I am teaching a workshop at the National Lutheran Youth Ministry Conference in San Antonio this summer. The workshop is titled “Leveraging Social Media for Your Church’s Mission.” This post is part of a series relating to that workshop. Here’s a full listing of the topics.
What is Hootsuite?
Hootsuite is a tool for managing your social media. After some configuration, it allows you to view many of your social media outlets in one stream, giving you an “at-a-glance” view of all of your social media. Converting Copy has a good tutorial on using Hootsuite. One of the key features that drove us to Hootsuite for managing our social media was the ability to schedule tweets and Facebook page updates for a specified time in the future.
The tutorial linked above goes into the basics of how to use Hootsuite’s scheduling feature. But why is this feature so valuable? It gives us the ability to really capitalize on our planned content. Being able to schedule content for posting in the future means that we can generate posts, load them into Hootsuite and then let it do it’s thing. One of our goals for social media (really, for all of our ministries) is to stimulate growth.
At First Trinity, we recently took a spiritual life survey through Willow Creek’s REVEAL program. It helped us rethink our ministry strategy. Instead of developing programs that provide spiritual growth, we instead want to stimulate growth in people. While that might include traditional ministries like Sunday School, Sermons and Activities, it’s more important to help people take these spiritual practices outside of the church and use them on their own. A key piece of making that happen is embedding Scripture in everything we do.
To that end, we started publishing a daily Bible verse on our Facebook page. We have compiled 120 verses that we post at random. I use Excel to randomize the order, add dates and upload it to Hootsuite. Hootsuite then does the daily grind of actually posting them at 7 a.m. every morning. I haven’t done much formatting for the file, and there aren’t instructions, but you can download it here. I plan to update the sheet to make it more user-friendly in the future.
Bulk Update Resources
When I first started using the Hootsuite bulk scheduler, I found I needed to do some work to get my content formatted correctly for upload. Being somewhat of an Excel junkie, I decided what we needed was a tool to take some of the tedium and frustration out of the process. And thus was born the Hootsuite Bulk Upload Tool (download).
Currently, the file allows you to choose a start date, frequency for posting (daily, every other day, every third day, weekly), and total number of messages. You can then configure your messages by choosing a lead text (optional), message content, closing text (optional). This results in the following: [Lead Text]Message[Closing Text]. To avoid extra spaces in the final message, you’ll need to add a space after the “lead text” in the cell, and start your closing text with a space. Once you try the worksheet, it will make more sense.
After reviewing the final messages, you can add URLs (optional) and then save the file for upload to Hootsuite. All of the instructions are in the file. It’s an Excel Template, so you shouldn’t be able to easily overwrite the original. Check back here for changes to the tool in the future.
Hootsuite Bulk Upload Tool Changelog
- v1.0 (Original Release)
- Added Character Count for Twitter
- Clarified instructions to include warning that Hootsuite does not allow duplicate messages to be uploaded in the same file.