Social media. It’s all the craze.
I was at a training the other day and the presenter was talking about how social media is such an important tool in ministry. He mentioned that social media was not only a place where people get a lot of information from (it’s the primary place I get my news), but it is also a source to connect and dialogue with people.
One participant mentioned that he wasn’t on any of the social media platforms and he was not planning to enter them anytime soon. He was hesitant to use social media.
Even though I’m on many social media platforms, I know exactly where he is coming from.
MySpace was the first social media platform I joined (sorry, Friendster. I just wasn’t ready for you). I willingly jumped into it and I immediately begin to see some of the opportunities and some of the risks.
When Facebook came along, I quickly joined because all my friends were joining. It was a matter of weeks before I dumped MySpace completely.
Then Twitter came along. I heard about it from others, but wasn’t all that sure about it. I joined it in October 2008 and quickly loved it.
I was then encouraged by my Communications Director to start a separate Twitter account for my youth ministry. I fought it. I didn’t want to manage 2 Twitter accounts. However, her argument made sense, so I created an official ministry account (which quickly became 2, then 3, when I took on young adult ministry as well).
More recently, I got a personal Instagram account and was encouraged to get a separate youth ministry Instagram account (we already had a young adult account). I really didn’t want to get into Instagram, but, again, I was convinced by some of my more media savvy team members
All in all, I currently manage and oversee (with a lot of help from others) 12 social media accounts. And trust me, there are times I wish I could get rid of them all!
However, I know that the social media tools I use are helpful in building my ministry and personal platforms. I connect with people. I share information with people. I dialogue with people. And, these accounts help keep my ministry in the minds of my “audience.” I can’t go back now.
When ministry leaders start thinking about social media, they immediately get overwhelmed. There are so many social media tools. The questions often comes, “where do I start???”
If you are new to using social media, or looking to expand your social media usage, there are some things you need to think through before you delve in.
1. Have a plan. Don’t get into social media just because it is what everyone is doing. Social media is ineffective if you don’t know how you are going to use it. There are all sorts of strategies that can be considered. Think it through.
2. Start slow. You don’t need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all at the same time. Choose one and focus your energy on that tool.
3. Examine your audience. Which social media tool are they likely to be using? I’ve discovered that Facebook pages are good with many different audiences. However, Facebook is so noisy (because everyone is friends with everyone), it can be difficult to get your message across, which is why I personally prefer Twitter. Instagram is great with teenagers and young adults. Twitter seems to be more effective with an older audience, not so much with teens. I won’t even go into Google+ and Pinterest. Know where your audience is at and start there.
4. Be consistent with your posts. Social media works best when you post regularly. If you have a ministry Facebook page, once a day is probably enough. On Twitter and Instagram, it is more effective to post a few times a day.
5. Be interesting. What is your audience interested in? Post about that. Share links to articles or websites. Share photos and videos (photos always get the most comments).
6. Don’t do it alone. There is no reason you have to do it all yourself. Get a team together. They’ll probably help you use social media better than if you did it by yourself.
You may think because I oversee 12 social media accounts that I’ve got it all together. I don’t. I think I use Twitter effectively (my personal Twitter, not my ministry one). I have a long way to go with the others. I’m a rare user of Instagram and only post every once and awhile.
I’m still learning as I go. However, I do know that social media works in ministry. Think about these 6 things and get started. I know you can do it.
Question: What are you most hesitant about when it comes to social media usage in your ministry?