 views of photos and video clips. Most were organic, with just £600 spent on promoting specific audiences through targeted advertising.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in June, for example, the team shared pictures of churches responding. Similarly, it shared images of those engaged with Jo Cox’s #MoreInCommon celebrations, to mark the anniversary of the MP’s murder. User-generated content is also shared to commemorate key dates in the Church’s calendar, such as Easter Sunday, which reached nearly 170,000 people, Godparents’ Sunday, which reached 13,000, and Christmas Day, which brought together tweets sent as part of the #JoyToTheWorld campaign and reached 15,000 people.

Since Christmas, the team has used Twitter Moments as a ‘weekly newsletter’, which has been praised by Twitter’s head of collation Joanna Geary. The completion rate is about 30 per cent, which is above the industry average.

Photos are shared across Facebook and Instagram as galleries, making the most of each channel’s functionality. On Facebook alone, they reached 670,460 people in six months. Photos often receive more than 1,500 likes, and can be shared hundreds of times. They also generate positive comments, such as ‘Awesome! Looks like a busy week.’ Most of this has been organic, but targeting those who like the page and their friends has ensured a wider reach. Photos on Instagram also receive, on average, more than 100 likes.

The team intends to build on its work and encourage people to think about attending church services around various themes, such as harvest festivals and Christmas. ‘These were impressive results achieved on a shoestring budget,’ said the judges.